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FUEHRER, AND REICH-CABINET [REICH REGIERUNG, Page 223]
a. The Structure of the Reich-Cabinet
The political direction of the Reich is the task of the Fuehrer. The Fuehrer selects, in all fields of political developments the goals which should be attained, determines the methods to be used and makes all fundamental decisions when necessary. The authority of the Fuehrer [Fuehrergewalt] is the "Political Authority" in the new Reich. The term "Leadership" expresses better the mobilization of the collective political force of the people towards the achievement of the common goal, than the term "Government" which has been used heretofore for the highest authority of the State. The Fuehrer has the only final power to decide in all matters concerning movement [party], people, and Reich. He possesses and bears the historical responsibility to his people. Even in instances, where the law assigns certain tasks to the "Reichsregierung", it is the Fuehrer who is responsible for the final decision.
The Fuehrer avails himself, however, in his decisions of the counsel and the constructive cooperation of his collaborators, especially the Reich-Cabinet, which combines the Subordinate-Fuehrers [Unterfuehrer] of the various departments of the State. The legal position of the Reich-Minister was originally laid down by the Reich-Minister Law of March 27 1930 (RGBI I 96). In its place Section XIII of the German Civil Servant Law is now applicable, with the exception of the regulations concerning the official salaries, service quarters, moving-and travel expenses, where the old law remains valid. The Reich-Ministers are appointed by the Fuehrer and maintain a public service relationship towards him and the Reich. They take a special oath before the Fuehrer when they assume their functions. They cannot belong to any economic enterprise as chairmen or members of administrative or supervisory councils while they hold office ("economic incompatibility"). The Reich-Ministers can be dismissed from their offices at any time by the Fuehrer. No disciplinary action against them will be taken. Special treatment of the Reich Ministers is based on the fact that they are not "Civil Servants". Civil Servants are only the members of the Bureaus which are sub- and co-ordinated to the hierarchic administrative structure, but not those who occupy immediate state-directing positions to whom the Reich-Ministers belong according to the present constitutional law.
The Fuehrer and Reich-Chancellor is at the top of the Reich-Cabinet. He hands down the directives for the overall operation of the Government and the basic principles for the various departments. A number of Bureaus are subordinated to him for direct counsel and assistance, as follows:
1. The Reich-Chancellery (Chief: Reich-Minister, Dr. Lammers)
2. The Supreme-Command of the Armed Forces (Chief: Generaloberst (Gen.) Keitel)
3. The Presidential Chancellery (Chief: State Minister Dr. Meissner)
4. The Privy Cabinet Council (President: Reich-Minister Frh. von Neurath)
The Reich-Cabinet [Reich Regierung] comprises furthermore the department ministries proper. It is constituted in the following manner according to the official order of rank laid down in the year 1939:
1. The Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer (Reich-Minister Hess)
2. The Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (Generaloberst (Gen.) Keitel)
3. General Field-Marshal Goering (Deputy for the 4 Year Plan)
4. Foreign Office (v. Ribbentrop)
5. Reich-Minister of the Interior (Dr. Frick)
6. Reich-Minister for Enlightenment of the People and Propaganda (Dr. Goebbels)
7. Reich-Air-Minister (Gen. Field-Marshal Goering)
8. Reich Finance Minister (v. Schwerin-Krosigk)
9. Reich-Minister of Justice (Dr. Guertner)
10. Reich-Minister of Economy (Funk)
11. Reich-Minister for Food and Agriculture (Darre)
12. Reich-Minister of Labor (Seldte)
13. Reich-Minister for Science, Education and National Culture (Dr. Rust)
14. Reich-Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs (Kerrl)
15. Reich-Minister of Transportation (Dr. Dorpmueller)
16. Reich Postal Minister (Ohnesorge)
17. Reich-Minister Frank (Legal Affairs Reich-Fuehrer)
18. Reich-Minister Schacht
19. Reich-Minister Seyss-Inquart
20. Reich Forest-Office (Gen. Field-Marshal Goering)
The Commanders-in-Chief of the Army (Generaloberst (Gen.) v. Brauchitsch) and of the Navy (Great-Admiral Raeder) have also the rank of Ministers. Furthermore, the following participate regularly in the sessions of the Government, whenever matters of their department are being discussed:
1. The Prussian Finance Minister, Dr. Popitz.
2. The Reich-Fuehrer SS and the Chief of the German Police, Himmler.
3. The Reich Labor Leader in the Reich-Ministry of the Interior, Hierl.
4. The Chief of the Organization in Foreign Countries in the Foreign Office, Bohle. In addition, the following Supreme Reich-Bureaus are immediately subordinate to the Fuehrer:
1. Court of Accounts of the German Reich (State-Minister, retired, Mueller).
2. Inspector General for the German Road System (Dr. Todt).
3. Reich Office for Area Control [Raumordnung] (Kerrl).
4. Youth-Fuehrer of the German Reich (v. Schirach).
Furthermore, the following are immediately subordinate to the Fuehrer:
1. The German Reich-Bank, (President Reich-Minister Funk).
2. Inspector General of Constructions for the Reich Capital (Professor Speer).
3. Counsellor General of Constructions for the Capital of the (party) movement (Professor Giesler).
4. Reich Construction Counsellor for the town of Linz on the Danube.
The directors of these Reich Bureaus act as direct advisers and collaborators of the Fuehrer in their department without being members of the Reich-Government by authority of their office.
A privy cabinet council, to advise the Fuehrer in the basic problems of foreign policy, has been created by the decree of 4 February 1938 (RGBI I 112). This privy cabinet council is under the direction of Reich-Minister v. Neurath, and includes the Foreign Minister, the Air Minister, the Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer, the Propaganda Minister, the Chief of the Reich-Chancellery, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and Navy and the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. The privy cabinet council constitutes a select staff of collaborators of the Fuehrer which consist exclusively of members of the Government of the Reich; thus, it represents a select committee of the Reich Government for the deliberation on foreign affairs.
The law on the Supreme Leader of the State makes provision for the nomination of a Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer and also a Vice-Chancellor. Up to July 1934, von Papen, then Reich Minister, was Vice-Chancellor. Since then, no such nomination has been promulgated. The Deputy for the 4 Year Plan has a sort of representation in all matters concerning the 4 Year Plan, "all competent instances of party and state" being combined in his person, and he has been given the power to "issue directives to all authorities, including the highest Reich-Authorities and all offices of the party, its sub-divisions and its affiliated associations". The deputy for the 4 Year Plan is therefore within the limits of his authority superior to the other Reich Minister, particularly to the economic and military departments. But he is not only superior to the offices of the State but also to those of the party. He is (with the exception of the Fuehrer) the only central authority which by virtue of an office (and not by virtue of a personal union of a party and State office) can issue binding directives to the offices of the party and the State. Considering the tremendous importance of the 4 Year Plan, this position of the deputy is an important means for securing unity between party and State.
This same object is furthermore pursued by the Office of the Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer. While the Deputy for the 4 Year Plan constitutes an authority of the State with the power to issue directives to the party, the Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer represents a party instance with authority to co-operate in State affairs to a large extent. The "Ministry Hess", with its LIaison-Staff is charged to assert the influence of the party in the legislation and administration of the State. All projects of politically important laws have to be submitted to the Deputy commander for the Fuehrer for his preliminary examination. He naturally has the power to propose laws from his side. His influence on the administration affects particularly the selection of personnel. All appointments to be made by the Fuehrer have to be examined first by the Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer. Besides these individual powers, it is the duty of the Deputy Commander for the Fuehrer to assert the will of the (party) movement in the organization of the State, to settle difficulties which develop, to investigate complaints, and thus to guarantee unity of party and State.
Unity of party and Reich-Cabinet is furthermore secured by the numerous personal unions i.e. association of Central State Offices with corresponding party offices. Such personal unions exist in the cases of the Food Minister and the Propaganda Minister, the Chief of the German Police and the Reich Labor Leader, the Chief of the Organization in the foreign countries, and the Reich Youth Fuehrer. Furthermore, the majority of the Reich-Ministries is occupied by leading old party members. Finally, all Reich Ministers have been accepted by the party on 30 January 1937 and have been decorated with golden party insignia.
b. The Reich-Cabinet as the bearer of responsible collaboration.
The relationship between the Fuehrer and the Reich-Cabinet differs from the Weimar colleague-like system as well as from Bismarck's Chancellor System. The great political principles are determined by the Fuehrer; the will of the government is not expressed by vote, as under the colleague-like system; doubts and differences of opinion are also settled by the Fuehrer (in contrast to the provisions of Section 57 of the Weimar Constitution). The Reich-Ministers who act as advisers to the Fuehrer owe him loyalty and obedience in accordance with the oath they have to take by virtue of the law of 16 October 1934. The Fuehrer is therefore not "primus inter pares" (first among equal ones), as it was featured in the colleague-like system, but he is absolutely superior to the other Reich-Ministers. But, if therefore the principle of authority prevails within the Reich-Cabinet it is not permitted in this case in the least to become a formal bureaucratic mechanism like the one that characterized the Chancellor System of Bismarck. In the latter, the collaborators of the Reich-Chancellor, the State-Secretaries, were not independent and responsible chiefs of their departments, but they were the sub-ordinates of the Chancellor and administered in his name and by his orders the various Reich-Offices, at the top of which stood the Chancellor. Even the law of 17 March 1878 concerning deputies did not change that state of affairs to any extent. Such a bureaucratic system does not permit the collaborators to develop a sense of enjoying responsible action and power of resolution and prevents genuine deliberation, the prerequisite of which is independence of the advisor. This is characteristic of an administrative state, where everything depends on the authoritarian technical functioning of the State apparatus. In the Reich of the Fuehrer the decisive factors are that the collaborators are subordinate leaders, that they are therefore possessed themselves with the desire for creative leadership and responsibility.
The Fuehrer does not avail himself of the Reich-Ministers as subordinate executive organs. The Reich-Cabinet is not a technical apparatus. It is therefore inadmissible to consider the Reich-Ministers as mere "Chiefs of Reich Offices" who preside over bureaucratic institutions, rather Reich-Ministers in particular must become genuine sub-leaders if the entire Reich is to be imbued with the spirit of the Fuehrer system. In the Reich Cabinet, the Fuehrer procures for himself the independent and responsible collaborators who do not only technically direct the various offices but who are also capable to act in a constructive and creative manner, within the scope of their assignments. The Reich-Ministers are therefore not only advisors but at the same time responsible creative assistants of the Fuehrer, who administer their offices independently under the direction of the Fuehrer. The prerequisite for the Fuehrer Principle which has been realized in the Reich-Cabinet, is independent co-operation based on confidence and responsibility, of the Fuehrer's closest followers. Thus, the Fuehrer Principle presents far higher requirements than the bureaucratic absolutism and its not too different Chancellor System of Bismarck.
In view of this structure of the Reich-Cabinet it is only natural that the counter-signature, prescribed in Section 50 of the Weimar Constitution for all decrees and regulations issued by the Reich-President, becomes unnecessary for the decisions of the Fuehrer. They do not require the counter-signature of the Minister of the respective department. Compulsory counter-signature was an institution of the constitutional and parliamentary system. The Minister who counter-signed the orders of the Chief of State assumed thereby responsibility before parliament. The counter-signature was thus inseparably connected with the parliamentary responsibility of the Ministers; it lost its political foundation with the revolutionary elimination of parliamentarianism of any form. However, also in the New Reich during the period of Reich President Hindenburg's administration, counter-signature of presidential acts by the Reich-Chancellor was maintained. Of course, the counter-signing Reich-Chancellor or Reich-Minister did not assume any more the "responsibility before the Reichstag", as was the case within the limits of the Weimar parliamentary system. The counter-signature was used in this case rather as a suitable technical form for safe-guarding the unified direction of the State as long as a dual Chief of State existed. This technical reason for maintaining the counter-signature was rendered unnecessary with the assumption of the presidential powers by the Fuehrer. Today, it is not necessary any more according to constitutional law. The decrees of the Fuehrer have legal force, even if they are not counter-signed by a Reich-Minister. Such was particularly the order of execution of the 4 Year Plan of 18 October 1936 (RGBI I 887) which in fact contains a law issued by the Fuehrer alone without any counter-signature.
As a rule, the decrees of the Fuehrer, are on the other hand, even today co-signed by the Minister of the department concerned. Authorized to co-sign are the Reich-Ministers, within the limits of their departments. Furthermore the Chiefs of the Presidential-Chancellery and of the Reich-Chancellery for their departments (Decree of 22 November 1934, not published), and also the State-Secretaries of a Reich-Minister who is temporarily unavailable (Decree of 20 March 1935, RMinBl. 423). The decrees concerning the party are co-signed by the Deputy Commander of the Fuehrer, decrees concerning the range of problems of the 4 Year Plan by the Deputy of the 4 Year Plan and the military decrees by the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. The Chiefs of the Supreme Reich-Bureaus who are not Reich-Ministers are not authorized to co-sign.
Co-signature is being regularly maintained for two reasons. For once, the co-signature brings out the fact that the Minister of the department is more than a mere technical auxiliary tool of the Fuehrer, that he performs rather independent and objective work which requires of course the approval of the Fuehrer but which is nevertheless the Minister's own work and performance. Thus, the co-signature gives prominence to the fact that the Minister is an independent collaborator and not only an executive instrument. Also, the co-signature is therefore documentary proof-and this is the second reason-for the responsibility of the Minister of the department, naturally not before the Parliament but before the Fuehrer himself. By co-signing the Minister accepts the responsibility before the Fuehrer that the decree is practical, has been carefully considered and thoroughly worked out. Such a responsibility of the Minister before the Chief of the State could not exist under the radical parliamentary Republic. The independence of the Minister from the Chief of State and his responsibility before the Parliament would have been weakened in that way. Under the old constitutional system, on the other hand, (as well as under the presidential system formed after the constitutional system) this responsibility of the counter-signing Minister also before the Chief of State was in existence. This type of "Minister responsibility" is indispensable under the Fuehrer Constitution. In view of the number and the importance of affairs, it is self-evident that the Fuehrer needs the advice, the suggestions, and the proposals of his collaborators; political leadership is impossible without reliable collaborators. The Ministers are responsible to the Fuehrer by their oath for competent and reliable counsel and preparation of his decisions. This responsibility of the Ministers of the various departments finds its public expression by their counter-signature. This counter-signature is not necessary, nevertheless. The Fuehrer can do without it and issue all decrees and decisions which have full legal effect by his own accord.
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946