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Following the suppression of the individual Länder (states) of Weimar Germany in 1934, the Gaue (Singular: Gau) were the de facto administrative sub-divisions of Nazi Germany.

The Nazi Gaue were formed in 1926 as Nazi party districts of the respective German states and Prussian provinces as shaped in the aftermath of World War I.[1] Each Gau had an administrative leader, the Gauleiter (Gau leader). Though Länder and Prussian provinces continued to exist after the Enabling Act of 1933, their administration was reduced to a rudimental body attached to the respective Nazi Gau administration in the Gleichschaltung process. In total, Germany consisited of 32 Gaue in 1934, and 42 Gaue at its collapse in 1945.[2]

The regions occupied in 1938 (Anschluss of Austria, Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia by the Munich Agreement) and early 1939 (Klaipėda Region or Memelland from Lithuania) as well as the areas conquered during the Second World War were either incorporated into existing Gaue or organised in so-called Reichsgaue, similar to the Gaue in all but name. In the Reichsgaue, the Gauleiter also carried the position of Reichsstatthalter.[1]

Eventually, in the aftermath of its defeat in the war, and the Yalta Conference, Germany would lose not only the newly annexed territories but some of the territories it held before the Nazi government assumed power; it would also spend most of the following second half of the 20th century divided into two separate states.

Gaue, Reichsgaue and Länder Edit

The Gaue existed parallel to the German states, the Länder, and Prussian provinces throughout the Nazi period. Pro forma, the Administrative division of Weimar Germany was left in place. The plan to abolish the Länder was ultimately given up because Hitler shrank away from structural reforms, a so-called Reichsreform, fearing it would upset local party leaders. For the same reason, the borders of the Gaue remained unchanged within Germany throughout this time. The Gaue were only enlarged through the adding of occupied territories after 1938.[3] While the Länder continued to exist, the real power on local level did lay with the Gauleiters, not the Minister Presidents of the German states. The Gauleiter were directly appointed by Hitler and only answerable to him. In practice, interference from above was rare and their power almost absolute.[1]

Gaue established in 1934 Edit

English name German name Headquarters Established Notes
Baden Baden Karlsruhe 1934 Formed from the state of Baden; subsequently included the former French départements of Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin
Bayreuth Bayreuth Bayreuth 1934 Formed from part of the state of Bavaria; originally named Bayrische Ostmark, re-named Gau Bayreuth in 1942; also incooperated parts of Czechoslovakia from 1938
Berlin Berlin Berlin 1934 Formed from the Prussian province of Berlin
Cologne-Aix-la-Chapelle Köln-Aachen Cologne 1934 Formed from the north-central part of the Prussian province of the Rhine
Düsseldorf Düsseldorf Düsseldorf 1934 Formed from the northern half of the Prussian province of the Rhine
East Prussia Ostpreußen Königsberg 1934 Formed from the Prussian Province of East Prussia; from 1939 also included territories annexed from Poland
Eastern Hanover Ost-Hannover Lüneburg 1934 Formed from the northern, central, and eastern parts of the Prussian Province of Hanover
Electoral Hesse Kurhessen Kassel 1934 Formed from the northern half of the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau
Essen Essen Essen 1934 Formed from the northern tip of the Prussian province of the Rhine
Franconia Franken Nuremberg 1934 Formed from part of the state of Bavaria
Halle-Merseburg Halle-Merseburg Halle 1934 Formed from the southern half of the Prussian Province of Saxony
Hamburg Hamburg Hamburg 1934 Formed from the state of Hamburg
Hesse-Nassau Hessen-Nassau Frankfurt am Main 1934 Formed from the state of Hesse and the southern half of the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau
Koblenz-Trier Koblenz-Trier Koblenz 1934 Formed from the southern half of the Prussian province of the Rhine; re-named Gau Moselland in 1942, following the incorporation of the formerly independent country of Luxembourg
Lower Silesia Niederschlesien Breslau 1934 Formed in the Prussian Province of Lower Silesia
Magdeburg-Anhalt Magdeburg-Anhalt Dessau 1934 Formed from the Free State of Anhalt and the northern half of the Prussian Province of Saxony
Main-Franconia Mainfranken Würzburg 1934 Formed from part of the state of Bavaria
March of Brandenburg Mark Brandenburg Berlin 1934 Formed from the Prussian province of Province of Brandenburg
Mecklenburg Mecklenburg Schwerin 1934 Formed from the state of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and the Free State of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Munich-Upper Bavaria München-Oberbayern Munich 1934 Formed from part of the state of Bavaria
Pomerania Pommern Stettin 1934 Formed from the Prussian Province of Pomerania
Saar-Palatinate Saarpfalz Neustadt an der Weinstraße 1934 Formed from the Bavarian Palatinate and the Prussian Saarland; renamed Gau Westmark in 1940 after the incooperation of parts of Lorraine
Saxony Sachsen Dresden 1934 Formed from the state of Saxony
Schleswig-Holstein Schleswig-Holstein Kiel 1934 Formed from the Prussian Province of Schleswig-Holstein, the Free City of Lübeck and territory belonging to the Free State of Oldenburg
Southern Hanover-Brunswick Südhannover-Braunschweig Hanover 1934 Formed from the Free State of Brunswick and the southern and western parts of the Province of Hanover
Swabia Schwaben Augsburg 1934 Formed from part of the state of Bavaria
Thuringia Thüringen Weimar 1934 Formed from the state of Thuringia and adjacent Prussian Province of Saxony
Upper Silesia Oberschlesien Kattowitz (from 1939) 1934 Formed in the Prussian Province of Upper Silesia, also incooperated parts of Poland from 1939
Weser-Ems Weser-Ems Oldenburg 1934 Formed from the Free State of Oldenburg (excluding outlying territories), the state of Bremen and the far western part of the Prussian Province of Hanover
Westphalia-North Westfalen-Nord Münster 1934 Formed from the Free State of Lippe and the northern half of the Prussian Province of Westphalia
Westphalia-South Westfalen-Süd Dortmund 1934 Formed from the southern half of the Prussian Province of Westphalia
Württemberg-Hohenzollern Württemberg-Hohenzollern Stuttgart 1934 Formed from the state of Württemberg and the Prussian Province of Hohenzollern

Reichsgaue established in 1938 Edit

New Reichsgaue were established after the Anschluss of Austria and the incorporation of Sudetenland following the Munich Agreement. Southern parts of Czechoslovakia also gained by the Munich Agreement were not made part of Reichsgau Sudetenland, but incorporated into the northern Reichsgaue of former Austria.

English name German name Headquarters Established Notes
Carinthia Kärnten Klagenfurt 1938 Formed from the former Austrian federal state of Carinthia and Eastern Tyrol, included from 1941 were parts of Slovenia
Niederdonau Niederdonau Vienna 1938 Formed from the former Austrian federal state of Niederösterreich and northern Burgenland; included from 1939 were parts of southern Moravia
Oberdonau Oberdonau Linz 1938 Formed from the former Austrian federal state of Oberösterreich and Ausseerland, a part of Styria; included from 1939 were parts of southern Bohemia
Salzburg Salzburg Salzburg 1938 Formed from the former Austrian federal state of Salzburg
Sudetenland Sudetenland Reichenberg 1938 Formed from the predominantly German speaking parts of Czechoslovakia which were ceded to Germany after the Munich Agreement
Styria Steiermark Graz 1938 Formed from the former Austrian federal state of Styria and southern part of Burgenland; included from 1941 were parts of Slovenia
Tyrol-Vorarlberg Tirol-Vorarlberg Innsbruck 1938 Formed from the former Austrian federal state of Vorarlberg and the northern part of Tyrol
Vienna Wien Vienna 1938 Formed from the former Austrian federal state of Vienna and surrounding parts of former Niederösterreich

Second World War Edit

Of the territories annexed from Poland and the Free City of Danzig in 1939, Reichsgau Wartheland and Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia were created. Annexed territories of pre-war Poland not within these two Reichsgaue was incorporated into the neighboring Gaue East Prussia and Silesia. Alsace-Lorraine, annexed from pre-war France in 1940, was split between the bordering Southwestern Gaue of Nazi Germany.

English name German name Headquarters Established Notes
Danzig–West Prussia Danzig–Westpreußen Danzig 1939 Formed in the Free City of Danzig and the Polish region of the Pomeranian Voivodeship, which were both occupied by Germany in 1939, as well as the pre-1939 German Governorate of West Prussia within then East Prussia
Wartheland Wartheland Posen 1939 Formed primarily in the Polish region of the Poznań Voivodeship and incooperated areas of surrounding Voivodeships after the German occupation of Poland

Auslandsgau Edit

There was also an extraterritorial Gau named Auslandsorganisation for party members overseas. Its headquarters were in Berlin. This Auslandsgau was considered to be the 43rd Gau of Nazi Germany.

See also Edit

Sources Edit

  • Der große Atlas der Weltgeschichte (in German), Historical map book, published: 1990, publisher: Orbis Verlag, Munich, ISBN 3572047552

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 (German) Die NS-Gaue, Deutsches Historisches Museum, accessed: 25 June 2008
  2. The Organization of the Nazi Party & State The Nizkor Project, accessed: 25 June 2008
  3. (German) Gau (NSDAP) - Kontinuität der Gaugliederung nach 1933, Historisches Lexikon Bayerns, accessed: 25 June 2008

External links Edit


de:Struktur der NSDAP

nl:Nazigouw ja:大管区 (ナチ党) ru:Административно-территориальное устройство Третьего рейха

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