8

In Hitler’s last will and testament, he assigns all the different offices and functions prior to that held by him and the members of his cabinet to new office-holders-Dönitz became Reichpresident, Goebbels (briefly) became Chancellor, and so on and so on.

But one that’s perplexed me is the one assigned to Martin Bormann: ‘Party Minister’. Obviously, this ephemeral office as something to with the Nazi party itself, but in all the research I’ve done, I’ve not found a single mention of what the duties and responsibilities of Bormann in the post-Hitler government were supposed to be, and what role he was supposed to have with this office.

Anyone know?

5

2 Answers 2

17

First off you need to understand that, for better or worse, the Nazi state did not have clearly defined borders of responsibility. The constant struggle for influence and control between rival organizations was very much inbred into the system.

This included the Chancelleries at the very top of the state: The Reichskanzlei (Reich Chancellery), assigned to the Chancellor (head of government). Then there was the Kanzlei des Führers, Hitler's personal chancellery as "Führer". The third was the Party Chancellery, originally the "Staff of the Deputy Führer" when Rudolf Hess still held that position (1933-1941), which was mainly the joint between the government and the Nazi party. Hess was, in that function, literally a "minister without department".

Following Hess' unauthorized flight to Great Britain, Hitler abolished the position of Deputy Führer itself, renamed the "Staff of the Deputy Führer" into Party Chancellery, and appointed the man who had basically been doing all the work already, Martin Bormann, as head of the Party Chancellery (with the rank of minister). Under Bormann, the Party Chancellery grew in importance and influence to rival, and possibly eclipse, the Reich Chancellery.

Note that Hitler's position of "Führer" united three functions -- president, chancellor, and head of the NSDAP. In his testament, he separates these positions again. Quoting that document:

Reichspräsident: D ö n i t z

Reichskanzler: Dr. G o e b b e l s

Parteiminister: B o r m a n n

[...]

Since there was no "Führer" anymore, the Reich Chancellery falls back to the Chancellor, and the Party Chancellery remains in Bormann's hands. I would assume that the Kanzlei des Führers would be turned into the President's staff.

In the end it was all moot of course, but "Party Minister" is basically just giving "the head of the Party Chancellery" a proper title.

13
  • So basically; in a nutshell, it was separating the three positions Hitler held as Fuhrer- Dönitz became Head of state (Reich President), Goebbels became head of government (Reich Chancellor) and Bormann became head of the party, which is what ‘Party minister’ was? Or did I get that wrong?
    – user22453
    Feb 13 at 11:59
  • @user22453 Well... kind of, but not only. The Party Chancellery, and thus its head, acted (among other things) as liaison between the head of state, and his Chancellery, and the various party organizations (SA, SS, HJ, Labor Front, ...). In the end, Bormann was in charge of basically everything not directly related to the war. That's quite a bit more than "just" head of the party.
    – DevSolar
    Feb 13 at 12:17
  • 3
    @user22453 In practice, the party leader may well have turned out to be the de facto ruler, as was the case in the Soviet Union with the General Secretary of the Communist Party who was not always the de jure head of state or head of government. In one-party-systems control of the party turns out to be important... Especially when the party controls all aspects of public life.
    – xyldke
    Feb 13 at 13:04
  • 2
    @xyldke That is quite some speculation though, as Dönitz as President and Goebbels as Chancellor were not exactly paperweights either. However, the point of mootness remains, given the overall situation.
    – DevSolar
    Feb 13 at 13:45
  • 1
    @DevSolar Agreed! My comment was intended to show just how important a party leader can be in a totalitarian one-party state. Luckily, we don't know how it would have worked out in this case.
    – xyldke
    Feb 13 at 14:44
-5

The war was over and all those functions only existed in Hitler's head. There was nothing to manage, Germany was almost completely overrun by the Allied forces.

All the title and responsibilities were just hallucinations, allowing Hitler to feel like The Fuehrer for a few hours more. It's a bit like asking: "When this guy with schizophrenia says he is the Emperor of the Galaxy, what are his exact constitutional responsibilities?"

8
  • 11
    I think it is very important not to dismiss the Nazis as nutjobs, as it obstructs the view on how the things that happened came to pass, and how to avoid it happening again. While many of their ideas and concepts seem outrageous in hindsight, they were no more or less insane than those who follow in their footsteps today, and actually had their reasons for what they were doing.
    – DevSolar
    Feb 12 at 23:09
  • @DevSolar We are talking about Hitler's Last Will and Testament ie the Flemsburg government. By that time, Hitler was definitely a nutjob. Anyone in his place, awaiting certain death at the hands of the soviets, would have become a nutjob. Feb 13 at 0:05
  • 8
    Not my point. My point is to not dismiss him for that. I mean that while he certainly was not in possession of all his faculties, that is not to mean that everything he did was just senseless, because that means to underestimate the threat. Look at Putin, Trump, Kim Jong Un, you name it -- all of them unhinged to a certain degree, but we need to look beyond the shoulder-shrugging "they're mad", because we still have to deal with them.
    – DevSolar
    Feb 13 at 8:36
  • @DevSolar At that point in time, at the end of April 1945, he was a nutjob and everything he did or said could be safely dismissed as crazy. He was way past Putin or Kim level, he was literally planning attacks with divisions consisting of a handful of stragglers. It's not about the normal craziness of a dictator, it's about the denial of reality by a man condemned to die. Feb 13 at 15:42
  • 5
    @Censoredtoprotecttheguilty, nonetheless, there must have been some intention in Hitler’s mind, however deranged, to what purpose the ‘Party Minister’ office that Bormann was appointed to. That was clearly the case with the positions of President and Chancellor that were left to Dönitz and Goebbels respectively.
    – user22453
    Feb 13 at 16:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.