From Academic Kids

A Gauleiter was a leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP (more commonly known as the Nazi Party) or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau. The German word Leiter means leader, whilst the Gau is translates most closely to the English shire.

Missing image
Collar insignia for a Nazi Gauleiter

The title of Gauleiter was first established in 1925 after the Nazi Party reorganized following the failed Beer Hall Putsch. By 1928, Gauleiter had also became a Nazi paramilitary rank, and would eventually become the second highest such position, ranking only below the rank of Reichsleiter. The insignia for the rank of Gauleiter consisted of two oak leaves worn on a brown collared collar patch.

Until 1938, a junior Gauleiter rank also existed which was known as Stellvertreter-Gauleiter (Proxy-Gauleiter). A Proxy-Gauleiter wore a single oak leaf, similar to a Gauleiter, however this position was abolished by the start of World War II.


The Gau was at first an administrative entity within the Nazi party, but after 1933 the Gauleiters took over the regional administration as well, making them the most powerful men in their district, though officially the state governments (Länder) continued to exist even after the Gleichschaltung. In theory, a Gauleiter was merely a representative of the Nazi Party who served to coordinate regional Nazi party events and also served to "advise" the local government. In practice, Gauleiters were unquestioned rulers of their particular areas of responsibility. The local government establishment merely existed as a rubber stamp for the Gauleiter, whofrequently was also the head of the local district (as in Lower Franconia) or the state government (as in Upper Bavaria).

The Gaue, as they existed in 1939, were:

in the state of Prussia
in the Prussian Province of Saxony:
  • Magdeburg-Anhalt, also including the state of Anhalt
  • Halle-Merseburg
in the Prussian province of Hanover
  • Southern Hanover-Brunswick, also including the state of Brunswick
  • Eastern Hanover
  • Weser-Ems, also including the states of Oldenburg and Bremen
in the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau:
in the Prussian province of Westphalia:
  • Westphalia-South
  • Westphalia-North, also including the state of Lippe.
in the Prussian Rhine Province:
  • Essen
  • Düsseldorf
  • Cologne-Aachen
  • Koblenz-Trier, after 1942 called Moselland

There also was an overseas Gau, centred in Berlin.

The Reichsgaue were formed in the territories annexed to Germany after 1938 and officially combined the spheres of state and party administration. The Gauleiters in occupied territories took orders directly from Adolf Hitler and the Gau adminsitrations operated as virtual dictatorships.

In Austria there were seven Reichsgaue, roughly identitical to the former states of Austria: Vienna, Lower Danube, Upper Danube, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia and Tyrol.

After the Sudeten German territories had been annexed, the southern parts were incorporated into the bordering Austrian Reichsgaue, while the western and northern parts were turned into the Reichsgau Sudetenland.

After the attack on Poland, Germany annexed the provinces lost after World War I and founded the Reichsgaue Danzig-Westpreussen and Wartheland, roughly identical to the former Prussian provinces West Prussia and Posen, respectively.

After the attack on France, the territories annexed by Germany were incorporated into the adjacent Gaue:

Famous Gauleiters include Joseph Goebbels, Gauleiter of Berlin, Franz Ritter von Epp, of Upper Bavaria, Julius Streicher, of Franconia and Karl Hanke, of Lower Silesia, who became the last Reichsfü it:Gauleiter no:Gauleiter pl:Gauleiter


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