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Reichskommissar (rendered as Commissionary of the Empire or as Reich - or Imperial Commissioner), in German history, was an official gubernatorial title used for various public offices during the period of the German Empiremarker and the Nazi Third Reich.

German Empire

Domestic

In the Deutsches Reich (after 1871), Reichskommissars were appointed to oversee special tasks.For instance, there was a Reichskommisar for emigration (Reichskommissar für das Auswanderungswesen) in Hamburgmarker.

Presumably the same title is rendered as German Imperial Commissioner in the case of Helgolandmarker (Heligoland in English), a strategic, once Danish island in the North Seamarker since 9 August 1890 formal handover to Germany by the UK (under the Helgoland-Sansibar-Vertrag) and on 15 December 1890 formally annexed to Germany (from 18 February 1891 part of the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holsteinmarker): 9 August 1890 - 1891 Adolf Wermuth (b. 1855 - d. 1927)

Colonial

The title of Reichskommissar was used during the German Empiremarker for the governors of most of the Schutzgebiete (a German term literally meaning protectorate, but also applied to ordinary colonies.

In West Africa

  • in Kamerun (modern-day Cameroonmarker) * Reichskommissare (Commissioners)
    • 14 July 1884 - 19 July 1884 Gustav Nachtigal (b. 1834 - d. 1885)
    • 19 July 1884 - 1 April 1885 Maximilian Buchner (acting) (b. 1846 - d. 1921)
    • 1 April 1885 - 4 July 1885 Eduard von Knorr (acting) (b. 1840 - d. 1920); next came a list of Governors until 4 March 1916 when *


  • in Togomarker the Reich Reichskommissare since 5 July 1884 proclamation of the Togoland protectorate:
    • 5 July 1884 - 6 July 1884 Gustav Nachtigal (b. 1834 - d. 1885), the Reichskommissar for West Africa *
    • 6 July 1884 - 26 June 1885 Heinrich Randad, the provisional Consul
    • 26 June 1885 - May 1887 Ernst Falkenthal (b. 1858 - d. 1911)
    • July 1887 - 17 October 1888 Jesko von Puttkamer (acting) (1st time) (b. 1855 - d. 1917)
    • 17 October 1888 - 14 April 1891 Eugen von Zimmerer (b. 1843 - d. 1918)
    • 14 April 1891 - 4 June 1892 Vacant
    • 4 June 1892 - November 1893 Jesko von Puttkamer (2nd time); the same stayed on as the first of two Landeshauptleute ('Land captains'), till 13 August 1895; the second (18 November 1895 - 18 April 1898 August Köhler, b. 1858 - d. 1902) was also the first of the Governors (since 1 January 1905 as German colony of Togoland, till the British conquered it August 1914)


German South-West Africa

  • from 24 April 1884 as German South West Africa protectorate, only incumbent (7 October 1884 - May 1885) Gustav Nachtigal (b. 1834 - d. 1885; cfr. supra), staying on shortly for the status transition
  • from 30 April 1885 - 1889 under private Deutsch Kolonialgesellschaft für Südwest-Africa (German South West Africa Colonial Company) rule, only incumbent (May 1885 - August 1890) Heinrich Ernst Göring (acting) (b. 1839 - d. 1913)
  • again as imperial ?protectorate
    • first the abovementioned Heinrich Ernst Göring, de facto staying on
    • August 1890 - March 1891 Louis Nels (acting) (b. 1855 - d. 1910)
    • March 1891 - November 1893 Curt von François (b. 1852 - d. 1931), who stayed on when the country was declared on 14 September 1892 German South West Africa crown colony, and later again as the first of two Landeshauptleute ('captain of the land')


In East Africa

  • in Tanganyika, the area acquired on 17 February 1885 by Carl Peters for the Deutsche Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft (DOAG, 'German East African Company', that was initially under an Administrator: 27 May 1885 - 8 February 1888 Karl Peters), since the proclamation of the German East African protectorate (7 May 1885 - 1 July 1890) over Witu in Kenya; contested by Britain; on 28 April 1888 Germany obtains a lease of the coastal strip from the Sultan of Zanzibarmarker), a single Reichskommissar is appointed (8 February 1888 - 21 February 1891: Hermann von Wissmann (b. 1853 - d. 1905), after him Governors of 1 January 1891 when proclaimed German East Africa colony (Deutsch Ostafrika), ending the 'private' DOAG rule.


In Oceania



Third Reich

The title of Reichskommissar was given by Führer Hitler to some Nazi-governors, mainly in the following German-occupied countries during World War II, but also before to reintegrate former Prussian territory regained on France. Depending on circumstances, they could be quite dictatorial and repressive, as Terboven in Norway.

Domestic & annexed (ethnic Germans)

Saargebiet

A plebiscite was held in the territory (presently Saarlandmarker) on January 13, 1935: 90.3% of those voting wished to join Germany rather than join Francemarker. Josef Bürckel (b. 1895 - d. 1944) was appointed on 1 March 1935 as Reichskommissar für die Rückgliederung des Saarlandesmarker, then changed his style from 17 June 1936 to Reichskommissar für das Saarland, and from 8 April 1940 to Reichskommissar für die Saarpfalzmarker; finally from 11 March 1941, he was made Reichsstatthalter in der "Westmark" (the region's new name, meaning "Western March or Border"), till 28 September 1944 when he was succeeded by Willi Stöhr (b. 1903, also NSDAP), who remained in office until 21 March 1945.

Sudetenland

After the Sudetenland (in the present Czech Republic) was annexed by Germany on 1 October 1938, it was under a Military governor (Wilhelm Keitel) from 1 October 1938 - 20 October 1938. A Reichskommissar, Konrad Henlein, was appointed on 21 October 1938. On 1 May 1939 a regular 'domestic' Reichsgau Sudetenland was created; Henlein stayed on as Reichsstatthalter until the region was re-incorporated into Czechoslovakiamarker on 4 May 1945.

Wien (Vienna)

1 May 1939 - 1 April 1940 Josef Bürckel (b. 1895 - d. 1944) NSDAP, in fact the maintained last Austrian Premier of 15 October 1938 constituted metropolitan capital city-entity Gross-Wien (Great Vienna), is in transitional office, then the same is made the first of two Reichsstatthalter (he till 10 August 1940), equivalent to a Gauleiter in Germany proper

On the Western front

Belgium (and northern France)

Only after a long period of Militärverwaltung, i.e. under Military governors
  • 10 May 1940 - 1 June 1940 General Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt (b. 1875 - d. 1953) + Fedor von Bock (b. 1880 - d. 1945)
  • 1 June 1940 - 18 July 1944 Alexander Freiherr von Falkenhausen (b. 1878 - d. 1966) (military governor for occupied Netherlands and Belgium to 29 May 1940, then for Belgium and northern France, i.e. the French départements Nord and Pas-de-Calais, aka together as Frans-Vlaanderen, re-claimed as an historic part of Germanic Flanders), a Reichskommissar of Belgien-Nordfrankreich was appointed: 18 July 1944 - January 1945 Joseph Grohé (b. 1902 - d. 1988) NSDAP


In December 1944, when the allies were already occupying Belgium, its territory was split up into three Gau-type entities as integral ('Germanic') parts of the Reich: the bi-cultural Belgian capital Brusselsmarker (Brüssel in German, Brussel in Dutch and Bruxelles in French) remained directly under the German Reichskommissar, but the bulk of the country was divided ethno-linguistically under collaborating Belgian party-leaders (though with very little local support) with Führer-imitating (see that article for parallels) titles in their national languages:
  • Head of Reichsgau Flandern (Flanders, Vlaanderen in Dutch; supposedly including Frans-Vlaanderen in northern France) and Landleader of the Flemish People - Head of the Flemish Liberation Committee (in Dutch Landsleider van het Vlaamsche Volk - Hoofd van het Vlaamsche Bevrijdingscomité) 15 December 1944 - 1945 Jef Van de Wiele (in Germany in exile) (b. 1902 - d. 1979) Devlag party
  • Head of Reichsgau Wallonien (Walloniamarker, Wallonie in French) and Leader of the Walloon People (in French Chef du Peuple Wallon) 8 December 1944 - 1945 Léon Degrelle (b. 1906 - d. 1994; also remained in Germany in exile, even though German troops reconquered part of Wallonia in December 1944 - January 1945); his political Rex-party was known as the Rexists.


Netherlands

After Military Governors (10 May 1940 - 20 May 1940 Fedor von Bock (b. 1880 - d. 1945) & 20 May 1940 - 29 May 1940 General Alexander von Falkenhausen (b. 1878 - d. 1966), military governor of Netherlands and Belgium), there was one Reichskommissar for the occupied kingdom (the Dutch crown was in London exile):29 May 1940 - 5 May 1945 Arthur Seyss-Inquart (b. 1892 - d. 1946), NSDAP

Norway

During the German invasion of Norway, led by general Nikolaus von Falkenhorst, Adolf Hitler on 24 April 1940 appointed a Reichskommissar für die besetzten Norwegischen Gebiete (Reich Commissioner for the occupied Norwegian territories). The office had two consecutive Reichskommissare with extensive authority:

  • 24 April 1940 - 7 May 1945 Josef Antonius Heinrich Terboven (b. 1898 - d. 1945). He took up residence in the Crown Prince's manor at Skaugummarker. Answerable only to Hitler, Terboven initially tried to negotiate with the Norwegian Stortingmarker to establish a civilian administration which would be willing to sign a peace treaty with Germany. After the collapse of these negotiations, Terboven on 25 September 1940 proclaimed the deposition of King Haakon VII and his cabinet in exile and outlawed all political parties except the Norwegian Nazi party Nasjonal Samling. Terboven committed suicide during the night of 7 May 1945, just before the surrender of the German forces in Norway became effective.
  • 7 May 1945 - 8 May 1945. After Terboven's suicide, general Franz Böhme, commander-in-chief of German military forces in Norway (b. 1885 - d. 1947), assumed his responsibilities as acting Reichskommissar until Allied forces took control and had him arrested.


Soviet territories

Before the beginning of Operation Barbarossa (the eastern front campaign) on 22 June 1941, the Nazi-ideologist Alfred Rosenberg suggested the administrative division of conquered Sovietmarker territory in the following Reichskommissariaten, only the first two would become reality through military success:

This suggested an intention to destroy Russiamarker as a political entity, as the Nazis organised the areas adjacent to Greater Germany's eastern provinces in accordance with the geopolitical Lebensraum idea (Drang nach Osten), to benefit future "Aryan" generations . These territories extended from the German frontier to the imaginary Arkhangelskmarker-Astrakhanmarker line.

When Germanmarker forces entered Soviet territory, they immediately implemented this administrative plan instating the Reichskommissariat of Ostland in the Baltic Lands and Ukraine in Ukraine, headed by Heinrich Lohse and Erich Koch respectively. These administrators put in practice the intended measures during the whole of their administrative period, until 1943-44, when the Germans after the Battle of Kurskmarker were gradually driven out by force.

Ostland

On 17 July 1941, the Reichskommissariat für das Ostland ('Eastland') was established, soon uniting German-occupied Lithuaniamarker, Latviamarker (from 1 September 1941) and Estoniamarker (from 5 December 1941) (the three Baltic republics) and Belarusmarker.Ostland is organized as four General Districts (Generalbezirke or informally Lands); only the (Latvian) capital city of Rigamarker (Gebiet Riga Stadt) was directly administered by the Reichskommissar.The incumbents were :
  • 17 July 1941 - 26 September 1944 Hinrich Lohse (b. 1896 - d. 1964) NSDAP
  • 26 September 1944 - 13 October 1944 Erich Koch (b. 1896 - d. 1986) NSDAP (nominally to 2 February 1945, when Ostland is formally dissolved, de facto ousted on 13 October 1944, when the Soviet Red Army took Riga)


Meanwhile military authority rested with the Head Chief of Division I Central Office: 1 September 1942 - 1944? Wilhelm Burmeister NSDAP

Ukraine

The territory in Ukrainemarker occupied by Germany since 25 June 1941 (German Commander, 25 June 1941 - 31 August 1941: Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt, b. 1875 - d. 1953) was established from 20 August 1941 as Reichskommissariat of Ukraine, under the following Reichskommissare:
  • 20 August 1941 - 6 October 1943 Erich Koch (b. 1896 - d. 1986) NSDAP
  • 1942 - 194. Paul Dargel (acting for Koch) (b. 1903 - d. 19..) NSDAP
  • October 1943 - 1944 Curt von Gottberg (b. 1896 - d. 1945) NSDAP


As the fight of Ukrainian territory against the Soviet troops evolved, the Reichskommissariat comprised the following 'general districts', each under a Generalkommissar 'Commissioner-general':
  • 1941 - 1943 Generalbezirk Dnjepropetrowskmarker: Generalkommissar Nikolaus (Claus) Selzner (b. 1899 - d. 1944) NSDAP
  • February 1942 - 1943 Generalbezirk Kiew: Generalkommissar I. Kwitzrau (till February 1942), Waldemar Magunia (February 1942 - November 1943) (b. 1902 - d. 1974) NSDAP
  • 1 September 1942 - 1944 Generalbezirk Krimmarker (Crimea) und Teilbezirk 'and sub-district' Taurien: Generalkommissar Alfred Eduard Frauenfeld (b. 1898 - d. 1977) NSDAP
  • 1941 - 1943 Generalbezirk Nikolajew: Generalkommissar Ewald Oppermann (b. 1896 - d. 19..) NSDAP
  • 1941 - 1943 Generalbezirk Shitomirmarker, the following consecutive Generalkommissare:
    • 1941 - 1942 Kurt Klemm (1st time) (b. 1894 - d. 1975, 1st time) NSDAP
    • 1942 - 1942 Ernst Leyser (acting) NSDAP
    • 1942 - 1943 Kurt Klemm (2nd time)
  • 1941 - 1944 Generalbezirk Wolhynien-Podolien: Generalkommissar Heinrich Schoene (b. 1889 - d. 19..) NSDAP


Other projected divisions

Plans for reorganization of still to be conquered Soviet territoires projected similar administrative divisions after a German final victory on the eastern front:

  • Reichskommissariat Nordland (Soviet Arctic areas: West Nordland (Russia's European north coast) and Ost Nordland (Northwest Siberianmarker north coast))
  • Reichskommissariat Ural (Central and South Ural and neighbouring Russian territory)
  • Reichskommissariat Turkestan (the Central Asian Soviet republics, ethnically mainly Turkic)
  • Reichskommissariat West Sibirien (Western Siberiamarker and Novosibirskmarker)


See also



Sources and references




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