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the employment of Eastern Workers (1942 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, page 419). (2039-PS)
Almost immediately upon Hitler's coming to power, the Cabinet participated in the Nazi conspiracy to wage aggressive war. This fact appears clearly from 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); from a letter dated 24 June 1935 and signed by von Blomberg, the Reichs Minister of War, which transmits a copy of the secret, unpublished Reich Defense Law of 21 May 1935 and also a copy of the decision of the Reich Cabinet of 21 May 1935 in the Council for the Defense of the Reich (2261-PS); and from a letter dated 5 September 1939 transmitting a copy of the secret, unpublished Reich Defense Law of 4 September 1938 (a note dated 4 September 1938 attached to this law states that the Reich Defense law of 21 May 1935 and the decisions of the Cabinet previously mentioned are repeated) (2194-PS). These three documents, important in the conspiracy to wage aggressive war emphasize the participation of the Reich Cabinet and Reich Ministers, through legislative enactments, in the conspiracy.
The Reich Defense Council was a creation of the Cabinet. On 4 April 1933 the Cabinet decided to form that agency (2261-PS). The circumstances of its creation were discussed at the meeting of 22 May 1933 (EC-177):
"Thoughts about a Reich Defense Council
"All great European powers which are at freedom to arm, have a RVR. One does not have to refer to history to prove the necessity of this institution. The war has shown conclusively that the cooperation with the various ministries has not been close enough. The consequences did not fail to materialize. The soldier is not in a position to have a say in all matters. The disadvantages of the past system were caused by parallel efforts of the various ministries in matters of the Reich defense. To avoid these mistakes a central agency has been created which occupies itself already in peacetime in the widest sense with the problems of Reich Defense. This working staff will continue its existence in time of war.
"In accordance with the cabinet decision of the 4 April 1933
ing and utilizing all powers and means of the nation." (EC-177)
The composition of the Reich Defense Council is thereupon set out. Hitler was President; the Minister of Defense was his deputy; and he, plus six more ministers (there were only ten at that time) and the Chiefs of the Army and Navy Command Staffs were permanent members. The remaining ministers, as well as "leading industrialists", were subject to call. Of the defendants who were then members of the Council, there was von Neurath as Foreign Affairs Minister; Frick as Interior Minister, Goering as Air Minister; and Raeder as Chief of the Navy Command Staff. (EC-177)
The presence of Cabinet ministers was indispensable. The cabinet by that time could legislate for the Reich. It had a definite role to play in this planning, as Keitel pointed out (EC-177):
"Col. Keitel:-Points out once more the urgency of the tasks, since it had been possible to do only very little in this connection during the last years. He asks the delegates to consider the Reich Defense at all times and represent it accordingly at the drafting of new laws. Experiences of the wars are available and are at the disposal of the various ministries; (e.g. Reich Archives, Memorandum of an administrative official about gasoline supply). All these sources must be taken advantage of for the future. The task of the full time delegates is also to bring about a close cooperation of the ministries with each other." (EC-177)
Each separate ministry, moreover, was scheduled for a definite task.
66* * * In the work plans the questions and ideas are laid down, which have come up in the Reichswehr Ministry and must be considered in case of mobilization. Up to the present time the support on the part of other Ministries was frequently based only on personal helpfulness since any authority from above was lacking. The following work plans are finished.
"a. Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Economics.
Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Work Plan for the Reich Ministry of Labor.
"These three are composed in one work plan for the preparation of a war economy.
"b. Work Plan for the Reich Postal Ministry.
"c. Work Plan for the Reich Traffic Ministry.
"Request the plans to be worked through carefully by the competent Ministries. The plans will be discussed beginning of June, when proposals for improvements may be made. The other Ministries which have no work plans yet will receive them later on. The Office of Air Raid Protection will work out a work plan in conjunction with the Reich Commissariat for Aviation." (EC-177)
The secrecy of all undertakings was stressed:
"Security and Secrecy."
"Question has been brought up by the Reich Ministries. "The secrecy of all Reich Defense work has to be maintained very carefully. Communications with the outside by messenger service only, has been settled already with the Post Office, Finance Ministry, Prussian Ministry of the Interior and the Reichswehr Ministry. Main Principle of security: No document must be lost since, otherwise, the enemy propaganda would make use of it. Matters communicated orally cannot be proven; they can be denied by us in Geneva. Therefore, the Reichswehr Ministry has worked out security directives for the Reich Ministries and the Prussian Ministry of the Interior." (EC-177)
As time went on and greater concentration of power was needed, the Cabinet made changes and additions to this secret war planning body. Article 6 of the Secret Defense Law of 1935 (2261-PS) provided:
"(1) The Fuehrer and Reichschancellor will appoint a plenipotentiary-general for war economy to direct the entire war economy.
"(2) It is the task of the plenipotentiary-general for war economy to put all economic forces in the service of carrying on the war and to secure the life of the German people economically.
"(3) Subordinate to him are:
The Reichsminister for Economy.
The Reichsminister for Food and Agriculture.
The Reichs Labor Minister.
The Reichs Forest Master, and all Reichs' agencies immediately subordinate to the Fuehrer and Reichschancellor. Furthermore the financing of the war effort (in the province of the Reichs Finance Ministry and of the Reichsbank) will be carried on under his responsibility.
"(4) The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy is au
thorized, within his realm of responsibility to issue legal regulations, which may deviate from the existing laws." (2261-PS)
Schacht was named as Plenipotentiary for War Economy. It will be noted that the Reich Ministers for Food and Agriculture and for Labor, and the Reichs Forest Master (who by this time had Cabinet rank) had not been included in the original membership of the Reichs Defense Council. Darré was Minister for Food and Agriculture, Seldte for Labor, and Goering was Reich Forest Master.
On the same day the Law was passed, the Cabinet made these decisions covering the newly-created Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy (EC-177):
"1. The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy appointed by the Fuehrer and Reichschancellor will begin his work already in peacetime *
"2. The Reichsminister of War and the Plenipotentiary for War Economy will effect the preparations for mobilization in closest cooperation on both sides.
"3. The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy will be a permanent member of the Reich Defense Council (Reichsverteidigungsrat). Within the working committee he represents through his leadership staff the interests of war economy." (EC-177)
The complete reorganization of this Reich Defense Council took place in 1938, under the Secret Defense Law of 4th September of that year. By that time, there had been a reorganization of the Armed Forces: the chief of the OKW had been created and the War Ministry had been abolished (2194-PS). The Reich Defense Council in 1938 was composed of Goering, as permanent deputy and Minister of Air and Supreme Commander of the Air Force; Raeder as Supreme Commander of the Navy; Hess as Deputy of the Fuehrer; von Neurath as President of the Secret Cabinet Council; Frick as Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration; Keitel as Chief of the OKW; Funk as Plenipotentiary for Economics; Ribbentrop as Minister of Foreign Affairs; Schacht as President of the Reichsbank directorate (2261-PS). An important part of the Reich Defense Council was the Working Committee. The minutes of the twelfth meeting of the Reich Defense Working Committee, on 14 May 1936, read (EC-407):
"1. The National Minister of War and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, General Field Marshal von Blomberg, opened the 12th meeting of the Reichs Defense Committee
by expressing thanks for the work accomplished and pointing out in principle the necessity of a preparation for a total mobilization with emphasis on the most important measures to be taken at this time. (Among others; mobilization schedule, legal basis, preparations in the remilitarized zone.) He further indicates the assignment of the national resources (Reichsressort) to finance its measures for preparation of the Reichs defense out of its budget.
"2. The chairman of the Reichs Defense Committee, Lieutenant General Keitel, states:
"In todays and future meetings of the Reichs Defense Committee a cross section of the general situation concerning all matters of the national defense is presented. The picture of the situation does not appear in the reports of the meetings. "The open discussion of State secrets before our large committee gives the special obligation to the chairman of the Reichs Defense Committee of pointing out its secrecy.
"Todays sessions takes place under the auspices of the restoration of the State authority in the demilitarized zone. "The difficulties of the economic situation, which are presented today, must be mastered." (EC-407)
This Working Committee was still functioning in 1939. The Mobilization Book for Civil Administration of 1939 states, in part (1639-A-PS):
"D. Terms for Mobilization Preparations by the Civil Administration.
"The acceptance of all new measures in the Mobilization Book for Civil Administration must be requested from the Chief of the Reich Defense Committee (Department of State Defense in the Armed Forces High Command)." (1639-A-PS)
The composition of the Working Committee was redefined by the Secret Law of 1938 as follows (2194-PS):
"The Reich Defense Committee [Reichsverteidigungsausschuss] (RVA):
"(1) The Reich Defense Committee is the working Committee of the RVR. It prepares the decisions of the RVR, sees to their execution, and secures collaboration between armed forces, chief Reich offices, and party.
"(2) Presiding is the chief of the OKW. He regulates the activity of the committee and gives the directions to the GBV and CBW and to the Reich ministries not subordinated to them and to the chief Reich offices according to the decisions