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( 115 .)


a Ministry of Interior under Frick™s command.56 In fact, a somewhat uneasy
relationship between party and state may well have suited Hitler, for it kept
at bay any institutional constraints on his own freedom of movement. It was
probably for this reason that Hitler pointedly reserved for himself the right
to “issue the regulations required for the execution and augmentation” of the
In the Soviet Union it was the party which lent unity to state structures. By
contrast, Nazi Germany lacked any speci¬c integrative institutions as such.58
The cabinet lost its importance and, save for public rituals, ceased to meet
altogether after 1938.59 The party leadership in turn lacked a leading body
which could replace the cabinet; attempts by Frick, Rosenberg, and others to
establish a leadership election council were all blocked by Hitler. Instead the
Nazi regime was heavily reliant for what coherence it had on Hitler™s charis-
matic authority. In the early stages, the regime was extremely dependent on
Hitler™s pull as a charismatic leader for its high levels of social support. Thus
it was Hitler™s image as Fuhrer rather than the reputation or activities of party
organizations which helped convert millions of former nonvoters to the party™s
cause on 5 March 1933. When voters were presented with one prearranged
list in the Reichstag elections of 12 November 1933 this was, typically, not an
NSDAP list but “The Fuhrer™s list.”60 Once Hitler was in power, his impor-
tance to the unity of the system was made plain by the Reich Minister of the
Interior, Frick, when he informed civil servants that the Hitler salute was “to
be used generally as the German greeting . . . now that the party system has
¬nished and the entire government of the German Reich is under the control
of Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler.”61 Hitler™s centrality to the political order
was constitutionally reinforced, on the death of President von Hindenburg, by

This program too, however, was aborted as a result of the determined opposition of party

functionaries. At the same time, in some areas the party™s functions were absorbed by the
state. Thus, for example, its propaganda duties, one of the main functions of the party, were
taken over by the Reich™s Propaganda Ministry, which assumed direct control over the NSDAP
propaganda sections. See Neliba, 86“96.
See clause 8 of the law reproduced in Noakes and Pridham, Nazism, vol. 2, 40. “[Hitler™s] whole

aim,” Hans Frank would later recall in his memoirs, “was to transfer the independent position
he had in the NSDAP and its inner structure to the State. On 30 January 1933 he brought this
aim with him.” Cited in ibid, 7.
For a fuller discussion, see Hans Mommsen, “Hitler™s Position in the Nazi System,” 163“88.

The demise of the cabinet, which met only four times in 1936, seven times in 1937, and for

the last time on 5 February 1938, is eloquently described in Noakes and Pridham, Nazism, vol.
2, 18“21. For a fuller account, see Lothar Gruchmann, “Die ˜Reichsregierung™ im Fuhrerstaat:
Stellung und Funktion des Kabinetts im nationalsozialistischen Herrschaftssystem,” in Klassen-
justiz und Pluralismus: Festschrift fur Ernst Fraenkel zum 75. Geburtstag, eds. Gunther Doeker
and Winfried Stefani (Hamburg: Hoffmann und Camp, 1973), 187“223.
Karl Dietrich Bracher, Wolfgang Sauer, and Gerhard Schulz, Die nationalsozialistische Machter-

greifung: Studien zur Errichtung des totalitaren Herrschaftsstems in Deutschland 1933/34
(Cologne and Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1960), 35“6.
Cited in Broszat, 91.
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen

the Law on the Head of State of the German Reich of 1 August 1934, which
amalgamated the of¬ces of Reich President and Reich Chancellor in a new post
of “Fuhrer and Reich Chancellor,” later shortened to “Fuhrer,” thus making
¨ ¨
the notion of Fuhrer of¬cial and endowing Hitler with a supreme constitutional
role that Stalin would never possess.62 Not long after this, on 20 August 1934,
a personal statement of loyalty to Hitler as “Fuhrer of the German nation and
People” was inserted into the Beamteneid, the oath that was recited by all civil
servants.63 Rather than relying on an institutional framework, it was on the
strength of Hitler™s leadership cult that the “Gleichschaltung” was achieved.
In the Soviet Union the Communist Party apparatus of the 1930s had turned
into a hierarchy of bureaucracies with its own institutional identity. For all of
Lenin™s ambitions of building a well-oiled party machine, it would nonetheless
be an error to overemphasize the “formal” or “impersonal” aspects of the
party apparatus. For much of the 1930s of¬cial hierarchies were ridden with
informal networks. Where they had a strong vertical dimension and where
they appeared to be particularly durable, Stalin™s usual inclination was to take
decisive action to break down these networks.64 By contrast, Nazi Germany
witnessed the proliferation of personalized network-based agencies “ so-called
“leader-retinue structures” “ which were not only tolerated but generated by
Hitler himself.65 The spread of agencies of this kind, which embraced functions
which were not only dear to Hitler but of central strategic importance to the
state, re¬‚ected a deep-seated willingness on Hitler™s part to give his deputies a
free hand in running their own briefs and in building up their operations on a
relatively informal basis. As General Inspector for the German Road System,
Fritz Todt derived his authority not from a normal departmental or ministerial
of¬ce, but from his direct line to the Fuhrer, which would, eventually, provide

Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, Nazism 1919“1945: The Rise to Power 1919“1934,

rev. ed., vol. 1 (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 2000), 185; and idem, Nazism, vol. 2, 4“6.
Stalin™s appointment as Chair of Sovnarkom in March 1941 (in addition to his existing position
as General Secretary of the Central Committee) was of little constitutional consequence. Its
signi¬cance lay, by contrast, in the fact that it allowed Stalin to position himself vis-a-vis the
Leninist tradition, since Lenin himself had been head of Sovnarkom but never General Secretary.
Sigrun Muhl-Benninghaus, Das Beamtentum in der NS-Diktatur bis zum Ausbruch des Zweiten

Weltkrieges (Dusseldorf: Droste), 1996, 109“10.
Stalin was not wary of all networks. As various commentators have noted, where medium-

term patron-client relations tied Stalin himself to clients in the regions these networks may
have facilitated the creation of a centralized party-based hierarchy by enabling Stalin to utilize
clientelist norms and practices to bind regional party organizations to the center. What Stalin
appears to have been extremely wary of were long-standing “lateral” networks at the regional
level which appeared to be obstructing his policies or “vertical” networks which were tied
to Moscow-based leaders over whom he had little day-to-day control. See, for example, T.
H. Rigby, “Was Stalin a Disloyal Patron?” in Political Elites in the USSR: Central Leaders
and Local Cadres from Lenin to Gorbachev (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1990), 127; and John
Willerton, Patronage and Politics in the USSR (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992),
The term is from Broszat, 276. Much of the following paragraphs on “retinue structures” is

derived from ibid., 265“6, 297“9, 300“1.
Political (Dis)Orders 57

cover for the creation of an independent “Organization Todt” (OT).66 Lacking
credentials as a party functionary or as a career diplomat, Joachim von Ribben-
trop held a political position that was “derived exclusively from the personal
services which [he], the wine and spirits importer, had been able to render the
Fuhrer before the takeover of power in Berlin.” From this position he created
a “bureau” to which he attracted over sixty subordinates, including many of
his own associates.67 Similarly, with the formation of the General Council for
the Four Year-Plan under Herman Goring in 1938, a key former ministry, the
Reich Ministry of Economics, was downgraded to the “Executive Organ of the
Commissioner for the Four-Year Plan” under Goring, while former ministers,
such as Darr´ and Seldte, were displaced by state secretaries whose primary
ties were also to Goring.68
The most signi¬cant of the personalized structures of administration were
the territorial Gau organizations and the SS. The strictly personal concep-
tion of politics was exempli¬ed by Hitler™s relationship with the Gauleiter.69
Answerable only to the Fuhrer, the Gauleiter were treated as Hitler™s personal
followers. In marked contrast with the continually hectored regional party
leaders in Stalin™s USSR, the Gauleiter were allowed to carve out their own
spheres of in¬‚uence, which were virtually impervious to control by higher
party authorities or by the Reich Ministry of Interior. As we saw earlier, as
much as anything else it was the existence of the Gauleiter, with their special
connection to Hitler, which prevented the emergence of a centralized hierarchy
within the party.70 The Gauleiter drew their personal power from their direct

For a thorough discussion of the Todt apparatus, see Dieter Rebentisch, Fuhrerstaat und Ver-

waltung im Zweiten Weltkrieg: Verfassungsentwicklung und Verwaltungspolitik, 1939“1945
(Stuttgart: F. Steiner Verlag, 1989), 347“8.
On his accession as Foreign Minister, many of his plenipotentiaries and special aides remained

physically and institutionally removed from the rest of the ministry. On Ribbentrop™s role as
foreign policy adviser to Hitler and his private diplomacy prior to 1938, see Wolfgang Michalka,
Ribbentrop und die deutsche Weltpolitik 1933“1940 (Munich: W. Fink, 1980), 39“49; and J.
Henke, England in Hitlers politischem Kallkul, 1935“1939 (Boppard am Rhein: , 1973), 304“5.
Dietmar Petzina, Autarkiepolitik im Dritten Reich: Der nationalsozialistische Vierjahresplan

(Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, 1968), 67“78. No less important was the role of the German
Labor Front (DAF), which usurped the assets of the former trade unions and comprised white-
and blue-collar workers in a centralized organization claiming to represent the interests of
labor, albeit without acquiring the status of a Reich ministry. Ronald Smelser, Robert Ley:
Hitlers Mann an der “Arbeitsfront”: Eine Biographie, trans. Karl Nicolai and Heidi Nicolai
(Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh, 1989).
“The Gauleiter,” Hitler would later con¬de to Goebbels in mid-August 1942, “[are] my most

loyal and reliable colleagues. If I lost trust in them I wouldn™t know whom to trust.” Meetings
with the Gauleiter were the only forum where Hitler regularly convened with other party
leaders. There were twenty-seven of these meetings between 1933 and 1939 and a further
nineteen during the war. See Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1936“1945: Nemesis (Harmondworth: Allen
Lane, 2001), 536; and Overy, The Dictators, 166.
Also see Hans Mommsen, “National Socialism: Continuity and Change,” in Mommsen, From

Weimar to Auschwitz, 155, 157; idem, “Hitler™s Position in the Nazi System,” 169; Dietrich
Orlow, The History of the Nazi Party: 1933“1945, vol. 2 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh
Press, 1973), 8.
Yoram Gorlizki and Hans Mommsen

relation to Hitler, but also from the fact that the great majority of them had
acquired positions within the state system, be it as Oberprasidenten in Prus-
sia, as Landshauptleute, or as ministers within those Land governments which
had survived Frick™s centralizing ambitions. In general what formal political
authority they had did not derive from their position within the party but from
their usurpation of state of¬ces.71
Although unique, the role of the SS was indicative of a wider principle of
organization within the Nazi regime. A leader-retinue structure par excellence,
the SS was exclusively answerable to the Reich SS leader, Heinrich Himmler,
and, through him, to the Fuhrer. First usurping the functions of the political
police in the individual Lander (federal states), Himmler extended his pow-
ers by including the ordinary police force in the growing SS empire. The SS
administration was centralized with the establishment in 1939 of the Reich
Security Main Of¬ce (RSHA), which became a powerful nerve center for the
regime, forming in some respects a “state within a state.” While the ordinary
SS lost much of its importance during the war as its membership fell, its mil-
itary arm, the so-called “Weapons SS,” grew to such an extent that, in terms
of the number of soldiers at its disposal and the quality of its equipment, it
became a serious rival to the Wehrmacht. Like the National Socialist system
as a whole, through a process of cell division the Reich SS Leader™s area of
command presented in miniature the picture of a progressive growth of sub-
sidiary of¬ces, ancillary organizations, and leader authorities. Yet although
it was engaged in myriad activities, the SS retained a certain organizational
coherence, and it remained, with Hitler™s blessing, and despite its enormous
power, under the continuous control of one individual, Heinrich Himmler.72
Rather than being knitted together by the party, as was the case in the Soviet
Union, in Hitler™s Germany the state depended for whatever overall coherence
it had on the gelling effect of the “Hitler cult,” and, at a lower level, on the
dictator™s own, deliberately cultivated “retinue structures.”
The presence of the NSDAP in German society certainly went well beyond
the intimate relationships Hitler had with his con¬dants, while the party™s
activities extended far beyond the simple projection of the Hitler cult. After
the NSDAP came to power, its membership rose dramatically, so that it
quickly overtook the Soviet Communist Party in size. Its membership leapt
from 849,000 in 1933 to almost 2.5 million in 1935, making the party half
as large again as the Soviet Communist Party; by 1939 its membership had
soared to 4,985,000, so that it was well over three times the size of the Bol-
shevik party, and that in an overall population that was under half that of the
Soviet Union™s.73 These membership ¬gures are indicative of the quite different

Peter Huttenberger, Die Gauleiter: Studie zum Wandel des Machtgefuges in der NSDAP

(Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlag-Anstalt, 1969) 75“137.
Robert L. Koehl, The Black Corps: The Structure and Power Struggles of the Nazi SS (Madison:

University of Wisconsin., 1983); Heinz Hohne, Der Orden unter dem Totenkopf: Geschichte
der SS, 3rd ed. (Munich: C. Bertelsmann, 1983).
For the most convenient comparative tables see Overy, The Dictators, 138“40. The overall

population of the USSR in the 1930s ranged from approximately 161 million to 170 million
Political (Dis)Orders 59

roles of the parties in the two societies. The grassroots organization of the
NSDAP around residential and domestic “cells” and “blocks” which “brought
the party into every household” underscored the intrusive role of the party as
a propaganda agency which aimed to mobilize “every inhabitant, members or
not . . . into a vast all-inclusive national movement.”74 By contrast, the require-
ment that Communist Party cells be based not at the place of residence but


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