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/Party Structure

The Party was also organized into several leadership groups. These organizations 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 Paty 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 leadership was 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. 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)

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.

Frauenschaft/Women's Organization

Deutscher Studentenbund/German Students' Bund (NSDStB)

We have also noted references to the Deutsche Studentenschaft. We do not know if these were the same or differet groups.

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 ofrce and in part through professional advancement and other benefits such as a secure job or welfare benefits.

Deutsche Frauenwerk/German Women's Work

Deutsche Arbeitsfront/German Labor Front (DAF)

The NAZIs upon seizing power swiftly created the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labor Front, DAF). This essentially replaced free trade unions which had a Socialist/Communist orientation with a labor association controlled by the NAZI Party (May 2, 1933). Hitler ordered the SA to arrest former labor leaders throughout Germany and confiscate the property of the supressed unions. Hitler selected Dr. Robert Ley to organize the new DAF. Ley was both Reichsorganisationsleiter (Reich Organization Leader) and leader of the German Labor Front. There had been NAZI Party cells organized in the unions (National Socialist Factory Cells Organization of NSBO). The key positions in the DAF were filled with these individuals. At a NAZI organized Worker's Congress, Hitler was made the DAF patron (May 10, 1933). He then gave Robert Ley the task of forming the Labour Front (DAF), the only union organization allowed in the Third Reich. Trade union collective bargaining was replaced with the NAZI Leadership Principle (Fuehrerprinzip) by decree (January 1934). Essential the industrialist and other entrepreneur became the leader and the workers were expected to loyally follow rather than make demands. In fact Ley through the DAF implemented a pay freeze (1933). The DAF set wages as well as a system of compulsory deductions (income tax and for the Strength Through Joy program). The DAF issued work-books with details on each worker's employment record. Workers could not obtain jobs without a DAF work book. This made it difficult for Jews and disidents to obtain work. The NAZIs created the Reichsarbeitsdienst/Labor Service (RAD) under which young men and women between 18 and 25 years of age were conscripted for labor service under the administration of the Reich Minister of Interior, Frick (1935). The DAF became the the largest but hardly the most important of the Party's organizations. At the outbreak of World War II there were 23 million members and an estimated 10 million corporative members (1939). The DAF during the war was responsible for the care of foreign labor employed within the Reich. Ley and Youth Leader Budar von Sirich cooperated to set up the Adolf Hitler Schools.

Volkswohlfahrt/People's Welfare Organization (NSV)

The NSV at first helped poor families with financial benefits, a kind of welfare. The NSV gradually shifted to performing services aiding poor families like organizing and managing day care centers, caring for children, assistance to youth and pregnant women, and various family health and nutrition programs. The NSV was established (May 3, 1933). There may have been an early progra, but until the NAZIs seized power and had the authority of the German Government at its disposal as well as swelling ranks of Party members could the NSV run significant programs. The NSV was the umbrella organization for a range of social and welfare programs. It was organized on the same basis as the NAZI Party. There was a central office in Berlin and then regional offices in each Gau. Germany in 1933 was severely affected by the Depression. With the NAZI rearmament program as well as the RAD program, the unenployment proble disappeared. As a result by 1938 the NSV began shifting from welfare programs to promoting services. A major effort was day care for worker's families. Here there was some competition with day care programs run by churches. A anjor slogan at NSV day care centers was "Hände falten, Köpfchen senken - immer an Adolf Hitler denken"--Hands folded, head lowered - always of Adolf Hitler thinking“. With the advent of the War, the NSV became the principal national effort devoted to children and youth welfare efforts. The NSV managed several different programs. One of the best known was the Mutter und Kind program which cared for pregant women. (I believe this was entirely different than the Lebensborn progrm which took the choldren away from the mothers.) The NSV also supported mothers in various ways, especially in the case of emergencies. One source indicated tht the NSV was financed through voluntary contributions of its members which increased from 1 million in 1938 to 11 million during the War. The NSV began publishing the ??? (National Socialist people service) magazine in 1933. It also began publishing a series of books ???? (Eternal Germany) in 1936. NSV leaders desired to make the organization the exclusive German welfare agency. While they administered a wide range of programs, they never managed to become the only German social welfare organization. There were a range of workers' welfare institution (AWOs). Other important groups were the German Red Cross and Caritas. One source indicates that NAZI racial overtones gradually appeared in the NSV progams, but we do not have details at this time.

Kregsopferversorgung/War Victims' Organization

Bund Deutscher Technik/German Technology Bund

Deutscher Aerztebund/Physicians' Bund

Lehrerbund/Teacher Federation (NSLB)

Reichsbund der Deutschen Beamten/German Civil Service

Rechtswahrerbund/League of Legal Officials


Altherrenbund der Deutschen Studenten/Federation of Former German Students

Reichsbund Deutsche Familie/Reich League "German Family

Deutscher Gemeindetag/German Communal Congress

Reichsbund fuer Leibesue/Bund for Physical Exercise

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: 4:48 AM 2/5/2013