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Under the Nazi regime the Reichsregierung gradually became a primary agent of the Nazi Party, with functions and policies formulated in accordance with the objectives and methods of the Party itself. The Reichsregierung became—at first gradually and then with more rapidity-polluted by the infusion of the Nazi conspirators sixteen of whom are accused in the Indictment. Its purpose came to be to clothe every scheme and purpose of the Party, however vile, with the semblance of legality.
A. Composition and Nature of the Reichsregierung.
The term Reichsregierung literally translated means “Reich Government”. Actually, it was commonly taken to refer to the ordinary Reich Cabinet. In the Indictment the term Reichsregierung is defined to include not only those persons who were members of the ordinary Reich Cabinet, but also persons who were members of the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich (Ministerrat fuer die Reichsverteidigung) and the Secret Cabinet Council (Geheimer Kabinettsrat). The most important body, however, was the ordinary cabinet. Between it and the other two groups there was in reality only an artificial distinction. There existed, in fact, a unity of personnel, action, function, and purpose that obliterated any academic separation. As used in the Indictment, the term "ordinary cabinet" means Reich Ministers, i.e., heads of departments of the central government; Reich Ministers without portfolio; State Ministers acting as Reich Ministers; and other officials entitled to take part in Cabinet meetings. Altogether, 48 persons held positions in the ordinary cabinet. 17 of them have been indicted as defendants. Of the remaining 31, eight are believed to be dead.
(1) The Ordinary Cabinet. Into the ordinary cabinet were placed the leading Nazi trusted henchmen. Then, when new governmental agencies or bodies were created, either by Hitler or by the Cabinet itself, the constituents of those new bodies were taken from the rolls of the ordinary cabinet.
When the first Hitler Cabinet was formed on 30 January 1933, there were 10 ministries which could be classified as departments of the central government. This fact appears from the minutes of the first meeting of that cabinet, which were found in the files of the Reich Chancel'ery and bear the typed signature of one Weinstein, who is described in the minutes as “Responsible for the Protocol-Counsellor in the Ministry” (351-PS). The ten ministers who attended are set forth:
"Reichs Minister of Foreign Affairs (von Neurath); Reichs Minister of the Interior (Frick); Reichs Minister of Finance (Graf Schwerin von Krosigk); Reichs Minister of Economy; Reichs Minister for Food and Agriculture (Dr. Hugenberg); Reichs Minister of Labor (Seldte); Reichs Minister of Justice (no name given; the post was filled two days later by Gurtner]; Reichs Defense Minister (von Blomberg); the Reichs Postmaster General; and Reichs Minister for Trans
portation (Freiherr von Eltz-Ruebanach)." (351-PS) In addition, Goering attended as Reichs Minister (he held no portfolio at that time) and Reichs Commissar for Aviation. Dr. Perecke attended as Reich Commissar for Procurement of Labor. Two state secretaries were present–Dr. Lammers of the Reichs Chancellery and Dr. Meissner of the Reich's Presidential Chancellery. In addition, Funk was present as Reichs Press Chief, and von Papen was present as Deputy of the Reichs Chancellor and Reichs Commissar for the State of Prussia. (351-PS)
Not long afterwards new ministries or departments were created, into which leading Nazi figures were placed. On 13 March 1933, the Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda was created, and Paul Josef Goebbels was named as Reich Minister of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (2029-PS). On 5 May 1933 the Ministry of Air (2089-PS), on 1 May 1934 the Ministry of Education (2078-PS), and on 16 July 1935 the Ministry for Church Affairs (2090-PS) were created. Goering was made Air Minister; Bernhard Rust, Gauleiter of South Hanover, was named Education Minister; and Hans Kerrl was named Minister for Church Affairs. Two Ministries were added after the war started. On 17 March 1940 the Ministry of Armaments and Munitions was established (2091-PS). Dr. Fritz Todt, a high party official, was appointed to this post. Speer succeeded him. The name of this department was changed to "Armaments and War Production” in 1943 (2092-PS). On 17 July 1941, when the seizure of Eastern territories was in progress, the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories was created. There was no published decree for this act. A file found in the Presidential Chancellery contains a typewritten copy of the decree of Hitler establishing that post (1997-PS). The decree provides:
"Decree of the Fuehrer concerning the administration of
shall be transferred from the military establishments to the
“I appoint Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. He will hold office in
Berlin." (1997-PS) During the years 1933 to 1945, one ministry was droppedthe Ministry of Defense (later called War): This took place on 4 February 1938, when Hitler took over command of the whole Armed Forces. At the same time he created the office of the “Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces" or Chief of the OKW. This was held by Keitel. The decree accomplishing this change provides in part as follows:
“He [the Chief of the supreme command of the armed forces is equal in rank to a Reich Minister.
At the same time, the supreme command takes the responsibility for the affairs of the Reichs Ministry of War, and by my order, the chief of the supreme command of the Armed Forces exercises the authority formerly belonging to the Reichs Minister.”
(1915-PS) Another change in the composition of the cabinet during the years in question should be noted. The post of vice-chancellor was never refilled after the departure of von Papen on 30 July 1934.
In addition to the heads of departments mentioned above, the ordinary cabinet also contained Reich Ministers without portfolio. Among these were Frank, Seyss-Inquart, Schacht (after he left the Economics Ministry), and von Neurath (after he was replaced as Ministry of the Interior). Other positions also formed an integral part of the cabinet.. Those were the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess, and later his successor, the Leader of the Party Chancellery, Bormann; the Chief of Staff of the SA, Ernst Roehm, for the seven months prior to his assassination; the Chief of the Reich Chancellery, Lammers; and, as already mentioned, the Chief of the OKW, Keitel. These men had either the title or rank of Reich Minister.
The Cabinet also contained other functionaries, such as State Ministers acting as Reich Ministers. Only two persons fell within this category—the Chief of the Presidential Chancellery, Otto Meissner, and the State Minister of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, Karl Hermann Frank. In addition, as named in the Indictment, the ordinary cabinet included “others entitled to take part in Cabinet meetings”. Many governmental agencies were created by the Nazis between the years 1933 and 1945, but the peculiarity of these creations was that in most instances the new officials were given the right to participate in cabinet meetings. Among those entitled to take part in Cabinet meetings were the Commanders in Chief of the Army and the Navy; the Reich Forest Master; the Inspector General for Water and Power; the Inspector General of German Roads; the Reich Labor Leader; the Reich Youth Leader; the Chief of the Foreign Organization in the Foreign Office; the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior; the Prussian Finance Minister; and the Cabinet Press Chief. These posts and officials comprising the ordinary cabinet all appear on the chart entitled "Organization of the Reich Government," and authenticated by Frick (Chart Number 18). The persons who held these posts in the ordinary cabinet varied between the years 1933 to 1945. Their names are listed in the chart (Chart Number 18), which discloses that 17 of these officials are defendants in these proceedings.
(2) The Secret Cabinet Council. Proof that there was only an artificial distinction between the ordinary cabinet, the Secret Cabinet Council, and the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich, is shown by the unity of personnel among the three subdivisions. Thus, on 4 February 1938, Hitler created the Secret Cabinet Council (2031-PS):
“To advise me in conducting the foreign policy I am setting
up a secret cabinet council.
Reichsminister Freiherr von Neurath
Reichsminister for Foreign Affairs, Joachim von Ribben-
Reichsminister for the Enlightenment of the people and
Lt Gen Wilhelm Keitel.” (2031-PS)
(3) The Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich. On 30 August 1939 Hitler established the Council of Ministers for the Defense of the Reich (better known as the Ministerial Council). This was the so-called war cabinet. The decree establishing this Council provided (2018-PS):
“(1) A Ministerial Council for Reich Defense shall be es-
(2018-PS). Again, all members of this group were also members of the ordinary Cabinet.
The Reich Defense Council, for secret war planning, was created by the Cabinet on 4 April 1933 (cf. the unpublished Reich Defense Law of 21 May 1935 (2261-PS)). The membership of that Council when first created is shown by the minutes of the second session of the working committee of the delegates for Reich Defense, dated 22 May 1933 and signed by Keitel (EC-177):