A "Gauleiter" was the party 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 "Gau" was an old word for a region of the Reich, once ruled by a Frankish Gaugraf; it translates most closely to the English shire. "Gau" was one of the many archaic words from medieval German history that the Nazis revived for their own purposes.


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 become a Nazi paramilitary rank, and would eventually become the second-highest such position, ranking only below the rank of "Reichsleiter" (roughly translated: "National leader").

Political position

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 the unquestioned rulers of their particular areas of responsibility. The legal governmental establishment merely existed as a rubber stamp for the Gauleiter.

The Gauleiter was the highest ranking political leader at the "Gau" level of political administration within the Reich, with the "Reich" (national) level the highest, "Gau" (shire, prefecture, province) second-highest, "Kreis" ("circle", i.e. district or county) third-highest, and "Ort" (municipal) level the lowest. There were two additional, lower local levels ("Block" and "Zelle", describing a "party cell"). Political leaders from the "Ort" level and higher wore official uniforms, with the piping and background color of the uniform collar tabs indicating the administrative level.


The insignia for the rank of "Gauleiter" consisted of two oak leaves worn on a brown colored collar patch. The "Stellvertreter-Gauleiter", ("Deputy-Gauleiter") wore a single oak leaf.

All political leaders working at Gau level had rhomboid-shaped collar tabs with red facings (not brown), with a dark wine-red (burgundy) colored piping around the outer edges*.

Reich level collar tabs had a bright crimson facing, with gold piping; Kreis level tabs had a dark chocolate brown facing, with white piping, while Ort level tabs had a light brown facing with light blue piping. The political leader collar-tab system was quite complicated and underwent four changes (complexity increasing with each change); the final (fourth) pattern as described above, was introduced around the end of 1938—by this time, with many more job positions within each level; this made the fourth pattern collar tab rank system by far the most complicated of all.

ee also

* List of Gauleiters


* Westermann, "Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte"

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Look at other dictionaries:

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