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born Jan. 12, 1893 , Rosenheim, Ger.
died Oct. 15, 1946 , Nürnberg
Göring also spelled Goering a leader of the Nazi Party and one of the primary architects of the Nazi police state in Germany. He was condemned to hang as a war criminal by the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg in 1946 but took poison and died the night that his execution was ordered.
Göring was born in Bavaria, the second son by the second wife of Heinrich Ernst Göring, at the time German consul general in Haiti. The family was reunited in Germany on the father's retirement in 1896. Göring, as a child, was brought up near Nürnberg, in the small castle of Veldenstein, whose owner was Hermann, Ritter von Epenstein, a Jew, who was, until 1913, the lover of Göring's mother and the godfather of her children. Trained for an army career, Göring received his commission in 1912 and served with distinction during World War I, joining the embryonic air force. In 1918 he became commander of the celebrated squadron in which the great German aviator Manfred, Freiherr von Richthofen, served. Göring so deeply resented the treatment given army officers by the civilian population during the troubled period after Germany's capitulation that he left the country. After a period as a commercial pilot in Denmark and Sweden, he met the Swedish baroness Carin von Rosen, who divorced her husband and married Göring in Munich on Feb. 3, 1922.
Göring had met Adolf Hitler the previous year and had joined the small National Socialist German Workers' (Nazi) Party late in 1922. As a former officer, he had been given command of Hitler's Storm Troopers (the SA, Sturmabteilung). Göring took part in the abortive Munich Putsch of November 1923 in which Hitler tried to seize power prematurely. During the Putsch, Göring was badly wounded in the groin. His arrest was ordered, but he escaped with his wife into Austria. Given morphine to deaden the pain from his wounds, he became so severely addicted that he twice underwent treatment in 1925–26 at the Långbro mental hospital in Sweden.
In 1927 he returned to Germany, where his contacts in German industry proved useful, and he was taken back into the party leadership. He occupied one of the 12 Reichstag seats that the Nazi Party won in the 1928 election. Thereafter, Göring became the acknowledged party leader in the lower house, and, when the Nazis won 230 seats in the election of July 1932, he was elected president of the Reichstag.
Göring's sole concern in the Reichstag was to stultify the democratic system, which the Reichstag ostensibly represented up to March 1933. He had the ear of the 84-year-old president, Paul von Hindenburg , and used his position to outmaneuver the successive chancellors, particularly Kurt von Schleicher and Franz von Papen , until Hindenburg was finally forced to invite Hitler to become chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933. The battle for dictatorial power, however, was still not won; between January 30 and March 23, when an enabling bill giving Hitler his dictatorial powers was passed, Göring was tirelessly active. He used his new position as minister of the interior in Prussia, Germany's largest and most influential state, to Nazify the Prussian police and establish the Gestapo , or secret political police. He also established concentration camps for the "corrective treatment" of difficult opponents. The Reichstag fire of Feb. 27, 1933, which the Nazis most probably instigated, made it possible for Göring to accuse the Communists of intending a coup d'état. The wholesale arrest of Communist and even some Social Democrat deputies succeeded in removing any effective opposition to the passage the following month of the Enabling Act, which gave Hitler dictatorial powers.
Göring's position as Hitler's most loyal supporter remained unassailable for the rest of the decade. He collected offices of state almost at will. He was Reich commissioner for aviation and head of the newly developed Luftwaffe, or German air force, which was disguised as a civilian enterprise until March 1935. In 1933 he became master of the German hunt and of the German forests. In June 1934 he took a leading part in the party's purge of the SA leader Ernst Röhm but in the same year ceded his position as security chief to Heinrich Himmler , thus ridding himself of responsibility for the Gestapo and the concentration camps. In 1937 he displaced Hjalmar Schacht , after 1934 Hitler's minister for economic affairs; in 1936, without consulting Schacht, Hitler had made Göring commissioner for his Four-Year Plan for the war economy. He was also constantly employed as Hitler's roving ambassador.
Göring was the most popular of the Nazi leaders, not only with the German people but also with the ambassadors and diplomats of foreign powers. He used his impregnable position to enrich himself. The more ruthless aspect of his nature showed in the recorded telephone conversation by means of which he blackmailed the surrender of Austria before the Anschluss (political union) with Germany in 1938. It was Göring who led the economic despoliation of the Jews in Germany and in the various territories that fell under Hitler's power.
Göring's first wife had died in 1931, and on April 10, 1935, he married the actress Emmy Sonnemann. Göring was devoted in turn to each of his wives. His hunting interests enabled him to obtain a vast forest estate in the Schorfheide, north of Berlin, where from 1933 he developed a great baronial establishment on a scale commensurate with his ambitions. This he called Carinhall in honour of his first wife. It was at Carinhall that he kept the greater part of his enormous art collection. On June 2, 1938, Emmy bore him a daughter, his only child, Edda.
Although Göring was probably sincere in his desire to avert or postpone war—as his abortive negotiations in 1939 with the Swedish industrialist Birger Dahlerus indicate—it was his Luftwaffe that conducted the blitzkrieg that smashed Polish resistance and weakened country after country as Hitler's campaigns progressed. But Göring's self-indulgent nature was too weak to sustain the rigours of war or oppose Hitler's blind prejudice in favour of the production of bombers rather than fighter planes. The Luftwaffe's capacity for defense declined as Hitler's battlefronts extended from northern Europe to the Mediterranean and North Africa, and Göring lost face when the Luftwaffe failed to win the Battle of Britain or prevent the Allied bombing of Germany. On the plea of ill health, Göring retired as much as Hitler would let him into private life, enjoying the luxuries of Carinhall, where he continued to amass his art collection (further enriched with spoils from the Jewish collections in the occupied countries) and receive many gifts from those who sought his favour. His colossal girth was more the result of glandular defect than of gluttony, but his excessive resort to paracodeine tablets (a mild derivative from morphine) poisoned his system and made recurrent treatment for drug addiction necessary. His addiction helped to make him alternately elated or depressed; he was egocentric and bombastic, delighting in flamboyant clothes and uniforms, decorations, and exhibitionist jewelry.
In spite of Göring's faults, Hitler felt he could not afford to discard a man so closely identified with the regime. In 1939 he had declared him his successor and in 1940 had given him the special rank of Reichsmarschall des Grossdeutschen Reiches. The other Nazi leaders both resented his favoured position and despised his self-indulgence, but Hitler did not displace him until the last days of the war, when, in accordance with the decrees of 1939, Göring attempted to assume the Führer's powers, believing him to be encircled and helpless in Berlin. Nevertheless, Göring expected to be treated as a plenipotentiary when, after Hitler's suicide, he surrendered himself to the Americans.
Cured finally of his drug addiction during his period of captivity awaiting
trial as a war criminal, he defended himself ably before the International
Military Tribunal at Nürnberg. He saw himself as the star defendant, a
historical figure; he denied any complicity in the more hideous activities of
the regime, which he claimed to be the secret work of Himmler. When after his
condemnation his plea to be shot and not hanged was refused, he took poison and
died in his cell at Nürnberg the night his execution was ordered. Only in 1967
was it revealed that he had left a note explaining that the poison capsule had
been secreted all the while in a container of pomade.
born April 26, 1894 , Alexandria, Egypt
died Aug. 17, 1987 , West Berlin [Germany]
German National Socialist who was Adolf Hitler's deputy as party leader. He created an international sensation when in 1941 he secretly flew to Great Britain on an abortive self-styled mission to negotiate a peace between Britain and Germany.
The son of a merchant, Hess served in the German army during World War I. After the war, he studied at the University of Munich, where he engaged in nationalist propaganda. Hess joined the fledgling Nazi Party in 1920 and quickly became Hitler's friend and confidant. After participating in the abortive November 1923 Munich (Beer Hall) Putsch, he escaped to Austria but returned voluntarily to Landsberg prison, where he took down and edited much of Hitler's dictation for Mein Kampf. Promoted to Hitler's private secretary, Hess was charged with creating a new centralized party organization after the defection of the leftist followers of Gustav Strasser (1932). In April 1933 Hess became deputy party leader and in December entered the Cabinet. In 1939 Hitler declared him second to Hermann Göring in the line of succession.
With a reputation for absolute loyalty to Hitler, Hess had little intelligence or personality of his own. During the later 1930s and the first years of World War II, when military and foreign policy preoccupied Hitler, Hess's power waned, and his influence was further undermined by Martin Bormann and other top Nazi leaders. Hess decided in the spring of 1941 to bring the continuing military struggle between Germany and Britain to an end by means of a spectacular coup and thereby restore his flagging prestige. On May 10 he secretly flew alone from Augsburg and landed by parachute in Scotland with peace proposals, demanding a free hand for Germany in Europe and the return of former German colonies as compensation for Germany's promise to respect the integrity of the British Empire. Hess's proposals met with no response from the British government, which treated him as a prisoner of war and held him throughout World War II. His quixotic action was likewise rejected by Hitler himself, who accused Hess of suffering from "pacifist delusions."
After the war, Hess was tried at the Nuremberg (Nürnberg) war crimes trials, convicted, and given a life sentence. He served his sentence at Spandau prison in Berlin, where from 1966 he was the sole inmate.
Joachim von Ribbentrop
born April 30, 1893 , Wesel, Ger.
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg
German diplomat, foreign minister under the Nazi regime (1933–45), and chief negotiator of the treaties with which Germany entered World War II.
Ribbentrop was the son of an army officer in a middle-class family. After attending schools in Germany, Switzerland, France, and England, he went to Canada (1910), but he returned to Germany at the outbreak of World War I, in which he served as a hussar on the Eastern Front. He was then assigned to the German military mission in Turkey. Upon his return to Germany at the end of the war, Ribbentrop worked as a Sekt (sparkling wine) salesman until his marriage in 1920 to the daughter of a wealthy Sekt producer made him financially independent. Thereafter he persuaded a distant ennobled relative to adopt him so that he could affix "von" to his name.
Ribbentrop met Adolf Hitler in 1932 and joined the National Socialist Party the same year, becoming the führer's chief adviser on foreign affairs after the Nazi accession to power (Jan. 30, 1933). After his appointment in 1934 as Reich commissioner for disarmament at Geneva, he negotiated in June 1935 the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, which authorized German naval rearmament. In 1936 Ribbentrop became ambassador to Great Britain; by 1938, when he left his post, he had become a thorough Anglophobe. His advice to Hitler, that Britain could not aid Poland effectively, proved correct in the short run.
In the meantime, Ribbentrop had also negotiated the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan (1936) and, after his appointment as minister of foreign affairs in February 1938, he signed the "Pact of Steel" with Italy (May 22, 1939), linking Europe's two fascist dictatorships in an alliance in case of war. Ribbentrop's greatest diplomatic coup, however, was the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact of Aug. 23, 1939, which cleared the way for Hitler's attack on Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, thus beginning World War II.
With the outbreak of the war, Ribbentrop's importance rapidly declined. He signed the Tripartite Pact with Japan and Italy (Sept. 27, 1940), which provided for mutual assistance against the United States, but thereafter diplomacy became a secondary concern. Ribbentrop maintained himself only through Hitler's backing. Even this support faded after some Foreign Office personnel were implicated in the plot of July 20, 1944, to assassinate Hitler.
Ribbentrop was captured in Hamburg on June 14, 1945, tried before the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg , found guilty on four major counts, and hanged. While in prison he wrote Zwischen London und Moskau (1953; "Between London and Moscow"; Eng. trans. The Ribbentrop Memoirs).
born Sept. 22, 1882 , Helmscherode, Ger.
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg
field marshal and head of the German armed forces high command during World War II. One of Adolf Hitler's most loyal and trusted lieutenants, he became chief of the Führer's personal military staff and helped direct most of the Third Reich's World War II campaigns.
Serving mainly as a staff officer in World War I and in administrative posts under the Weimar Republic (1918–33), Keitel became chief of staff of the armed forces office, equivalent to minister of war, in 1935 and in 1938 advanced to head of the armed forces high command, which Hitler had created as a central control agency for Germany's military effort. In June 1940 Keitel dictated the terms of the French surrender. After the war he was convicted at the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg of authorizing the shooting of hostages and other acts and was executed. He was generally regarded as a weak officer who had little tactical military experience and served chiefly as Hitler's lackey.
born Oct. 4, 1903 , Ried im Innkreis, Austria-Hungary
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg, Ger.
Austrian Nazi, leader of the Austrian SS and subsequently head of all police forces in Nazi Germany.
Kaltenbrunner attended public schools at Linz and studied at the University of Prague. He joined the Austrian Nazi Party in 1932 and became leader of the SS (elite guards) in Austria in 1935. After the Anschluss (union of Austria with Germany) he became the official head of the Austrian storm troopers. In 1938 he was appointed minister of state security in Austria, holding this post until 1941. Following the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovak patriots in June 1942, Kaltenbrunner was picked by Heinrich Himmler to head Germany's Reich Security Central Office in January 1943. As such, he was in charge of both the Gestapo and the system of Nazi concentration camps scattered throughout Europe. A rabid anti-Semite, he was said to have agreed with Himmler at a conference in 1942 that the gas chamber should be the form of execution used in the slaughter of Jews. Kaltenbrunner controlled the administrative apparatus for carrying out the extermination of European Jewry in 1943–45. He was taken prisoner by U.S. troops on May 15, 1945, and was indicted on charges of war crimes by the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg , Aug. 29, 1945. He was convicted Oct. 1, 1946, of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and was sentenced to hang.
born Jan. 12, 1893 , Reval, Estonia
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg
German ideologist of Nazism.
Born the son of a cobbler in what was at the time a part of Russia, Rosenberg studied architecture in Moscow until the Revolution of 1917. In 1919 he went to Munich, where he joined Adolf Hitler, Ernst Röhm, and Rudolf Hess in the nascent Nazi Party . As editor of the party newspaper, Völki scher Beobachter, he drew on the ideas of the English racist Houston Stewart Chamberlain and on the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a 19th-century fabrication concerning a supposed Jewish plot for world domination. When Hitler was imprisoned after the Munich Beer Hall Putsch (November 1923), he made Rosenberg leader of the party, knowing him to be incompetent as an organizer and thus unlikely to establish a position of power.
In Der Zukunftsweg einer deutschen Aussenpolitik (1927; "The Future Direction of a German Foreign Policy"), Rosenberg urged the conquest of Poland and Russia. Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts (1934; "The Myth of the 20th Century") was a tedious exposition of German racial purity. According to Rosenberg, the Germans descended from a Nordic race that derived its character from its environment: a pure, cold, semi-Arctic continent, now disappeared. The Germans, as representatives of this race, were entitled to dominate Europe. Their enemies were "Russian Tartars" and "Semites." The latter included Jews, the Latin peoples, and Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church. Rosenberg's anti-Semitism and advocacy of "Nordic" expansionism gave a certain order and direction to Hitler's own violent prejudices.
At the beginning of World War II, Rosenberg brought Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian Fascist, into contact with Hitler to discuss a possible Nazi coup d'etat in Norway. After the fall of France, Rosenberg was in charge of transporting captured works of art to Germany. From July 1941 he was a largely powerless Reichsminister for the occupied eastern territories. At the Nürnberg trials Rosenberg was adjudged a war criminal and was hanged. His writings and speeches were published under the title of Blut und Ehre (1934–41; "Blood and Honour").
Hans Frank (th) sammen med Heinrich Himmler
born May 3, 1900 , Karlsruhe, Ger.
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg
German politician and lawyer who served as governor-general of Poland during World War II.
Frank fought in World War I, studied economics and jurisprudence, and in 1921 joined the German Workers' Party (which became the Nazi Party ). He eventually became the party's chief legal counsel and Hitler's personal lawyer. After the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, Frank was appointed to a variety of important posts, including president of the Reichstag and minister of justice in the Nazi government.
After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Frank was appointed governor-general, becoming the supreme chief of occupied Poland's civil administration. An enthusiastic proponent of Nazi racist ideology, Frank ordered the execution of hundreds of thousands of Poles, the wholesale confiscation of Polish property, the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Polish workers who were shipped to Germany, and the herding of most of Poland's Jews into ghettos as a prelude to their extermination. Frank remained as governor-general until the war's end, although Hitler stripped him of his other posts in 1942. He was captured by U.S. Army troops on May 4, 1945, and was indicted for trial before the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg . He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and on Oct. 1, 1946, was sentenced to hang.
born March 12, 1877 , Alsenz, Ger.
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg
longtime parliamentary leader of the German National Socialist Party and Adolf Hitler's minister of the interior, who played a major role in drafting and carrying out the Nazis' anti-Semitic measures.
An official in the police administration at Munich, Frick was convicted of high treason for participating in Hitler's Munich (Beer Hall) Putsch of November 1923 but managed to avoid imprisonment. Elected to the Reichstag (parliament) in May 1924, he began to lead the Nazis in that body in 1928.
During 1930–31, as minister of the interior in the state government of Thuringia, Frick was the first Nazi to hold any ministerial-level post in Germany. Thereafter he became the recognized party expert in German domestic politics. As Hitler's national minister of the interior (1933–43), he played a significant role in devising and obtaining passage of legislation providing for government by decree (March 1933) and in drafting subsequent measures against the Jews, especially the notorious Nürnberg laws of September 1935.
With the growth of the SS (Schutzstaffel) as the state's principal internal-security force, however, Frick's importance in the government declined, and in 1943 he was replaced at the interior ministry by SS chief Heinrich Himmler. Thereafter Frick served as Reich protector for Bohemia and Moravia until the end of World War II. Arraigned before the Allied war-crimes tribunal at Nürnberg (1946), he was convicted and subsequently executed for his "crimes against humanity."
born Feb. 22, 1885 , Fleinhausen, Ger.
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg, W.Ger.
Nazi demagogue and politician who gained infamy as one of the most virulent advocates of the persecution of Jews during the 1930s.
Streicher served in the German army during World War I and afterward taught elementary school in Nürnberg. He joined the Nazi Party in 1921, becoming one of the earliest Nazis in southern Germany and a close friend of Adolf Hitler . In 1925 Streicher was appointed gauleiter (district leader) of Franconia, which, after the Nazis came to power in 1933, he administered from his chief bailiwick, Nürnberg. As the founder (1923) and editor of the anti-Semitic weekly newspaper Der Sturmer, Streicher achieved a position of great wealth and influence in Nazi Germany. Der Sturmer's crude anti-Jewish invective provided a focus for Hitler's persecutory racial policies; the newspaper initiated the general campaign that led to the passage of the Nürnberg laws in 1935.
Streicher's irresponsible behaviour and sexual and sadistic excesses eventually alienated many of his fellow party officials, and he was stripped of his party posts in 1940 after a commission investigated the scandalous irregularities of his business transactions and personal life. He continued to serve as editor of Der Sturmer throughout the war years, however, owing to Hitler's protection of him.
After the collapse of Germany, Streicher, disguised as a painter, was captured on May 23, 1945, by U.S. troops near Waldring, Bavaria. Indicted along with other top Nazi leaders to stand trial on charges of war crimes before the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg , Streicher was found guilty on Oct. 1, 1946, of crimes against humanity and was sentenced to death by hanging.
born Aug. 18, 1890 , Trakehnen, East Prussia, Ger.
died May 31, 1960 , Düsseldorf, W.Ger.
German Nazi and economist who was economics minister of the Third Reich from 1938 and president of the Reichsbank from 1939.
Funk attended universities at Berlin and Leipzig before joining the German Army at the outbreak of World War I. He was discharged in 1916 as being unfit for service. Having started in newspaper work in 1912, he became editor of the leading German financial and economic daily, the Berliner Boersen Zeitung, in 1922. Shortly thereafter he joined the Nazis and in 1931 was called to Hitler's personal staff as economic adviser; in this post he acted as a middleman between Hitler and the German industrialists.
Funk was appointed economics minister in 1938 but operated under the supervision of Hermann Göring, who was plenipotentiary general of the four-year plan; on Jan. 20, 1939, Funk replaced Hjalmar Schacht as president of the Reichsbank. Funk participated in the economic planning for the attack on the Soviet Union and was active in the Nazi program of discrimination against Jews. Taken prisoner by U.S. troops in May 1945, he was indicted by the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg , Aug. 29, 1945.
In his defense he described himself as a little man "who was frequently
allowed up to the door but not in." Göring himself told the court that Funk
was an "insignificant" subordinate. The court, nevertheless, found him guilty of
crimes against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and on
October 1 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released from prison on
May 16, 1957.
Hjalmar Schacht th.
born Jan. 22, 1877 , Tinglev, Ger.
died June 4, 1970 , Munich, W.Ger. [now in Germany]
in full Horace Greely Hjalmar Schacht German banker and financial expert who achieved international renown by halting the ruinous inflation that threatened the existence of the Weimar Republic in 1922–23. He also served as minister of economics (1934–37) in the National Socialist government of Adolf Hitler.
Appointed vice director of the Dresdner Bank in 1908, Schacht served during the early part of World War I as financial consultant for the German occupation government at Brussels (1914–15) and in 1916 was named director of the German National Bank—subsequently the amalgamated Darmstädter and National Bank. In 1923, as special currency commissioner in the finance ministry, he developed a rigorous monetary program for halting rampant inflation and stabilizing the mark, and in December of the same year he was appointed president of Germany's leading financial institution, the Reichsbank. Later (1929) he headed the German delegation at Paris during the negotiation of a new plan of reparations payments for Germany but subsequently rejected the conference's major handiwork—the Young Plan.
Resigning his Reichsbank presidency in 1930, Schacht cultivated an alliance with the German right-wing parties. After Hitler's accession to power (January 1933), he was reappointed president of the Reichsbank, a position he retained through his subsequent tenure as German minister of economics (1934–37). As economics minister he was responsible for the National Socialist unemployment and rearmament programs; but his rivalry with Hermann Göring, who in 1936 had become virtual dictator of the German economy, led to Schacht's resignation. Opposing Hitler's rearmament expenditure, he was in 1939 dismissed as Reichsbank president. He was imprisoned after the attempted assassination of Hitler that took place on July 20, 1944, and was later captured by the Allies. Arraigned before the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg after World War II, he was ultimately acquitted. He subsequently founded his own bank in Düsseldorf and served as financial consultant for several countries.
born Sept. 16, 1891 , Grünau-bei-Berlin, Ger.
died Dec. 22, 1980 , Aumühle, W.Ger.
German naval officer and creator of Germany's World War II U-boat fleet who for a few days succeeded Adolf Hitler as German head of state.
During World War I, Dönitz served as a submarine officer in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. In the aftermath of Hitler's accession to power, despite the Versailles Treaty's absolute ban on German submarine construction, Dönitz clandestinely supervised the creation of a new U-boat fleet, over which he was subsequently appointed commander (1936). In the midst of World War II, in January 1943, he was called to replace Adm. Erich Raeder as commander in chief of the German Navy. His loyalty and ability soon won him the confidence of Hitler. On April 20, 1945, shortly before the collapse of the Nazi regime, Hitler appointed Dönitz head of the northern military and civil command. Finally—in his last political testament—Hitler named Dönitz his successor as president of the Reich, minister of war, and supreme commander of the armed forces. Assuming the reins of government on May 2, 1945, Dönitz retained office for only a few days. In 1946 he was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment by the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg. He was released from prison in 1956 and retired on a government pension. His memoirs were published in 1958.
born April 24, 1876 , Wandsbek, Ger.
died Nov. 6, 1960 , Kiel, W.Ger.
commander in chief of the German Navy (1928–43) and proponent of an aggressive naval strategy, who was convicted as a war criminal for his role in World War II.
Raeder served as chief of staff to the commander of the German cruiser fleet in World War I and was promoted to rear admiral in 1922 and to vice admiral three years later. Appointed naval commander in chief in 1928, he advocated the construction of submarines—forbidden by the Versailles Treaty—and fast cruisers to satisfy German naval needs. Made grand admiral during World War II, he was the first to suggest a German invasion of Norway, and he supervised the subsequent planning and execution of the invasion of Denmark and Norway (1940). He also urged—without success—the transference of the major theatre of war to the Mediterranean as an alternative to invasions of Great Britain and the Soviet Union, strategies he considered ill-advised. His many strategic differences with Germany's Führer, Adolf Hitler, who generally undervalued the role of sea power, ultimately led to his removal from the supreme naval command (January 1943). In 1946 he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg but was released because of ill health in 1955.
Baldur von Schirach
born May 9, 1907 , Berlin
died August 8, 1974 , Kröv, West Germany
Nazi politician and head of the Nazi youth movement.
The son of a former German theatre director and an American mother, Schirach studied at the University of Munich. He joined the National Socialist Party in 1925 and was elected to the Reichstag in 1932. He was appointed Reichsleiter (Reich leader) in June 1933 and entered Adolf Hitler's inner circle. On June 18, 1933, Schirach was made youth leader of the German Reich (Jugendführer des Deutsches Reich), a post he held until 1945, directing all Nazi youth organizations, including the Hitler Youth (Hitler Jugend). In August 1940 he was also appointed Gauleiter ("district leader") of Vienna.
Taken prisoner in 1945, Schirach was indicted on August 29, 1945, by the International Military Tribunal to stand trial for war crimes. During the trials, he admitted (May 23, 1946) that Hitler had given him the post of Gauleiter for the express purpose of driving the Jews and Czechoslovaks out of Vienna. He also acknowledged that he had taken part in plans to ship Vienna's Jews to eastern areas. Schirach was found guilty of crimes against humanity and was sentenced on October 1, 1946, to 20 years' imprisonment. He was released from Spandau fortress in 1966.
born Oct. 27, 1894 , Hassfurt, Ger.
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg
Nazi politician who was Adolf Hitler's chief recruiter of slave labour during World War II.
While Sauckel was serving as a seaman during World War I, his ship was captured by the British, and he spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner in France. He joined the Nazi Party in 1923 and became one of its leading propagandists in Lower Franconia. He became the Nazi gauleiter of Thuringia in 1927 and subsequently served as minister of the interior and commissioner of that region.
From 1942 to 1945 during World War II, Sauckel was chief commissioner for the utilization of manpower and met Hitler's request for greater industrial production by rounding up slave labourers for use in Germany's factories. Traveling through Nazi-occupied territories in Europe, he recruited slave labour by force and ruthlessly exploited their capacity for work. After the war he was brought to trial at Nürnberg before the International Military Tribunal along with other Nazi leaders. He was found guilty on Oct. 1, 1946, of war crimes and crimes against humanity and was sentenced to hang. In the verdict Sauckel was described as being in charge of a program involving the deportation for slave labour of 5,000,000 people under cruel and insufferable conditions.
born May 10, 1890 , Würzburg, Ger.
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg
German general who, as head of the armed forces operations staff, helped plan and conduct most of Germany's military campaigns during World War II.
Primarily a staff officer during and after World War I, Jodl served as head of the department of national defense in the War Ministry from 1935. A competent staff officer and Adolf Hitler's faithful servant to the end, he was named chief of the armed forces operations staff on Aug. 23, 1939, and, with Wilhelm Keitel, became a key figure in Hitler's central military command, directing all of Germany's campaigns except the beginning of the invasion of Russia in June of 1941. On May 7, 1945, he signed the capitulation of the German armed forces to the Western Allies at Reims, Fr. As chief of operations staff he had signed many orders for the shooting of hostages and for other acts contrary to international law. He was executed after trial and conviction for war crimes by the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg .
Franz von Papen
born Oct. 29, 1879 , Werl, Ger.
died May 2, 1969 , Obersasbach, W.Ger.
German statesman and diplomat who played a leading role in dissolving the Weimar Republic and in helping Adolf Hitler to become German chancellor in 1933.
The scion of a wealthy Catholic landowning family, Papen began his career as a professional soldier. At the beginning of World War I, he was military attaché in Washington, but after being implicated in cases of espionage and sabotage, he was recalled in 1915 at the request of the U.S. government. Until the end of the war he served as chief of staff of the 4th Turkish Army in Palestine. Returning after the war to Germany, Papen, a monarchist, decided to enter politics. From 1921 to 1932, he was a deputy in the Reichstag (federal lower house) and belonged to the ultraright wing of the Catholic Centre Party. Though he had certain links with German monarchists, former aristocrats, big business circles, and the German Army, Papen himself had no political following. His elevation to the chancellorship (June 1, 1932), engineered by Pres. Paul von Hindenburg's adviser Gen. Kurt von Schleicher , came as a complete surprise to the public.
Papen established a rightist, authoritarian government without a political base or voting majority in the Reichstag. In an effort to appease the Nazis, who formed the second largest party in Parliament, he lifted the ban on the Nazis' paramilitary Sturmabteilung ( SA ) on June 15 and deposed the Social Democratic government of Prussia on July 20. In foreign affairs, he achieved the virtual cancellation of Germany's reparations obligations under the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler, however, who wanted to rule Germany himself, remained in opposition. Papen's reactionary policies and his efforts to replace Germany's Weimar constitution with authoritarian rule alienated Schleicher, who wished to establish a broad national front that would have a real popular mandate. Accordingly, Schleicher induced a number of Cabinet ministers to reject Papen's policies; Papen thereupon resigned and was, on December 4, succeeded as chancellor by Schleicher.
Incensed at his ouster and determined to gain revenge on Schleicher, Papen came to terms with Hitler (Jan. 4, 1933) and persuaded Hindenburg to appoint the Nazi leader to the chancellorship. As vice chancellor, Papen, whose fellow non-Nazi nationalists received a majority of the ministerial posts, naively thought he could restrain the Nazis. Though he soon realized how mistaken he had been, he continued to serve Hitler. Papen narrowly escaped with his life during Hitler's purge of the SA on June 30, 1934, and he resigned the vice chancellorship three days later. He was then sent as ambassador to Austria (1934–38), for whose annexation to Germany he worked. He eventually became ambassador to Turkey (1939–44), where he attempted to keep that country out of an alliance with the Allies.
Papen was arrested by the Allies in April 1945 and placed on trial as a war criminal. Found not guilty by the Nürnberg tribunal of conspiracy to prepare aggressive war, he was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment by a German court as a major Nazi, but in 1949, on his appeal, was released and fined. Papen's memoirs, Der Wahrheit eine Gasse (Memoirs), appeared in 1952.
born July 22, 1892 , Stannern, near Iglau, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary [now in
died Oct. 16, 1946 , Nürnberg, Ger.
Austrian Nazi leader who was chancellor of Austria during the Anschluss (annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938).
Seyss-Inquart served in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I and was seriously wounded. Returning to Vienna after the war, he became a lawyer there in 1921. He also became a fervent advocate of a political union of Austria with Germany, and he cultivated close ties with the Austrian Nazi Party. A leader of the moderate "legal" faction of the Austrian Nazis, Seyss-Inquart was appointed to the Austrian Staatsrat (federal council of state) in June 1937 in order to bring the Nazis into cooperation with the government. In February 1938, in response to German pressure, he was named minister of interior and security, a prelude to his replacement of Kurt von Schuschnigg as chancellor on March 11, 1938, the eve of Anschluss. Long a proponent of German-Austrian unification, he openly welcomed the incorporation of Austria into Germany that followed in the same month after the invasion by German troops.
Subsequently he served as Reichsstatthalter (governor) of the new Austrian provincial administration until April 30, 1939. He was later appointed deputy governor in Poland and eventually Reichskommissar (commissioner) of the occupied Netherlands. Following the defeat of Germany in World War II, he was tried and executed as a war criminal at Nürnberg.
born March 19, 1905 , Mannheim, Baden, Ger.
died Sept. 1, 1981 , London
German architect who was Adolf Hitler's chief architect (1933–45) and minister for armaments and war production (1942–45).
Speer studied at the technical schools in Karlsruhe, Munich, and Berlin, and acquired an architectural license in 1927. After hearing Hitler speak at a Berlin rally in late 1930, he enthusiastically joined the Nazi Party (January 1931) and so impressed the Führer by his efficiency and talent that, soon after Hitler became chancellor, Speer became his personal architect. He was rewarded with many important commissions, including grandiose plans to rebuild the whole of Berlin (never accomplished) and the design of the parade grounds, searchlights, and banners of the spectacular Nürnberg party congress of 1934, filmed by Leni Riefenstahl in Triumph of the Will.
In 1942 Speer became minister of armaments and munitions, a title enlarged the following year to minister of armaments and war production, when he was charged not only with armaments production, transportation, and placement but also with final authority over raw materials and industrial production. With this authority, Speer expanded a system of conscript and slave labour, supplied primarily from concentration camps, that maintained production of war material for Nazi Germany.
Speer confessed his guilt at the Nürnberg trials in 1945–46 and served a
20-year sentence at Spandau prison in West Berlin. Following his release in 1966
he had a career as a writer. His published works include Erinnerungen
(1969; Inside the Third Reich, 1970), Span
dauer Tagebücher (1975; Spandau: The Secret Diaries,
1976), and Der Sklavenstaat (1981; Infiltrator, 1981).
Konstantin (Freiherr) von Neurath
born Feb. 2, 1873 , Klein-Glattbach, Ger.
died Aug. 14, 1956 , Enzweihingen, W.Ger.
German diplomat who was Adolf Hitler's foreign minister from 1933 to 1938.
After studying law at the Universities of Tübingen and Berlin, Neurath entered the German foreign service in 1903. After World War I he served as minister to Denmark (from 1919), ambassador to Italy (from 1922), and ambassador to Great Britain (from 1930). From June 1932 he was foreign minister in the Papen and Schleicher cabinets and retained his post after Hitler became chancellor in 1933. In this post Neurath lent a veneer of conservative respectability to Hitler's expansionist foreign policy. In February 1938 he was ousted by Hitler in favour of Joachim von Ribbentrop, and in March 1939 he was appointed Reichsprotektor for Bohemia and Moravia. During his tenure of office there, he abolished the Czech political parties and trade unions, instituted the Nürnberg racial laws in the protectorate, and made Czechoslovakian industry work for the German war effort. Nevertheless, in September 1941 Neurath was told by Hitler that his rule was "too lenient" and was dismissed.
He was captured by French troops in the closing days of World War II in
Europe and was brought to trial before the International Military Tribunal at
Nürnberg , found guilty, and sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment. He was
released from Spandau prison in November 1954 after serving eight years and one
born 1899 , Dresden, Ger.
died Sept. 27, 1953 , Cologne
German journalist and broadcaster, a member of the Nazi propaganda ministry, whose nightly commentaries on Nazi radio throughout World War II climaxed in his broadcast of the news of Hitler's suicide.
After attending the universities of Würzburg and Leipzig, he began practicing law. After World War I he joined the virulently anti-British and jingoistic Young Conservative movement and eventually, in 1929, joined the Nazi Party. He became a member of the Sturmabteilung (SA; "Storm Troopers") the following year and served mostly in his native Saxony and in Thuringia.
Fritzsche started broadcasting in September 1932 with a daily program called "Hans Fritzsche Speaks." That same year he was named head of the Wireless News services, a government agency. The agency was incorporated into Joseph Goebbels' propaganda ministry on May 1, 1933, and Fritzsche became head of the press division of the ministry in 1938. By November 1942 he had become chief of the ministry's radio division. Throughout his association with the propaganda ministry Fritzsche was subordinate to Goebbels and had no hand in formulation of policy. Captured in Berlin by Soviet troops in May 1945, he was indicted at Nürnberg but was found not guilty under the terms of the indictment. Shortly after, a German court tried and sentenced him to nine years' imprisonment. He was released in 1950 and died three years later of cancer.
born June 17, 1900 , Halberstadt, Ger.
died May 1945 , Berlin?
powerful party leader in Nazi Germany, one of Adolf Hitler's closest lieutenants.
An avowed and vocal pan-German in his youth, Bormann participated in right-wing German Free Corps activities after the close of World War I. Bormann was imprisoned in 1924 for participation in a political murder, and after his release he joined the National Socialists. He became head of the Nazi press in Thuringia in 1926 and from 1928 held posts in the high command of the Sturmabteilung (Storm Troopers). In 1933 he became chief of staff to the deputy führer, Rudolf Hess.
On May 12, 1941, Hitler appointed Bormann to fill the post of head of the party chancellery, succeeding Hess after the latter had made his quixotic flight to Scotland. Bormann thus became head of the administrative machinery of the Nazi Party, and through intrigue, party infighting, and his shrewd manipulation of Hitler's weaknesses and eccentricities, he became a shadowy but extremely powerful presence in the Third Reich. He controlled all acts of legislation and all party promotions and appointments, and he had a broad influence on domestic policy questions concerning internal security. He controlled the personal access of others to Hitler and drew up the Führer's schedule and appointments calendar, insulating him from the independent counsel of his subordinates. Bormann was a rigid and unbending guardian of Nazi orthodoxy; he was a major advocate of the persecution and extermination of Jews and Slavs, and he played a role in expanding the German slave labour program. He disappeared shortly after the death of Hitler, and it was presumed that he was either dead or in hiding. He was indicted Aug. 29, 1945, along with other Nazi leaders, on charges of war crimes and was found guilty and sentenced to death in absentia by the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg on Oct. 1, 1946.
Later reports, especially in the 1960s, alleged that Bormann had
escaped and had been living in South America, possibly Paraguay. However, early
in 1973 a Berlin forensic expert established "with near certainty" that one of
two skeletons unearthed during construction in West Berlin in December 1972 was
that of Bormann, and on April 11, 1973, West German authorities
officially declared him dead.