Nazi Germany Political Positions
In 1933, the Nazi Party took power in Germany and began a process known as Gleichschaltung to completely merge the civilian government of Germany with the political leadership of Nazi Germany. After the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, the Nazi Party underwent a major reorganization as a prelude to Nazi leadership members merging their own positions with local, state, and federal government establishments.
The first step in this process was to divide the Nazi Party into several "levels" which were designed to act independently from each other. These levels in turn were:
- Orstgruppen (Local level - German towns and cities)
- Kreisleitung (District level - German counties)
- Gauleitung (Regional level - German states and their provinces)
- Reichsleitung (National level - German nation)
Nazi Party political leaders were to choose a level in which they would make a career. Each level of the Nazi Party was self-contained and separate from other levels. While, in theory, this was intended to avoid jurisdictional conflict, the result was that the level leaderships ignored the wishes of the others and, in some cases, came into direct conflict. Hitler and the senior Nazi leaders were also "outside the chain", giving orders to all levels simultaneously and sometimes different party levels were given orders to carry out the same task. This caused high levels of in-fighting and backstabbing in Nazi leadership circles, to such a degree that regulations had to be introduced preventing deputies from succeeding their own superiors therefore to discourage subordinates from intentionally sabotaging their leaders.
The new Nazi Party levels called for several new ranks and the Nazi Party titles were overhauled with several new positions. Some positions were duplicated on each level of the Party while others were unique to the local, county, state, or national level. The Nazis also created a supreme political rank, known as Reichsleiter, considered the top rank of both the Reichsleitung (national) level as well as the senior most political rank in the party next to Hitler himself.
In all, the following were the primary Nazi political staff ranks used between 1933 and 1939:
The political leadership ranks were as follows:
- Stellvertreter Gauleiter
Further additions included the creation of several positional titles which were not actual ranks but merely titles that a Nazi Party political leader could hold in addition to their own formal rank. There was at this time no outward system to denote these special titles, other than verbal and written correspondence. This would change in 1939 with the creation of the Nazi Party's armband system.
The pre-war positional titles included:
- Blockleiter (Block Leader)
- Unterabteilungsleiter (Junior Section Leader)
- Abteilungsleiter (Section Leader)
- Zellenleiter (Cell Leader)
The system of Nazi Party ranks adopted in 1934 would remain unchanged throughout the remainder of the 1930s. It was not until 1939, at the start of World War II, that Nazi Party ranks would change again for a final time.
Read more about this topic: Ranks And Insignia Of The Nazi Party
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