Lawyer and National Socialist intellectual, SS-Obergruppenführer, Heydrich’s deputy in the SD leadership and Governor of occupied Denmark
In September 1933, Werner Best became the head of organisation of the Security Service (SD) in Munich. He created the conditions for the omnipotence of the Gestapo. For example, he was able to propose protective custody orders, which were essentially arrests without judicial review.
From 1934 to 1940, Best was Reinhard Heydrich’s deputy in the SD leadership. In 1936, he became chairman of the Police Law Committee of the Academy for German Law. He was the organiser and coordinator of the murder orders for the Task Force in Poland.
From August 1940 to June 1942, Best was chief of the administrative staff of the military commander for France. He initiated the persecution of the Jews and as Reich’s Commissioner of Denmark in November 1942, he attempted to implement the Final Solution in Denmark. Best witnessed the defence at the Nuremberg Trials. His death sentence was pronounced in Copenhagen on September 20, 1948. Nevertheless, he was released from prison in August 1951. Afterwards, he was the organiser of the campaign for General Amnesty for Nazi Perpetrators and was last active in private industry.
Admiral, and the Wehrmacht’s Head of Military Secret Service and in this role, rival of Reinhard Heydrich.
As a first lieutenant in the navy, Wilhelm Canaris was a mediator of leading personnel for Himmler’s SS. In 1935 he became chief of defence of the Reichswehr Ministry. From March 1938, he headed the Foreign Affairs/Defence Office of the Wehrmacht High Command, i.e., the Wehrmacht’s military secret service. After a defence agent defected to the British, he was removed from his post in February 1944. He was arrested three days after the Hitler assassination on July 20, 1944. Although he rejected an assassination attempt on Hitler, his conviction and subsequent execution in the Flossenbürg concentration camp followed shortly before the end of the war.
SS-Oberstgruppenführer and Army General-SS, Chief of Hitler's bodyguard
In 1933 Josef Dietrich led Hitler’s bodyguard, and in 1934 he was head of the assassination squad in the Röhm affair. From 1934 to 1943 Dietrich was commander of the Leibstandarte-SS, then Panzer General of the Waffen-SS. After the end of the war, he was sentenced to death in the Soviet Union and in 1946 he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany by an American military court. However, after a probationary process, Dietrich was released from prison early in 1955.
In 1935, Eugen Dollmann was appointed head of the NSDAP’s press department in Italy, and in November 1937 he became SS-Obersturmbannführer. From 1939 on, he was the SS’s special representative in Italy. On July 20, 1944, he served as translator of a conversation between Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Dollmann was last known to work as a hotelier and translator in Munich.
Reich Minister of the Interior, lawyer and National Socialist politician
Wilhelm Frick first began as a National Socialist member of the Reichstag and then served as the Reich Minister of the Interior from 1933 to 1943, responsible for bringing the federal states into line and legalising Nazi injustice. Frick played a major role in the creation and establishment of Hitler’s criminal state. He was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg Trials on October 1, 1946.
German army officer, Colonel General and follower of Hitler
From 1933, Friedrich Fromm was head of the Army Office, later the General Army Office in the Army High Command. In 1939, he became Chief of Army Ordnance and Commander-in-Chief of the Reserve Army until the “Valkyrie” assassination attempt on Hitler, in which he played an ambivalent role. After the failure of the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944, he had the main protagonist, Colonel Count von Stauffenberg, and others involved arbitrarily shot in the courtyard of the supreme command of the Wehrmacht, probably to cover up his own role, which was likely that of a confidant to the key players
Shortly after, he fell into Hitler’s disfavour, was relieved from all offices and executed on March 12, 1945.
Reich Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, Gauleiter of Berlin and Hitler’s closest confidant.
Together with Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels was one of the most influential supporters of the Third Reich and belonged to Adolf Hitler’s innermost circle of power. From 1929 he was Reich Propaganda leader of the NSDAP. In 1931 he married Magda Quandt. On July 20, 1944, he was appointed general agent for Hitler’s “Total War”. On May 1, 1945, in the Führer Bunker in Berlin, he poisoned his six children and his wife Magda, then himself.
Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force and Reich Marshal
Hermann Göring was a well-known fighter pilot in the First World War and was awarded the Order of Merit. He took part in the failed Hitler coup of November 1923 and actively contributed to the rise of the NSDAP in the following years.
In August 1932, Göring was elected president of the Reichstag. On the day he came to power, Hitler appointed him Reich Minister without a division, Reich Commissioner for Air Traffic and Reich Commissioner for the Prussian Ministry of the Interior. In April 1933, Göring was appointed Prime Minister of Prussia and in March 1935 supreme commander of the Air Force.
In July 1940, he received the highest military rank created for him, “Reichsmarschall des Großdeutschen Reiches” (“Reich Marshal of the Greater German Reich”). On July 31, 1941, he assigned Reinhard Heydrich to organise the so-called “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”.
In 1945, Hitler suspected a coup d’état, Göring was arrested on 23rd April, relieved of all offices and expelled from the party. In May, Göring fled to Schloss Fischhorn near Lake Zell and was taken prisoner there by the American army. As the highest ranking National Socialist, he was tried before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, found guilty on all charges and sentenced to death. A few hours before the sentence was carried out, Göring committed suicide in the Nuremberg prison. Until the end of the war, Göring was one of the most influential Nazi politicians.
Rudolf Hess was directly subordinate to Hitler from the beginning of his rise. Hess was Hitler’s private secretary from 1925, then NSDAP Reichsleiter and SS-Obergruppenführer. In April 1933, he was appointed deputy to the Führer.
On May 10, 1941, Hess flew with a fighter plane to Scotland to negotiate peace with Great Britain. Shortly after, he was interned by the British and declared insane by Hitler. After being sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremberg Trials, Hess committed suicide in 1987 in the Berlin-Spandau War Crimes Prison.
Head of the Security Police and SD, Head of the RSHA and Wannsee Conference
Reinhard Heydrich was commissioned by Himmler in July 1931 to set up an SS secret service, and in July 1932 he became head of the Security Service (SD). On the 9th November 1933, he became head of the SD Central Office, and on 26th August 1936, he became head of the Security Police (Sipo), including its Secret State Police (Gestapo) and criminal investigation department (Kripo).
On 27th September 1939, under Heydrich’s leadership, the SD and Sipo merged to form the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). In 1940, he was involved in the formulation of a secret euthanasia law and on the 20th January 1942, he chaired the Wannsee Conference, where the Final Solution to the Jewish question was decided. On the 27th September 1941, he was additionally appointed Deputy Reich Protector for Bohemia and Moravia.
In his function as SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Police Force, Heydrich directed the task forces to exterminate the Polish resistance and is considered one of the most important organisers of the mass murder of the Jews. On the 27th May 1942, he was seriously wounded in Prague in an attack by Czech agents and died of his injuries a few days later.
Reichsführer-SS, Head of the German Police. For many years, Hitler's most powerful follower.
Heinrich Himmler is considered an NSDAP politician from the very beginning. In 1933, he became Police Chief of Munich and in April 1934 deputy chief of the Gestapo of Prussia. He was the driving force behind the elimination and assassination of SA chief Ernst Röhm.
On June 17, 1936, Himmler was made Reichsführer-SS as well as head of the German police, and from then on was personally subordinate to Hitler. On October 7, 1939, he was also made Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationalism, and on August 25, 1943, he was appointed Reich Minister of the Interior.
From 1944, he was Commander of the Reserve Army, and from October 1, 1944, he was also responsible for the internment of all prisoners of war. In April 1945, Himmler was relieved of all offices and expelled from the party after Hitler learned of Himmler’s secret negotiations for an armistice with the Western powers.
Himmler fled under the name Heinrich Hitzinger, but was caught by the British and was arrested in Lüneburg, where he took his own life with the help of cyanide. Together with Hitler, Himmler was mainly responsible for the Holocaust and the murder of millions of people.
Führer and Reich Chancellor. From February 4, 1938, Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht
Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of the German Reich by Reich President Paul von Hindenburg on January 30, 1933. Within a few months, he eliminated pluralistic democracy, federalism and the constitutional state in Germany through terror, emergency decrees, laws of equality, and bans on organisation and parties.
Political opponents were imprisoned, tortured and murdered in concentration camps. In 1934, in the course of the Röhm Coup, Hitler ordered the murder of potential opponents in his own ranks.
After Hindenburg’s death on August 2, 1934, Hitler ruled as “Führer and Reich Chancellor” and, from 1938 and as Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht. With the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, he triggered World War II. Numerous mass crimes and genocides followed. On April 30, 1945, Hitler committed suicide in the Führer’s bunker in Berlin.
Ernst Kaltenbrunner became head of the Austrian SS in 1936 and State Secretary for Public Security in Austria in August 1938. Eventually, he was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Police and the Waffen-SS, before being appointed Head of the RSHA as Heydrich’s successor on January 1, 1943. On October 1, 1946, Kaltenbrunner was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg Trials.
Reich leader of the NSDAP and leader of the German Labor Front (DAF)
Robert Ley was Reich organisation director of the NSDAP from 1932. In May 1933, after the trade unions were dissolved, he became head of their substitute organization, the DAF (German Labor Front). This was the largest mass organisation of the Nazi era (25 million members) and also included the leisure organisation “Kraft durch Freude” (Strength through Joy).
Ley was the founder of the Adolf Hitler Schools and the Ordensburgen, which served as talent pool for the National Socialist junior leaders. Ley was a member of the Academy for German Law as well as of the General Council of the Economy, and on November 15, 1940, he also became Reich Commissioner for Social Housing. Under the alias Dr. Ernst Distelmeyer, Ley was arrested in Berchtesgaden on May 16, 1945. During his imprisonment in Nuremberg, he committed suicide.
German Naval officer of the Imperial Navy, apolitical NS propagandist, lecturer and writer.
As commander of the auxiliary cruiser “SMS Seeadler”, Count von Luckner became known as the “Sea Devil” during World War I because of his daring and bravado. After his retirement from the Navy he was very successful as a lecturer and wrote several books between the wars.
Between 1933 and 1945, he held propaganda lectures for Hitler’s politics, collaborated with the Nazi leadership, was courted by NSDAP celebrities and was connected to a number of influential and key figures of the Nazi regime.
However, Luckner did not join the NSPDAP, and cannot be called a National Socialist true believer. His motives for sympathising with those in power were purely financial.
In the post-war years, he continued to be appreciated for his lectures, especially in the USA. Count von Luckner died in 1966 in Malmö, Sweden.
SS-Obergruppenführer (1941) and Lieutenant General of the Police. Known as"Gestapo-Müller"
In 1934, Heinrich Müller joined the SS and the SD. He was the Gestapo’s main department head for “Enemy Combat “. In 1939, he became Head of the Gestapo, responsible for briefings on concentration camps and the Holocaust. On January 20, 1942, he participated in the Wannsee Conference on the subject of the Final Solution to the Jewish question. From April 29, 1945, Müller was considered missing and was eventually declared dead.
Worked for the SD Security Service. Known as "The Man Who Triggered World War II”
Alfred Naujocks was a member of Himmler’s security service from 1934, and in the SD main office he worked for the foreign intelligence service. Allegedly, it was Naujocks who staged the Polish attack on the Reich transmitter in Gleiwitz on August 31, 1939, providing Hitler with the excuse to declare war on Poland.
Naujocks operated in the Nazi grey zone. He is associated with many criminal acts in the Nazi state, from counterfeiting and fraud, to terror and murder. In 1943 he became SS-Obersturmführer, and in 1944 he was responsible for the murder of Danish resistance fighters.
In October 1944 Naujocks turned over to the Americans. From 1945 he was in prison and was convicted in Denmark as a war criminal, but was released in 1950. From 1952 Naujocks worked as a businessman in Hamburg.
Arthur Nebe was Criminal Counsellor in the Secret State Police Office from April 1933, then from 1937 Chief of the Reich Criminal Police Office ( Office V in the RSHA), as well as SS Group Leader and Lieutenant General of the Police. In September 1941, under his command, trial murders of sick people were carried out on his behalf in Minsk by means of bomb attacks and in Mogilev by poisoning with exhaust fumes, as well as other war crimes. He is said to have been involved in the assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20, 1944. Afterwards Nebe fled. After his arrest and the verdict of the People’s Court, he was executed by hanging.
SS-Group Leader and Lieutenant General of the Police
In 1936 Otto Ohlendorf set up Himmler’s security service. In September 1939, he was appointed Office Chief III in the RSHA (SD-Domestic). From June 1941 to June 1942, he was leader of Task Force D, which carried out mass murders of Jews, gypsies, and opponents of the Nazis in the Russian campaign, especially in southern Ukraine and the Caucasus. From November 1942, he served as ministerial director in the Reich Ministry of Economics. Ohlendorf was one of the main witnesses for the prosecution in the Nuremberg Trials. He was sentenced to death in the trial of the Einsatzgruppen in 1948 and executed three years later in Landsberg
German Naval Officer and Admiral in the Second World War
From June 1932 Conrad Patzig was head of the defence department of the Reichswehr Ministry in Berlin. As a captain at sea (since October 1933), Patzig resigned from the intelligence service on January 2, 1935. In October 1937, he was transferred to the Navy High Command, promoted to Admiral in April 1942, and retired from active service in March 1943.
From May 1945 to March 1946, he was captured by the British and became a prisoner of war. From 1955 to 1957, Patzig served in an advisory capacity on the Personnel Committee for the Recruitment of Senior Officers in the German Navy.
NSDAP Politician and Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs (1938)
A member of the NSDAP since 1932, Joachim von Ribbentrop was an SS-Obergruppenführer and Hitler’s foreign policy adviser with his own office (Ribbentrop Office). From 1936, he became ambassador in London, and on February 4, 1938, Reich Foreign Minister. Ribbentrop’s arrest took place in Hamburg on June 14, 1945. He was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg Trials and on October 1, 1946, he was executed.
SS Brigade Leader, Major General of the Police, known as "Hitler's Chief of Espionage"
In 1933 Walter Schellenberg joined the NSDAP and the SS. He made a career in the SD under the leadership of Reinhard Heydrich. From 1939 to 1941, Schellenberg was head of the counterintelligence of Group IVE and from 1941 to 1945 head of the foreign intelligence service in Office VI of the RSHA, and promoted to Major General of the Police on June 21, 1944.
In addition to espionage and defence, Schellenberg was responsible for the personal protection of high-ranking Nazi officials. After the war, Schellenberg was interned and appeared as a witness at the Nuremberg Trials. During the course of the Trials, he was sentenced to six years in prison for war crimes. However, Schellenberg was released early, and died of cancer in Turin, Italy shortly afterwards.
SS-Brigade Leader, NS official and university professor
In 1930 Franz Six joined the NSDAP, in 1932 the SA, and in 1935 the SS. He was Press Director in the SD Main Office (1935-1939), Head of Office VII (enemy research) in the RSHA (1939-1942), and finally head of the Cultural Policy Department in the Foreign Office (1942-1945).
From 1938 on, Six was involved in Himmler’s special assignment “Witch Research” as an adjunct professor of newspaper science at the University of Königsberg. In 1940 he was appointed to a chair at the German Institute for Foreign Cultural Studies at the University of Berlin and became president of this institution.
He was arrested in January 1946 and on April 10, 1948, in the task force trial, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Nevertheless, Six was released from prison in Landsberg on October 3, 1952, and in late 1953 he became a partner in the publishing house C.W. Leske in Darmstadt, and in 1956 he was head of advertising at Porsche Diesel-Motorenbau in Bad Harzberg.
As a sideline, Six worked as a lecturer at the Academy for Managers of the Economy in Bad Harzberg. His last position was as a management consultant in Essen.
NSDAP Politician, sports official and Reich sports leader
Hans von Tschammer und Osten was an officer in World War I. In 1929 he joined the NSDAP, became a member of the SA and in 1932 a member of the Reichstag. From April 1933 he served as Reich Sports Commissioner in the Reich Ministry of the Interior (RMI) and from July 1933 as Reich Sports Leader.
In 1934 he became a member of the German Olympic Committee and organised the ideological preparations for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. In 1938, he was appointed State Secretary in the RMI and SA-Obergruppenführer. In 1939, he took over as head of the fighting games department in the SA main office and became head of the sports section within the National Socialist leisure organization “Kraft durch Freude”. Hans von Tschammer und Osten died of pneumonia before the end of the war.