*** war and social upheaval: World War II -- NAZI Party organization

NAZI Party Organization

Figure 1.--This is a basic chart showing the organization of the NAZI Party as a governing party (1933-45). There were a range of changes made over this period. The principal one was that the SA which was so large and poweful was virtually eliminated as an effective Party unit. And the SS steadily grew to become a state within a state. Neither of these developments are reflected in this chart. And the HJ began as a unit od the SA, but after the Night pf the Long Knives gradually became independent.

The NAZI Party was organized on a hierarchial basis. At the top of the Party structure was German Führer Adolf Hitler. This was both a party and government post Hitler assumed in the death of President Hindenburg (1934). Hitler thus combined the Party leadership and Chancelor positions he already held with that of the presidency. His title at that time became Führer. Hitler's successor designate was first, Hermann Goering (until the last weeks of the Reich), and second, Rudolf Hess (until his flight to Scotland in 1941). The leadership corps of the Party began with Hitler as was divided into six levels below him: 2. Reichsleiter (ministers) 3. Gauleiter (3 through 7 known collectively as Hoheitstraiger) | 4. Kreisleiter 5. Ortsgruppenleiter 6. Zellenleiter 7. Blockleiter. The Party was also organized into several leadership groups and associated federations. These varied somewhat over time, both in numbers and responsibilities.

Fuehrerprinzip/Hierarchial (Vertical) Structure

The NAZI Party was organized on a hierarchial basis described as the Fuehrerprinzip or Führer Principle. At the top of the Party structure was German Führer Adolf Hitler. This was both a party and government post Hitler assumed in the death of President Hindenburg (1934). Hitler thus combined the Party leadership and Chancelor positions he already held with that of the presidency. His title at that time became Führer. Hitler's successor designate was first, Hermann Goering (until the last weeks of the Reich), and second, Rudolf Hess (until his flight to Scotland in 1941). The leadership corps of the Party began with Hitler as was divided into six levels below him: 2. Reichsleiter (ministers) 3. Gauleiter (3 through 7 known collectively as Hoheitstraiger) 4. Kreisleiter 5. Ortsgruppenleiter 6. Zellenleiter 7. Blockleiter.

Parteikanzlei/Party Chancellory

The Party Chancellory (Chef der Parteikanzlei) was Hitler's immediate staff. This office was adminitered by Hitler's Deputy Rudolph Hess (1933-41) and then after Hess's flight to Scotland by Martin Bormann (1941-45). With Hitler's physical decline and preoccupation with the War, Borman assumed a major role in running the Party, depite the fact that he had almost no real base of power in the Party.

Reichsleiter (Horizonal Structure)

There were 16-18 Reichsleiter (the number varied somewhat over time) can be translated as government leaders. These included some ministers of the German government agencies, but Reichsleiter was not synomanous with Reichminister. The Reichsleiter made up the Party Directorate (Reichsleitung) or principal party leadership. It was these leaders who were primarily resonsible for implementing Party policies throughout the German Government. Reichsleitet were given responsibility for at least one office within the Party Directorate. They held a range of other posts such as the leadership of Party formations, associated federations, and a range of supervised organizations. Some were also appointed ministers of state or the head of smaller governmental organizations. The Reichsleitung is thus the basic horizontal organization of the party based on a functional bass. Each office within the Party Reichsleitung carried out specific tasks assigned by the Führer or by the Party Chancellory. Several Reichsleitern were very important in the NAZI Party. Alfred Rosenberg was the Führer's for Ideological Training and Education of the Party (Der Beauftragte des Fuehrer's fuer die Ueberwachung der gesammten geistigen und weltanschaulichen Schulung und Erziehung). Hans Frank headed the Party's Legal Office (Reichsleiter des Reichsrechtsamtes). Baldur von Schirach was the Leader for Youth Education (Leiter fuer die Jugenderziehung). Robert Ley was the Leader of the Party Organization (Reichsorganisationsleiter der NSDAP) and Leader of the German Labor Front (Leiter der Deutschen Arbeitsfront). One of Hitler's favorites had virtually no following within the Party, but played a major role in rationalizing war production, especially after the the death of Fritz Tot. One of the actions he took was to seize control of the massive Tot Organization.

Gliederungen/Leadership Groups

The Party was also organized into several Gliederungen or leadership groups. These controlled party organizations were essentially the actual Party or party structure. These included the most impottant party leadership and cadre formation organizations. The SA had been the Party muscle, but after the Night of the Long Knives (1934), the SA was replaced in authority by the SS. SA commander Roehm and the top DA leadership were arrested and executed by the SS. The SS became the premenent power in Germany. The SS was not only a Party Organization, but came to include the Government police and internal security organizations as well. The Hitler Youth Organization became a massive national youth movement given the responsibility for youthful cadre formation. There were also orgnizatioijs for women and university dstudents. Most Party memnbers belonged to one of these organizations.

Sturmabteilungen/Storm Troops (SA)

Hitler ws 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 Communists or other left-wing politicanns and Jews.

Schutzstaffeln (SS)

The SS was initially organized as Hitler's personal bodyguard. Under Heinrich Himler it was organized as an elite group strongly enfused with German concepts of Volk and blood (race). The SS was Hitler's principal tool for carrying out the "Finl Sollution". SS ReichFührer-SS in October 1939, following the invasion of Poland, set up a new SS section to deal with deportations and emigration. Himmler was obsessed with Arayanizing occupied Polish terrtories. Himmler had no quams about using force to accomplish this process. Himmler and the SS had considerable experience at killing and brutalizing Germans that opposed the NAZIs. Toward Jews and other peoples judged "subhuman," Himmler and the SS felt no compunction to act outside the normal rules of civilized behavior. And under Himmler's leadership, the SS emerged as the most powerful element in the NAZI Germany, essentially a state within a state. Just before Hitler launched World War II, all aggencies of state security were centalized within the SS, bluring the lines between a NAZI Party agency and a government police agency. . And after the War began, The SS developed a powerful military formation. Irionically as the NAZI fortunes of war declined, the SS formations became an increasingly important element if German combat strength.

Kraftfahrkorps/Motor Corps (NSKK)

The National Socialist Motor Corps (Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps -- NSKK) was the smallest of tyhe verious NAZI Party Gliederungen/Leadership Groups. It was organized as another pra-military group. The NSKK was officially created (1931) but was a successor organisation to the older National Socialist Automobile Corps (NSAK) and other relzted NAZI formations. Martin Boreman was the organizer of one of them. The NSKK seem an unlikely formation to become a NAZI Party Leadership Group. We have not noted that issue being addressed elsewhere. We suspect there are several reaons for this. First, few early NAZIs had cars or mode of transport, especially the SA bully boy storm troopers. Second, Hitler had a spdcial interest in cars. There is nothing he much liked more than to be driven around in powerful Mercesdes. And he gave cinsiderable attenton to the Autobahns as well as launcjing the Volswagen--the People's Car. Third, Germany needed mechznics and drivers if it was going go launch a mechnized war. Few Germansdhad cars and thus mecanical skills were not widespread in contrast to Americans. We are not xsure how this last item was in Huitler's thinking when he created the NSKK, but it certainly became important as war approached. The NSKK was a training organization, providing instruction in the operation and maintenance of motor vehivckes--motorcycles and automobiles. The NSKK also provided transport MAZI Party aznd at firt SA officials/members. The NSKK before the War also acted as a roadside assistance group, comparable to the Automobile Associationsin America and Britzin. After Hitler and Stalin launched World War II, the NSKK was used in the transport corps of various German military services. branches.

Hitlerjugend/Hitler Youth (HJ)

The Hitler Jugend (Hitler Youth), the NAZI party's youth movement, indoctrinated German youth to perpetuate the "1,000 year Reich." The Hitler Youth movement emphasized activism, physical training, NAZI ideology, especially nationalism and racial concepts, and absolute obedience to Hitler and the NAZI Party. Indoctrinating children in National Socialist idelogy was a key goal of the NAZI Party. Once Hitler assumed control over the German state, he used the Goverment to make the Hitler Youth the country's all encompasing youth movement. Hitler and other NAZIs leaders saw the indoctrination of young Germans as of critical importance. In the same year that they took power, the NAZIs organized German youth organizations into two branches of the Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugen), one branch for boys and one for girls. Membership was eventually made compulsory and all boys had to report to a neigborhood office to have his racial background checked and be registered for membership. There was then a typically elaborate introduction ceremony on the Füherer's birthday. The Hitler Youth was not just a German version of the Boy Scouts. The Hitler Youth were more similar to the Soviet Young Pioneers, but even with the Pioneers there were major differences. Hitler from the beginning saw the Hitler Youth movement as a tool to hardening boys for their future role of soldiers. He wanted a generation of "victorious active, daring youth, imune to pain." There was to be no "intelectual" training for the boys of the New Order, he saw intelectual pursuits as damaging to German youth. The NAZIs used the Hitler Jugend to educate German Youth " in the spirit of National Socialism " and subjected them to an intensive programme of Nazi propaganda. The NAZIs established the Hitler Jugend as a source of replacements for the Nazi Party formations. The Hitler Youth leadership in October, 1938 entered into an agreement with Himmler under which members of the Hitler Jugend who met SS standards would be considered as the primary source of recruitment for the SS. The NAZIs also used the Hitler Jugend for pre-military training. Special units were set up whose primary purpose was training specialists for the various military branches. HNC has compiled the following information on the Hitler Youth movement and the uniforms the boys wore.

Deutscher Studentenbund/German Students' Bund (NSDStB)

The Deutscher Studentenbund (German Students' Bund -- NSDStB) was founded as a division of the NAZI Party (1926). The purpose was to build University-level education and academic life arond the NAZI Party world view. The Bund organized ideological training at universities and implemented paramilitary training thinly disguised as exercise and work details. It complied with the Führerprinzip (leader principle) demanded by Hitler. The NAZIs found great support for their ultra-patriotic vission om campus. The SA which as so important to the NAZIs were largely uneducated thugs. But German universities were a different matter. They cam firm cultured amd welleduacted upper amd ,middle-class families. Even so NAZI support quickly dominted Germn universities. The NSDStB housed its members in so-called Kameradschaftshäusern (Fellowship Houses). These were no new. There was a long tradition of German all-male student fraternity groups (Burschenschaften). These fraternities even before the NAZId were the most nationalistic and antisemitic elements of German society. NSDStB members begn wearing the brown shirts of the SA with the Bund' own distinctive Swastika emblem. Even before the NAZIs seized power, there was scattered violence and intimdation on campus. Shirtly after Hitler seized power, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service (April 7, 1933) brought the Bund to the firefrint on campus. Suddenly it went from a fringe student politicsl organization to a major force. The Restoration Law irdered the dismissal of all tenured German civil servants who were 'not of Aryan descent' as well as NAZI 'political opponents'. This meant the removal of Jewish and 'politically undesirable' faculty members. Exceptions were maded for those who had served at n the front in World War I or were appointed before the beginning of the Weimar Republic. If university administrators were slow to act the Bund launched 'cleansing' actions. Some 1,100 faculty members were dissmissed by 1935. Yhe Bund used acriin and intimidation ni=ot only against faculty members, but also Jewish students. The Bund also played a major part in the NAZI book burnings. Fermany prestigious universities were among the first to have their libraries cleased of books by Jewish authoirs and with ideas which questioned NAZI ideology.

Frauenschaft/Women's Organization

The National Socialist Women's League (Nationalsozialistische Frauenschaft--NSF) was the women's wing of the NAZI Party. As the NAZI Party grew stronger, Hitler decided to combine various nationalist and NAZI women's associations, including the German Women's Order (Deutscher Frauenorden -- DFO). This meant in prctical terms tht women were subordinated to the NAZI Reich leadership (Reichsleitung). Girls and young women were the responsibility of the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM)-- the Hitler Youth unit for girls. Hitler appointed Gertrud Scholtz-Klink (1902–1999) eich's Women's Leader (Reichsfrauenführerin) (1934). She wouild hold that post until the end of the NAZI regime (1945). The NSF published a biweekly magazine -- the NS-Frauen-Warte. We are not sure about yhe trmsl;atiom. Yjat ppears to mean 'Women Waiting', but the message is unclear. NSF activities were to prepare German women to be better wives and mother in keeping with the NAZI view of women. Hitler dd not dwell a lot on wimen, but when he did it was oarimarily to cocius on women as giving birth to future soldiets. Ans the NAZI few was the place foe women was at home creating a healty and supportive place for her husband and children. The NAZIs adopted the Imperial German phrase -- Kinder, Küche, Kirche (Children, Kitchen, and Church). Thy were not interested in the Church poart, but thought it too well ingrained to change. The NSF focused on the children and kitchen. One imprtant assignent was to encorage women to use German products like rayon instrad of importmted products and food stuffs to support the NAXI economic policy of Autarky. The NSF organized classes for school girls and new brides. They lso organized circle groups on cooking, sewing, child birth, and child care. Any published material on women had to have NSF approval. Only limited information is availavle on memnbership, but it appears to hve reached 2 million (1938). The NSF organized a group for younger chilren kniown as Kinderschar. This was for childten under 10 years of age before they joined the Hitler Youth. The NAZI Prty closed the NSF to the general public. Those interested in joining the NSF were were encouraged to join the less politically oriented labor organiztion -- Deutsches Frauenwerk (German Women’s Work -- DFW). This was a subsidiary organization launched a couple years earlier (1934). This was an associate group, unlike the NSF not oart of the Party structure. Strageky the DFW seems to have worked at cross purposes with the NSF. The DFW found plces for women to work outside the home, altholigh at first it was traditionsl areas yuch as farming, nursing, and domestic jobs,

Deutscher Dozentenbund/University Teachers' Bund

Angeschlossene Verbaende/Associated Federations

There were several associated NAZI Party federations, known as supervised organizations. These varied somewhat over time, both in numbers and responsibilities. These were not Party leadership organizations, but rather the organizations primarily to enforce the Party's dictates to the German public. Partly this was done through the implied use of force and in part through professional advancement and other benefits such as a secure job or welfare benefits. These organizations were nominally independent. They had legal representation and owned property. They were supported by the Nazi Party in many ways, such as requiring membership. Many of these organizations were labor units. The largest was Deutsche Arbeitsfront/German Labor Front. There were also professionl organizations in which membership was needed to practice. Some were created by the NAZIs. Others were organizations that already Nazified under the Gleichschaltung policy. Gleichschaltung mean something like 'coordination' or 'bringing into line'. It was the process the NAZIs used to construct a totalitarian system with its tentacles into every aspects of national society. Thee organizations were use to punish people who were not politically relable and to isolate and impoverish Jews and others. The Volkswohlfahrt/People's Welfare Organization (NSV) replaced the churches (by controling fund raising) as the primary welfare organization. These organizations may seem benighn compared to organiaztions like the SS and SA, but in fact they played a role in the Holocaust and other NAZI babarities. The NSV for example created political and racial tests as to who received benefit. As a result, while not involved in the better known killing operations, these organizations were complicit in the Holocaust. They were involved in the infmous T-4 euthenasia campaign. These were also involved in prorams like sterilzing people identified by racial hygene courts. Lehrerbund/Teacher Federation (NSLB) played a major role in NAZIfying German education and inculcating the vicious attitudes that the German Wehrmacht displayed in atrocity after atrocity throughout Europe.

Zentralverlag der NSDAP

The Zentralverlag der NSDAP was the central publishing house for the NAZI Party. NSDAP was the abreviation for the National Socialist German Workers Party. The corporate orgins were a small Munich publishing company founded by Franz Eher. This is why on title pages it often reads Franz Eher, Nachfolger GmbH, variously abbreviated. Nachfolger means Successors. We are not sure why they continued to mention Eher. The Party purchased the company for 115,000 Papiermark (1920). The Zentralverlag published NAZI Party propaganda tracts, but did not limit itself to such material because it needed to make money to support its operations. It published novels, maps, song books, calendars, and other items. It published all the important NAZI newspapers, including the Völkischer Beobachter and the Illustrierter Beobachter. They of course published Hitler's Mein Kampf (1925). Reich Press Leader Max Amann, took over management of the firm in the 1930s. Using the power of the power of the NAZI police state, he acquired many other publications and publishing houses, turning the Zentralverlag into one of the largest publishing concerns in the world.



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Created: 7:14 AM 5/11/2006
Last updated: 5:40 PM 5/16/2021