Nazis - National Socialist German Workers' Party
National-Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei - NSDAP
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party came to power in Germany in January 1933, as the head of a coalition government. But on March 23, 1933, the Reichstag passed an Enabling Act giving him permanent emergency powers, freeing him from the limitations imposed by a parliamentary system. In August 1934, following the death of President von Hindenburg, Hitler merged the office of Chancellor and President together and required to armed forces to swear an oath of loyalty him.
The Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party consisted of the official organization of the Nazi Party, with Hitler as Fuehrer at its head. The Leadership Corps was the governing cadre of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). Membership at all levels was voluntary. The Corps included full-timeemployees ranging from heads of the various main departments and officesattached to the Party's Reich Directorate to persons with territorialjurisdiction over a single area as large as a country. The Leadership Corps of the NSDA comprised the sum of the officials of the Nazi party. It was divided into seven categories:
- The Fuehrer
The actual work of running the Leadership Corps was carried out by the Chief of the Party Chancellery (Hess, succeeded by Bormann) assisted by the Party Reich Directorate, or Reichsleitung, which mas composed of the Reichsleiters, the heads of the functional organizations of the party, as well as of the heads of the various main departments and offices which were attached to the Party Reich Directorate.
The Reichsleiter made up the Party Directorate (Reichsleitung). Through them, coordination of party and state machinery was assured. A number of these Reichsleiter, each of whom, at some time, was in charge of at least one office within the Party Directorate, were also the heads of party formations and of affiliated or supervised organizations of the party, or of agencies of the state, or even held ministerial positions. The Reichsleitung may be said to have represented the horizontal organization of the party according to functions, within which all threads controiling the varied life of the German people met. Each office within the Reichsleitung of the NSDAP executed definite tasks assigned to it by the Fuehrer, or by the leader of the Party Chancellory (Chef der Parteikanzlei), who in 1945 was Martin Bormann and before him, Rudolph Hess.
It was the duty of the Reichsleitung to make certain these tasks were carried out so that the will of the Fuehrer was quickly communicated to the lowliest Zelle or Block. The individual offices of the Reichsleitung had the mission to remain in constant and closest contact with the life of the people through the subdivisions of the party organization, in the Gaue, Keisen, and Ortsgruppen. These leaders had been taught that the right to organize hunian beings accrued through appreciation of the fact that a people must be educated ideologically (zoeltanschaulich), that is to say, according to the philosophy of National Socialism.
The next categories to be considered are the Hoheitstraeger, the "bearers of sovereignty." To them was assigned political sovereignty over specially designated subdivisions of the state of which they were the appointed leaders. The Hoheitstraeger may be said to represent the vertical organization of the party. These leaders included all :
- Gauleiter, of which there were 42 within the Reich in 1945. A Gauleiter was the political leader of the largest subdivision of the State. He was charged by the Fuehrer with political, cultural, and economic control over the life of the people, which he was to coordinate with the National Socialist ideology. A number of the defendants before the bar of the International Military Tribunal were former Gwileiter of the NSDAP. Among them are Juluis Streicher (Franconia) whose seat was in Nurnberg, Baldur von Schirach (Vienna), and Fritz Sauckel (Thuringia) .
- Kreisleiter, the political leaders of the largest subdivision of a Gau.
- Ortsgruppenleiter, the political leaders of the largest sub-division of a Kreis consisting of several towps or villages, or of a part of a larger city, and including from 1500 to 3000 households.
- Zellenleiter, the political leaders of a group of from 4 to 8 city blocks or of a corresponding grouping of households in the country.
- Blockleiter, the political leaders of from 40 to 60 households.
Each of these Hoheitstraeger, or "bearers of sovereignty," was directly responsible to the next highest leader in the Nazi hierarchy. The Gauleiter was directly subordinate to the Fuehrer himself, the Kreisleiter was directly subordinate to the Gauleiter, the Ortsgn~ppenleiter to the Kreisleiter, and so on. The Fuehrer himself appointed all Gualeiter and Kreisteiter, all Reichsleiter, and all other political leaders within the Party Directorate (Reichsleitung) down to the grade of Gauamtsleiter, the head of a subdivision of the party organization within a Gau.
The Hoheitstraeger and Reichsleitung together constituted the all-powerful group of leaders by means of which the Nazi party reached into the lives of the people, consolidated its control over them, and compelled them to conform to the National Socialist pattern. For this purpose, broad powers were given them, including the right to call upon all party machinery to effectuate their plans.
Under the Chief of the Party Chancellery were the Gauleiters, with territorial jurisdiction over the major administrative regions of the party, the Gaus. The Gauleiters were assisted by a Party Gau Directorate or Gauleitung, similar in composition and in function to the Party Reich Directorate. Under the Gauleiters in the Party hierarchy were the Kreisleiters with territorial jurisdiction over a Kreis, usually consisting of a single county, and assisted by a Party Kreis Directorate, or Kreisleitung. The Kreisleiters mere the lowest members of the party hierarchy who were full-time paid employees. Directly under the Kreisleiters were the Ortsgruppenleiters, then the Zellenleiters, and then the Blockleiters. Directives and instructions were received from the Party Reich Directorate.
The Bruderschaft (Brotherhood) was a semi-secret postwar organization of perhaps 2,500 right-wing German nationalists. The outlines of the organization are wel known. It was formed in 1949 in the British occupation zone amongst staff officers from the army’s elite Grossdeutschland Division, former SS officers, and senior Nazi party members who had been held in England after the war. It worked behind the scenes of West German politics. It maintained ties with right-wing parties and groups in West Germany and with neo-Fascists and ex-Nazis abroad, advocating a Europe independent of either the United States or the USSR, and disintegrated owing to internal fights in 1951.
Its overt aims reflected well-worn army officers’ thinking: anti-Soviet and pro-Western policies that also called for the rehabilitation of German soldiers through restored state pensions and the release of officers from war crimes enclosures. The Bruderschaft’s covert aims were more dangerous. The Bruderschaft insisted that the Federal Republic and its constitution were illegitimate Allied-imposed structures.
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