Reichsleiter Overview

(Courtesy Mark Costa)



There seems to be some confusion as the exact number of persons promoted to the highest Party rank of Reichsleiter. In some references the number range from 12 to 20. There were in fact 22 men who were elevated to the rank during the Third Reich 1933-45. With a further 4 men who may have been.

On June 2, 1933 Hitler promoted the following 16 men to that rank:
13 were members of the Party Departments and 3 Heads of the Party's independent formations.

Rudolf Hess
Max Amann -- Head of Party Publishing.
Franz Xavier Schwarz -- Party Treasurer.
Phillipp Bouhler -- Chief of Hitler's Personal Chancellery.
Alfred Rosenberg -- Head of Party Ideology and Foreign Policy.
Dr. Hans Frank -- Chief of the Party's Legal Office.
Dr. Robert Ley -- Chief of Party Organization.
Karl Fiehler -- Chief of Party Municipal Policy.
Walter Buch -- Chief Judge of the Supreme Party Tribunal.
Wilhelm Grimm -- Chief /Second Chamber of the Supreme Party Tribunal.
Dr. Josef Goebbels -- Chief of Party Propaganda.
Walther Darre -- Chief of the Party Agrarian Office.
Dr. Otto Dietrich -- Party Press Chief.

Ernst Roehm -- Stabchef der SA.
Heinrich Himmler -- Reichsfuhrer SS
Baldur Von Schirach -- Reichsjugendfuhrer HJ.

Between June and October 1933 three more men were added to the list:

Franz Ritter Von Epp -- Chief of the Party Colonial Office.
Dr. Wilhelm Frick -- Chief of the Party's Reichstag Faction.
Martin Bormann -- Chief of Staff to the Deputy Fuhrer (Hess)

On October 10, 1933 Hess was "kicked upstairs" to Deputy Fuhrer for Party Matters. Henceforth, Hess never again used his titles of Reichsleiter nor SS Obergruppenfuhrer (honorary). Nor did he ever wear the SS uniform again.

In 1934 Roehm was purged in the Night of the Long Knives. His replacement as Stabchef der SA was :

Viktor Lutze.

Between 1936 - 1938 two more men were promoted to Reichsleiter der NSDAP:

Konstantin Hierl 1936 -- Reichsarbietfuhrer RAD
Adolf Huhnlein 1938 -- Korpsfuhrer NSKK.

Possible further Promotions:

In 1940 Baldur von Schirach was deemed too old to be the head of the Hitler Youth. After much debate it was decided to give him the Gauleitership of Vienna. Although technically a demotion (Gauleiter ranks below Reichsleiter) Von Schirach was allowed to retain his Reichsleiter title and uniform with a nebulous new title of "Reichsleiter for Youth Education". His replacement in the Hitler Youth was Berlin Obergebietsfuhrer Artur Axmann. Although the new Reichsjugendfuhrer wore collar tabs identical to Reichsleiter Himmler, Lutze and Huhnlein, he does not seem to have inherited the title of Reichsleiter. Some wartime sources list him as such but the Party Yearbook is distinctly absent with the title.

In June of 1942 Adolf Huhnlein died after a lengthy illness, his replacement was NSKK Obergruppenfuhrer Erwin Kraus. Kraus too inherited the Korpsfuhrer title and collar insignia but again does not seem to have been given the title "Reichsleiter der NSDAP". Again some sources list him as a Reichsleiter but the official Party yearbooks do not.

In May of 1943 Viktor Lutze was killed in a car accident. At first Hitler was reluctant to name a new SA Stabchef. From May through November 1943 Wilhelm Schepmann was "acting Stabchef". For this short period of time he wore special collar tabs denoting his "acting" rank. These were slightly different than the tabs of the other heads of the Party formations. In November 1943 we was finally confirmed as Stabchef. But again does not inherit the Reichsleiter title, at least according to the Party Yearbooks.

One other possible promotion occured in April of 1945. Hitler named Gauleiter Karl Hanke as the new Reichsfuhrer SS in replace of the disgraced Himmler. It is doubtful if Hanke ever learned of his promotion as he went into hiding and was executed by Czech Partisans.