Here we will discuss the individuals who played a role in the NAZI Party or NAZI era. We will also discuss individuals who assisted the NAZIs as well as those who opposed them. Here we are interested in their childhood ahd families as well as their careers associated with the NAZI Party and associated organs. Some are all two familar whiles others re relatively unknown to history. Early in the history of the Party there were differnt ideas brandied about. Gradually as Hitler achieved control, it was his odeas that dominated. Even after he gained cintrol of the state, some were not happy with his leadership. A thorough purging of the dojbters was needed--the Might of the Long Knives. Even so, Hitler's purge was nothing like those conducted by Stalin at about the same time. This list includes Party officials, including thos appointed to Government posts. Military figures are included in the World War II biographies. Of course qwuite a few overlap the two listsas some military commanders were ardent NAZIs while others eventually tried o overhrow the regime.
Herbert Backe in the Reichsministerium für Emährung und Landeswirtschaft (Ministry of Food and Agriculture--REEUL) is generally seen as the author of the NAZI Hunger Plan which as a result was sometimes referred to as the Backe Plan. He was powerul force in the Ministry even before he was finally appointed Minister (May 1942). Hitler appears to have more confidence in Backe than the original minister, Daree. Many of the NAZI war criminals are very well known. The Hunger Plan which may have killed 4-5 million people, mostly Soviets, was one of the great crimes of the War. It was one element of Generalplan Ost that was actually implemented. Despite conceptulizing and implementing on of the great crikes of history, ouside historians spcializing in NAZI history, Backe is virtually unknown. Backe was born in Georgia, at the time a Tsarist province. With the outbreak of World War I, Tsarist officias interned him as an enemny alien. He managed to escape and get to Grmany duruing the Russian Civil War. He was at the time of World War II one of aising tier of young second level professionals in the NAZI Party. He was an advocate of invading and deindustrialing the Soviet Union. He wanted to demolish Soviet industry and eliminate the Soviet industrial work force. He thouht that the Soviet Union should be turned back to an agricultural economy focused on produing what for western Europe. This coincided with Hitler's idea in Mein Kampf. There was no idea of taking comntrol of Soviet industry which ws substantial, bur rather retuning the East to an area of peasant agriculture. Backe was critical of Stalin's agricultural policy, wich was to seize control of it through collectivization and use the agricultural harvest to finance industriliztion. As a result, Soviet grain exports were only a fraction of Tsarist levels. This made Germany dependent of trans-Atlantic grain (American, Argentine, and Canadian). Backe wanted to end this dependence by sezing control of Soviet grain production. In Backe's view this would create a continent Grossraumwirtschaft and an efficient division of labor, an industrialized Western Europe and a peasant-based agricultural eastern Europe. This mean eliminating the uneeded urban population of the Soviet Union. Staatssekretär Backe took the lead role in this matter. Darré was apparently not informed of the Barbarossa planning. Darré was both the REFUL Minister and the Reich Farming Leader (Reichsbauernführer). After the launch of Barbarossa, Backe informed Darré that he received instructions that the Führer did not want plnning conducted in the Ministry, but rather transferred as a Four-Year Plan task. This meant turned over to Reuchmarshal Göring who was Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan. Of course secrecy was a factor, but Hitler seems to have been concerned about Darré when it came to such a radical matter as the Starvation Policy. [Kay, p. 53.]
Martin Luther Bormann (1900-45) was a NAZI Nazi Party official and most importantly head of the Party Chancellery. He rose to great power because as Adolf Hitler's private secretary, he largely controlled not only access to Hitler, but thg flow of information to him. Bormann used his position to become one of the most powerful person in the Reich. Bormann was to young to see actio in in World War I although he joined a unit in the final months of the War. Bormann joined a right-wing paramilitary Freikorps organisation fighting left-wing groups (1922). At the time he was working as manager of a large estate. He was involved in a murder along with his friend Rudolf Höss (future commandant of Auschwitz). He joined the NAZI Party (1927). And the Schutzstaffel (SS) (1937). He initially worked in the Party's insurance service (1927-33). He was a master organizer. He moved to another Party office, in fact the most important section--the office of the Deputty Führer. Apparently Rudolf Hess recognized his talenbts. He served as Hess' chief of staff (1933). This connected him with one of the NAZI luminaries. Bormann used his position to build an extensive personal bureaucracy and involve himself as much as possible in NAZI decision making. And most importantlyv gained acceptance into Hitler's inner circle. He began ccompanied Hitler not Hess everywhere, providing briefings and summaries of events and requests. He started acting as Hitler's personal secretary (1935). Hitler like Hess recognized his skills. Bormann was given Hess' former duties as the Head of the Parteikanzlei (Party Chancellery). While Bormann star was rising, the opposite was true of Hess who Hitlernow rarely turned to for advus or counsel. And was not commonly seen at Berchesgarten. This is what promted Hess' surprise flight to Britain (1941). Hitler was furious and despite Bormann's connectiins with Hess, he did not suffer. In fact he became increasingly important to Hitler. Bormann did not have command responsibility for Holocaust actions. He was, however, one of the leading proponents within the NAZI hierarchy for the persecution of the Christian churches and favored harsh treatment of both Jews and Slavs in the expanding NAZI zone of control as a result of military victories. These trends were apparent in his early connectiin with the Freikorps mirrored Hitler's own impulses.
There are two NAZI Wilhelm Brückners. Here we are talking about the Wilhelm Brückner who served as Hitler Chief Adjuntant until the War era (1884-1940). The other Wilhelm Brückner was a NAZI war criminal and mass murderer from Hassenberg. The Wilhelm Brückner we are discussing here was an important NAZI, but never personlly conncted with war crimes. Wilhelm wa born in Baden-Baden (1884). he was raised in Baden-Baden and attended school there, earing an Abitur. He studdied law and economics in Strasbourg, Freiburg, Heidelberg, and Munich. We are not sure why he attended so many universities. With the outbreak of World War I he served as an offiver in a Bavarian infantry regiment rising to the rank of lieutenant. That seems aow rank for a man of his age and background. After the war in the chaos of a defeated Germany, he joined the right-wing Freikorp Epp and served in Schätzenregiment 42 as a member of the Reichswehr which supressed the Bavarian Soviet Republic. He joined the NAZI Party (1922) an reportedly stressed Hitler to laubch the Beer Hall Putch (1923). After various jobs, Hitler as the NAZI Party was becoming aajor political force slected him to becone his Adjutant and body guard (1930). In the early years he was among Hitler's inner ciurcle.
He was pictured in the propaganda film 'Hitler über Deutschland' (1932). Hitler after purging the SA appointed him SA-Obergruppenführer (November 1934) A car accident soon after brought Brückner into contact with Dr. Karl Brandt, who became Hitler's personal physcian for years. Unlike others around Hitler, Brückner seems to have been well liked by NAZI Party applicants and everyday visitors at the Reich Chancellery. He was seen as straightforward and affable. The outbreak of World War II changed his position. Wehrmacht and SS adjutants had the important issues to raise with Hitler. Hitler dismissed him as a result of a dispute with his house manager, Arthur Kannenberg. (October 1940). It is thought that Martin Bormann who was a master at manipulating Hitler was behind his firing. He was succeeded with Julius Schaub. Brücknerre joined the Wehrmacht and rose to the rank of colonel. After the War, unlike other important NAZIs, he never wrote a book. As adjutant and a Hitler intimate, he cwould have have provided a great deal of valuable information. He died in Herbsdorf, Upper Bavaria (1954).
Walther Darré was impressed with Alfred Rosenberg's writings. Darré was an English educated Argentinian of ethnic German parents. He was primarily interested in agriculture and was passionate about the peasantry. He agreed with Rosenberg that the future belonged to the Nordic peasantry, "a strong earhbound figure" willing to impose his superority on inferior peoples. Himmler, who also shared many of Rosenberg's ideas took, over the SS (1929). Darré published Blood and Soil in which he extolded the superority of the Nordic peasantry. He called for a program of selctive breding to purify and increase the numbers of thevNordic peasantry so that they could overcome the Jews and Slavs. Himmler was dedlighted with the book and agreed whole heartely. He sought out Darré and struck up a friendship. He recruited him for the SS. There he could pursue his research with Himmler's patronage. Rosenberg and Darré provided Himmler more organized theories he had been contemplating in an disorganized manner. Himmler who waas a trained agrionomist himself began speaking in agricultural terms. "We are like the plant-breeding specialist, who when he wants to breed a pure new strain, first goes over the field to cull the unwanted plants. We, too, shal, begin by weeding out the people who, in our opinion, are not suitable SS mterial."
Dietrich was born in Bavaria (1892). Like other members of his generation, he fought in World War (1914-18). He was a crewman in one of the first German tanks, but the Germans generally failed at tank profuction in World War I. The British tanks, however, played a major role in the Anglo-American 100-Day Offensive that forced the Germans to ask for an Armistice (1918). Dietrich after the War, like many Germans, were disillusioned with the Versilles Peace Treaty and the Weimar Republic. He joined the Freikorps (Free Corps). This was radicaized right-wing youth and former soldiers who were hostile to the Socialists who formed the Weimar government, but even more hostile to Communists who attempted to seize power. The Freikorps gained a reputation for brutality in supressing the Communists and workers. The suppression of the Communists in Munich was a leading example. Dietrich naturally gravitated to nationalists and eventually the NAZI Party after hearing Hitler speak. Hitler confoirmed all his basic suspicions that the Marxists and Jews were responsible for Germany's misfortunes. Dietrich joined the NAZI Party (1928). He became Hitler's driver and bodyguard. Dietrich became a senior figure in the Waffen SS. He fought on the Eastern Front with considerable destinction. Hitler chose him to be a principal commannder in the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944-January 1945).
Admiral Dönitz waa one of the top naval commanders of the War and certainly the most important German naval commander. He devised innovative submarine tactics such as wolf pack attacks on convoys that posed a major challenge for Britain, especially before American came into the War. They were, however, refined World War I tactics and did notvtake into account modern advances in aviation and electronics that the Allied could marshal once Hitler declared war on America, an action Dönitz advocated. And his tactics of carefully controlling his u_boat fleet was a headquarters in occupied France generated the number of messages making it possible for the British to crack the German naval Enigma. The question remains was Dönitz a NAZI war criminal. He was indignant after the Was that hrvwas tried as war criminal seeing himself as a military commander. And indeed Allied naval commanders agreed after the War that they used the same tactics in the Pacific (to greater effect) that Dönitz was being tried for at the Nuremberg IMT trials. Doenitz was, however, not a simple apolitical sailor. He was no mere service officer. He did participate in plans to laubch the War, although the Navy's role was minor in Poland, but more important in Norway.
He was not only obedient to the orders of the NAZI government, but supported NAZI policies iof violating traeaties and waging war as an instrument of aggresive policy. He was a dedicated NAZI, intent on indoctrinating the Navy with NAZI ideology. It is no mere accident that Hitler turned to Dönitz to lead the Reich in its final days.
Dönitz not only was an ardent NAZI, but personally loyal to Hitler. After neingbforced back from occupied France after D-Day (June 1944), he rushed to Hitler's side to reaffirm the navy's and his personal oath of unquestioning loyalty, publically heaping praise on him (July 1944). And at the time he was fully aware of attrocities. He was known to having using watches from murdered Jews to reward his U-boat commanders. His punlic statements made his convictions clear. "From the very start the whole of the officer corps must be so indoctrinated that it feels itself co- responsible for the National Socialist State in its entirety. The officer is the exponent of the state; the idle chatter that the officer is nonpolitical is sheer nonsense." (February 1944) Doenitz's position was made unmistakably clear in a speech which he made to the German Navy and the German people on Heroes' Day, "What would have become of our country today, if the Fuehrer had not united us under National-Socialism! Split into parties, beset with the spreading poison of Jewry and vulnerable to it, and lacking, as a defense, our present uncompromising world outlook, we would long since have succumbed to the burdens of this war and been subject to the merciless destruction of our adversaries."
Hans Frank was born in Karlsrule, Germany (1900). During World War I he joined the German Army when he reached conscription age (1917). After the War like other young men with right-wing politics, he joined the Freikorps. He thus participated in the suppression of the Communist uprising in Munich. Soon afterwads he joined te NAZI Party. He was with Hitler in the Beer Hall Putsch (1924) Like Hitler he was not severely punished and studied law. He then became a legal adviser to Adolf Hitler and the NAZI Party. NAZI Party fortunes changed with the Depression (1929). Frank was one of the many NAZI deputies elected (1930). After Hitler was appointed Chancellor, he appointed Frank Minister of Justice in Bavaria (1933). Frank oversaw the brutal NAZI occupation of Poland. It is unclear why Hitlr chose him for the job, but his virulent anti-Semitism is certainly one of the reasons. After the War He denied responsibility for the mass killings of Jews. He did, unlike some other NAZI leaders express remorse for what he did in Poland. Many including his son Niklas doubt his sincerity.
Joseph Goebbels first met Hitler in 1925. They were both impressed with each other. Goebbels was an avid diarist. He described an early encounter, ""Shakes my hand. Like an old friend. And those big blue eyes. Like stars. He is glad to see me. I am in heaven. That man has everything to be king." Hitler was impressed with Goebbels' writing and speaking abilities. Goebbels joined the Party in 1928?. The two discussed how to best present the Party program. They both had astute ideas on how to make propaganda. Goebbels believed that by constantly repeating a claim in different guises that the public could be made to believe that the claim was true.
The Reichmarshal's mother was kept by a half Jewish Austrian nobleman, perhaps even his father. Hermann was apparently a cheerfully unruly boy. He was sent to a military boarding school at the age of 11 where he was punished for choosing his half Jewish godfather as a great German. His school mates found out about it and paraded him around the school with a placard hung around his neck, "Mein Pate ist ein Jude" ("My Godfather is a Jew."). The humiliated Hermann ran off home. Heydrich who under Göring's and Himmler's orders organized the Holocausy had a similar experience. Göring was one of Hitler's eaeliest ahnd cloest assiciates. He played a key role in establishing the NAZI police state, but step aside and let Himmler run it. He had been aorld War I pilot and Hitkler gave him the assignmrntv fir which he was best known during the War, creating and commznding the Luftwaffe. Hitler also put him in charge of the economy, an assuignmrnt he bungled badly. After the Bsttke iof Britain and the failure to supply the Stalingrad garrison, his influence with Hitler declined.
Erik Jan Hanussen was born in Vienna to a Jewish family (1889). His birth name was Hermann Steinschneider. He is describedas variously as a publicist, charlatan and clairvoyant performer. He is best noted as more of an entertainr, a hypnotist, mentalist, occultist and astrologer. He was popular for his perfomances in post-World War I Weimar Germany. It was Hanussen for some unknown reason who coached Hitler who has no experience in public speaking or notable innate talent. Hanussen who didnhave real talent, instructed Hirler in both performance and hown to geneate dramatic effect. [Langer, p.40.]
Hanussen rose to stardom in Eimar Berlin with his mind reading and hypnosis act perforned at La Scala in Berlin. He moved in high society circles and because he apparently was a NAZI supporter had contacts in the SA--but not the SS. He apparently lent money to SA men in attemot to secure influence. We are not sure just when he met Hitle, byutb it appears to have been in the early-1920s. Huitler may not have been aware of his Jewsish ancestry when they first me. and then found Hanussen's coaching valuable. The relationship is interesting because he has relationships with Jews before World War I and did not exhibit vitriolic antisemitism. Afer the War, as far as we know, Hanussen is the only Jew Hitler tolerated in his presence. Shortly after Hitler was appointed Chancellor, Hanussen was murdered, probably by SA men.. No one knows who was resonsible. Some suspect Goebbels or more likely Göring. Hanussen like many Germans had no idea who he was dealing with. It is also possible Hitler ordered the murder, not anxious to havean assocuatin with a Jew widely known. Hanussen apparently felt that his peronal reklationship with Hitler meant that he was safe.
Joachim Haupt's family was from the area of Frankfurt/Oder. He came from a family of civil servants. His father died when he was still quite young. He was not old enough to serve when World War I broke out (1914), but was admitted to a military academy in the last years of the War. After the war he joined the Freikorps Dohna. The Freikorps were breeding grounds for future NAZIs, attracting embittered military veterans and young men shocked that Germany had lost the War and outraged by the Versailles Peace Treary. He studied philosophy at the University of Greifswald. He worked in factories to earn money to pay for his university fees. He earned a doctorate degree. As a student he was active in the small NAZI Party, helping to organize student groups. After Hitler was appointed Chancellor (January 1933), he appointed long-time NAZI Bernhard Rust Prussian Minister of Education and Culture. Dr. Joachim Haupt was appointed his deputy. Prussia was the largest state in Germany and the NAZIs moved more aggressively there than in other areas of Germany after Hitler was made Chancellor (January 1933). Göring was for example made Minister of the Interior (police) in Prussia. Rust then tasked with the assignment of setting up the NAPOLA schools. Shortly after they presented the progranm to Hitler on his birthday (April 20, 1933). Hitler was apparently pleased. The next year he offered Rust just what he wanted, the national Ministry of Science, Education, and Culture. What happened with Haupt is unclear. Some sources suggest that Haupt was offered the leadership of the expanding Hitler Youth program, but unexpectedly he turned it down. Other source claim that Hitler chose Schirach over Haupt. This seemed to have affected Hitler's assessment of him. And to make matters worse, he got into a power struggle with of all people SS-Reichführer Heinrich Himmler. Himmler showed up reportedly unexpectedly at a conference and expected to meet with see Haupt. Himmler at the time was intent on seizing control of the NPOLA schools. He used a standard SS approach, arresting Haupt on charges of homosexuality. This anme method was use in attacking the Catholic schools in Germany. Rust apparently got him out of prison, but this ended his career in education and the NAZI Party. Haupt was essentially expelled from the NAZI Party (1938). He played no further role in the NAZI education program or other aspect of the NAZI regime. He discretely took up farming. In the final phase of the World War II he was drafted, but survived the War. He was not charged with war crimes after the War.
The NAZI Vice-Führer was born in Egypt where his father had established an import-export business. Growing up in a villa surrounded by a luxurious garden, Rudolf received a disciplined, Teutonic upbringing that clashed with his romantic temperament and the exotic Near East setting. He was an early supporter od Adolf Hitler and during the early years his closest associate. After the NAZIs seized power he gradually lost influence in the NAZI hierarchy. He is best remembered for a dramatic flight to Britain (May 1941). He in the run-up to Barbarossa to prevent a two-front war. He was tried and found guilty at Nurenberg, but did not get a death sentence because he was not directly involved in the Holocaust.
Reinhard Heydrich, konw to the world as "The Hangman", is considered by most to be the architect of the Holocaust. Adolf Eichmann is often seen as the director of the Holocaust. Eichmannwas in fact primarily the administrator of the Holocaust. It is Heydrich more than any other single individual who planned the Holocaust. Heydrich at the time of his death was the thitd most powerful individual in NAZI Germany and in all liklihood if he had lived and the NAZIs had won the War would have been the second Führer.
SS Reichführer Himmler represents the true embodiment of evil in the 20th century. He grew up in a middkeclass German family. His was a school administrator at a gymnasium (academically selective seconadry school). He could be extrenmrly cruel to the boys in pstchological ways. One boy remembers how he and his brother were expelled by being pubically humiliated before the class when their farher could not pay the school fees. His farher had an interest in romanticised German history which hr passed on to his son. Heinrich and his brothes were outfitted in dresses and sailor suits as boys. He was not a brilliant student, but did very well because he was extremely dilogent. He was dissapointed in World War I becaue he did not complete officer cadet training before the War ended. One biograpger mainatins that although he was strongly anti-semmetic that the Holocaust was forced on him by Hitler from above and Heydrich from below. Himmler impressed Hitler for a number of reasons. Perhaps of greatest importance was his fervent nationalism, although Hitler believed he often went to far with his Teutonic mysticism. HHitler did approve, however, of Himler's anti-Semitism. Himmler from an early point became convinced that Hitler was a political Messiah that could create a new Gwrmany. Hitler who appreciated lasish flatery and decected Himmler's absolute loyalty, chose him to lead his personal bodyguard and Party security aparatus--the Schutz Staffeinel (SS). This was a very small force, but Himmler through hard work and a flare for organization turned it into a indespensible force for Hitler who because of Roehm could not depend on the SA. Himmler found in Heidrich, the perfect deputy in building the SS.
Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg was the most famous German commander to emerge from World War I. Along with Ludendorf, he mastermined the brilliant German successes on the Eastern Front in 1914. The Russian offensive forced the Germans to transfer forces from the attack on France. This saved Paris, but the victories at Tannenberg and the Primtkin Marshes shattered whole Russian armies. It was the beginning of the demise of Tsarist Russia, although the Russians fought on until 1917. Hindenburg and Ludendorff oversaw the final German offensive in the West that failed in Spring 1918. He defeated Hitler in the Presidential election of 1932, but turned the country over to the NAZIs when he appointed Hitler Chancellor (1933). Hindenburg actually disliked Hitler, but did like the NAZI-promoted fiction that the German Army was not defeated in 1918, but betrayed by politicians.
The tendency today is to view Adolf Hitler as both evil and mad. Evil he was, mad he was not. Adolf Hitler was a sewred and resourceful politician who constantly out maneuered his opponents as he rose to power in Germany. After seizing power in Germany he became enormously popular through a combination of dynamic action, charisma, control of the media, and brutal supression of the opposition. He brought many Germans just what he had promissed, jobs, national prestige, and the return of German territory lost in the Versailles Treaty. His success and dynamism also made him greatly admired throughout Europe where many began to question the benefits of democratic government. Had Hitler not launvched World War II he today would be seen as the greatest chancellor of Germany by many Germans. Ironically it was a war that Hitler coveted. He saw war as the greatest of all human endevors and benfeficial for the human species. And it was war that would brring about dissaster for Hitler and the German people who supported him.
Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss was born in Baden-Baden in southwest Germany (1900). He trained for the priesthood. His father's unexpected death and the outbreak of World War I changed his plans. He joined the German army at a young age (1916). He was wounded three times and was twice awarded the Iron Cross. After the War he joined the East Prussian Free Corps (Freikorps) (1920). He was involved in suppression of disturbances in Latvia and in quelling worker demonstrations in the Ruhr. Still involved with the Freikorps, he met Adolf Hitler (1922). He was deeply moved by Hitler. He not only joined the NAZI Party, but renounced his affiliation with the Catholic Church. When France and Belgium entered and occupied the Upper Rhine region (1923), Höss was involved in the assassination of Freikorpsman Walter Kadow. He was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released as part of the general amnesty (1928). Höss joined the SS (1933). He was was assigned to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Himmler appointed him adjutant of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (1938). He was then chosen to be the Kommandant of the new Auschwitz Concentration Camp which was created as a work camp (early 1940). Himmler met with Höss and told him that Hitler had given orders for the final solution of the Jewish question and that "I have chosen the Auschwitz camp for this purpose." (May 1941) Höss converted a small part of Auschwitz for that purpose--the BirkenauVernichtungslager. Höss oversaw the constructin of gas chambers and crematoria which had the capcity to kill some 2,000 people in an hour. He spent the day compiling data on the corpses like a goiulish bookkeeper and then went home yo his loving wife and childrenen. The family was sconced in a spaceous villa on camp grounds. His children remember his as strict, but loving. He oversaw millions of innocent human including children being destroyed in the gas chambers, then creamated in the attached ovens, and their gold teeth harvested. Höss despite all these horrors he was perpetrating actually wrote poetry about the 'beauty' of Auschwitz.
Robert Ley was the director of the NAZI Reich Labor Front (DAF). His father was a poor peasant farmer. Robert was born in Niederbreidenbach (1890). He was a pilot during World War I. He was shot down over France, but survived (1917). He was a POW for over 2 years. After the war Ley he worked as a chemist for I.G. Farben, but was fired because he came to work drunk. Unemployed, he joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NAZIs) as it was recovering from the Beer Hall Putsch fiasco (1925). Hitler was apparently impressed by him and made him Gauleiter for Rhineland South. Gregor Strasser in the radical wing of the SA had a falling out with Hitler as President Hindenburg and Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher attempted to split the NAZI Party (1932). Ley replaced Strasser as leader of the Reich Organization. Ley also began publishing the NAZI magazine Westdeutscher Beobachter. (Hitler saw Strasser as a dabgerous rival and he was he was one of the targets during the Night of the Long Knives. After Hitler was appointed Chancellor and armed with the Enabling Acts, he moved against the free trade unions. Hitler suppressed the trade unions and ordered labor leaders arrested. Almost all were socialists or communists and opposed to Hitler and the NAZIs. He then ordered Ley to forming the NAZI German Labour Front (DAF) to replace the free trade union movement. Ley seized the union funds and facilities. The DAF sponsored the Strength through Joy program. Given his role in mobilizing labor for the War, Ley was deeply involved in the NAZI slave labor program. He encouraged Hitler to use poison gas against the Soviets on the Eastern Front. American airborn soldiers arrested Ley who was hiding near the Austrian border. The Allies charged him with war crimes. The IMT defendants were confined at Nuremberg for their trial. Ley rather surprisingly given the statements he made earlier, he penned a statement denouncing Anti-Semitism. He then hanged himsel in his cell (October, 1945).
The NAZI Foreign Minister was reportedly rather dim, but did Hitler's bidding. He was the son of a demanding, whip lashing Prussian artillery officer who expected his unexceptional son to excel. I have no information on clothing yet. He spent some time in Britain in a private school. It did little good when he later came to britain as the NAZI ambassador. He had no feeling for British sensibilities and was seen as highly offensive. He had no real influence on Hitler, but slavishly did his bidding. He was found guilty of war crimes after the War and hanged.
Hitler was a highly emotive speaker. Non-German speakers can preceive that from the news reels of his speeches without understanding what he was saying. As he perfected his speaking skills, he became highly effective in arousing great pasion among his audience, especially anger and hate. As a result, vandalism and violence often followed his orations. Hitler even personally participated in this violence. After leading a mob which attacked a rival politican, the police arrested him and he received a 3-month prison sentence (September 1921). The experienced convinced him that the Party needed its own army. He named the new group the Sturm Abteilung (Storm Section) (SA). The SA became knwn as the Stormtroopers or Brownshirts. The Stormtroopers in World War I were the elite troops used to lead attacks or blunt enemy offenses. The Brownshirts was derived frim the brown-colored military styled uniforms. Hitler employed the SA to attack rivals and break up their meetings and to prevent rival paeties from doing the same. Captain Ernst Roehm who Hitler had convinced to join the Party played a key role in recruitung the SA. A dashing World War I flying ace, Hermann Goering, was initially placed in command. Goering during the War had been second in command for Manfred von Richthofen's Flying Circus and replace him when he was killed. Many early SA recruits were unemployed members of the Freikorps (right-wing soldiiers) that had organized after the War. The NAZIs purchased a surplus supply of khaki military shirts from the Army. (The Army had planned to use them in Africa.) The SA also had grey jackets (grey is the color most associated with the German Arny), swastika armbands, ski-caps, jodphurs, and combat boots. The SA soon took to parading in the streets with loud bands, ans swastika flags and other party banners. After the march Hitler would guive one of his emotional speeches and not uncommonly their would be violence durected at Coomunists or other left-wing politicanns and Jews.
Alfred Rosenberg is often described as the NAZI phiolospher. He was born in Estonia of ethnic German parents. Estonia was at the time part of the Russian Empire. He thus was educated in Riga and Moscow. After the Russian Revolution broke out he supported anti-Bolshevik forces. When the Bolsheviks seized control he wisely fled to Germany (1918). He settled in Munich and brought with him a hatred of the Bolsheviks who he associated with Jews. Germany was soon in chaos itself with the Communists seizing power in Munich and being put down with the help of the Freo Korps. Like many Germans he saw a malevolent Jewish influence in both the Versailles Peace Treaty and the new Socialist Government of the Republic. Hitler after meeting him in Munich saw him as an intelectual. He made Rosenberg the editor of the Völkischer Beobachter. Rosenberg also denounced Christianity. He formulated a new religion "of the blood" that would renounce Christian priciples like love, humility, and charity. Rosenberg wrote, "The general ideas of the Roman and of the Protestant churches are negative Christianity and do not, therefore, accord with our (German) soul." ["Churchmen ..."] Central to the new German religion would be the doctrine of racial superiority and ideal of race purity. He came to be seen as the preminant NAZI philosopher. He was elected as a NAZI deputy to the Reichstag (1930). He expressed his ideas in The Myth of Twentieth Century (1930). Hitler dismissed the book as 'ilogical rubish'. Goebels dismissed his work as 'ideological belch' He did influence Himmler at an early stage, especially the idea of turning Nordic supremecy into a religion with a mission to purify German of Jews and other alien influences.
Hitler gave him the job of collecting musical instruments and music sciores for a unibersity to be built in Hitler's home town of Linz, Austria (1940). He had authority to loot Jewish property in Germany and occupied countries. After the onset of Barbarossa, Hitler appointed him to head the Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete (Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories). Here he ran head on into Himmler who saw the East as SS territory. Rosenberg found it difficult to enforce his orders as he did not have a large, disciplined police force at his disposal and Hitler generally did not take him seriously or back him. He was arrested by the Allies and tried at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. He was found guilty of war crimes and executed (1946)
Bernhard Rust was born in Hannover 1883). He was awarded a doctorate in German philology and philosophy. Even so he failed the state teaching examination (1908). He became a secondary school teacher at Hannover's Ratsgymnasium. He served in the Army during World War I (1914-18). He wa primoted to lieutenant and was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery. He was an early adherent to the NAZI Party (1922). By this time, Hitler was in firm control pf the Parry. Hitler was apparently impressed with him, presunably because of his loyalty. He appointed him Gauleiter for Súd-Hannover-Braunschweig. Rust was elected to the Reichstag as the NAZI Party scorced huge advances in the Depressuion election (1930). Hitler after becoming Chancellor, Hitler appointed Rust Prussian Minister for Cultural Affairs (1933). The next year he turned GGerman education over to Rust, appointing him Rust Reichserziehungsminister (Minister of Science, Education and National Culture) (1933). Rust held the post throughout the subsequent NAZI era. He thus became both a school administrator and fervebnt NAZI. He issued decrees with little vetting. Many wre considered bizarre by professional educators, especially in the early years before the teaching professiin was thoroughly NAZIfied. It was Rust who ordered that students should greet teachers with the Heil Hutler salutatiion asnd salute. Htler fid not trust the schools when he seized power. Rust set out to NAZIfy the educatiion sysrem so it could be used to completely immerse German youth in National Socialist philosophy. Besides NAZI ideology, Rustr had aassiion for orthography (spelling, capitaluization, punctustion, and other elemebts). He doggedly pursued spelling and other orthographic reforms. He met considerable resistance in the academic community, but many of his reforms were adoopted after the War. The day after the NAZI surrebnder, Rust shot himself (May 8, 1945).
Baldur von Schirach was arguably the most successful organizers of youth group's in history. In the space of a few years he had shaped German youth into young men willing to prosecute the most destructive war in history as well as to engage or acquiesce in the most brutal atrocities in modern European history. The boys he helped trained remained loyal to the end, in many cases joining in the hopeless often suicidal defense of their towns and villages even though the War was lost. Baldur von Schirach was born in Berlin (1907). His father came from an aristovratic German family. His American mother's familt included two signatories of the Declaration of Independence. On his father's side descended from an officers' family with artistic tendencies and a cosmopolitan background (Carl von Schirach had resigned from the army in 1908 to become a theater director in Weimar). The yoing Baldur grew up in a pampered, well - to - do environment. Schirach was one of the earliest members of the NSDAP. He entered the Party while attending the University of Munich where he briefly studied Germanic folklore and art history. Von Schirach was soon a member of its innermost circle, in spite of his youth. He became a convinced anti-Semite, after reading Henry Ford's The International Jew and writings by Houston S. Chamberlain and Adolf Bartels. The aristocratic von Schirach was also a militant opponent of Christianity and of his own caste. Throwing himself body and soul into organizing high school and university students for the NSDAP, von Schirach proved himself an outstanding organizer and propagandist of National Socialism. With his infectious enthusiasm and power to inspire youth with the ideals of comradeship, sacrifice, courage, and honor, von Schirach was highly regarded by Hitler who also appreciated his blind devotion as expressed in hero - worshipping verses and such sycophantic sayings as 'loyalty in everything and everything is the love of Adolf Hitler'. In 1929, von Schirach was put in charge of the National Socialist German Students' League and two years later, he was appointed Reich Youth Leader of the NSDAP, a post which he held until 1940.
Fritz Sauckel was put in charge of the German slave labor program, a key component of the German war economy. Sauckel worked with German occupation authorities to set up compulsory labor service in the Reich. Under Sauckel's direction, some 5 million people were transported to the Reich for forced labor. Most had to endure inhuman working conditions. Large numbers died. Speer resisted some of his efforts, esoecially in France, beliving great productivity and efficencies could be chieved in France. Sukel seems to have cared little bout actuak war priduction. In many cases individuals unfit for labor were transported. He was soley involved in obtaining foreign workers and transporting them, not overseeing their work. His motivation appears to have been the ability to impress the F�hrer with the numbers of workers delivered.
Hjalmar Schacht was a brilliant fiaanceer and banker. He was Reichsbank President and Minister of Economics before the War. Schacht was an early supporter of the Hitler and the NAZI Pary. His primary motivation was German nationalism and opposition to the Versailles Treaty. He supported the appointment of Hitler to Chancellor. He was in office when Hitler seized power. Schacht used his poition in the Reichsbank to facilitate the German rearmament effort. In particular he helped hide the vast sums that Germany was borrowing to finance the initial rearmament effort. Schacht while anationlist did not share the NAZI osession with Jews. He even deovered a speech denouncing Julius Streicher and his antisemetic publication (August1935). This was the beginning of his fall from favor. An economic crisis developed (1935-36). Schacht with the Price Commissioner, Dr. Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, led the free-market faction in the German government. They urged Hitler to reduce military spending, move away from autarkic and protectionist policies, and reduce state management of the economy. Hermann Göring led another faction arguing for greater government control of the economy. Hitler gave Göring control of the economy and Schacht was slowlu removed from office. He resigned at Göring's direction, knowing what would happen had he refused. Control of the economy proved very lucrative for Göring. And he did whatvHitler wanted, directing resources to the millitary. Göring knew nothing aboutbeconomics and cared less. Thus German entered the War with an extrodinarily system for harnassing the economy for War. This did not change until Hitler made Speer Minister of Armaments (1942), but by then it was to late. Schacht at the end of the War got as taste of the monster he helped create. He was arrsted by the Gestapo in the aftermath of the July bomb plot. He was sent to a series of concentration camps (Ravensbrück, o Flossenbürg, and Dachau. Schacht would write of his experience, "I could hear the people being forced to undress and march out to their death--and the shooting in the woods. It was beastly." Finally as the battle for Berlin was raging, the SS for unknown reasons took Schacht and some 140 other prominent inmates at Dachau to the Tyrol and left them there (April 1945). Soldiers with the Fifth U.S. Army found then there (May 5). At the Nuremberg trials Schacht said said, "I have full confidence in the judges, and I am not afraid of the outcome. A few of the defendants are not guilty; most of them are sheer criminals." (October 23, 45) And later he wrote, "All I wanted was to build up Germany industrially....The only thing they can accuse me of is breaking the Versailles Treaty." (November 1, 1945)
Arthur Seyss-Inquart was the short-term Austrian Chancellor.
Most infamouly he servd as Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands.
Albert Speer came from a prominant Mannheim family with progressive ideas. His father was a respected architect and Speer folowed in his father's footsteps. Speer was not one of the unemployed and dispossed who flocked to the NAZI banner. He was, however, mesmerized with Hitler and the NAZI message of national revival. He first heard Hitler in person at a gatering of university students (1931). Hitler took an interest in Speer because of a shared interest in architecture. Amd Speer did not disappoint as he helped to expertly craft of NAZI rallies, first with a cathedral of light. He would become with his appointment as Armaments Minister, the single most important figure in the NAZI war effot (1942). He proceeded to rationalize German war production. Germany had a smaller resorceand industrial base than all the contries the Führer decided to make war on and whay they had was being poorly used. He kept production going in the face of escalating Allied strategic bombing. Many World War II experts credit him for keeping Germany in the War for 1-2 years longer than would have otherwise have been possible. This meant as a result, the death of hundreds of thousands, probably more than a million people and widespread destruction of Germany and occupied countries. Ironically, Speer probably had a more significant impact on the War than the more ideolically committed top NAZIs. As far as I know, he was not involved in the Holocaust. It is unclear how much he knew, but in his memoirs he made it clear that he chose not to know. [Speer] His conviction as a war criminal relates to the heavy use of slave labor brutalized by the SS to keep the German war machine going. The Nuremberg Tribunal sentenced him to 20 years in Spandau prison by the Nuremberg tribunal. After serving his sentence, he published the autobiographical Inside the Third Reich (1970) and Spandau: The Secret Diaries (1976).
Julius Streicher was one of the more reprehensible NAZIs, a prototype-Jew baiter. Stricher emerged from the War a coarse and morally depraved individual. He has been described as a bully with a hair-trigger temper. He was a truly twisted person. Streicher was born in Fleinhausen, Bavaria (1885). He taught primary school for a time. He married Kunigunde Roth, a baker's daughter, in Nürnberg (1913. The Streichers had two boys, Lothar (1915- ) and Elmar (1918- ). He enlisted in the German Army when World War I broke out. During the War he was awarded the Iron Cross and promoted to lieutenant. He was an early recruit to Hitler and the NAZI Party. He was one of the most virulent promoyers of anti-Semitism through his vulgar, ponographic magazine, Der Stürmer. Although he was not directly involved in the Holocust, he was apparently perparing a photograph collection from the NAZI death camps to celebrate it. He proved so offebsive that Hitler removed him from office, but allowed him to continue publishing.
Karl Wolf is one of th leadig perpetrators of The Holocaust to escape justice. He was bornb into a wealthy, cuktyured family. His father was a jurist, He graduated from secondary school justuin time to serave on the Western Friont in World War I. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and was decorated for his service, he stated a career in banking, but as a suave, debinaire indivudual, he turned to public relations. He joined the NAZI Party and SS (1931). He soon came to Himmler's attention whom appointed him hias adjutant. Hmmler priomted him to chief of his persinal staff, privuidung him enormous influene .and knowledgv of SS operayions (1936). He became close to not only Himmler, but Heydrich as well. Boith were frequentb visutirs to Berchesgarden, Hitlers Bavarian retreat. Eva Braun captued theuir chummy relationship in her home movies. He coordinated financial matters for Himmler and his close associates. He was involved in both the Abnwen erbe and Lebebnsbirn, suggesting that hev knew how to cultivate his boss'good will. He was appointed the head of the SS Main Office and the SS liason to Hitler (1939). He became friendly with Odidi Globocnik, aming the nmiost odiious of the NAZI killers. It uis niot cklear just when he became involved in the killing phase of the Holocaust, but it was ckearly from an early point,. Within days of the invassiin of Poland, he ordered the arrest of all make Polish Jews in yhec Reich abd the confiscation of their property (September 1939). He was with Himmler when they were shown a killiong action near Minsk (August 1941). Thus was the event where braiun matter from the victims splattered Himmler. As abresul, he accelerated the develooment of alternative killing methods. Wolf prrsonally oversaw the deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to the death camps (1942). Wolf had a falling out wth Hmmler over family matters. (Himmler did not approve of divorce, but Wilf giot Hitler's approval.) Himmler trabsferred Wolf to Italy which probably saved his life. Wolf appears to have escaped the death penalty because he helped arrange the surreder of German forces in northern Italy. (At the time the extent of his involvement in the Holocaust was not known.) Despite short prison terms, he lived a long comfortabke life after the War. He wasno shrinking violent, making public appearnces, oesentung sanituzed versions of his War experiences. Like Speer, he capitlized on the immense public interest in the NAZIs. .
Hanby, Alonzo. For the Survival of Democracy.
Langer, Walter C. The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report (New American Library: 1972).
Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich.
"Churchmen to Hitler," Time Magazine (August 10, 1936).
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