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The reich Protector in Bohemia and Moravia received, Prag, 5 Sept. 1939. No. 274.
Enclosed please find a copy of the Reich Defense Law of 4 Sept. 1938 and a copy each of the decrees of the Reichsminister of Transportation dated 7 october 1938-RL/W10.2212/38, Top Secret-and of 17 July 1939-RL/LV 1.2173/39, top Secret, for your information and observance.By order-
To the Subordinate Authority of the Reich and the States as well as the General Authority of the States to whom are attached:(a) Waterways Deputies (Wbv).
The leader has agreed to the tacit omission of the secrecy protection of the Reich defense law of 4 September 1938 transmitted with the corresponding decree. In spite of the greater ease in business correspondence thus created, the following limitations, which are herewith brought to your attention for compliance, have been ordered by the competent office.
1. It remains prohibited to cite the Reich Defense law in public or in connection with laws to be promulgated, as well as publication of the contents of the law in its entirely.
2. It is permitted
a. the mention of all installations founded on the Reich Defense Law and their functions in public without referring to the law;
b. the cosignature of laws which are prepared and announced in peace time for war.Deputy
Enclosed is transmitted copy of the Reich Defense Law signed by the leader and Reich chancellor on 4 September 1938. The promulgation remains suspended.Deputy
I. State of Defense
(1) As possessor of the complete power of state, the leader and Reich chancellor can decree for the Reich territory or its parts a "State of Defense".
(2) If the political situation demands it, the leader and Reich chancellor decrees the "Mobilization". The mobilization can be limited to a part of the Reich or of the armed forces.
(1) Once the territory of operation is determined the chief of the army and the commanders of the armies have upon declaration of the state of defense without further order the authority to exercise executive power in this operational territory.
(2) The commanders exercising executive powers can, effective for the territory of operations, promulgate laws, institute special courts, and issue directives to the officials and offices competent in the territory of operations, with the exception of the supreme Reich officials, the supreme Prussian country officials, and the Reich leaders of the NSDAP. The lawfulness of directives precedes directives from otherwise superior offices.
(3) The boundaries of the territory of operations are determined by the supreme commander of the armed forces.
(4) Special directives for the case of a surprise threat to the Reich territory.
If a part of the Reich territory is surprised by a military threat, and if special decrees for defense against this danger cannot be awaited, then the commanders of the imperiled service commands have the right to issue the directives which cannot be delayed and which are necessary for the protection of the imperiled territory to all non-military offices within their sphere of command. The same rights apply to the commanding admirals of the Navy in case of surprise threats against the coastal territory, and to the commanders of air districts in case of surprise attacks from the air within the framework of their war tasks. The execution of these directives has precedence over the other commitments and the directives of superior offices. The named commanders can transmit their right of issuing directives to subordinate officers down to the village counselor.
(1) With the declaration of the state of defense the plenipotentiaries for the Reich administration (GBV) named by the leader and Reich chancellor takes over the uniform leadership of the non-military administration with exception of the economic administration.
To him are subordinate-the Reich minister of the Interior
(2) The GBV must comply with the demands of the supreme command of the armed forces (OKW) which are of considerable importance for the armed forces. If the demands cannot be brought in accord with the affairs of the Reich administration the leader and Reich chancellor makes the decision.
(3) The GBV has the right within his sphere to issue laws with the accord of the OKW and GBW which differ from the existing laws.
(1) With the declaration of the state of defense the chief deputy for economics (GBW), appointed by the leader and Reich chancellor, takes over the direction of the economy except for the armament industry.
(2) It is the task of the GBW to put all economic forces into the service of the Reich defense, and to safeguard economically the life of the German nation. To him are subordinate-the Reich minister of economics,
He is furthermore responsible for directing the financing of the Reich defense within the realm of the Reich finance ministry and the Reich bank.
(3) The GBW must carry out the demands of the OKW which are of considerable importance for the armed forces; and he must insure the economic conditions for the production of the armament industry directed immediately by the OKW according to its demands. If the demands of the armed forces cannot be brought into accord with the affairs of economy, then the leader and Reich chancellor decides.
(4) The GBW has the right within his sphere to issue laws with the consent of the OKW and GBV which differ from the existing laws.
(1) The Reich postal minister, the Reich transportation minister, and the general inspector for the German road net are, with the declaration of the state of defense, bound to the demands of the OKW for the immediate affairs of the armed forces.
(2) The following will get orders from the OKW:
(a) the Reich transportation minister for the use of means of transportation,
(b) the Reich postal minister for the sue and distribution of the complete communication connections to the armed forces and the other agencies.
(3) The Reich transportation minister must comply, with the declaration of the state of defense, with the demands of the GBW according to the directions given to him by the OKW for the use of the means of transportation.
(4) In the sphere of the Reich postal minister, of the Reich transportation minister, and of the general inspector for the German road net, the chief of the OKW has the right to promulgate laws in accord with the GBV and GBW which differ from the existing laws.
The Reich ministers and chief Reich offices carry out the tasks within their spheres on their own responsibility, regardless of the special competence of the chief of the OKW, of the GBW, and of the GBW, according to paragraphs 3, 4 and 5.
For the shaping of the political mill of the people the deputy of the leader of the NSDAP is responsible. He uses for that the NSDAP, its formations and coordinated units.
II. State of War
(1) If the fight with an external enemy is forced upon the German people, the leader and Reich chancellor declares the state of war.
(2) With declaration of the state of war, the war laws and war decrees come into force without further order. The legal consequences provided in other laws for the state of war become effective.
If the state of defense is not already declared beforehand, the decrees about the state of defense go into effect with declaration of the state of war.
III. Preparatory Measures
par. 10the Reich minister of economics,
The Reich Defense Council (RVR).
(1) The task of the Reich Defense Council consists in peace time in the decision on all measures for the preparation of the Reich defense and the gathering together of all forces and means of the nation according to the directions of the leader and Reich chancellor. The tasks of the RVR in war time will be specially determined by the leader and Reich chancellor.
(2) The leader and Reich chancellor is chairman in the RVR. His permanent deputy is general field mar shall goering. He has the right to call conferences of the RVR. Permanent members of the RVR are-the Reich minister of air and supreme commander of the air force,
The other Reich ministers and the Reich offices directly subordinate to the leader and Reich chancellor are consulted if necessary. Further personalities can be called as the case demands.
The Reich defense Committee (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 GBW and to the Reich ministries not subordinated to them and to the chief Reich offices according to the decisions of the RVR, which directions are necessary for securing their uniform execution.
(3) The RVA is composed of the OKW, deputy of the commissioner for the four year plan, the leader staffs of the GBV and GBW, and the Reich defense officials.
(4) Chief office officials for the Reich defense (RV-Referenten) and their deputies are commissioned by the deputy of the leader, by the Reich chancellery by each Reich Ministry, by the reich leader of the SS and chief of the German police, by the Reich work leader, by the Reich forest master, by the chief inspector for the German road net, by the Reich office for regional order, by the Reich bank directory, and in the Prussian state ministry. The RV-Referent and his deputy are immediately subordinate to the minister or the state secretary, and to the chief of the Reich office, resp.
The uniformity of the preparations for the start and the course of the mobilization is secured by the OKW.
As regards the actual formulation of the preparations, the GBV and GBW make the arrangements for their sphere.
The Chief Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration (GBV):
The GBV conducts the preparations for the Reich defense in the sphere of the ministries and Reich offices subordinate to him according to paragraph 3. They are bound by his directions already in peace time.
The Chief Plenipotentiary for Economics (GBW):
(1) The GBW conducts the economic preparations for the Reich defense as far as they do not come in the sphere of the OKW as regards the armament industry.
(2) The GBW must secure the economic conditions for the production of the armament industry immediately directed by the OKW according to its demands.
(3) The ministries and Reich offices named in paragraph 4 (2) are, within the framework of these directives, already bound for the preparation of the Reich defense to the directions of the GBW, the Reich transporation minister to his demands according to paragraph 5 (3).
IV. Final directions
Whoever acts against the orders of a decree promulgated on the basis of this law, on purpose or negligently, will be punished with a jail sentence and money fine or with one of these punishments, if the act is not punishable with a heavier sentence according to other decrees.
Execution and Completion Directives.
The OKW promulgates in agreement with the GBV and GBW the law and administrative directives necessary for the execution and completion of this law.
The law takes effect immediately.Berchtesgaden, the 4th September 1938.
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