** World War II -- Holocaust agencies and institutions

The Holocaust: Agencies and Institutions

Figure 1.-- The Holocaust is commonly see as the work of Himmler and the SS. Early on, one might have thougt it was the SA that would have been the orimary killing vehicle, but it provd to be the SS--largly because it was the force tiotally loyal to Hitler ahd could be relied on to carry out orders. But the vast enterprise that has come to be known as the Holocaust involved far more than Hitler, Himmler, and the SS. In fact many German government agencies and Party formations were involved in different ways. The killing was mostly done buy the SS aided by the Wehrmacht, but many other agencies played important roles in the process of the Holocaust. Quite a number of German government ministerie played various roles in the Holocaust. The Interior Ministry played a major role. Here we see the regular uniformed police suprvising the deportation of German Jews to the ghettoes and death camps in occupied Polnd. Other Interior Ministry unit were drawn on to staff the deadly Einsatzgruppen. The photograph is undated, but because we see the Star of David Jude badges and it is clearly winter, it was probably taken in 1942 or 43. Notice the DRG conductor at the right. The Jewish victims here are clearly unaware of the fate that awaits them. Notice one of the suit cases, the man's name was Ludwig Israel. He did not sant to lose his luggage, meaning he had no idea he was about to be murdered.

The Holocaust is commonly see as the work of Himmler and the SS. Early on, one might have thougt it was the SA that would have been the orimary killing vehicle, but it provd to be the SS--largly because it was the force tiotally loyal to Hitler ahd could be relied on to carry out orders. But the vast enterprise that has come to be known as the Holocaust involved far more than Hitler, Himmler, and the SS. In fact many German government agencies and Party formations were involved in different ways. The killing was mostly done buy the SS aided by the Wehrmacht, but many other agencies played important roles in the process of the Holocaust. Quite a number of German government ministerie played various roles in the Holocaust. Göring's powerful Four Year Plan controlled the economy and as part of that control, a range of actions were taken against Jews. The Interior Ministry and the regular police, not NAZI formations, for example, were responsible for collecting information on Jews and issuing deportation orders. Information was shared with the SA and SS. Both Wehrmacht personnel and the regular police were at the trainstations to supervise the deportation process. The Finance Munistry was involved with stripping Jews of their property before they were killed. The Reich Bank received huge shipments of gold fillings and looted property. The Agriculture Ministry played a key role in the Hunger Plan which involved starving Jews once they were concentrated in ghettoes. The Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft, one of the most respected German institutions, was responsible for transport. There were also institutions in foreign countries that participated in tgheHolcaust. It was the Germans, however, that were the driving force.

German Organizations

It is often thought that the Holocaust was primarily the work of the SS and Reuchführer-SS Heinrich Himler. It is true that the SS was the organizatiion responsible for the Holocaust. In fact, the Holocaust went far beyond the SS involving offices and agencies in many German Governmrnt ministries and NAZI Party offices. A huge number of people were involved many outide the SS network. The web was further expanded to German corportations vying for contracts and slave laborors. It is sometimes presented that the Holocaust was the work of the SA bulluy boy Stomtrooper thugs. I fact while the SA played an imoprtant role in the rise oif the NAZI Party, the SA was eviserated before the Holocaust began un eraest. Many intelligent, well educated professional played key roles in the Holocaust. This included doctors, lawyers, judges, university professors, teachers, civil servants, military officers, and other professionals. There were men and women throughout German society that conducted and drove the Hilocaust. The Holocaust would not have been possible without them. The question is often asked as to how extensive was knowledge and complicity in the Holoacust. Here we see part of the answer.

The SS

The SS was Hitler's principal tool for carrying out the "Final Solution". The SS began as a small force within the SA to serve as Hitler's personal body guard. Hitler chose Himmler, a seemingly unlikely choice to lead the SS. Foremost on Hitler's mind in making the choice was loyalty. Eventually Hitler used it to suppress the SA which had grown to massive proportions and was alienating the Army. From that point on, Himmler with great skill enlarged and expanded the SS until it became a veritable state within a state. The principal focus at first was not Jews, but potential opposition among the larger German population. SS ReichFührer-SS Himmler following the invasion of Poland, set up a new SS section to deal with deportations and emigration (October 1938). Himmler was obsessed with Arayanizing occupied Polish territories. Himmler had no qualms about using force to accomplish this process. Himmler and the SS had considerable experience at killing and brutalized Germans that opposed the NAZIs. Toward Jews and other peoples judged "subhuman," Himmler and the SS felt no compunction to act within the normal rules of civilized behavior.

The Wehrmacht

There still people who claim that the Wehrmacht was a professional fighting force whose hands were clean. They claim it was Hitler and the SS who were responsible for the Holocaust and other atrocities. Nothing could be further from the truth. Professional it was in military expertise. But it was also the key institution that made the Holocaust possible. It was the Wehrmacht which established NAZI control over conquered countries and then carried out the occupation. It was the German occupation in most countries which established the conditions needed to carry out the Holocaust. Some countries like Slovakia were eager participants even without formal occupation. The whole process of the Holocaust was to eventually be continued with the Slavs in the East. It is true that the Holocaust killing itself was conducted primarily by the SS and there were Wehrmacht officers who were horrified at NAZI atrocities. It is also true that the Wehrmacht was deeply implicated in the Holocaust. And as the NAZI regime grew in strength, so did support for the NAZIs grow within the Wehrmacht. There is no doubt that what the NAZIs were perpetrating was well known within the command structure of the Wehrmacht. Writing after the War can be self serving. We have ample evidence of what German generals actually knew and felt because the British taped the private conversations of Wehrmacht generals taken prisoner. [Neitzel] The British were interested in specific issues, such as the status of nuclear research, but the transcripts are a treasure of information about what the German General Staff actually felt. The Wehrmacht generals knew a great deal about the Holocaust, including large-scale actions like Babi-Yar. And the large scale actions like Babi-Yar commonly used Wehrmacht troops to concentrate the Jews and drive them to their deaths. They had an accurate estimate of the number of Jews killed. Some were appalled. Others felt that that they had not been brutal enough. And while the killing was primarily involved in the killing. The Wehrmacht was not only involved in the killing, but played a major role in hunting down and concentrating Jews so they could be killed by the SS. The killing could be done by small numbers of people, hunting down and concentrating required a much larger force--the Wehrmacht.

The SA

Hitler soon after seizing control of the NAZI (NSDAP) Party set up a Party para-military group (1921). The purpose was to provide security at NAZI Party meetings and functions as well as to sureptiously attack enemies, both NAZI enemies and Hitler's enemies within the Party. As a uniformed group within the Party, it gave the NAZIs a military look which appealed to former servicemen, many of whom were unemployed. It also provided an instrumnt for instilling discipline, at least at first. This group was named the Sturm Abteilung (SA) and became known as Stormtroopers. Theu also became known as Brownshirts because of the brown shorts that were used for the uniforms. They were chosen because a large batch was ordered during the War for colonial troops to be posted to Germany's African colonies and new colonies that would ve acquired as a result of he War. As the NAZI Party grew in popularity, the ranks of the SA expanded and they began to attack political events of other parties as well as cause disorder on the streets. The SA included some of the most anti-Semetic elements of the Party. Both the Hitler Youth and the SS began as units of the SA. The SA earned their reputation as a organised gang of violent thugs. The SA were useful in Hitler rize to power, but once in power they caused peroblems. They wanted immediate returns through seizing the ssetts of the rich. They also wanted to attack Jews. Hitler did not want to disrupt the country's industrial economy. That was needed for rearmament. And he wanted a more organized campign against the Jews. The SA was spo large that he found it difficult to control. He put an old colleage and SA cofounder in charge--Ernst Röhm to better control the SA, but the SA was huge and Röhm began to see himself on a part with Hitler himself and pressed for a Second NAZI Revolution--a Socialist Revolution. The SA frigtened the Army. The SA had a menverhip of about 2 million--twenty time the size of the Army. This led to Night of the Long Knives, Hitler's Blood Purge of the SA leadership. In return the army took an oath of personal loyalty to Hitler. The SA was not disbanded, but was reduced in suze. Theyh no longer played an important role in the NAZI Party. SA members were used at Dachau and other early concentration camps, but thy eventually became manned by the growing SS. The SA became a kind of Party force used by the various gauliters for their own neferious purposes. They asked few questions and coud be relied on to totally disregard German law. As they were largely removed from the NAZI Party leadership, they can't not be blamed for the Holocaust. None ofthe main figures of the Holocaust were SA men. No one joined the SA to advance his careet. They were dead-end positiins. he important fif=gures in the Holcaust were men who understood Hitler and how to adbance their careers by pleasing him. Whole the Sa was not involved in planning the Holocaust, they did, hoever participate in various ways. Thy could be mobilized for actions like Kristalnacht. And they could be used to extort money from Jews or steal their proerty. They were useful in actions like deporting German Jews to the ghettoes and death camps in Poland. They continued to be used as security in NAZI Party events and rallies. During the War, the SA's function was primarily to train Home Guard units.

Interior Ministry

The Reich Ministry of the Interior played a central role in the Holocaust from the first days of the NAZI dictatorship. It ws the Interior Ministry that made actions against Jews legal. The NAZIs before the War issued more than 400 decrees designed and regulations designed to make it vurtually impoosoble for Jews to make a lving in Germany and to steal their property. And this does not include regulations issued by municipal and state authorities. The goal at first was not to exclude Jes from national life and to isolate them. Many of these decrees were issued by the Interior Ministry and enforced as ncessary by agents of the Ministry. kill that restricted all aspects of their public and private lives. The most imprant decrees were the Nurenberg Laws (1935). The Reich Interior Ministry was directly involved in the Holocaust and killing prigrams which preceeded the Holocaust. The Reich Ministry of the Interior issued a decree ordering German physicians, nurses, and midwives to report newborn infants and children under the age of 3 years who showed signs of severe mental or physical disability (August 18, 1939). Shortly after, public health authorities began to encourage parents of children with disabilities to send these children to one of a number of specially designated pediatric clinics throughout Germany and Austria which at the time was part of the Reich. This was the beginning of the T-4 Medical Killing Program. The Interior Ministry and the regular police, not NAZI formations, for example, were responsible for collecting information on Jews and issuing deportation orders. Information was shared with the SA and SS. Both Wehrmacht personnel and the regular police were at the trainstations to supervise the deportation process. Here we see the regular uniformed police suprvising the deportation of German Jews to the ghettoes and death camps in occupied Poland (figure 1). Other Interior Ministry unit were drawn on to staff the deadly Einsatzgruppen.

Economics Ministry

Hitler sought to instal NAZI loyalists in Government positions. Some like Goebbels were highly competent. Other like Rust were loyal, but not nearly as competent. One appointment that was based on competence was Hjalmar Schacht, a respected economist and political figure. Hitler after his first year saw tht he needed a comptent economis to finnce his rearmament program. He appointd Schacht President of the Reichsbank and Minister of the Economy (1934). He proved to be a financial wizzard. Schacht was a German nationalist and highly critical of the Versilles Treary and he believed thtJews should be strippd of their rights, although there is no evidence that he supported killing Jews. In fact he objected to wht he called 'unlawful activities' against German's Jews and actually denounced Julius Streicher and Streicher's writing in the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer (August 1935). That said, making Jews non-citizens and seizing their property were key steps in the Holoaust. Schacht positions was after the announmnt of the Nuremberg Laws that ecommic role of Jews in Germany should be limited by judicial and adminitrarive masure, but this should be decided on and implemented and fixed so not to disrupt the economy (September 1935). [Longerich] He was not, however, a NAZI and not obseqiuios around Hitler. the Reich Minister of Economics under Schacht engineered a fiscal program that enabled the NAZIs to borrow the enormous sums needed for a massve rearmament program without destabilizing the economy. Schacht through a range of financial of financial steps, hid from the public, especially the financial community, the level od borrowing. Has this been know, it would have destablsized the financial system which would have made it much more difficilt to borrow money. One of his most important approaches was Mefo bills, allowing Germany to rearm without spending Reichmarks but instead pay the German companies producing arms and military equipment with Reichmarks and Mefo bills (Government IOUs). The companies involved couls use the Mefo bills to pay their expenses. One study estimates that before the War, the NAZI Governmnts's total revenue was 62 billion marks. Expenditures in some years exceeded 100 billion marks (1933-39). In some years about 60 percent of Government expenditure went to the military as part of rearmament. Hitler eventually dismissed Scaacht who insisted that military spending be limited because of the growing debt (1937). By this time, Hitler had Göring demand after Kristalnacht that the Economics and Fiannce Ministry accelerate the Aranization effort, maning seizing Jewish shops an business, and how to make Jews pays for thedamage done. [Göring].

German Finance Ministry

The German Finance Ministry ws the primary instrumnt or stealing Jewish property and impoverishing Jews. The Finance Minister was Schwerin von Krosigk who was not a member of the NAZI. He and Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick were the only members of the Hitler's to serve continuously durng the Third Reih. Von Krosigk actually was inherited from the previous adminitration. Hitler kept him, primarily because he proved so effective in the persecultion of Jews. One study found that the NAZIs almost 120 billion Reich marks was plundered from German Jews by laws and looting. Most of the 'legal' actions stealing Jewish property were actins taken by the Finance Ministry--the German taxing authority. This began oly a yearafter the NAZI seizure of power. The Finance Ministry set in motion a plan to destroy German Jews financially. The Ministry after theWar begn also playd a central role in looting the ecomies of occupiedcountries. Here foreig Jews were especially targeted, but the occupied people as a whole also payed a heavy price. The Finnce Ministry not only targeted Jews remaining in Germny, but hose ho fled. They had to turn over most of their wealth which had not already been seized to to the NAZI state in the form of an 'exit tax'. Tax laws discriminated against Jews from 1934 onwards. Von Krosigk through the Ministry used taxes, borrowing and 'outright theft' to finance rearmament and the ssequent war effort. The money stripped from German and foreign Jews may have funded a third of the NAZI war effort. [Ullmann] The Finance Ministry had an army of bureaucrats 'who discovered dwellings and bank accounts and emptied them'. [Kuller] Than after stealing their money, Finne Ministry bureaucrats disposed of tax abd economic records of the Jews murdered in the death camps. Those who disappeared in the extermination camps. This according to one scholr hlpedto foster the myth that the German civil adminitration did not participte in the Holoczust. "Post war there was a myth that the civil servants of the finance ministry were neutral; the reality was that anti-Semitism among them was an everyday occurrence." [Kuller] The Finnce Ministry set up the mecanisms for steaing the possessions of Jews who fled Germany asell as those remaining inGermany and eventually deportedto death camps. Once the deporttions began, auctions were held of furniture and oher possessins looted from Jewish homes. Profits were deposited in a Gestapo bank account which transferred the funds to the Reichsbank. This was pursued even more futhlessly in the occupied countries. Securityforces ransacking of 72,000 apartments in the eastern territories (Poland and the Baltic states). Finance Ministry officials kept track of the rail goods wagons that brought the loot back to the Reich (1,457 rail cars to Cologne, 1,023 to Rostock, 1,928 to Essen and 2,699 to Hamburg). [Ullmann] The Finance Ministry according to German scholars fomd that the Finnce Ministry was a 'criminal organisation'. [Ullmann] It was the German Government institution which developed and implemented the 'legal' confiscation of Jewish property. The FinanceMinistry also set ofmechanisms to steal poperty of Jews and others in occupid countries as wellas to loot the foreign economies. A key mechanism here wascontroling exchage rates. The funds generated from theFinnce Ministry's legitimised pillage was turned over to other Government agencies to support the War effort as well as to maintain German living standards. Hitler was acutely aware of how German morale plumeted during World War I vecause of food and gods shortages. After the War, the Finance Ministry's senior officials avoided serious consequences because they were widely believed to have been neutral experts in management, planning, and accounting. They wre not among the major war crinals tied by the the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (1946). Von Krosigk was tried at the 1949 Ministries Trial. He was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was, however, granted amnesty (1951).

Ministry of Justice

The rule of law is one of the vjewels of Western civilation. And the legal profession (judges and lawyers) is a key part of the the rule opf law. And the actions of judges are particularly imprtant. The NAZIs did not create jufges out of whole cloth. Most of the senior jurists during the NAZI era were on the bebch during Imperial Germanby (1871-1918) and the Weimar era. And even tghe younger judges were for the most part not trained during the NAZI era (1933-45). They were trained during the Weimar era (1919-32). Prussia had an authoritarian, conservative, and nationalist tradition, but there was also a well established legal tradition in whic he rights of individuals including Jews were protected. And other German states were more liberal than Prussia. One author writes, "Rechtsstaat, a German term meaning 'state of law',” is an important concept in continental European legal thinking, deriving from German jurisprudence. In a Rechtsstaat, the exercise of governmental power is constrained by the law to protect citizens from the arbitrary exercise of authority.government authority, ensuring public respect for the law, and guaranteeing that state actions had a legal basis . At the same time, they valued judicial independence in the form of protection from arbitrary or punitive removal from the bench and freedom from dictates regarding decision making. Above all, they rendered judgment based on such fundamental Western legal principles as the equality of all citizens, the right of an accused person to a fair trial, and the concept that there could be no crime or penalty without prior law." [Meinecke and Zapruder, p.7.] German judges, espedcially Prissiazn judges reflected the conservarive, authorurarian tradition. Many saw theWimzr Reoublic as illegitumzate, the result of a revolution. And we see tht on stiff stenteces habded out to leftidts and basically a a pass given to Hitler abnd ither riught-wing activists. .

Deutsche Arbeitsfrontt (DAF)

The Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labor Front, DAF) was essentially the NAZI Labor Movement. It was part of the NAZI Volksgemeinschaft idea of developing a greater 'people's community'. The NAZIs led by DAF Chief Robert Ley turned Germany's free trade labor movemrnt into a gool of the NAZI Party. The SS as part of the Holococausr turned the Jews into skve lsbor, killing the non wiorkers (elderly and children) and working the others to death or ultimately killing tghe urvivors. The DAF was not involved in much of this, although Jews were expelled from the NAZI unions, denying Jews the ability to make a living. Jewish property was seized tonprovide recrearyional fcilties for German orkers. The DAF commited terrible war crimes, but primarily against non-Jews, workers in occupied countries brought unto the Reich for war work, necessary because workers were being drafted for military service. People in the occupied East were simply rounded up by securiuty forces and turned into fioced workers--Ostarbeiten. Others were recruited in the West and held under somewhat better conditions, even paid small salaries. Ley, Fritz Sauukel, and Albert Speer were all involved in the slave/forced labor program. .

Reichsminister des Auswärtigen (RDA)

The Reichsminister des Auswärtigen (German Foreign Ministry, RDA) played an important role in the Holocaust. German diplomsts led by Foreign Minidter Joachim von Ribentrop actively promoted the Holocaust. Ministry officials deanded that occupied countiues, ANZI allies, and neutral nations cooperate in the actions need to murder Jews. The SS had the killing process worked out at the various death camps, mostly in occupied Poland. The SSs did not need help here. Tey were very good at killing. The primary problem for the NAZI killers was rounding up and concentrating the Jews so theu could be transported to the dath camps. If the SS had to do the rounding up, it would lomit the body count. This was the labor intensive operatioin that the NAZIs needed help with. Thus they needed local authorities to pass kaws making it impossible for Jews to makev a living and to concentrate them in so gheu could easy yto identify and located. Abd finally to permit their transport to the death camps where they could be killed with very little effort by the SS. All of this except for the actual killing was the job of the Foreign Ministrty--to get the occupied, allied and neutral countries to cooperate. Unnamed German dipolmats were invnolved, but Ribentrop personlly particioated in this vast criminal enteprise. A German Government commision found that "The German Foreign Ministry collaborated with the Nazis' violent politics and especially assisted in all aspects of the discrimination, deportation, persecution and genocide of the Jews." [Conze]


The Vierjahresplan (Four Year Plan) was Hitlker's concept of how top prepare Germany for war. It was launched (August 1936). The core principle was Autarky--forging an independent German economy that could resist an Allied naval blockade when war came. Hitler was aware that the Allied naval blockade in World War I had severely weakened the German war effort and civilian morale. The Four Year Plan was to prepare the country's military and economy for war. It was not widrly publicized in comparuson to Stalin's Five Year Planb because it showed that NAZI Germany was a socialist state, somethimg Hitler did not wantg the countryt's industrialists ro understand. He chose his closest associate, Herman Göring, to administer it. In actuality neither Göring or Hitler knew anything about ecconomics. WEhich is why when war came the economy was not harnessed for war. The chznges need ed to put Germany on a war footing as occurred in Britain and America did not come until 1942 after the failure of Barbarossa when itwas already too late. Notably the Germzan economy was lsrgely oriented to support the War in the Erst, rather than the all importnbt Ostkrieg. The Four Year Plan headed by Göring had a huge staff and enormous power. It was essentially the German version of Stalin's Five Year Plan. One of main reasions that the NAZIs and Fascism in general has to be considered a form of socialism. Hitler put Göring in charge of the economy, and the Four Year Plan was a way that Göring managed the economy. He could order any business owner to change his operations and product mox and simply seize his business if he did not comply. A part of that effort was to steal the property of Jews, in hid case corprate and other business holdings. A part of the effort to make it impossive for the Jews to make a living in Germany. The Four Year Plan meant 1936-40, but oince the War began, the Four Year Plan organization continued in polan and was the agenbcy that msnsged the economy during the war years.

General Government

The Genral Government (GG) was the area of central Poland around Cracow and Warsaw that the NAZIs used as xa kind of reservation for Jews and Poles. Mich of the killing of Polish and other Jews except Soviet Jews was done here ans in camps set up in what is now Belorussia just east of the GG. The term comes fom the German name for the areas of Poland seized from Russia during World War I. The vmajor role od the Genral Government was in stealing the property of the Jews and concentrating them in ghettoes where they could be starved bd ultimately easily available for transport to the death camps.

Reich Chancllery

The Reich Chancellery was noth a building and the personal staff of the German chacellor. Hitler was appointed Cgacelloe (January 1933). After the death of President Hindenberg (1934), Hitler combined the offices of Chacellor and President to create the Fühere state. He continued, hiowever, to govern through the Reich Chnancellry where his personal staff was located. He concluded, however, that for his more odious operations, the Reich chncellery was too public. He launched the T-4 euthenesia program through the Reich Chancellry, thus becoming pesonally involved wih the killing. Complainted began arriving. Hitler this decided that where security was needed, that operations be conducted by the SS. Whuich is thus, how the killing phase of the Holocaust was conducted as well as other killing operations. One of the most semenal Holocaust ammouncement, however, occurred at the Reich Chancellry (December 12, 1941). The date is significant. Hitler was suddenly forced to realize that Barbarossa depite huge successed had failed. The Red Army had not been destoyed and in fact had launched a powerful counter-offensive before Moscow (December 6). Hitler was no idiot. He knew what that meant. There would be no quick victory in the East. Rather a long-drawn out war of attrition was shaping up. And Germany despite all of its stunning victories was not not well positiined for a war of attrition, especially because he had declared war on America (December 11). Hitler ordered the highest-ranking officials of the NAZI to attend a meeting in the Reich Chancellery. Most key leaders and important party leaders, meaning the Gauleuiters present. Hitkler sid not address the mikliraty sutuatiin as expected. Instead he told them about the killing phase of the Holocaust. The term Holocsust was not yet in use. We are not sure about what term Hitler used. The NAZIS when speaking about the Holocaust commonly spoke in euphemisms. Hitler announced to the Reichsleiters and Gauleiters the alreadt ongoing destruction of the Jewish race. (It had begun with the launching of Barbarossa June 1941). Eiszatgruppen following in the wake of the Ostheer had begun the Holocaust by bullet.) Hitler refered to astatement he made (January 30, 1939) before launching the War. "If the world of international financial Jewry, both in and outside of Europe, should succeed in plunging the Nations into another world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the world and thus a victory for Judaism. The result will be the extermination of the Jewish race in Europe." [Hitler] Hitler had no wanted another Wirld War. He wanted to pick off his enemies one at a time. Now that he was iunvolved in a nother wirkd war of course there was nothing to do but v=blame the Jews. The meeting was held it Hitler's private rooms. [Aly] Because the meeting did not take place in Hitler's actual office, no official record was made. Some of the participants, however, have confirmed that the meeting took place, including Joseph Goebbels and Hans Frank. Goebbels who maintained a detailed diary throughout the War wrote in his December 12 entry, " Regarding the Jewish Question, the Führer has decided to make a clean sweep. He prophesied to the Jews that, if they yet again brought about a world war, they would experience their own annihilation. That was not just a phrase. The world war is here, and the annihilation of the Jews must be the necessary consequence." Some authors believe that with the United States now in the war as a belgerant meant that the Jews in NAZI hands no longer vhad any value as hostages deterring American action. (Hitler acted under the misguided belief that Jew had great sway over American policy.) Thus he was now free to act according to his long-term goals and plans. [Cesarani & Kavanaugh, p. 82.] We doubt if this was the case given the fact that the mass slaughter of Jews had already been going on for 5 months, beginning with onset of vhe Barbarossa invasiion of the Soviet Union. We think itis mote likely that with the failyre to destoy the Red Army, Hitler was so frustrated that he let his anger and desire to lash out overcame any degree of prudence and calculation he may have had. Soon after this presentation the Wannsee Conference was held to coordinate the work of the various Reich ministries in the killing process (January 20, 1942).

Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP (RPA)

The Rassenpolitisches Amt (RPA, Office of Racial Policy) was a unit of the NAZI Party created to unify and supervise all indoctrination and propaganda work in the field of population and racial politics. It was created almost immediately after Hitler seized power (1933). Despite the name, the unit did not set racial policy, but was more involved with education and propganda. The purpose was to 'educate' the public on racial issues. It was oriinally he NAZI Party Aufklärungsamt für Bevölkerungspolitik und Rassenpflege (Office for Enlightenment on Population Policy and Racial Welfare). IT was renamed the NAZI Party Rassenpolitisches Amt (Office of Racial Policy, RPA). All NAZI Party racial pronouncements required the approval the RPA before publication. This included measures concerning the population and racial policies. They worked closely other NAZI Party and SS agencies, especially the Reichskommissar für die Festigung deutschen Volkstums (Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood, RKFDV). It also reviewed NAZI decrees on racial matters. Hitler chose Dr. Walter Gross to destablish the RPA. He was virukehbt anti-semire abd early supporter if the NAZI Party. Hitler appointed him leader of the National Socialist German Doctors' Alliance (1932). He supported the extermination of Jews and the Holocaust. He continued to head the RPA until the very end. Gross burned RPA files as the Red Army closed in on Berlin. This was evidence 'that would have incriminated the more than 3,000 members of his national network of racial educators." [Koonz, p. 106.] Gross was killed in the Battle for Berlin, decribed as suiside by Red Army (April 1945).

Reichskommissar für die Festigung deutschen Volkstums (RKFDV)

The Reichskommissar für die Festigung deutschen Volkstums (Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood (RKFDV) was created to oversee the return, repatriation, and settlement of ethnic Germans who lived abroad into the Reich and territories outside he Reich seized by German armies ans were to be Germanized. This was essentially the implementation of Generalplan Ost. The imprtance of this operation can be seen by Hitler's choice of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler as the Reichskommissar to oversee operations. [Buchheim] Adolf Hitler after invading and seizing Poland in directive Erlaß des Führers und Reichskanzlers zur Festigung deutschen Volkstums ordered Himmler to take several actions (October 7, 1939). First, oversee the return to the Reich of the Volksdeutsche and Auslandsdeutsche (Reichsdeutsche living abroad). These were ethnic Germans in countries that the Soviets were giing to occupy as part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Agreement. Hitler ordered them to return Home to the Reich. Second, prevent 'harmful influence' of populations alien to the German Volkstum. Third, populate occupied areas with ethnic Germans, mostly by the returning Home to the Reich Germans. (Reich Germnans were not particularly interested in moving east.

SS Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt

The SS Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt (Race and Settlement Main Office, RuSHA) was created to safeguard the racial purity of the SS. The RuSHA assessed the racial purity of SS marriage partners to ensure that they met the standards of NAZI racial policy. Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler introduced the 'marriage order' (December 31, 1931) The RuSHA would only issue the required marriage permit once a detailed background investigations into 'racial fitness' of both prospective parents had been detrrmined. The individuals had to prove their Aryan descent back to 1800. [Burleigh, pp. 84, 273]. The first and longest director was Food and griculture Minister SS-Gruppenführer Richard Walther Darré (1932-38). Darré fell out of favor with Hitler because he was seen as not suffiicently 'severe'. With World War II standards were fropped and many of the unduiviuduals expelled were reinstaded. The activities at this stahe went far beyond mnarriage partners and became directly involved in the Holocaust. The RuSHA worked in partnership with the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (VoMi) in germanization actions in occupied territory. They monitored of settler welfare and the their relocation in areas designated by the SS, first in Poland and then in th occupied Ukraine. This meant not only the resetting of Germans in the NAZI Eoccupied Eastern territories, but also the usually brutal ejecting of the existing population. In the acse of Jews it mean murder. The RuSHA became an advisory and executive office for all matters of racial selection. Racial examinations were coducted by Rasse und Siedlungs (RUS) leaders and desihnated racial examiners (Eignungsprüfer). Thgey were needed in several matters requirung selection. First, cases of sexual relatioins Eastern European POWs or workers (Ostarbeiten) and Germans. This ciuld lead to deayh sentences. Second, children born to Eastern European workers. The children were usually murdered. Third, classification of people of rtnic Germans. This was priamrily used for the Home to the Reich ethniuc Germans. Fourth, enemy nationals, particularly Poles, for slave labor or Germanization. Fifth, kidnapping of children suitable for Germanization--the infamous Lebensborn progarm, primarily, but not exclusiuvely involving German children. Sixth, population transfers. Again this primarily involved Poland. Seventh, the persecution and murder of Jews.

Reichsministerium für Wissenschaft, Erziehung und Volksbildung

Hitler chose Dr. Bernhard Rust to direct the Reichsministerium für Wissenschaft, Erziehung und Volksbildung (Ministry of Science, Education and National Culture>. This placed German education in the hands of a zealihs NAZI. He immediately ordered students and teachers to greet each other with the Nazi salute to symbolize the advent of a 'new Germany'. Rust proceeded to purge German universities and schols of Jewish teachers, researchers, and administrators as well as others regarded s hostile to the NAZIS. Support was provided for future leaders at NAtionalPOLitische erziehungsAnstalten (NPEA/Napola). He ordered that the primary goal of teachers was to educate 'ethnically aware' Germans. Rust also ordered that that non-Aryan science (such as Albert Einstein's 'Jewish physics') should not be taught and promoted Grman physics. In an address to scientists, he said, "The problems of science do not present themselves in the same way to all men. The Negro or the Jew will view the same world in a different light from the German investigator." After the issuance of the Nurenberg Laws (1935), Rust aggressively pursued the ouster of Jewish childrn from German schools.

Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete (RMfdbO)

The Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete (Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, RMfdbO) ewas more commonly called the Ostministerium. It was created by Adolf Hitler shirtly after launchung the Barbarossa invasion of the Soviet Union (July 17, 1941). It was headed by self-appointed NAZI theoretician Alfred Rosenberg. His depity was Alfred Meyer. Rosenberg, Ernst Röhm, and Rudolf Hess were some of the earliest NAZI Party members. Ostministerium was created to administer the vast areas that the Ostheer was capturing in the East. Rosenberg' played a role in the NAZI regimes persecution of the Jews anti-Jewish policy. In the second half of 1941 the territory administered by Rosenberg became the region where the mass murder of Jewish men, women, and children first became a systematic pattern. [Matthäus and Bajohr] Much of the Holocaust killing was done in the East. The Ost Ministerium was less involved than one might think. This was because, Hitler did not have much time for theories or Rosemberg's idea. He wanted men who listen to him, not advised him. And he wanted men who carried out orders without question. Thus it was the more polically tuned atuned Himmler znd Heydrich and the SS that had real control in the East. Rosenberg wanted the Jews and Slavs to be used as slave labor. He believed that brutality was necessary, but wanted the population in East used for slave labor. And the Ost Ministerium did not have an instrument like the SS to carry ideas into fact. In the many cnfrontation with Himmler and the SS, Rosenberg and the Ost Ministetium almost always lost. Most of the killing in the Eastern areas assigned to the Ost Ministerium was done by the SS Eissatzgruppen which the Ost Ministeium had nothing to do with. The NAZI blueprint for the East was Generalpln Ost-- a SS document. The Ostministerium supported anti-Soviet Muslim groups in Central Asia. Rosenberg launched a program of land reform envolving decollectivization. He promised to abolish the collective farms and distribute the land to the peasants (February 1942). It did not go well. First of all it was easier to seize food from a collective farm than anindividual. Second, reverses as result of the Red Army Winter Offensuce (1941-42), and then Stalingrad (1942-43) suggested that the Germans were, not going to win he War. Third, Rosenerg never possed security forces to enforce the Ostministerium control, Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, while the Ostministerium was theoretically responsible for the occoied East. It never hadcreal administrative control. Hitler created Reichskommissariats that overlapped the area asigned to the Ostministerrium. And the individuals in these agaencies had access to the security forces anbd used them brutally. Few in the occupied areas took the Ostminiterium seriously. Hitler established two Reichskommissariats (Ostland and Ukraine). There were oplans for two more. (Muscovy and for the Caucasus), but Red Army resistance meant that the Ostheer was unable to estanlish firm control over eitherarea. Hitler appointed Erich Koch to administer the Reichskommissariat Ukraine and order him to pursue a hard, brutal approach and he did, This undermined Rosenberg's attemot to depict the Germans as liberators in the Ukraine, taking advantage of widespread anti-Soviet sentiment. Koch's brutality was a major factor in driving the potential Ukrainian allies back into Stalin's hand. Hitler does not appear to have taken Rosenberg seiously and had no interest in Ukranian allies. Koch ordered that "the homes of recalcitrant natives ... are to be burned down; relatives are to be arrested as hostages." The Ostministerium has no authority over Ostheer army and other security formations. Koch did. The other Reich Commissar, Hinrich Lohse (Ostland) was largely ignored. Himmler's SS filled the resulting power vacuum and as resistance increased, essentially creating a wasteland in what is now Belarrus. [Evans, p. 188.]

Food and Agriculture Ministry

The Agriculture Ministry played a key role in the Hunger Plan which involved starving Jews once they were concentrated in ghettoes. The Agriculture Ministry in most country is given the job of promoting food production. In NAZI Germany, the Agriculture Ministry was given the job of starving millions of helpless people. The Ministry's effort is known as the Hunger Plan. Food and griculture Minister SS-Gruppenführer Richard Walther Darré was unwilling to go as far as Hitler wanted. As a result, Herbert Bake rose within the Ministry and the Hunger Plan became known as the Bake Plan.

Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft (DRG/DR)

The Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft (DR) became deply involved in German war crimes, moving Jews to the ghettoes and death camps in Poland. The killing oprtions could not be effctively run without the support of the DR and large numbers of DR personnel were thus fully aware of just what was being done. They could observe how the Jews were being treated and how hundreds of thousands of people were being delkivered o small isolated camps where nothing further was heard from them. Countles images taken by the Germans show despeate Jews climing into nd descending from DR railcars or foreign railcars under DR control. The Holocaust was the not horrendous war crime in which the DR participated, but certainly was not the only one. And the DR alo moved slave and other forced laborers. The DR also played a central role in the explottion and looting of occupied countries.

Propaganda Ministry

State and Municipal Government

The Hitler Youth

The Hitler Youth Orgnization also played a role in the Holocaust. The HJ program stronly supported the anti-Semetic propaganda the children got in school andin the media controlled by the Propaganda Ministry. Among the songs and chants learned were 'kill the Jews' and 'streets running with Jewish blood'. Manybat the time insisted tht theGermans were no serious., just s wehearfrom many today that he Iranians are no serious when thy chabt 'Death to america' and 'Deatho the Jews'. The exclusion of Jews and the importance of the HJ in children's lives was just one more way in which Jews were cut off fromnparticipation in nationallive and contacts with other Gemans. HJ boys commonly beat up Jewish boys, helping to drive Jewish children out of public schools even beforre they were expelled. Older HJ boys were inbvolved in Kristalnacht and pogroms like the actioins against Austrian Jews following the Anscluss. We suspect that HJ children also reported on violtions of the various measures imposed on Jews, but here we have little actial evidence. Actual killing was unusual. Most of the killing was done in the East, outside the borders of the Reich. As HJ boys lived in the Reich with ther parents, killing by HJ boys were not very common. The Hitler Youth Orhanization cooperated with the Oministetium. HJ and BDM leaders were deployed in the East, primarily to work with the Volkdeutsche. [Rosenberg, November 25, 1942, p. 303."]

Foreign Orgnizations

Bulgarian Army

Croatian Ustache

French police

French Vichy Govetnment

Hungarian Government

Italian Government


Romanian Army



Aly, Götz. "December 12, 1941," Berliner Zeitung (December 13, 1997)

Buchheim, Hans. Anatomie des SS-Staates (1965).

Burleigh, Michael. The Racial State: Germany 1933–1945 (Cambridge University Press; 1991).

Cesarani, David and Sarah Kavanaugh. Sarah (2004). The Holocaust: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies (Routledge: 2004).

Conze, Eckhart. Conzeis one of four historians who served on the German Government study that assessed the role of Germn Governmentagencies in the Holocaut. Conze workedon the assment of the Foreign Ministry.

Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich at War (London: Penguin Books, 2008).

Göring, Herman. "Stenographic Report of the Meeting on the Jewish Question held under the Chairmanship of Field Marshal Göring in the Reich Air Ministry" (November 12, 1938).

Hitler, Adolf. Speech bedore the Reichstag. Die Zeit (January 9, 1939). Of course the Jews had nitiung to do with starting the War. That of course was all the work of Hitler and Stalin.

Kuller, Christine. Kuller at the University of Munich participated in the German Government commisioned study chaired by Hans-Peter Ullmann.

Longerich, Peter. Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2010), 672p.

Matthäus, Jürgen and Frank Bajohr, The Political Diary of Alfred Rosenberg and the Onset of the Holocaust (Rowman & Littlefield: 2015).

Meinecke, William F. Jr. and Alexandra Zapruder. Law, Justice, and the Holocaust (Washington: United Staes Holocaust Museum, 2014).

Rosenberg, Alfred. Polititical Diary published in Jürgen Matthäus and Frank Bajohr, The Political Diary of Alfred Rosenberg and the Onset of the Holocaust (Rowman & Littlefield: 2015).

Ullmann, Hans-Peter. A commission appointed by the German Goverment assessed the role of state agencies during the NAZI era. The result was a 880-page report. Ullmann is a Cologne history professor. The historical commission was given unfettered access to ministry documents which showed down to smallest detail how the Nuremberg Race Laws which divested Jews of their citizenship and basic rights created the opportunity for the Finnce Ministry and other bureaucrats to pillage and steal on property and financial assetts from Jews on an unprecedented scale.


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Last updated: 7:31 PM 7/21/2021