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"Composition of the Reich Defense Council:
Chief of the Navy Command Staff “Depending on the case: The remaining ministers, other per
sonalities, e.g., leading industrialists, etc.” (EC-177) All but the Chiefs of the Army and Navy Command Staff were at that time members of the ordinary cabinet.
The composition of this Reich Defense Council was changed by an unpublished law on 4 September 1938, which provided as follows (2194-PS):
(2) The leader and Reich Chancellor is chairman in the RVR. His permanent deputy is General Field Marshall Goering. He has the right to call conferences of the RVR. Permanent members of the RVR are “The Reich Minister of Air and Supreme Commander of the Air Force, The Supreme Commander of the Army, The Supreme Commander of the Navy, The Chief of the OKW, The Deputy of the Fuehrer, The Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, The President of the Secret Cabinet Council, The Chief Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration, The Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics, The Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Reich Minister of the Interior, The Reich Finance Minister, The Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, The President of the Reichsbank Directorate. The other Reich Ministers and the Reich offices directly subordinate to the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor are consulted
if necessary. Further personalities can be called as the case
demands." (2194-PS) On that date all the members also belonged to the ordinary cabinet, for by that time the supreme commanders of the Army and Navy had been given ministerial rank and authorized to participate in cabinet meetings (2098-PS). It is also worth noting that two members of the Reich Defense Council also appear in the Ministerial Council under the same title--The Plenipotentiary for Administration, and the Plenipotentiary for Economy. The former post was held by Frick, while the latter was first held by Schacht and then by Funk. These facts are verified by Frick on the Nazi governmental organization chart (Chart Number 18). Many other ministries were subordinated to these two posts for war-planning aims and purposes. These two officials, together with the Chief of the OKW, formed a powerful triumvirate known as the "Three-Man College" (Frick, Funk, and Keitel) which figured prominently in war plans and preparations.
The utilization of the ordinary cabinet as a manpower reservoir for other governmental agencies, the chronological development of the offshoots of the ordinary cabinet, and the cohesion between all of these groups, is apparent from the Nazi governmental organization chart (Chart Number 18). The chart shows the following offshoots of the ordinary cabinet: 1933, the Reich Defense Council; 1935, the Three-Man College; 1936, the Delegate for the Four Year Plan; 1938, the Secret Cabinet Council; 1939, The Ministerial Defense Council; and 1944, the Delegate for Total War Effort (Goebbels). In every case these important Nazi agencies were staffed with personnel taken from the ordinary cabinet.
(1) The Ordinary Cabinet. The unity, cohesion, and interrelationship of the sub-divisions of the Reichsregierung was not the result of a co-mixture of personnel alone. It was also realized by the method in which it operated. The ordinary cabinet consulted together both by meetings and through the so-called circulation procedure. Under the latter procedure, which was chiefly used when meetings were not held, drafts of laws prepared in individual ministries were distributed to other cabinet members for approval or disapproval.
The man primarily responsible for the circulation of drafts of laws under this procedure was Dr. Lammers, the Leader and Chief
of the Reich Chancellery. Lammers has described that procedure in an affidavit (2999-PS):
I was Leader of the Reich Chancellery (Leiter der Reichskanzlei) from 30 January 1933 until the end of the war. In this capacity I circulated drafts of proposed laws and decrees submitted to me by the Minister who had drafted the law or decree, to all members of the Reich Cabinet. A period of time was allowed for objections, after which the law considered as being accepted by the various members of the Cabinet. This procedure continued throughout the whole war. It was followed also in the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich (Ministerrat fuer die
Reichsverteidigung).” (2999-PS) A memorandum dated 9 August 1943, which bears the facsimile signature of Frick and is addressed to the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, illustrates how the circulation procedure worked (1701–PS). Attached to the memorandum is a draft of the law in question and a carbon copy of a letter dated 22 December 1943 from Rosenberg to the Reich Minister of the Interior, containing his comments on the draft: “To the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery.
in Berlin W8. “For the information of the other Reich ministers, "Subj: Law on the treatment of enemies of the society. "In addition to my letter of 19 March, 1942. “Enclosures: 55."After the draft of the law on the treatment of enemies of the society has been completely rewritten, I am sending the enclosed new draft with the consent of the Reich Minister of Justice, Dr. Thierack, and ask that the law be approved in a circulatory manner. The necessary number of prints is attached.” (1701-PS)
(2) Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich. The same procedure was followed in the Council of Ministers when that body was created. And the decrees of the Council of Ministers were also circulated to the members of the ordinary Cabinet. A memorandum found in the files of the Reich Chancellery and addressed to the members of the Council of Ministers, dated 17 September 1939, and bearing the typed signature of Dr. Lammers, Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, states (1141-PS):
“Matters submitted to the Council of Ministers for the Reich Defense have heretofore been distributed only to the mem
bers of the Council. I have been requested by some of the Reichministers who are not permanent members of the Council to inform them of the drafts of decrees which are being submitted to the Council, so as to enable them to check these drafts from the point of view of their respective offices. I shall follow this request so that all the Reichministers will in future be informed of the drafts of decrees which are to be acted upon by the Council for the Reich Defense. I therefore request to add forty-five additional copies of the drafts, as well as of the letters which usually contain the arguments for the drafts, to the folders submitted to the
Council." (1141-PS) Von Stutterheim, who was an official of the Reich Chancellery, comments on this procedure at page 34 of a pamphlet entitled "Die Reichskanzlei":
It must be noted that the peculiarity in this case is that the subjects dealt with by the Cabinet Council(Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich), are distributed not merely among the members of the Cabinet Council, but also among all the members of the Cabinet (Kabinett) who are thereby given the opportunity of guarding the interests of their spheres of office by adding their appropriate standpoints in the Cabinet Council legislation, even if they do not participate in making the decree."
(2231-PS) For a time the Cabinet consulted together through actual meetings. The Council of Ministers did likewise, but those members of the Cabinet who were not already members of the Council also attended the meetings of the Ministerial Council. And where they did not attend in person, they were usually represented by the state secretaries of their Ministries. The minutes of six meetings of the Council of Minister's, on 1, 4, 8, and 19 September 1939, on 16 October 1939, and on 15 November 1939, demonstrate this procedure. (2852-PS)
At the meeting held on 1 September 1939, which was probably the first meeting since the Council was created on 30 August 1939, the following were in attendance:
“Present were the permanent members of the Council of Ministers for the Reich Defense: The Chairman and Generalfield Marshall, Goering; the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess [a line appears through the name Hess]; the Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration, Dr. Frick; the Plenipotentiary for Economy, Funk; the Reich Minister and Chief of the Reich Chancellery, Dr. Lammers; and the Chief of the High Com
mand of the Armed Forces, Keitel, represented by Major
General Thomas.” (2852-PS) These were the regular members of the Council. Also present was the Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture, Darré, and seven State Secretaries: Koerner, Neumann, Stuckart, Posse, Landfried, Backe, and Syrup (2852-PS). These State Secretaries were from the several Ministries or other supreme Reich authorities. Koerner was the Deputy of Goering in the FourYear Plan; Stuckart was in the Ministry of the Interior; Landfried was in the Ministry of Economics; Syrup was in the Ministry of Labor.
The minutes dated 8 September 1939 (2852-PS) note that in addition to all members of the Ministerial Council, the following also were present:
“The Reich Minister for Food and Agriculture
Heydrich;" The close integration of the Ministerial Council with the ordinary Cabinet is seen by the following excerpt from the minutes of the same date (8 September 1939):
"The Council of Ministers for the Reich Defense ratified the decree for the change of the Labor Service Law which had already been passed as law by the Reich Cabinet. (Reichsge
setzblatt, Part I, page 1744.)" The minutes of the meeting of 19 September 1939 (2852-PS) show the following Reich Ministers to be present in addition to four members of the Council:
“Also: The Reich Minister for Finance, Count Schwerin von
Dr. Popitz." (2852-PS) Then come the names of eight State Secretaries. Others present included: “SS Gruppenfuehrer
Heydrich; General of the Police (Ordnungpolizei) Daluege.” (2852-PS) The minutes dated 15 November 1939 show the same co-mixture of Ministers, State Secretaries, and similar functionaries. In addition, the following were also present:
"Reichsleiter, Dr. Ley; Reichsleiter, Bouhler; Reichsfuehrer