A Reichskommissar held a higher or highest office in Germany for a short time during the revolutionary period of 1848/1849 and then especially during the time of the German Empire (1871-1945). This office was subordinate to the Reich government or a Reich Minister .
After 1933, Reich Commissioners became part of the National Socialist system of rule ( Reich Commissioner for the Gleichschaltung of the Justice , Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of the German Volkstum ). During the Second World War, Reich Commissioners were, in particular, the highest administrative officials appointed by the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories (RMfdbO) in the Occupied Eastern Territories ( Reichskommissariat Ostland , Reichskommissariat Ukraine ), whereby the official title Reichskommissar was also criticized in the Soviet Union because of the political commissioner term that was also used got. In the Nazi era, their status roughly corresponded to that of the Reich Governors in the Reich. The so-called Chiefs of Civil Administration (CdZ) also took on comparable tasks during the Nazi era . Since the post-war period , the title of Reich Commissioner has only had historical significance.
German Empire 1848/1849
During the revolution in 1848/49, the German Confederation was transformed into a federal state, the German Empire from 1848/49 . In this short time, the Provisional Central Authority (the all-German government) appointed a number of politicians as Reich Commissioners , mostly in order to be represented in a single German state. For example, Reich Commissioner Eduard Souchay set up a governor government in Schleswig-Holstein at the beginning of 1849 , which remained in office until 1851.
In the course of the suppression of the revolution, the German states restored the German Confederation. It was not until 1867 that the nation-state was founded with the North German Confederation , which has been called the German Empire since 1871 . This empire survived despite wars and constitutional changes and finally became the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949.
In the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) of the Reich Commissioner in was Empire executions a representative of the German Government, which reports directly to the Chancellor was under (or this itself was). After the First World War , the city of Danzig was administered by a Reich Commissioner in 1919/1920 until it was handed over to the League of Nations in the Versailles Treaty . In 1921 Adolf Tortilowicz von Batocki-Friebe was Reich Commissioner for the execution of construction work in the destroyed areas .
In the years 1923–1930 there was a Reich Commissioner for the occupied Rhenish territories , one for Osthilfe in 1931/32 and one for job creation during the economic crisis of 1932/1933. From 1920 to 1929 the Reich Commissioner for the Monitoring of Public Order existed as the central German authority for the intelligence service registration of anti-constitutional efforts; indirectly a forerunner of the Secret State Police Office ( Gestapa ) and today's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution . Reich commissioners were also used to exercise the dictatorship of the Reich President . The representatives of Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen appointed in 1932 after the state government in Prussia was deposed also bore (unofficially) the title "Reich Commissioner", see list of Reich Commissioners for the management of the business of the Prussian state government in 1932 and 1933 .
time of the nationalsocialism
Organizational power constitution
Following the example of the Prussian strike, the National Socialists installed Reich commissioners and Reich governors in order to circumvent the democratic institutions that still existed in the states and to expand their power. After 1933, Reich Commissioners, like ministers, were appointed as direct executive bodies for Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler . From a legal point of view, Reich Commissioners had the advantage that they could be appointed under the authority of the Reich Chancellor without the need for a cabinet decision. This played a not insignificant role, especially in the early phase of the NS regime, when Hitler and his two NSDAP ministers Wilhelm Frick and Hermann Göring were clearly inferior to the conservative cabinet majority around Franz von Papen and Alfred Hugenberg .
The start of the appointment of National Socialist Reich Commissioners took place in 1933, when Hermann Göring was placed at the head of a newly formed Reich authority, the later (from March) Reich Aviation Ministry , on the basis of the ordinance on the Reich Commissioner for Aviation of February 2 Received the title of Reich Commissioner. The ordinance shows that Göring, as Reich Commissioner, took over an area of office that previously fell under the responsibility of a minister: “The duties of the Reich Minister of Transport, insofar as they concern aviation, and the duties of the Reich Minister of the Interior insofar as they concern air protection, go to the Reich Commissioner for Aviation. The Central Office for Air Traffic Control is subordinate to the Reich Commissioner for Aviation ” . Erhard Milch became Göring's deputy in the office of Reich Commissioner .
Another building block in the constitution of power on the basis of the commissioner system was Josef Bürckel , who was appointed by Hitler in 1934 as “Saar plenipotentiary of the Reich government”. In 1935 he was given the title of "Reich Commissioner for the Reintegration of the Saarland". He thus exercised an office that corresponded to the position of a Reich Governor, "although he was not supported by a state-owned government". The Saar area , which he had to administer, was the first "leader-direct territory " created by the National Socialists , in which the Reich Commissioner, in addition to his position as supreme presenter of the Reich supervision, also exercised the function of head of government .
Another territory that was directly subordinate to Hitler emerged after the "Anschluss" of Austria to the German Reich in March 1938. After Arthur Seyß-Inquart was appointed head of the Austrian provincial government by Hitler with the title of Reich Governor, Josef Bürckel took over on 23 April 1938, due to his success in the Saar area, the role of Reich Commissioner there as well. The area was initially called Ostmark , then between 1942 and 1945 the Danube and Alpenreichsgaue . Bürckel received the order to politically, economically and culturally integrate the "Ostmark" into the German Reich within one year . With the reorganization of Austria, the responsible Reich ministries were bypassed by the establishment of the new territorial authority in order to organize the harmonization of the former state of Austria. As in the Saarland, the "synchronization" in the "Ostmark" took place through "a personal union between the office of the Gauleiter of the party and the Reichskommissar (Reichsstatthalter) as state functionaries at the same time on party political and state level". In the "Ostmark" the first time the use was a task force of staff from the respective districts in the Administration tested the connected territory; a procedure that became characteristic of the administration of the areas later annexed to the German Reich.
After the incorporation of the Sudeten areas due to the Munich Agreement , Konrad Henlein was appointed "Reich Commissioner for the Sudeten German Areas" at the end of September 1938, with his official seat in Reichenberg . From May 1, 1939, he received the title of Reich Governor and Gauleiter of the Sudetenland.
Reich commissioners in World War II
Just a few days after the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe, Heinrich Himmler awarded himself the title of " Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Ethnicity ". The basis for this was a decree from Hitler of October 7, 1939, with which Himmler received a large part of the competencies for the ethnic reorganization of Europe and the homogenization of the German Reich within the framework of the National Socialist national politics . With his position as Reich Commissioner, measures for “ re-Germanization ” and expulsion were connected, finally planning and partial implementation of extensive resettlement campaigns , deportations and genocide .
A few days after the German invasion of Norway , on April 21, 1940, Hitler installed the Essen Gauleiter and Oberpräsident Josef Terboven with the title "Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Norwegian Territories " with his official seat in Oslo . In this position, Terboven was directly subordinate to Hitler. It was similar after the surrender of the Dutch troops : just five days later, on May 19, 1940, Arthur Seyß-Inquart received the title of "Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands", with the exception of the military and foreign policy areas being responsible for the entire occupation administration. His position of power was limited in part by the four general commissioners who report to him.
The designation "Reichskommissar" for the officials in the occupied eastern territories can be traced back to the OKW's "Guidelines on Special Areas Regarding Instruction No. 21 " of March 13, 1941. Because of the Soviet term “ commissioner” , the term in the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories (RMfdbO) was assessed as wrong, since - as Peter Kleist wrote from the RMfdbO after the war - the political commissars of the Red Army (“Red Commissars”) merely passed through the "browns" had been replaced. Even Alfred Rosenberg himself who led the RMfdbO had initially rejected the term and for the title " governor pleads" or "Governor General". On May 9, 1941, during a conversation with Adolf Hitler, Rosenberg noted that the Red Commissioners were hated and feared by the Soviet population, whereupon Hitler declared: “So much the better! You should also fear us ”. Regardless of this, Commissioner General Alfred Eduard Frauenfeld wrote a letter to Rosenberg on January 30, 1942, in which he pointed out that not only he, "but also many officers of the staff who were involved in the propaganda for Russia", were "somewhat dismayed" , "When the German authorities now called their highest functionaries commissioners, giving them the same name that we had tried for months and are still trying to discredit as a swear word ".
After the attack by the German Wehrmacht on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Reichskommissariat Ostland was formed under the direction of Hinrich Lohse and the Reichskommissariat Ukraine under the direction of Erich Koch . Both Reich Commissioners were subject to the instructions of the RMfdbO, whereby in the event of a conflict of interest between the RMfdbO and other Reich authorities regarding the respective political measures to be implemented, Hitler's decision on the "Head of the Reich Chancellery " ( Hans Heinrich Lammers , Martin Bormann ) had to be obtained. Rosenberg wrote a report on June 28, 1941, in which he recorded his plan to deploy 24 general commissioners , including 80 chief commissioners and among them over 900 area commissioners , for the "Eastern European area" below the level of the Reich Commissioners . The staff of the NS-Ordensburg Krössinsee in Pomerania were to undergo “training and instruction on the overall problem”.
By decree of the Führer on the establishment of a civil administration in the occupied territories of Belgium and northern France of July 13, 1944 , Josef Grohé was appointed Reich Commissioner by Hitler as part of the German occupation policy a few months before the end of the war. The decree also states that he was placed at "the head of the German civil administration in the occupied territories of Belgium and northern France", was directly subordinate to Hitler in this position and had to follow his "guidelines and instructions". Due to the collapse of the German military front in France, the plan to convert the former Belgian-Northern France military administration under the direction of Alexander von Falkenhausen into a civil administration administered by Grohé could no longer be realized.
Other Reich Commissioners were planned, but could no longer be installed in their office or become active in their office because of the course of the war: Siegfried Kasche ("Reichskommissariat Moskowien ") and Arno Schickedanz (" Reichskommissariat Caucasien ").
List of Reich Commissioners 1933–1945
Note: Sorting takes place after taking office or after the end of the term of office.
- Gerhard Schulz: The beginnings of the totalitarian state of measures . Vol. 2 of the multi-part work: The National Socialist seizure of power . Studies on the establishment of the totalitarian system of rule in Germany in 1933/34. Frankfurt a. M. / Berlin / Vienna 1974. DNB
- Martin Fimpel: Imperial Justice and Territorial State . Württemberg as commissioner of the emperor and empire in the Swabian district 1648–1806. Tübingen 1999, ISBN 3-928471-21-X .
- Daniel Mühlenfeld: From the commissariat to the ministry. On the founding history of the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda . In: Contributions to the history of National Socialism 22 (2006), pp. 72–92.
- Rüdiger Hachtmann , Winfried Suss: Hitler's commissioners . Special powers in the National Socialist dictatorship. Göttingen 2006, ISBN 3-8353-0086-5 . review
- Literature on the subject of the Reich Commissioner in the catalog of the German National Library
- Rudolf Absolon: The Wehrmacht in the Third Reich . Vol. 1: January 30, 1933 to August 2, 1934. With a look back at the military system in Prussia, the German Empire and the Weimar Republic . 2nd edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-486-41070-9 , p. 61 f .; Ordinance on the Reich Commissioner for Aviation of February 2, 1933 . In: documentArchiv.de (publisher), accessed on September 27, 2017.
- Ernst Klee : Das Personenlexikon zum Third Reich: Who was what before and after 1945. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2007, p. 82.
- Michael Wedekind: National Socialist Occupation and Annexation Policy in Northern Italy 1943 to 1945. The operational zones “Alpine Foreland” and “Adriatic Coastal Land”. Oldenbourg, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-486-56650-4 , p. 96 f. (Source: Peter Hüttenberger: Die Gauleiter . Stuttgart 1969, pp. 140 ff.).
- Wolfgang Benz , Hermann Graml, Hermann Weiß (eds.): Encyclopedia of National Socialism . 5th, updated and expanded edition, dtv, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-423-34408-1 , p. 739 ff.
- Wolfgang Benz, Hermann Graml, Hermann Weiß (eds.): Encyclopedia of National Socialism . 5th, updated and expanded edition, dtv, Stuttgart 2007, p. 484 u. 740
- Andreas Zellhuber: "Our administration is driving a catastrophe ..." . The Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories and German occupation in the Soviet Union 1941–1945. Vögel, Munich 2006, p. 74, ISBN 3-8965-0213-1 . (Sources: Jürgen Förster: The Barbarossa company as a war of conquest and extermination . In: The German Reich and the Second World War in the East , May 8, 1941; IMT, Vol. 26, 1029-PS and general instructions for all Reich Commissioners in the occupied Eastern Regions , May 8, 1941, IMT, Vol. 26, 1030-PS.)
- Andreas Zellhuber: "Our administration is driving a catastrophe ..." . The Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories and German occupation in the Soviet Union 1941–1945. Munich 2006, p. 75 (source: Otto Bräutigam : Alfred Rosenberg, his conception of the East and the reasons given by the East Ministry , typewritten manuscript from 1948, IfZ , ZS 400 / I, p. 16).
- Andreas Zellhuber: "Our administration is driving a catastrophe ..." . The Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories and German occupation in the Soviet Union 1941–1945. Munich 2006, p. 75 (source: letter from Frauenfeld to Rosenberg dated January 30, 1942, BA R 6/6, p. 73 f .; adaptation of the quotation to the ref. German law).
- Martin Vogt: Autumn 1941 in the "Führer Headquarters" . Werner Koeppens reports to his minister Alfred Rosenberg, Koblenz 2002, p. 81 .; The trial of the main war criminals before the International Military Court of Nuremberg November 14, 1945 - October 1, 1946 , Vol. XXIX, Munich / Zurich 1984, pp. 235 ff .; Manfred Weißbecker: Alfred Rosenberg . "The anti-Semitic movement was only a protective measure ...", in: Kurt Pätzold / Manfred Weißbecker (ed.): Steps to the gallows . Life paths before the Nuremberg judgments, Leipzig 1999, p. 173 f. (Source: “Führer decrees”, pp. 186–188, 188 f.).
- Andreas Zellhuber: "Our administration is driving a catastrophe ..." . The Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories and German occupation in the Soviet Union 1941–1945. Munich 2006, p. 83 (Source: Report on the preparatory work on issues relating to Eastern Europe, June 28, 1941, IMT, Vol. 26, 1039-PS).
- Martin Moll: "Leader Decrees" 1939–1945 . Edition of all surviving directives in the fields of state, party, economy, occupation policy and military administration issued by Hitler in writing during the Second World War , not printed in the Reichsgesetzblatt . Stuttgart 1997, p. 430, ISBN 3-515-06873-2 . Google Books
- Klaus Hildebrand : The Third Reich. 6., rework. Ed., Oldenbourg, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-486-49096-6 , p. 92.