AMTSLEITER Political Leader, Extremely rare Mitglieted der Reichsleitung early NSDAP wool armband 1932-1933, (Member of the Third Reichs leadership), featuring a cut out swastika.
The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP), was a far-right political party in Germany active between 1920 and 1945, that created and supported the ideology of Nazism. Its precursor, the German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei; DAP), existed from 1919 to 1920. The Nazi Party emerged from the German nationalist, racist and populist Freikorps paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany. The party was created to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although this was later downplayed to gain the support of business leaders, and in the 1930s the party’s main focus shifted to antisemitic and anti-Marxist themes.
At the top of the Nazi Party was the party chairman (“Der Führer”), who held absolute power and full command over the party. All other party offices were subordinate to his position and had to depend on his instructions. In 1934, Hitler founded a separate body for the chairman, Chancellery of the Führer, with its own sub-units.
Below the Führer’s chancellery was first the “Staff of the Deputy Führer”, headed by Rudolf Hess from 21 April 1933 to 10 May 1941; and then the “Party Chancellery” (Parteikanzlei), headed by Martin Bormann.
Directly subjected to the Führer were the Reichsleiter (Reich Leader(s), whose number was gradually increased to eighteen. They held power and influence comparable to the Reich Ministers’ in Hitler’s Cabinet. The eighteen Reichsleiter formed the “Reich Leadership of the Nazi Party” (Reichsleitung der NSDAP), which was established at the so-called Brown House in Munich. Unlike a Gauleiter, a Reichsleiter did not have individual geographic areas under their command, but were responsible for specific spheres of interest.
The Nazi Party had a number of party offices dealing with various political and other matters. These included:
Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP (RPA): “NSDAP Office of Racial Policy”
Außenpolitische Amt der NSDAP (APA): “NSDAP Office of Foreign Affairs”
Kolonialpolitisches Amt der NSDAP (KPA): “NSDAP Office of Colonial Policy”
Wehrpolitisches Amt der NSDAP (WPA): “NSDAP Office of Military Policy”
Amt Rosenberg (ARo): “Rosenberg Office”
The SA in Berlin in 1932. The group had nearly two million members at the end of 1932.
In addition to the Nazi Party proper, several paramilitary groups existed which “supported” Nazi aims. All members of these paramilitary organisations were required to become regular Nazi Party members first and could then enlist in the group of their choice. An exception was the Waffen-SS, considered the military arm of the SS and Nazi Party, which during the Second World War allowed members to enlist without joining the Nazi Party. Foreign volunteers of the Waffen-SS were also not required to be members of the Nazi Party, although many joined local nationalist groups from their own countries with the same aims. Police officers, including members of the Gestapo, frequently held SS rank for administrative reasons (known as “rank parity”) and were likewise not required to be members of the Nazi Party.
A vast system of Nazi Party paramilitary ranks developed for each of the various paramilitary groups. This was part of the process of Gleichschaltung with the paramilitary and auxiliary groups swallowing existing associations and federations after the Party was flooded by millions of membership applications.
The major Nazi Party paramilitary groups were as follows:
Schutzstaffel (SS): “Protection Squadron” (both Allgemeine SS and Waffen-SS)
Sturmabteilung (SA): “Storm Division”
Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps (NSFK): “National Socialist Flyers Corps”
Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrerkorps (NSKK): “National Socialist Motor Corps”
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary group divided into an adult leadership corps and a general membership open to boys aged fourteen to eighteen. The League of German Girls was the equivalent group for girls.
Certain nominally independent organisations had their own legal representation and own property, but were supported by the Nazi Party. Many of these associated organisations were labour unions of various professions. Some were older organisations that were nazified according to the Gleichschaltung policy after the 1933 takeover.
Reich League of German Officials (union of civil servants, predecessor to German Civil Service Federation)
German Labour Front (DAF)
National Socialist German Doctors’ League
National Socialist League for the Maintenance of the Law (NSRB, 1936–1945, earlier National Socialist German Lawyers’ League)
National Socialist War Victim’s Care (NSKOV)
National Socialist Teachers League (NSLB)
National Socialist People’s Welfare (NSV)
Reich Labour Service (RAD)
German Faith Movement
German Colonial League (RKB)
German Red Cross
Technical Emergency Relief (TENO)
Reich’s Union of Large Families
Bund Deutscher Osten (BDO)
German American Bund
The employees of large businesses with international operations such as Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, and Commerzbank were mostly party members. All German businesses abroad were also required to have their own Nazi Party Ausland-Organization liaison men, which enabled the party leadership to obtain updated and excellent intelligence on the actions of the global corporate elites.