Robert Ley (German: [ˈlaɪ]; 15 February 1890 – 25 October 1945) was a German politician during the Nazi era who headed the German Labour Front from 1933 to 1945. He committed suicide while awaiting trial at Nuremberg for war crimes.
|Head of the German Labour Front|
April 1933 – 23 May 1945
|Preceded by||Gregor Strasser|
|Reich Commissioner for Social House-Building|
|Born||15 February 1890|
Niederbreidenbach, Rhine Province, German Empire
|Died||25 October 1945 (aged 55)|
|Cause of death||Suicide by hanging|
|Political party||National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)|
|Alma mater||Jena, Bonn, Münster|
|Known for||Head of the German Labour Front (1933–1945)|
Ley was born in Niederbreidenbach (now a part of Nümbrecht) in the Rhine Province, the seventh of 11 children of a heavily indebted farmer, Friedrich Ley, and his wife Emilie (née Wald). He studied chemistry at the universities of Jena, Bonn, and Münster. He volunteered for the army on the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and spent two years in the artillery before training as an aerial artillery spotter with Field Artillery Detachment 202. In July 1917 his aircraft was shot down over France and he was taken prisoner. It has been suggested that he suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash; for the rest of his life he spoke with a stammer and suffered bouts of erratic behaviour, aggravated by heavy drinking.
After the war Ley returned to university, gaining a doctorate in 1920. He was employed as a food chemist by a branch of the giant IG Farben company, based in Leverkusen in the Ruhr. Enraged by the French occupation of the Ruhr in 1924, Ley became an ultra-nationalist and joined the Nazi Party soon after reading Adolf Hitler's speech at his trial following the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. By 1925 he was Gauleiter of the Southern Rhineland district and editor of a virulently anti-Semitic Nazi newspaper, the Westdeutscher Beobachter. Ley proved unswervingly loyal to Hitler, which led Hitler to ignore complaints about his arrogance, incompetence and drunkenness.
In 1934, Ley was brought to the Nazi Party's Munich headquarters to take over as head of the party organisation (Reichsorganisationsleiter) following the murder of Gregor Strasser in The Night of the Long Knives. Ley's impoverished upbringing and his experience as head of the largely working-class Ruhr party region meant that he was sympathetic to those elements in the party who were open to socialism, which Hitler opposed, but he always sided with Hitler in inner party disputes. This helped him survive the hostility of other party officials such as the party treasurer, Franz Xaver Schwarz, who regarded him as an incompetent drunk. When Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933, Ley accompanied him to Berlin. In April, when the trade union movement was taken over by the state, Hitler appointed him head of the German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF).
The DAF took over the existing Nazi trade union formation, the National Socialist Factory Cell Organisation (Nationalsozialistische Betriebszellenorganisation, NSBO) as well as the main trade union federation. But Ley's lack of administrative ability meant that the NSBO leader, Reinhold Muchow, a member of the socialist wing of the Nazi Party, soon became the dominant figure in the DAF, overshadowing Ley. Muchow began a purge of the DAF administration, rooting out ex-Social Democrats and ex-Communists and placing his own militants in their place.
The NSBO cells continued to agitate in the factories on issues of wages and conditions, annoying the employers, who soon complained to Hitler and other Nazi leaders that the DAF was as bad as the Communists had been.
Hitler had no sympathy with the syndicalist tendencies of the NSBO, and in January 1934 a new Law for the Ordering of National Labour effectively suppressed independent working-class factory organisations, even Nazi ones, and put questions of wages and conditions in the hands of the Trustees of Labour (Treuhänder der Arbeit), dominated by the employers. At the same time Muchow was purged and Ley's control over the DAF re-established. The NSBO was completely suppressed and the DAF became little more than an arm of the state for the more efficient deployment and disciplining of labour to serve the needs of the regime, particularly its massive expansion of the arms industry.
As head of the Labour Front, Ley invited Edward, Duke of Windsor, and Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, to conduct a tour of Germany in 1937, months after Edward had abdicated the British throne. Ley served as their host and their personal chaperone. During the visit, Ley's alcoholism was noticed, and at one point he crashed the Windsors' car into a gate.
Once his power was established, Ley began to abuse it in a way that was conspicuous even by the standards of the Nazi regime. On top of his generous salaries as DAF head, Reichsorganisationsleiter, and Reichstag deputy, he pocketed the large profits of the Westdeutscher Beobachter, and freely embezzled DAF funds for his personal use. By 1938 he owned a luxurious estate near Cologne, a string of villas in other cities, a fleet of cars, a private railway carriage and a large art collection. He increasingly devoted his time to "womanising and heavy drinking, both of which often led to embarrassing scenes in public." On 29 December 1942 his second wife Inge (1916–1942) shot herself after a drunken brawl. Ley's subordinates took their lead from him, and the DAF became a notorious centre of corruption, all paid for with the compulsory dues paid by German workers. One historian says: "The DAF quickly began to gain a reputation as perhaps the most corrupt of all the major institutions of the Third Reich. For this, Ley himself had to shoulder a large part of the blame."
Hitler and Ley were aware that the suppression of the trade unions and the prevention of wage increases by the Trustees of Labour system, when coupled with their relentless demands for increased productivity to hasten German rearmament, created a real risk of working-class discontent. In November 1933, as a means of preventing labour disaffection, the DAF established Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude, KdF), to provide a range of benefits and amenities to the German working class and their families. These included subsidised holidays both at resorts across Germany and in "safe" countries abroad (particularly Italy). Two of the world's first purpose-built cruise-liners, the Wilhelm Gustloff and the Robert Ley, were built to take KdF members on Mediterranean cruises.
Other KdF programs included concerts, opera and other forms of entertainment in factories and other workplaces, free physical education and gymnastics training and coaching in sports such as football, tennis and sailing. All this was paid for by the DAF, at a cost of 29 million Reichsmarks a year by 1937, and ultimately by the workers themselves through their dues, although the employers also contributed. KdF was one of the Nazi regime's most popular programs, and played a large part in reconciling the working class to the regime, at least before 1939.
The DAF and KdF's most ambitious program was the "people's car," the Volkswagen, originally a project undertaken at Hitler's request by the car-maker Ferdinand Porsche. When the German car industry was unable to meet Hitler's demand that the Volkswagen be sold at 1,000 Reichsmarks or less, the project was taken over by the DAF. This brought Ley's old socialist tendencies back into prominence. The party, he said, had taken over where private industry had failed, because of the "short-sightedness, malevolence, profiteering and stupidity" of the business class. Now working for the DAF, Porsche built a new Volkswagen factory at Fallersleben, at a huge cost which was partly met by raiding the DAF's accumulated assets and misappropriating the dues paid by DAF members. The Volkswagen was sold to German workers on an installment plan, and the first models appeared in February 1939. The outbreak of war, however, meant that none of the 340,000 workers who paid for a car ever received one.
Ley said in a speech in 1939: "We National Socialists have monopolized all resources and all our energies during the past seven years so as to be able to be equipped for the supreme effort of battle." With the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, Ley's importance declined. The militarisation of the workforce and the diversion of resources to the war greatly reduced the role of the DAF, and the KdF was largely curtailed. Ley's drunkenness and erratic behaviour were less tolerated in wartime, and he was supplanted by Armaments Minister Fritz Todt and his successor Albert Speer as the czar of the German workforce (the head of the Organisation Todt (OT)). As German workers were increasingly conscripted, foreign workers, first "guest workers" from France and later slave labourers from Poland, Ukraine and other eastern countries, were brought in to replace them. Ley played some role in this program, but was overshadowed by Fritz Sauckel, General Plenipotentiary for the Distribution of Labour (Generalbevollmächtigter für den Arbeitseinsatz), in 1942.
Nevertheless, Ley was deeply implicated in the mistreatment of foreign slave workers. In October 1942 he attended a meeting in Essen with Paul Plieger (head of the giant Hermann Göring Works industrial combine) and leaders of the German coal industry. A verbatim account of the meeting was kept by one of the managers. A recent historian writes:
The key item on the agenda was the question of 'how to treat the Russians.'... Robert Ley, as usual, was drunk. And when Ley got drunk he was prone to speak his mind. With so much at stake, there was no room for compassion or civility. No degree of coercion was too much, and Ley expected the mine managers to back up their foremen in meting out the necessary discipline. As Ley put it: 'When a Russian pig has to be beaten, it would be the ordinary German worker who would have to do it.'
Despite his failings, Ley retained Hitler's favour; until the last months of the war he was part of Hitler's inner circle along with Martin Bormann and Joseph Goebbels. In November 1941 he was given a new role, as Reich Commissioner for Social House-Building (Reichskommissar für den sozialen Wohnungsbau), later shortened to Reich Housing Commissioner (Reichswohnungskommissar). Here his job was to prepare for the effects on German housing of the expected Allied air attacks on German cities, which began to increase in intensity from 1941 onwards. In this role he became a key ally of Armaments Minister Albert Speer, who recognised that German workers must be adequately housed if productivity was to be maintained. As the air war against Germany increased from 1943, "dehousing" German workers became an objective of the Allied area bombing campaign, and Ley's organisation was increasingly unable to cope with the resulting housing crisis.
He was aware in general terms of the Nazi regime's programme of extermination of the Jews of Europe. Ley encouraged it through the virulent anti-Semitism of his publications and speeches. In February 1941 he was present at a meeting along with Speer, Bormann and Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel at which Hitler had set out his views on the "Jewish question" at some length, making it clear that he intended the "disappearance" of the Jews one way or another.
In April 1945, Ley became enamored with the idea of creating a "death ray" after receiving a letter from an unnamed inventor: "I've studied the documentation; there's no doubt about it. This will be the decisive weapon!" Once Ley gave Speer a list of materials, including a particular model circuit breaker, Speer found that the circuit breaker had not been manufactured in 40 years.
As Nazi Germany collapsed in early 1945, Ley was among the government figures who remained fanatically loyal to Hitler. He last saw Hitler on 20 April 1945, Hitler's birthday, in the Führerbunker in central Berlin. The next day he left for southern Bavaria, in the expectation that Hitler would make his last stand in the "National Redoubt" in the alpine areas. When Hitler refused to leave Berlin, Ley was effectively unemployed. On 16 May he was captured by American paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division in a shoemaker's house in the village of Schleching. Ley told them he was "Dr. Ernst Distelmeyer," but he was identified by Franz Xaver Schwarz, the treasurer of the Nazi Party and a long-time enemy.
At the Nuremberg Trials, Ley was indicted under Count One ("The Common Plan or Conspiracy to wage an aggressive war in violation of international law or treaties"), Count Three (War Crimes, including among other things "mistreatment of prisoners of war or civilian populations") and Count Four ("Crimes Against Humanity – murder, extermination, enslavement of civilian populations; persecution on the basis of racial, religious or political grounds"). Ley was apparently indignant at being regarded as a war criminal, telling the American psychiatrist Douglas Kelley and psychologist Gustave Gilbert who had seen and tested him in prison: "Stand us against a wall and shoot us, well and good, you are victors. But why should I be brought before a Tribunal like a c-c-c- ... I can't even get the word out!"
On 24 October, three days after receiving the indictment, Ley strangled himself to death in his prison cell using a noose made by tearing a towel into strips, fastened to the toilet pipe in his cell.
The Ago Ao 192 Kurier was a small German twin-engined aircraft designed and built by AGO Flugzeugwerke in the 1930s. A small production run of six aircraft followed three prototypes, these being used as transports.Adolf Hitler Schools
Adolf Hitler Schools (AHS) were 12 elite boarding schools run by the SS in Nazi Germany from 1937 to 1945. Their aim was to indoctrinate young people into the ideologies of the Nazi Party. They were for young people aged 14 to 18 years old and were single sex, with three schools for girls and the rest for boys. Selection for admission to the schools was rigorous; pupils were chosen for their political dedication and physical fitness, as opposed to their academic prowess. Activities focused on political indoctrination rather than academic studies. The SS often selected future officers from the schools.The AHS should not be confused with a large number of schools renamed "Adolf Hitler School" after Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany in 1933, such as the former Martin Luther School in Marburg, the Werner Heisenberg High School in Heide, the Nordstadt School in Pforzheim, the Paul Werner High School in Cottbus, or the Goethe School in Flensburg.
There was also a similar network of boarding schools called the National Political Institutes of Education ("Napolas").Charles Turner (composer)
Charles Turner (1907 – 1977) was an English composer and part-time spy, who took the last recorded British pre-World War II photographs of Adolf Hitler.
Born in the early 1900s, Turner's life changed when his father died and his godfather Henry Pelham, 7th Duke of Newcastle took care of the young boy. Turner attended Worksop College, the public school endowed by the Duke of Newcastle. He gained a place at Cambridge university to study music. In the late 1920s into the 1930s he became a broadcast composer and fluent German speaker.
In 1934 Turner made the first of a series of annual visits to the Wagner festival in Bayreuth in Bavaria. In 1938 the British secret service MI5, convinced war was imminent, needed to urgently examine and assess the German threat. Approached by mutual friend Alan Angles, later of the War Office and Directorate of Ministry of Aircraft Production, Turner was recruited to infiltrate Hitler's entourage at the 1939 Bayreuth Festival. Registered as a guest of the Führert, Turner was hosted by Dr Fritz streit Chairman of the Bavarian Chamber of Commerce, through whom he received an invitation to follow the Führer's itinerary on Wednesday 26 July 1939. This unexpected opportunity allowed Turner to photograph Hitler and his intimates throughout the day. He took photographs of Hitler and other leading Nazis including propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Deputy, Rudolf Hess and "Strength Through Joy" leader Dr Robert Ley. Turner subsequently delivered a report back to London which is still regarded as top secret, if indeed it still exists.
Having married in 1941 and started a family, Turner's work post war often took him to Moscow. Reportedly on one occasion he took his son on tour of a housing estate in a search for the British spy Kim Philby. This may mean that Turner was still working in the interests of British Intelligence. His son is at pains to say that his father may have gathered Intelligence but was never a spy.
Charles Turner died in 1977, and his photographs of Hitler were released to the public in 2007.Eidgenössische Sammlung
Eidgenössische Sammlung (German; literally "Confederate Collection") was a Swiss political party, founded in 1940 by Robert Tobler as a successor to the recently dissolved National Front.The party demanded an adjustment in Swiss policy to favour the Axis powers. This was particularly important as, after June 1940 the country was surrounded by fascist and Nazi states. It was open in its loyalty towards Nazi Germany.The Eidgenössiche Sammlung was closely supervised by the state because of its origins and so could not develop freely. In 1943 the police finally cracked down on the group and it was outlawed along with all of its sub-organisations as part of a wider government initiative against the National Front and its offshoots.German Labour Front
The German Labour Front (German: Deutsche Arbeitsfront, pronounced [ˌdɔʏtʃə ˈʔaʁbaɪtsfʁɔnt]; DAF) was the National Socialist labour organisation which replaced the various independent trade unions in Germany after Adolf Hitler's rise to power.
Its leader was Robert Ley, who stated that its aim was 'to create a true social and productive community'. Theoretically, DAF existed to act as a medium through which workers and owners could mutually represent their interests. Wages were set by the 12 DAF trustees. The employees were given relatively high set wages and security of employment, and dismissal was increasingly made difficult. Social security and leisure programmes were started, canteens, breaks, and regular working times were established, and German workers were generally satisfied by what the DAF gave them in repayment for their absolute loyalty.Following the National Socialist’s Volksgemeinschaft approach towards developing a greater "people's community", the DAF expanded or established new social, educational, sports, health, and entertainment programs for German workers via the Strength through Joy, which included factory libraries and gardens, swimming pools, low-priced hot meals, adult education programs, periodic work breaks, physical education, sports facilities, gymnastic training, orchestral music during lunch breaks, free tickets to concerts and opera, and subsidized vacations that saw over 10.3 million Germans signed up by 1938. The DAF financed the building of ocean-going vessels that permitted German workers to pay minimal prices to sail to many foreign destinations. Up to six ocean liners were operating just before the start of World War II. According to the chief of the Associated Press in Berlin, Louis P. Lochner, ticket prices for ocean streamer vessels ranged from twelve to sixteen marks for "a full week on such a steamer". For those who desired vacations closer to home, the DAF constructed spa and summer resort complexes. The most ambitious was the 4.5 km long Prora complex on Rugen island, which was to have 20,000 beds, and would have been the largest beach resort in the world. It was never completed and the massive complex largely remained an empty shell right through until the 21st century.To help finance such ambitious social programs, the DAF also operated one of the largest financial institutions—the Bank of German Labour—along with additional community programs such as medical screening, occupational training, legal assistance and programs to improve the company's working environment. The DAF was one of the largest National Socialist organizations, boasting of over 35,000 full-time employees by 1939. To help Hitler keep his promise to have every German capable of owning an affordable car (Volkswagen—the People’s Car) the DAF subsidized the construction of an automobile factory, which was partially paid from worker’s payroll deductions. None of the 340,000 workers who were paying for a car ever received one, since the factory had to be retooled for war production after Nazi Germany invaded Poland.
In the case of workplace abuses, the DAF set up worker councils to regulate and manage business practices, along with working hours and wages, and conflicts rising between employers and workers. In 1934, worker councils dismissed over 50 workers, while in the same year 13 employers were punished through the expropriation of their business.Employment contracts created under the Weimar Republic were abolished and renewed under new circumstances in the DAF. Employers could demand more of their workers, while at the same time workers were given increased security of work and increasingly enrolled into social security programmes for workers. The organisation, by its own definition, combated capitalism and liberalism, but also revolution against the factory owners and the National Socialist state. The DAF, however, did openly prefer to have large companies nationalised by the German state, instead of privately owned companies.
DAF membership was theoretically voluntary, but any workers in any area of German commerce or industry would have found it hard to get a job without being a member. Membership required a fee within the range of 15 pfennig to three Reichsmark, depending on the category a member fell into in a large scale of 20 membership groups. A substantially large amount of income was raised through fees. In 1934, the total intake was 300,000,000 Reichsmark. In US dollars, the annual income from dues to the Labour Front came to $160,000,000 in 1937 and $200,000,000 by 1939.There were two main components of the DAF and these were:
Nationalsozialistische Betriebszellenorganisation (NSBO; National Socialist Factory Organization)
Nationalsozialistische Handels- und Gewerbeorganisation (NSHAGO; National Socialist Trade and Industry Organization)Several other sub-organisations were set up:
Kraft durch Freude (KdF; Strength through Joy) – Organisation giving the workers cheap/free holidays in addition to subsidised sporting and leisure facilities.
Schönheit der Arbeit (SdA; Beauty of Labour) – Aimed to make workplaces more enticing to workers (e.g., renovations of outdated factories, new canteens for workers, smoking-free rooms, cleaner working spaces etc.).The Front also organised the Reichsberufswettkampf, a national vocational competition.Heinrich Repke
Heinrich Repke (* 31 March 1877 in Werne, † 25 December 1962 in Wiedenbrück) was a German painter. He belonged to the Wiedenbrücker Schule school of arts.
Until 1895, Heinrich Repke was trained as an ornamental painter in the studio of Georg Goldkuhle in Wiedenbrück. He was trained as a portrait painter in the same studio before studying at the Dusseldorf Academy of Arts in 1899. He already returned to Wiedenbrück in 1900 though in order to finish the works of his deceased master Georg Goldkuhle. In 1907, Repke opened a studio for religious art.In the time of National Socialism, four of his paintings (one peasant painting, three still lifes) were exhibited at the Great German Arts Exhibition in Munich. Adolf Hitler bought the peasant painting Der weiße Truthahn (The White Turkey) for a price of 750 reichsmark in 1938, and Robert Ley acquired the still life Schläft ein Lied in allen Dingen (There's a song sleeping in all things) for 3,000 reichsmark in 1942.Repke's son Willi (* 1911, † 2009) was a painter as well and is considered the last representative of the Wiedenbrücker Schule school of arts.
In Rheda-Wiedenbrück and in Werne, streets are named after Repke.IFFHS World's Best National Coach
The IFFHS World's Best National Coach is an association football award given annually, since 1996, to the most outstanding club coach as voted by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS). The votes, in 1996, were cast by IFFHS's editorial staff as well as experts from 89 countries spanning six different continents. Since then, the votes are now awarded by 81 experts and selected editorial offices from all of the continents.Inspekteur (NSDAP)
Inspekteur was an early Nazi political rank created in 1930 due to the Nazi Party expanding across Germany in hopes of securing a major election victory. The political position of Inspekteur was the first concentrated effort to organize the Nazi Party on a national basis, where as before the Nazis had mainly operated from Munich, in Bavaria, with various splinter Nazi groups in other parts of Germany.
The rank of Inspekteur was divided into two levels: Landesinspekteur and Reichsinspekteur. The Landes level was concentrated on Nazi organization within specific German states, while the Reich level coordinated Nazi activities across the entire country. The position of Inspekteur was denoted on Nazi Party brown shirts by either one of two collar bars worn on a dark red collar patch. The shoulder boards were also paired up with a one or two knotted gold shoulder cord.
A special title also existed for the senior most Reichsinspekteur, this being Reichsorganisationsleiter (National Organizational Leader). There was no special insignia for this supreme political position, as it was merely a command title for the head Reich Inspector. Robert Ley was one such holder of this title.
After the Nazis came to power in 1933, the political rank of Inspekteur became obsolete as the position had mainly served the purpose of election coordination. The duties of the Landesinspekteur were absorbed into the position of Gauleiter and the rank of Reichsinspekteur was renamed as Reichsleiter.List of Nazi Party leaders and officials
This is a list of Nazi Party (NSDAP) leaders and officials.List of Nazi doctors
This is a list of notable Nazi medical doctors (physicians).
When the Nazi government came to power it purged Germany of its 6,000 to 7,000 Jewish doctors.
Reportedly more than 7% of all German physicians became members of the Nazi party during World War II, a far higher percentage than the general population. In 1942 more than 38,000 German doctors, half the total number of doctors, had joined the Nazi party. While most of these doctors were physicians, some were psychiatrists, and some held doctorates (PhD.'s) in biology, anthropology, or similarly related fields.
Psychiatrists/Doctors who were working for the state, and not for their patient, using a Mendelian type of logic chart, saw extermination of their patients as the correct solution to the problem of mental illness and the supposedly genetically defective."The participation in the ‘betrayal of Hippocrates’ had a broad basis within the German medical profession. Without the doctors' active help, the Holocaust could not have happened." wrote E Ernst in the International Journal of Epidemiology.Psychiatrist Ernst Rüdin was the founder of the psychiatric genetics field and was also a founder of the German racial hygiene movement.Killing and experimentation became medical procedures as they were performed by licensed doctors. A doctor was present at all the mass killings for legal reasons. The excuse that there wasn't any international law to differentiate between legal and illegal human experimentation, was used in the Doctors' trial. Due to the lack of international laws to govern doctors, the Nuremberg Code (1947) was created.
After the war the German Medical Association blamed Nazi atrocities on a small group of 350 criminal doctors.Doctors such as Werner Heyde and Robert Ley, changed their name after the war to avoid responsibility. Dr Walter Schreiber first used by the Soviets was later taken into Operation Paperclip in 1951.
Alphabetical List of the Nazi physicians.National Union (Switzerland)
The National Union (French: Union Nationale) was a French-speaking fascist political party in Switzerland between 1932 and 1939.
The Union was formed in Geneva in 1932 by Georges Oltramare, a lawyer and writer. Noted for his anti-Semitic writing, Oltramare founded the Order Politique Nationale in 1931 but merged it with the Union de Défense Economique the following year to form the National Union. The group continued under Oltramare's leadership until 1940 when he moved to Paris in order to co-operate more closely with the Nazis. Oltramare spent four years as a member of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland representing the National Union.The Union became notorious for a demonstration in Geneva on November 9, 1932 when their march to the city's Salle Communale was counterdemonstrated by the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland. In the resulting trouble the Swiss army opened fire on the Socialists resulting in 13 deaths.Nuremberg trials
The Nuremberg trials (German: Die Nürnberger Prozesse) were a series of military tribunals held after World War II by the Allied forces under international law and the laws of war. The trials were most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, judicial, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany, who planned, carried out, or otherwise participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes. The trials were held in Nuremberg, Germany, and their decisions marked a turning point between classical and contemporary international law.
The first and best known of the trials was that of the major war criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT). It was described as "the greatest trial in history" by Sir Norman Birkett, one of the British judges present throughout. Held between 20 November 1945 and 1 October 1946, the Tribunal was given the task of trying 24 of the most important political and military leaders of the Third Reich. Martin Bormann had, unknown to the Allies, died in May 1945 and was tried in absentia. Another defendant, Robert Ley, committed suicide within a week of the trial's commencement.
Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels had both committed suicide in the spring of 1945 to avoid capture. Heinrich Himmler attempted to commit suicide, but was captured before he could succeed; he committed suicide one day after being arrested by British forces. Heinrich Müller disappeared the day after Hitler's suicide, the most senior figure of the Nazi regime whose fate remains unknown. Reinhard Heydrich had been assassinated by Czech partisans in 1942. Josef Terboven killed himself with dynamite in Norway in 1945. Adolf Eichmann fled to Argentina to avoid capture but was apprehended by Israel's intelligence service (Mossad) and hanged in 1962. Hermann Göring was sentenced to death but, in defiance of his captors, committed suicide by swallowing cyanide the night before his execution.
Primarily treated here is the first trial, conducted by the International Military Tribunal. Further trials of lesser war criminals were conducted under Control Council Law No. 10 at the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunal (NMT), which included the Doctors' trial and the Judges' Trial.
The categorization of the crimes and the constitution of the court represented a juridical advance that would be followed afterward by the United Nations for the development of an international jurisprudence in matters of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and wars of aggression, and led to the creation of the International Criminal Court. For the first time in international law,
the Nuremberg indictments also mention genocide (count three, war crimes: "the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian populations of certain occupied territories in order to destroy particular races and classes of people and national, racial, or religious groups, particularly Jews, Poles, and Gypsies and others.")Positive Christianity
Positive Christianity (German: Positives Christentum) was a movement within Nazi Germany which mixed ideas of racial purity and Nazi ideology with elements of Christianity. Adolf Hitler used the term in article 24 of the 1920 Nazi Party Platform, stating: "the Party represents the standpoint of Positive Christianity". Nondenominational, the term could be variously interpreted. Positive Christianity allayed fears among Germany's Christian majority as expressed through their hostility towards the established churches of large sections of the Nazi movement. In 1937, Hans Kerrl, the Nazi Minister for Church Affairs, explained that "Positive Christianity" was not "dependent upon the Apostle's Creed", nor was it dependent on "faith in Christ as the son of God", upon which Christianity relied, rather, it was represented by the Nazi Party: "The Führer is the herald of a new revelation", he said. To accord with Nazi antisemitism, positive Christianity advocates also sought to deny the Semitic origins of Christ and the Bible. In such elements positive Christianity separated itself from Nicene Christianity and is considered apostate by all of the historical Trinitarian Christian churches, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant.
Hitler identified himself as a Christian in a 12 April 1922 speech. Hitler also identified himself as a Christian in Mein Kampf. However, historians, including Ian Kershaw and Laurence Rees, characterize his acceptance of the term positive Christianity and his involvement in religious policy as being driven by opportunism, and by a pragmatic recognition of the political importance of the Christian Churches in Germany. Nevertheless, efforts by the regime to impose a Nazified "positive Christianity" on a state-controlled Protestant Reich Church essentially failed, and it resulted in the formation of the dissident Confessing Church which saw great danger to Germany from the "new religion". The Catholic Church also denounced the creed's pagan myth of "blood and soil" in the 1937 papal encyclical Mit brennender Sorge.
The official Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg played an important role in the development of "positive Christianity", which he conceived in discord with both Rome and the Protestant church, whom he called "negative Christianity". Richard Steigmann-Gall queries whether this made Rosenberg a genuine anti-Christian. Rosenberg conceived of positive Christianity as a transitional faith and amid the failure of the regime's efforts to control Protestantism through the agency of the pro-Nazi "German Christians", Rosenberg, along with fellow radicals Robert Ley and Baldur von Schirach backed the neo-pagan "German Faith Movement", which more completely rejected Judeo-Christian conceptions of God. During the war, Rosenberg drafted a plan for the future of religion in Germany which would see the "expulsion of the foreign Christian religions" and replacement of the Bible with Mein Kampf and the cross with the swastika in Nazified churches.Reich Chamber of Culture
The Reich Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturkammer) was a government agency in Nazi Germany. It was established by law on 22 September 1933 in the course of the Gleichschaltung process at the instigation of Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels as a professional organization of all German creative artists. Defying the competing ambitions of the German Labour Front (DAF) under Goebbels' rival Robert Ley, it was meant to gain control over the entire cultural life in Germany creating and promoting Aryan art consistent with Nazi ideals.
Every artist had to apply for membership on presentation of an Aryan certificate. A rejected inscription de facto resulted in an occupational ban.Reichsberufswettkampf
The Reichsberufswettkampf (translated as "Reich vocational contest" or "national trade competition") was an annual vocational competition held in Nazi Germany as part of the Gleichschaltung of German society.
The competition was organised by the German Labour Front with the aid of the Hitler Youth and the National Socialist German Students' League. It was held at the local, Gau and national level, and was subdivided into numerous vocational and academic branches. Competitors were tested in the theory and practice of their profession, as well as in their adherence to Nazi ideology. Women were also tested in housekeeping. The winners were presented to Labour Front head Robert Ley and to Hitler in person, and could expect substantial professional advancement.
The number of competitors grew from some 500,000 in 1934 at the first competition to 3,500,000 in 1939. Students were admitted in 1935 and adults in 1938. The competition was suspended at the outbreak of World War II in 1939, with the exception of a wartime competition (Kriegsreichsberufswettkampf) in 1944.Reichsleiter
Reichsleiter (national leader or Reich leader) was the second highest political rank of the Nazi Party (NSDAP), next only to the office of Führer. Reichsleiter also served as a paramilitary rank in the Nazi Party and was the highest position attainable in any Nazi organisation.The Reichsleiter reported directly to Adolf Hitler. The Reichsleiter formed part of the Reichsleitung of the NSDAP which was originally located in the "Brown House" in Munich.Robert Ley (ship)
The Robert Ley was a cruise ship of the Nazi Party leisure organization Kraft durch Freude (Strength Through Joy). It was considered the flagship of the KdF fleet.The Immortals (neo-Nazis)
The Immortals (German Die Unsterblichen) was a neo-Nazi organization based in Germany that uses flash mobs to coordinate, gather and demonstrate. The members wear black clothing with white facial masks and carry torches when they march.Tullio Cianetti
Tullio Cianetti (20 August 1899, in Assisi – 8 April 1976, in Maputo, Mozambique) was an Italian fascist politician who was well known for his work with the trade unions.
The son of a farmer, Cianetti was conscripted in 1917 and served as a lieutenant in the Italian Army until 1921. Returning to Assisi, he worked as a teacher, whilst also helping to found the fascio in the town, becoming secretary in 1922. He was moved to Terni to organise the syndicate before being promoted to captain and appointed regional secretary for syndicates in Umbria in 1924. The same year he stepped away from fascism for a time following the death of Giacomo Matteotti and suspicion began to arise that he was too left-wing. However, by 1925 he had returned as secretary of syndicates in Syracuse, before being promoted to major and going on to hold similar roles in Carrara, Messina, Matera and Treviso.In 1931 he was promoted to colonel and made secretary of the national federation of miners and quarrymen and in this role agitated for higher wages. However, despite his tendency to sometimes clash with the government he continued to rise in influence, serving as secretary of the Fascist Confederation of Industrial Workers' syndicates and Vice-President of the Institute of Social Assurance. As head of the Confederation, Cianetti concluded a deal with Robert Ley in 1937 to allow Italian workers to go to Nazi Germany for employment. Such was the regard with which he was held by the leaders of the German Labour Front that the main Volkswagen factory even had a leisure complex called Cianetti Hall in his honour.Cianetti's rise continued when he was promoted to general and appointed to the Fascist Grand Council in November 1934, and in 1939 was made undersecretary of corporations. He reached his zenith in April 1943 when he was promoted to marshal and became Minister of Corporations. However his dissident tendencies continued as Cianetti voted in favour of Dino Grandi's motion to remove Mussolini, after Grandi had told him that all he was doing was arranging for the king to share the burden of government with Mussolini. Cianetti wrote to Il Duce to apologise immediately afterwards.Cianetti was one of the fascists tried along with Galeazzo Ciano in the Verona trial of 8–10 January 1944, although of all the defendants he was the only one spared execution, sentenced instead to thirty years imprisonment. The letter of apology he had written to Mussolini saved him from the death penalty. Following the liberation he escaped imprisonment and went into exile in Portuguese Mozambique.
Final occupants of the Führerbunker by date of departure (1945)
|Still present on 2 May|
Major defendants at the Nuremberg trials
|Sentenced to death|