The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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As time went on and greater concentration of power was
needed, the Cabinet made changes and additions to this
secret war planning body. Article 6 of the Secret Defense
Law of 1935 (2261-PS) provided:

     "(1) The Fuehrer and Reichschancellor will appoint a
     plenipotentiary-general for war economy to direct the
     entire war economy.
     "(2) It is the task of the plenipotentiary-general for
     war economy to put all economic forces in the service
     of carrying on the war and to secure the life of the
     German people economically.
     "(3) Subordinate to him are:
     The Reichsminister for economy.
     The Reichsminister for Food and Agriculture.
     The Reichs Labor Minister.
     The Reichs Forest Master, and all Reichs' agencies
     immediately subordinate to the Fuehrer and
     Reichschancellor. furthermore the financing of the war
     effort (in the province of the Reichs Finance Ministry
     and of the Reichsbank) will be-carried on under his
     "(4) The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy is au-
                                                  [Page 120]
     thorized, within his realm of responsibility to issue
     legal regulations, which may deviate from the existing
     laws." (2261-PS)

Schacht was named as Plenipotentiary for War Economy. It
will be noted that the Reich Ministers for Food and
Agriculture and for Labor, and the Reichs Forest Master (who
by this time had Cabinet rank) had not been included in the
original membership of the Reichs Defense Council. Darre was
Minister for Food and Agriculture, Seldte for Labor, and
Goering was Reich Forest Master.

On the same day the Law was passed, the Cabinet made these
decisions covering the newly-created Plenipotentiary-General
for War Economy (EC-177):

     "1. The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy
     appointed by the Fuehrer and Reichschancellor will
     begin his work already in peacetime ***.
     "2. The Reichsminister of War and the Plenipotentiary
     for War Economy will effect the preparations for
     mobilization in closest cooperation on both sides.
     "3. The Plenipotentiary-General for War Economy will be
     a permanent member of the Reich Defense Council
     (Reichsverteidigungsrat). Within the working committee
     he represents through his leadership staff the
     interests of war economy." (EC-177)

The complete reorganization of this Reich Defense Council
took place in 1938, under the Secret Defense Law of 4th
September of that year. By that time, there had been a
reorganization of the Armed Forces: the chief of the OKW had
been created and the War Ministry had been abolished (2194-
PS). The Reich Defense Council in 1938 was composed of
Goering, as permanent deputy and Minister of Air and Supreme
Commander of the Air Force; Raeder as Supreme Commander of
the Navy; Hess as Deputy of the Fuehrer; von Neurath as
President of the Secret Cabinet Council; Frick as
Plenipotentiary for the Reich Administration; Keitel as
Chief of the OKW; Funk as Plenipotentiary for Economics;
Ribbentrop as Minister of Foreign Affairs; Schacht as
President of the Reichsbank directorate (2261-PS). An
important part of the Reich Defense Council was the Working
Committee. The minutes of the twelfth meeting of the Reich
Defense Working Committee, on 14 May 1936, read (EC-407):

     "1. The National Minister of War and Supreme Commander
     of the Armed Forces, General Field Marshal von
     Blomberg, opened the 12th meeting of the Reichs Defense
                                                  [Page 121]
     by expressing thanks for the work accomplished and
     pointing out in principle the necessity of a
     preparation for a total mobilization with emphasis on
     the most important measures to be taken at this time.
     (Among others; mobilization schedule, legal basis,
     preparations in the remilitarized zone.) He further
     indicates the assignment of the national resources
     (Reichsressort) to finance its measures for preparation
     of the Reichs defense out of its budget.
     "2. The chairman of the Reichs Defense Committee,
     Lieutenant General Keitel, states:
     "In todays and future meetings of the Reichs Defense
     Committee a cross section of the general situation
     concerning all matters of the national defense is
     presented. The picture of the situation does not appear
     in the reports of the meetings. "The open discussion of
     State secrets before our large committee gives the
     special obligation to the chairman of the Reichs
     Defense Committee of pointing out its secrecy.
     "Todays sessions takes place under the auspices of the
     restoration of the State authority in the demilitarized
     zone. "The difficulties of the economic situation,
     which are presented today, must be mastered." (EC-407)

This Working Committee was still functioning in 1939. The
Mobilization Book for Civil Administration of 1939 states,
in part (1639-A-PS):

     "D. Terms for Mobilization Preparations by the Civil
     "The acceptance of all new measures in the Mobilization
     Book for Civil Administration must be requested from
     the Chief of the Reich Defense Committee (Department of
     State Defense in the Armed Forces High Command)." (1639-

The composition of the Working Committee was redefined by
the Secret Law of 1938 as follows (2194-PS):

     "The Reich Defense Committee
     [Reichsverteidigungsauschuss] (RVA):
     "(1) The Reich Defense Committee is the working
     Committee of the RVR. It prepares the decisions of the
     RVR, sees to their execution, and secures collaboration
     between armed forces, chief Reich offices, and party.
     "(2) Presiding is the chief of the OKW. He regulates
     the activity of the committee and gives the directions
     to the GBV and CBW and to the Reich ministries not
     subordinated to them and to the chief Reich offices
     according to the decisions
                                                  [Page 122]
     of the RVR, which directions are necessary for securing
     their uniform execution.
     "(3) The RVA is composed of the OKW, deputy of the
     commissioner for the four year plan, the leader staffs
     of the GBV and GBW, and the Reich Defense officials.
     "(4) Chief office officials for the Reich defense (RV-
     Referenten) and their deputies are commissioned by the
     deputy of the leader, by the Reich Chancellery, by each
     Reich Ministry, by the Reich Leader of the SS and chief
     of the German police, by the Reich work leaders, by the
     Reich Forest Master, by the Chief Inspector for the
     German Road Net, by the Reich Office for Regional
     Order, by the Reichsbank directorate, and in the
     Prussian state ministry. RV-Referent and his deputy are
     immediately subordinate to the minister or the state
     secretary, and to the chief of the Reich office, resp."
The GBV and the GBW mentioned in the portion quoted above
are, respectively, the Plenipotentiaries for Administration
and for Economy. Under them were grouped other ministries,
some of which were already permanent members of the Council.
By paragraph 3 of the Secret Law the following were made
subordinate to the Plenipotentiary for Administration: the
Ministers of the Interior, Justice, Science and Education,
Churches; the Reich Authority for Spatial Planning; and, for
limited purposes, the Minister of Finance. Subordinate to
and under the direction of the Plenipotentiary for Economy
(a position formerly held by Schacht under the title "War
Economy" and later held by Funk) were the ministers of
Economics, Food, Agriculture, Labor, and for limited
purposes, the Reich Finance Ministry and the Reichsbank; the
Reich Forest Master; and the Commissioner for Price Control
from the 4-Year Plan.

Paragraph 5 of the law (2194-PS) shows that subordinated to
the Chief of the OKW were the Reich Postal Minister, the
Reich Transportation Minister, and the General Inspector for
German Highways.

This concentration of power by the Cabinet was for one
purpose only: to plan secretly with the strongest means at
hand for the waging of aggressive war. Further evidence of
this objective is contained in an affidavit by Frick
covering the place, activities, and scope of the Reich
Defense Council, including the Three-Man College (2986-PS):

     "I, Wilhelm Frick, being first duly sworn, depose and
     say: "I was Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration
     (Generalbevollmaechtigter fuer die Reichsverwaltung)
     from the time when this office was created, until 20
     August 1943. Hein-
                                                  [Page 123]
     rich Himmler was my deputy in this capacity. Before the
     outbreak of the war my task as Plenipotentiary for
     Reich-Administration was the preparation of
     organization in the event of war, such as, for
     instance, the appointment of liaison men in the
     different ministries who would keep in touch with me.
     As Plenipotentiary for Reich Administration, I,
     together with the Plenipotentiary for Economy and OKW
     formed what was called a '3-Man College'
     (Dreierkollegium). We also were members of the Reich
     defense Council (Reichsverteidigungsrat), which was
     supposed to plan preparations and decrees in case of
     war which later on were published by the Ministerial
     Council for the Defense of the Reich. Since, as soon as
     the war started, everything had to be done speedily and
     there would have been no time for planning, such
     measures and decrees were prepared in advance in case
     of war. All one then still had to do was to pull out of
     the drawer the war orders that had been prepared. Later
     on, after the outbreak of the war, these decrees were
     enacted by the Ministerial Council for the defense of
     the Reich.
                      "(Signed) Dr. Wilhelm Frick" (2986-PS).

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