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The term Reichsstatthalter ("imperial lieutenant") was used twice for different offices, in the imperial Hohenzollern dynasty's German Empire and the single-party (republican) Nazi Third Reich.

"Statthalter des Reiches" 1879-1918 in Alsace-Lorraine

After Bismark's creation, the Prussian-dominated North German Confederation and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and Bavaria (nearly the whole German Confederation), defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, the French were forced to cede the largely German speaking Alsace (Elsaß) and Lorraine (Lothringen) to the Hohenzollern dynasty's new-formed German Empire. While the Reich in itself was a federal state, composed of 25 subjects, the newly annected area was placed under direct control of Emperor William I. The office of Reichsstatthalter as a form of governor was introduced in 1879 (before it had one Oberpräsident, 1 September 1871 - 30 September 1879) in the process of gradually transforming Alsace-Lorraine into a federal state equal to the original 25. The office was abolished when Alsace and Lorraine was ceded to France after losing World War I.

October 1, 1879 - June 17, 1885 Baron Edwin von Manteuffel (b. 1809 - d. 1885)
17 June 1885 - 5 October 1885 an acting official
October 5, 1885 - 1894 Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingfürst (b. 1819 - d. 1901)
October 1894 - October 31, 1907 Fürst (Prince) Hermann zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg und Graf von Gleichen (b. 1832 - d. 1913)
November 1, 1907 - 1914 Count Karl Leo Julius von Wedel (b. 1842 - d. 1919)
May 1, 1914 - 1918 Nikolaus Michael Louis Hans von Dallwitz (b. 1855 - d. 1919)
October 14 - November 21, 1918 Rudolf Schwander (b. 1868 - d. 1950)

Reichsstatthalter 1933 - 1945

In the Third Reich, the Nazis created the office of Reichsstatthalter to gain direct control over the federal states after winning the general elections of 1933. The independent state governments and parliaments were successively abolished with the Nazi party taking direct control in the process of Gleichschaltung (coordination).

Four months after being elected, the Nazi government issued the Second Law for Synchronization of the States with the Empire (Zweites Gesetz zur Gleichschaltung der Länder mit dem Reich) on April 7, 1933. The new imperial deputies were given the task to oversee the fulfillment of Chancellor Adolf Hitler's political guidelines in the states. The deputies' main authorities lay in:

  • appointing and dismissing the state prime minister
  • dissolving the state parliament and calling new elections
  • issuing and announcing state laws
  • appointing and dismissing important state agents and judges
  • granting amnesty.

The Imperial Deputies Law of January 30, 1935 named the deputies the constant representatives of the Reich government, appointed to watch over the execution of the political guidelines issued by the Führer and chancellor (Hitler). They received the authority to "inform" the state authorities about the guidelines and the measures to fulfill them. The Reichsstatthalter could also be appointed to lead the state government altogether.

In Prussia, the largest of the German states, where the government had been overthrown as early as 1932 in the Preußenschlag by the Reich government, Adolf Hitler took direct control. However, he passed his authority to Hermann Göring, who had been installed as Prussian prime minister without an election.

After the Anschluss (annexation to the German Third Reich), Austria's last pre-war Kanzler became also its first Reichsstatthalter: 15 March 1938 - 30 April 1939 Arthur Seyss-Inquart (b. 1892 - d. 1946; NSDAP; also Führer der Österreichischen Landesregierung), be it most of his term besides an Reichskommissar für die Wiedervereiningung Österreichs mit dem Deutschen Reich 'Reich Commissioner for Reunification of Austria with the German Reich' (23 April 1938 - 31 March 1940 Josef Bürckel, b. 1895 - d. 1944, NSDAP); next each constitutive Land (some differences in borders- thus Burgenland was partitioned away) got its own Reichsstatthalter, generally the last Premier.

The Reichsstatthalters of Germany
Statthalter district Seat Incumbent
(1940-45 Baden-Alsace, Baden-Elsaß)
Karlsruhe Robert Heinrich Wagner
Bavaria (Bayern) Munich Franz Ritter von Epp
Braunschweig/Anhalt Dessau
Hamburg Hamburg Karl Kaufmann
Hessia (Hessen) Darmstadt Jakob Sprenger
Lippe/Schaumburg-Lippe Detmold Alfred Meyer
(1934-37 Mecklenburg/Lübeck)
(1937-45 Mecklenburg)
Schwerin Friedrich Hildebrandt
Oldenburg/Bremen Oldenburg 1933-42 Carl Röver
1942-45 Paul Wegener
Prussia (Preußen) Berlin 1933-35 Adolf Hitler
1935-45 Hermann Göring (acting)
Saxony (Sachsen) Dresden Martin Mutschmann
Thuringia (Thüringen) Weimar Fritz Sauckel
Württemberg Stuttgart Wilhelm Murr
The Reichsstatthalters of areas annexed between 1939 and 1941
Statthalter district Seat Incumbent
Danzig-West Prussia (Danzig-Westpreußen) Danzig 1939-45 Albert Forster
Carinthia (Kärnten) Klagenfurt 1 April 1940 - 27 November 1941 Wladimir von Pawlowski (b. 1891 - d. 1961)
1941-45 Friedrich Rainer (from April 1941, Head of the Civil Government of Lower Carinthia and Upper Carniola; from 10 September 1943, also Special Commissioner for the Adriatisches Küstenland, i.e. the North Adriatic Littoral
Lower Danube (Niederdonau) Vienna 1 April 1940 - 8 May 1945 Hugo Jury (b. 1887 - d. 1945)
Upper Danube (Oberdonau), i.e. Ober-österreich Linz 1 April 1940 - 5 May 1945 August Eigruber (b. 1907 - d. 1946)
Salzburg Salzburg 1 April 1940 - 29 November 1941 Friedrich Rainer (b. 1903 - d. 1947; cfr. Carinthia)
29 November 1941 - 4 May 1945 Gustav Adolf Scheel (b. 1907 - d. 1979)
Styria (Steiermark) Graz 1940-45 Siegfried Uiberreither
Sudetenland (in Czechia) Reichenberg 1939-45 Konrad Henlein
Tyrol-Vorarlberg (Tirol-Vorarlberg) Innsbruck 1 April 1940 - 3 May 1945 Franz Hofer (b. 1902 - d. 1975) NSDAP (from 10 September 1943, also Special Commissioner for the Alpenvorland 'Alpine Foothills', i.e. Italian South Tyrol- Belluno, Bozen (Bolzano) and Trentino when integrated into Tyrol)
Wartheland (in Poland) Posen 1939-45 Arthur Greiser
Westmark (Saarland) Saarbrücken 1941-44 Josef Bürckel
1944-45 Willi Stöhr
Vienna (Wien) Vienna 1 April 1940 - 10 August 1940 Josef Bürckel (b. 1895 - d. 1944) NSDAP, the previous Reichskommissar

10 August 1940 - 12 April 1945 Baldur von Schirach (b. 1907 - d. 1974)

Sources and references

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