The Dissolution of the Third Reich: Crisis Management and Collapse, 1943-1945

Hans Mommsen

The unconditional surrender of the German Reich on May 8-9, 1945, not only signaled the country's total military defeat but also the complete collapse of its political system. This internal breakdown was already underway at the time of the Allied invasion of France in June 1944. The disintegration proceeded even more rapidly after the Red Army broke through the middle sector of the eastern front. The dissolution of the government's unity accelerated after the Battle of Stalingrad and was fueled by the increasing ambition of the party agencies to usurp additional administrative prerogatives.

Against this background the question of why the regime was able to fight as long as it did - the Allies had already occupied four-fifths of Reich territory before the capitulation was signed - arises. The Nazi leadership did not undertake any serious steps to enter negotiations either with the West or with Stalin. After Hitler's suicide, Josef Goebbels initiated an abortive attempt to negotiate with Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov over separate armistice conditions.1 Heinrich Himmler's half-hearted efforts to contact the Western Allies through representatives of the "World Jewry" and his diplomatic feelers through Folke Graf Bernadotte, vice president of the Swedish Red Cross, failed utterly.2

As long as Hitler was alive, the regime was incapable of stopping an already lost war. In earlier phases of the war Hitler had blocked any settlement with defeated countries that would have prejudiced future peace negotiations. Even under the pressure of the Allied pro-European propaganda, Hitler avoided any regulation of the impending territorial and political issues with regard to Germany's Western neighbors. To the minister of the Reich Chancellery, Hans-Heinrich Lammers, Hitler remarked that any discussion of a National Socialist concept for reordering postwar Europe was "unimportant for the war effort," and he prohibited any conceptual work for the future.3 After his decision to wage a war of racial annihilation against the Soviet Union, the notion of peace became meaningless to him. At this point, Hitler seriously started to think in terms of perpetual warfare in the East.4

Moreover, Hitler hesitated making strategic decisions with regard to the execution of the war. When Goebbels urged him to stop fighting on two fronts, either through an arrangement with the jüdische Mache (Jewish "mafia") in Moscow or the capitalistic Börsenjudentum (stock-trading Jewry) in Washington, Hitler stated that negotiation was out of the question as long as the Wehrmacht achieved any military successes.5 The strategically problematic occupation of Hungary in 1944, which implied a serious weakening of German defenses in the middle sector of the front, and Hitler's hopeless attempt to turn the tide through the Ardennes offensive in December 1944 were rooted in deliberations of this kind.6

Obviously, Hitler's strategic decisions corresponded to the same pattern in domestic politics. In pursuing short-term mobilization the regime avoided sketching out alternative strategies in case of unanticipated setbacks. In the long run, it paid for this shortsightedness with increasing inefficiency and a lack of coordination of diverging policies. The chronic inclination to ignore available raw material and manpower resources originated in the overestimation of the impact of sheer willpower and the built-in competition of rival agencies. Thus, the political system gradually lost its internal controls, which in turn accelerated its disintegration.

During the period between July 1943 - when Mussolini was dismissed by the Fascist Grand Council - and July 1944 the ruling elite in the Nazi regime began to realize that the neverending series of military failures had brought on a critical situation. The defeat and surrender of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad, which ultimately destroyed the myth of the German army's invincibility, appeared as an especially acute warning sign that was not be overlooked. Less than three weeks after that catastrophe Goebbels in his famous speech at the Berlin Sport Palace on February 18, 1943, announced the necessity of initiating a "total war." The minister for propaganda demanded exploitation of still insufficiently used manpower resources, the reduction of consumer goods production, and the streamlining of government.7

Despite attempts to regenerate the Reich Defense Council and, after these failed, to install a Three Men's Committee to enforce long overdue rationalization measures, the lack of coordination within the Reich government persisted throughout the critical year of 1943. The replacement of Wilhelm Frick by Heinrich Himmler as Reich interior minister did not reduce the growing administrative chaos and infighting between party and state agencies that absorbed most of the energies of the subaltern leaders. Himmler was not interested in the agenda of the Interior Ministry; he neglected to devise efficient measures in its general administration and transferred some of its responsibilities to the SS.8

Not until the crisis of July 1944 did Goebbels's efforts to create a more effective central government gain Hitler's reluctant approval. The German dictator timidly avoided any fundamental reform of the leadership structure and was an obstacle to the implementation of the necessary and overdue mobilization of the country's economic and manpower resources. Thus, Hitler rejected almost all of Goebbels's and Martin Bormann's reform initiatives because he feared that measures of this kind might run into opposition among lower-level leaders or affect his personal prestige. Goebbels's incessant pressure on Hitler to dismiss Joachim von Ribbentrop, the minister of foreign affairs who was held responsible for the Reich's diplomatic isolation, as well as attempts by Bormann and Himmler to get Hitler to withdraw his designation of Hermann Göring as his successor proved futile. Actually, Hitler had to be carefully shielded from the influence of external advisers in order to preserve at least a certain degree of continuity with regard to governmental decisions.

In this constellation of indecision, the crucial impetus to continue the German war effort came from Albert Speer, the minister of armaments and war production who had taken over almost all of the prerogatives of the Four Year Plan. This left Göring's nominal status untouched.9 Relying on Hitler's unqualified support, Speer subjected the Heereswaffenamt, the armaments office of the army, to his immediate direction and thereby took control of most aspects of German armaments production. Due to his personal access to Hitler, Speer became one of the most influential satraps in the regime. He used the same unorthodox methods as the party chieftains and did not hesitate to circumvent ordinary administrative channels and legal procedures. Like other Nazi leaders he believed in the principle of Menschenführung (personalized leadership) and preferred to rely on the personal loyalty of individuals rather than on established institutions. This strategy proved to be remarkably successful in the short run and enabled him to multiply the armaments output (although much of it was the result of his predecessor's skillfully manipulated production statistics).10

Confronted with the crisis on the eastern front, Speer sent a detailed memorandum to Hitler that advocated an immediate increase in armaments production. Blaming the Three Men's Committee for its obvious shortcomings and inefficiency, Speer pleaded for the installation of responsible leadership entrusted to personalities who were not involved in the continuous infighting between party and state and who would not lose their nerve, even in critical situations. These demands were tantamount to nominating a plenipotentiary for domestic political affairs (similar to the economic dictator proposed in late Weimar).11

Before this initiative, the rumor that Speer might be named Hitler's successor increased the envy of party chieftains. Bormann, the chief of the party chancellery, and Goebbels were especially alarmed at the prospect that Speer might outflank them and gain decisive influence with Hitler, who himself tended to neglect day-to-day politics and whose energies were almost completely absorbed by the military operations in the East. By this time Hitler had taken over command of the military himself.

Speer's memorandum countered Goebbels's repeated proposal to establish an internal dictatorship and to restore the unity of the Reich government. Goebbels did not hesitate to enter into an alliance with Speer because earlier efforts to win over Göring had failed. Goebbels supported Speer's demands in a widely read article in Das Reich.12 In a second memorandum Speer repeated his arguments for a more efficient leadership and proposed entrusting Goebbels with this task, convinced that the propaganda minister would have the energy to push through this program and to neutralize the objections of antagonists.

Goebbels knew very well that the biggest obstacle to implementing the plan was Hitler's notorious mistrust and fear of tarnishing his personal prestige. In the aforementioned article Goebbels argued that Speer's proposal had found overwhelming approval among the German public. There was some truth in this, but the arguments served mostly to overcome Hitler's apprehension.13 Moreover, a week later he presented Hitler with a comparable memorandum of about fifty pages in which he reiterated the arguments of his speech of February 1943 demanding replacement of the Three Men's Committee by an independent commissioner.14

The timing of Goebbels's initiative was perfect and strengthened his hand at a leadership meeting convened by Hitler on July 22 to discuss the Speer memorandum. At the meeting Goebbels presented himself as uniquely qualified and was endorsed by Bormann, Walther Funk, Wilhelm Keitel, Lammers, and Speer. Keenly aware of Hitler's typical hesitancy, he requested a unanimous vote for his nomination. Nobody dared contradict him.15 Hitler yielded to the pressure and named Goebbels Reich plenipotentiary for the total war effort on July 25, 1944, only five days after the abortive assassination attempt.

As Goebbels had anticipated in a remark in his diary, however, the new position did not comprise "the domestic leadership."16 For example, the plenipotentiary did not have the power to issue orders directly to the NSDAP and the Wehrmacht; these organizations were exempt from his general authority to deliver directives to administrative bodies. Furthermore, the minister for propaganda grossly overestimated his ability to interfere in almost all vested interests with regard to the intended mobilization of additional manpower, the closing of shops, and the retooling of consumer industries. This was partly the consequence of his specific perception of politics that stressed the role of propagandistic indoctrination while ignoring the impact of bureaucratic factors. Goebbels saw his role more as setting things in motion and as acting as a catalyst. He preferred the local and regional party apparatus to the civil administration and the military institutions, believing in the superiority of the principle of Menschenführung versus public administration. Actually, the mixed committees that consisted of representatives of the party, the regional administration, and the German Labor Front (DAF) - founded to speed up military mobilization - turned out to be rather inefficient and only increased the amount of red tape.17

Thus, the implementation of Goebbels's announced total mobilization fell far behind expected results. However, he chose to emphasize the propagandistic effect of the whole enterprise and was well aware that the immediate output of his mobilization campaign would take a few months before any increase of new conscripts and available laborers could be realized. But he was convinced that the campaign was indispensable if the pronouncement of total war was not to lose its credibility. He saw the main effect of the campaign as an "incredible improvement in the public mood" and renewed motivation that was engendering "fresh hope."18 Thus, Goebbels was spurred primarily by propagandistic deliberations to advocate the exploitation of all available human and material resources for the war effort, including obligatory labor for women. The practical consequences for the mobilization of the labor force were therefore secondary. The main consideration was to demonstrate by means of sweeping action that the Volksgemeinschaft (people's community) possessed a "massed will to action."19

Goebbels wanted to fight the notion of possible German defeat through the cultivation of a fanatical will to hold on; he was less concerned with marshalling still available resources, which might have been viewed as the means for attaining these ends. Goebbels, Bormann, and Robert Ley (Reich organization leader of the NSDAP) responded to the crisis, albeit in an uncoordinated fashion, with an all-encompassing ideological mobilization. Crucial in this respect was their common conviction that only the party was able to achieve a turnabout in German and world history by implementing the revolutionary program that had been but partially fulfilled during the regime's early years.

In the effort to paint itself as the true bearer of the mobilization "of the [nation's] remaining strength" the NSDAP revived the propaganda methods it used during the so-called Kampfzeit (time of struggle), that is, the period leading up to Hitler's appointment as Reich chancellor. The experiences of the Kampfzeit were repeatedly referred to in order to demonstrate that through heroic exertion the imminent crisis could be overcome, and for this the party was indispensable. The provisional defeat of the movement on November 9, 1923, was taken as proof that only the party would be able to reverse serious setbacks. A Party Chancellery directive dated September 1943 declared: "The National Socialist movement has mastered every situation! It has never let itself be led astray through occasional setbacks and severe difficulties." According to instructions for party speakers published by the Reich Propaganda Office, "The struggle that we as the German people and nation have to carry on today is fundamentally the same struggle against the same enemy that the movement had to carry on at home in the years of the Kampfzeit."20 By unremitting references to the party's past the fiction was created that if the party took things in hand, victory would be possible in the end.

Meanwhile, Bormann had started an internal offensive to increase the unity and fighting strength of the movement after the mass party had become numerically bloated but politically sterile and to mold it into a political combat instrument. In this regard he could rely on the support of Ley who, besides being the head of the Labor Front, still held the influential position of the Reich organization leader of the NSDAP. Both recognized the party's obligation to support the war effort and its primary task of improving public morale. To achieve this and restore the badly shaken public reputation of the party and its affiliated organizations, Bormann tried to energize the rank and file by continuously arranging obligatory membership assemblies, propaganda marches, and public demonstrations.

Bormann also tried to improve the party's image by introducing special office hours, so-called Sprechabende, when visitors could report their grievances to local functionaries.21 In addition, beginning in the summer of 1943 Bormann arranged a wave of public rallies to underscore the party's claim to political leadership.22 The officially voluntary character of the requested activity was accompanied by radical disciplinary measures against those who did not comply. These steps held the functionaries in line, but they did not significantly improve the party's negative image.

More effective were Bormann's efforts to polish the party's image by stepping up its involvement in the welfare sector. The party took up the care of those Volksgenossen who lost their homes in the Allied air offensive or who had to flee combat zones.23 In conjunction with this, Bormann ordered the National Socialist Welfare organization (NSV) to expressly act in the name of the NSDAP.24 Likewise, the party usurped the competences of private and public relief organizations. This tactical move helped to repair the party's image to a certain extent because an increasing percentage of the German population had to rely on the support of the NSV and the party apparatus due to war damages, air attacks, and migration from war zones in the East.

In addition to ongoing efforts to reorganize the party and regain a positive public image, Bormann increasingly put pressure on the public administration and tended to usurp additional functions on the local and regional levels. This process of "partification" - the term was coined by Dietrich Orlow25 - was fueled by the role of the Gauleiter in their function as Reich defense commissioners and culminated in a growing percentage of them also becoming chiefs of civil administration.26 Thus, the role of the party apparatus on the local and regional levels surpassed its wildest dreams of the "seizure of power" period. The NSDAP became increasingly engaged as an auxiliary of the Security Police (SD) and the Gestapo; it also was made responsible for the construction of defenses and fortifications, as well as the sheltering of evacuees.27

This development coincided with the perception that only the party could secure the "final victory," which resulted in the conviction that only by eliminating non-Nazi elements could this aim be achieved. The division of labor between the party and the bourgeois elite that had been accomplished during the 1933-4 era had to be revised. Hence, the idea to complete the Nazi revolution - arrested in 1933 - was revived and led to the idea that the crisis could be resolved by establishing unrestricted party rule in all relevant political realms.

In the Nazi leaders' view the military and political crises resulted from the fact that the movement's energy had been sapped by the interference of conservative bureaucrats, who lacked either dynamism or willpower and too often reached half-hearted compromises. Only the party and its spirit could achieve an overall mobilization of the nation's strength and its resources, which had hitherto been prevented by the sharing of political authority with the bourgeois elites. Therein lay the real source of the current setbacks: The precondition for realizing the "unity of will" consisted not only of the elimination of Jews and other racial aliens but also of the cleansing of clandestine opponents or dissidents in order to achieve racial and political homogeneity.

This voluntary attitude, rooted in the Nietzschean cult of the will, and the rejection of mature historical structures had been symptomatic of the movement's early stages, in which the current bleak reality could be overcome only through envisioning future victory. Under the pressure of imminent defeat, it again came to the fore.28 A major milestone on the road to this apocalyptic thinking was the previously mentioned Goebbels's total-war speech, in which he pointed out that the anticipated final victory could be attained by stressing fanatical willpower to hold on to the last man and not so much by marshalling the available material resources. The all-embracing ideological mobilization of the party that Bormann pushed for fit precisely into this picture.

The party's retreat into the memories of the Kampfzeit coincided with Hitler's personal conviction that the final victory was the predestined outcome of Germany's internal and external fight against the Jewish archenemy. In his mind the unity of will was a pledge to achieve ultimate success. In his last radio speech of January 30, 1945, he argued that the internal unity of the German people, the realization of which he attributed to himself and the Nazi movement, was a unique world historical achievement that had proved its invincibility.29 Goebbels encouraged him to cling to this anachronistic view and reminded him of the time in December 1932 when Gregor Strasser, who opposed Hitler's "all-or-nothing strategy," predicted the breakdown of the party. Goebbels had argued against compromising the "purity of the National Socialist idea" by entering into a right-wing coalition, a decision that later turned out to be the right one for the party.30 At the same time, he reminded Hitler that November 1918 and November 1923 proved that victory would follow on the heels of defeat if they remained steadfast until the bitter end. Goebbels resorted again to the cult of will in his analogy between the dictator and Friedrich II ("the Great") regarding the latter's endurance in the Seven Years' War (1754-63). In his last official proclamation, dated February 24, 1945, the anniversary of the foundation of the NSDAP, Hitler evoked again "our unshakable will" to survive.31 According to this vision, the Allies would necessarily fail, being incapable of fighting a protracted war on German soil against the desperate but determined resistance of the people. The Germans, he believed, would defend every village, every house, and every barn to the last man. At that point, the Western powers would have to acknowledge the futility of continuing an increasingly costly battle between an entire people and an army of paid soldiers.32

At this late date there arose the notion that if immediate defeat could not be averted, the fight to the last man would at least secure "the victory of the National Socialist idea" in the future. This final fight could serve as leverage for the renewal of Germany's struggle against its oppressors. Symptomatic for this were Goebbels's attempts, as late as March 1945, to build up the "Werewolf" partisan organization - not so much for military action as to guarantee the survival of Nazi ideology.33 There also existed a series of training camps where Hitler Youth were systematically indoctrinated to fight on behalf of future generations for the "National Socialist idea" - even under Allied occupation.34

Additional evidence of partification can be found in Bormann's drive to introduce "National Socialist leadership officers" into the armed forces, thereby copying the Russian model of placing political officers (the much-maligned commissars) in the Red Army. Selected and trained by the party, these political officers were attached to every military unit in order to ensure that commanders were toeing the party line, as well as to intensify the ideological indoctrination of the troops themselves.35 It is possible that Bormann expected that future demobilization would allow professional officers to be replaced with party officers, thereby achieving the partification of the armed forces that had failed in 1934.

Another aspect of the Party Chancellery's ideological mobilization was the creation of the Deutscher Volkssturm (German ethnic militia) in October 1944. This not only was an attempt to mobilize the remaining human resources in the face of heavy casualties but also to put into practice the total mobilization of the German people that party propaganda had promised. Bormann pressured the Supreme Command of the Army (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) to allow party functionaries to lead the new militia and restrict Himmler's competency as chief of the reserve army to operations and providing equipment.36

However, the party did not have the militarily trained staff that was urgently needed, and local party chiefs were incompetent. In the view of Bormann and Goebbels, who strongly favored the militia project, its military value was of secondary importance anyway. To them, the Volkssturm was to be used in the total fanaticization of the entire population. Goebbels declared that the "unified deployment of the entire people, united in the idea of National Socialism," would be the realization of the Volksgemeinschaft.37 On the occasion of the swearing in of the Volkssturm he repeated the final-fight discourse and argued: "We know that an idea lives on, even if all its bearers have fallen. The enemy that does not have more than it can deploy will eventually capitulate before the massed strength of a fanatically fighting people."38

These and other, similar propagandistic proclamations signified the blurring of the distinction between the present situation and a heroic future of self-sacrifice, reminiscent of Wagnerian death rhetoric and accompanied by increasing self-historicization. Hence, propaganda now sought recourse in German national history. It was no accident that Himmler issued the founding declaration of the Volkssturm on October 18, the anniversary of the Battle of Nations (1813) at Leipzig, and that he referred expressly to the Prussian Landsturm (militia) that had allegedly carried the day against Napoleon as a "revolutionary people's movement."39

Total mobilization and heroic historicization came together in the UFA film Kolberg, directed by Veit Harlan. This production had been sponsored and heavily subsided by Goebbels, who considered it to be the propaganda equivalent of at least four military divisions.40 The premiere took place in the fortress of La Rochelle on January 30, 1945, and it was shown at the Tauentzin Palace and other Berlin cinemas in the following weeks. The film portrayed the allegedly heroic defense of the city of Kolberg against the superior forces of Napoleon and advanced the fiction that this struggle inspired the German uprising of 1813.41

The extent to which the party's mobilization campaign took hold among the rank-and-file and in the general populace is difficult to assess. In any case, it did manage to prolong the war. Bormann's aim to form a task force specifically to organize the defense "to the last man" in the cities and villages under attack failed because of opposition by troop commanders. Interestingly, the extreme pressure brought to bear on the civilian population made active resistance to the regime extremely dangerous. This partly explains why public resistance to the continued fighting was extremely rare, even until the very end.

The almost total partification of the country had destroyed the last institutional bases for either resistance or dissent. After the failed attempt on Hitler's life in July 1944, the military leadership lost its institutional autonomy as well. The army was now led by fanatical generals who backed the hold-on propaganda and supported the operation of roving field courts and ordinary military courts, which handed down over 30,000 death sentences in the final months of the war.42

At the same time, the nearly omnipotent Gauleiter and Reich defense commissioners unleashed a wave of terror that was primarily directed against the civil population and the numerous forced laborers. In each Gau summary courts were formed by the ordinary judiciary and sentenced thousands to death; they did not hesitate to punish relatives (Sippenhaft) in cases where the defendants escaped. Simultaneously, the Labor Education Camps, which had been established by the local and regional Gestapo in order to discipline foreign and German workers, turned into virtual death camps and were used for mass killings until the war's final days.43 More research is needed to learn how many Germans, Soviet POWs, forced laborers, and other foreigners fell victim to the death brigades of the SS, the Gestapo, and the Security Police, and in many cases to self-created summary judges. The figure will possibly total several hundred thousand.44

Because the political system had dissolved to the point of paralysis it was impossible to entertain initiatives to the hold-on strategy, even under such hopeless conditions. Identification of the external and the internal enemy in the minds of the leading elite implied the necessity to eliminate any inimical element or potential dissident. The escalation of terror therefore was inseparable from the survival myth and the hold-on propaganda. The fictitious world to which the responsible party leaders had become accustomed was derived from re-emerging memories of the Kampfzeit, which were bathed in a heroic glow and reflected a tendency toward self-historicization. It prevented the majority of Gauleiter, as long as they were influenced by the Führer myth, from taking any realistic action to stop the process of self-destruction.45

Aside from the completely blind party activists and their fellow travelers, no one was left who could stop the delusional Nazi elite. Germany's leaders were running amok, having lost touch with reality, and finding solace in the fictitious world of the early years of the Nazi movement. At the same time, the voluntary origins of National Socialism came to the fore, which resulted in an escalation of crime and terror and accelerated the dissolution of administration and government. The process of self-destruction that had accompanied the expansionist policy of the regime was a necessary corollary to military defeat. Following Hitler's suicide on April 30 the whole Nazi edifice collapsed overnight, and the myth of the survival of National Socialism was finally debunked.


Hans Mommsen is a professor emeritus of modern history at the University of Bochum. He currently lives near Munich.

1 Ralph Georg Reuth, Goebbels: Eine Biographie (Munich, 1990), 608-9; cf. H. R. Trevor-Roper, Hitlers letzte Tage (Frankfurt am Main, 1968), 197; Georgi K. Schukow, Erinnerungen und Gedanken (Stuttgart, 1969), 604-5.

2 Felix Kersten, Totenkopf und Treue: Heinrich Himmler ohne Uniform (Hamburg, 1952), 343; Folke Bernadotte, Das Ende: Meine Verhandlungen in Deutschland im Frühjahr 1945 und ihre politischen Folgen (Zurich, 1945), 66-7; see Klaus-Dietmar Henke, Die amerikanische Besetzung Deutschlands (Munich, 1995), 886ff.

3 Lammers to Rosenberg, Aug. 10, 1944, cited in Hans Werner Neulen, ed., Europa und das 3. Reich: Einigungsbestrebungen im deutschen Machtbereich 1939-1945 (Munich, 1987), 163-4. Goebbels changed his position and eventually announced a program for a "socialist reordering of the continent" (see Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, Elke Fröhlich, ed. (Munich, 1995), pt. 2, vol. 15: 467).

4 Cf. Andreas Hillgruber, Hitlers Strategie, Politik und Kriegsführung 1940-41 (Frankfurt am Main, 1965), 562ff.; Rolf-Dieter Müller, Hitlers Ostkrieg und die deutsche Siedlungspolitik (Frankfurt am Main, 1991), 23-4.

5 Memorandum Goebbels to Hitler, July 25, 1944, BA Berlin, NL 118/100; cf. Reuth, Goebbels, 567, and Goebbels diaries, entries of Sept. 10, 20, 23, 1944; Tagebücher, pt. 2, vol. 9: 464, 542, 655.

6 See Hitler's speech to the division commanders from Dec. 28, 1944; Helmut Heiber, ed., Hitlers Lagebesprechungen: Die Protokollfragmente seiner militärischen Konferenzen (Stuttgart, 1962), 738ff.

7 Helmut Heiber, ed., Goebbels Reden 1932-1945 (Düsseldorf, 1991), no. 17: 172ff.; cf. Günter Moltmann, "Goebbels Rede zum Totalen Krieg am 18. Februar 1943," Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 12 (1964): 13ff.

8 See Dieter Rebentisch, Führerstaat und Verwaltung im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Stuttgart, 1989), 499 ff.

9 See Alfred Kube, Pour le Mérite und Hakenkreuz: Hermann Göring im Dritten Reich (Munich, 1986), 340-1.

10 See Richard J. Overy, War and Economy in the Third Reich (Oxford, 1994), 356-7; Gregor Jansen, Das Ministerium Speer: Deutschlands Rüstung im Krieg (Berlin, 1968), 175-6.

11 Memorandum by Speer, July 12, 1944, reprinted in Willy A. Boelcke, ed., Deutschlands Rüstung im Zweiten Weltkrieg: Hitlers Konferenzen mit Albert Speer, (Frankfurt am Main, 1969), no. 2; cf. Albert Speer, Erinnerungen (Frankfurt am Main, 1969), 405.

12 "Führen wir einen totalen Krieg?" Das Reich, July 7, 1944; see Peter Longerich, "Joseph Goebbels und der totale Krieg," Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 35 (1987): 298.

13 See Heinz Boberach, ed., Meldungen aus dem Reich 1938-1945, vol. 17 (Herrsching, 1984), 6636ff.

14 Reprinted in Longerich, "Joseph Goebbels," 305-14.

15 Chefbesprechung on July 22, 1944; BA Berlin R 43II/664a, p. 87.

16 See Goebbels Tagebücher, ser. 2, vol. 11, Feb. 27, 1943.

17 See Horst Matzerath, Nationalsozialismus und kommunale Selbstverwaltung (Stuttgart, 1970), 240-1; cf. letter from State Secretary Stuckart to Bormann, Dec. 19., 1944, BA Berlin R 18/1263, fol. 19.

18 Longerich, "Joseph Goebbels," 313; in the chief meeting on July 22 he had ascertained: "Die Reform des öffentlichen Lebens werde zum Teil nur optischen Charakter haben können, doch dürfe die Bedeutung solcher Maßnahmen nicht unterschätzt werden." (See the document quoted in note 15, fol. 86.)

19 See Aufklärungs- und Rednermaterial der Reichspropagandaleitung der NSDAP, Lieferung 9 (Sept. 1943), 2, 4.

20 See ibid. and Anordnung 55/43, Sept. 29, 1943, Verfügungen, Anordnungen, Bekanntgaben, ed. Partei-Kanzlei der NSDAP, 7 vols. (Munich, 1942-5), here vol. 4 (1943): 9.

21 Verfügungen, Anordnungen, Bekanntgaben, ed. Partei-Kanzlei der NSDAP, here vol. 4 (1943): 24ff., and 5 (1944): A5/43; cf. Akten der Partei-Kanzlei T. II, no. 06561ff.

22 Meldungen zur Versammlungswelle der NSDAP, Nov. 8, 1943, in BA Potsdam NS6/ 408, fol. 397 and 404.

23 Cf. Martin Rüther, Cologne, May 31, 1942: "Der 1000-Bomber-Angriff," Kölner Schriften zur Geschichte und Kultur 18 (1992): 66-7.

24 See Herwart Vorländer, Die NSV: Darstellung und Dokumentation einer nationalsozialistischen Organisation (Boppard, 1988), 514, 173-4.

25 Dietrich Orlow, The History of the Nazi Party, vol. 2: 1933-1945 (Pittsburgh, 1973), 345ff.

26 Cf. Karl Teppe, "Der Reichsverteidigungskommissar: Organisation und Praxis in Westfalen," in Rebentisch and Teppe, Verwaltung contra Menschenführung, 279, 299ff.

27 Cf. Peter Hüttenberger, Die Gauleiter: Studie zum Wandel des Machtgefüges in der NSDAP (Stuttgart, 1969), 189: RMdI to Himmler, Sept. 9, 1944, concerning preparations for the defense of the Reich, in Herbert Michaelis and Ernst Schraepler, ed., Ursachen und Folgen: Vom deutschen Zusammenbruch 1918 und 1945 bis zur staatlichen Neuordnung Deutschlands in der Gegenwart, vol. 12 (Berlin, 1967), 555-6.

28 See Peter J. Stern, The Fuehrer and the People (London, 1975).

29 Printed in Ursachen und Folgen, 12:480ff.

30 See Goebbels Tagebücher, pt. 2, 15:232-3, and 7:177-8; Udo Kissenkoetter, Gregor Strasser und die NSDAP (Stuttgart, 1978), 202-3.

31 Printed in Ursachen und Folgen, 22:484ff.

32 See Anlage zum Rundschreiben 255/1944, Sept. 21, 1944; Anordnungen der Parteikanzlei etc., 1944, fiche 80180634f.

33 Goebbels Tagebücher, pt. 2, 15:393-4, 457, 498; cf. Charles Whiting, Werewolf: The Story of the Nazi Resistance, 1944-1945 (London, 1972), 145-6; and Arno Rose, Werewolf 1944-1945 (Stuttgart, 1980), 70ff.

34 Cf. Goebbels Tagebücher, pt. 2, 15:673.

35 See Volker Berghahn, "NSDAP und 'Geistige Führung' der Wehrmacht 1939-1945," Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 17 (1969): 7-71; Arne W. G. Zoepf, Wehrmacht zwischen Tradition und Ideologie: Der NS-Führungsoffizier im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Frankfurt am Main, 1988).

36 See Franz W. Seidler, Deutscher Volkssturm: Das letzte Aufgebot 1944/1945 (Munich, 1989), 383ff.

37 Goebbels on the Gauleiter meeting, Aug. 8, 1944; see Wolfgang Bleyer, "Pläne der faschistischen Führung zum totalen Krieg," Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 17 (1969): 132-3.

38 Zeitschriftendienst/Deutscher Wochendienst, ed., Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, 154th ed., Oct. 20, 1944, Berlin, ZD no. 285.

39 See Seidler, Deutscher Volkssturm, 383.

40 S. Veit Harlan, Im Schatten meiner Filme: Selbstbiographie (Gütersloh, 1966).

41 See "Kolberg - Ein Film: Ein Beispiel," Völkischer Beobachter, Jan. 31, 1945; cf. Francois Courtage and Pierre Cadars, Geschichte des Films im Dritten Reich (Munich, 1975), 217ff.

42 Cf. Manfred Messerschmitt and Fritz Wüllner, Die Wehrmachtsjustiz im Dienste des Nationalsozialismus: Zerstörung einer Legende (Baden-Baden, 1987); Jürgen Thomas, "Die Wehrmachtsjustiz im Zweiten Weltkrieg," in Norbert Haase and Gerhard Paul, eds., Die anderen Soldaten (Frankfurt am Main, 1995), 43.

43 Gabriele Lotfi, KZ der Gestapo: Arbeitserziehungslager im Dritten Reich (Stuttgart, 2000), 294ff.

44 Cf. Henke, Die amerikanische Besetzung Deutschlands, 846.

45 See the last Gauleiter meeting in the Reich Chancellery, Feb. 25, 1945, where they promised "to stand and fall with the final victory" (Rudolf Jordan, Erlebt und erlitten: Der Weg eines Gauleiters von München nach Moskau [Freiburg im Breisgau, 1971], 252ff.), and Karl Wahl, ". . . es ist das deutsche Herz," Erlebnisse und Erkenntnisse eines ehemaligen Gauleiters (Augsburg, 1954), 356.