University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Policy and Adminstration

    Policy and Adminstration

    Perpetrators, persons involved, witnesses and collaborators.

    Policy and Adminstration

    III.1map of Hessen 1933-45
    Hesse; state and Gau borders before 1944

    Before 1945, today's federal state of Hesse consisted of the Prussian province of HesseNassau with the government districts of Kassel and Wiesbaden and the republic of Hesse. The state-operated welfare institutions of the province of Hesse-Nassau were administrated by the district agencies of Hesse and Nassau (until 1933 municipal selfgovernmental bodies), those of the republic of Hesse by the state governmental (department „internal administration").The NSDAP-Gau Kurhessen included the district of the government district of Kassel only, without Hanau, Schlüchtern and Gelnhausen (until 1943 under Gau leader Weinrich), whereas the NSDAP-Gau Hesse-Nassau (under Gau leader Sprenger) also extended over the district of the republic of Hesse.

    Gau leader Sprenger trooping the line of the male and female labour conscription, no date

    Federal archives, Collection of photographs The Gau leader Jakob Sprenger (1884-1945) - on the left, in front of the picture - was reputed to be the most string-pulling Nazi politician throughout Hesse. Already in 1927, the "old fighter" of the Nazi movement became head of the Gau Hesse-Nassau South. He was town councilor in Frankfurt, leader of the party in the representative assembly of the province and, since 1933, also a member of the Reichstag. In 1933 the former commissioner of the Reichspost became Reich Governor of Hesse and, in 1939, Reich defense commissioner for the district of the army corps XII and the Gau Hesse-Nassau. In 1944 he was appointed president in chief of the newly founded province of Nassau.

    Sprenger especially protected the chief of the Nassau institutions, Fritz Bernotat, who was an extreme defender of the Nazi policy of extermination.

    Prince Philipp of Hesse, senior executive, 1937

    Berlin Document Center (Federal archives) Philipp of Hesse (1896-1980), from 1933 until 1944 senior executive of the district agencies of the province of Hesse¥Nassau, architect by profession, owed most of his political carrier to his relationship with the Italian royal court. In his function as highest commissioner of the district agencies of Hesse and Nassau, he was politically responsible for the forced sterilization executed in the institutions, the "transfers" of inmates of the institutions, austerity programmes in the social welfare institutions, the establishment of "Children's Specialty Departments" and the assignment of Hadamar as a T4 killing center. Since Italy's liberation from fascism was declared as "treachery", Philipp of Hesse, who was married to an Italian princess, was rejected by the government of the Reich and put into a "waiting status" in January 1944.

    Landeshauptmann Wilhelm Traupel, 1937

    Berlin Document Center (Federal archives) Before 1933, Wilhelm Traupel (1891-1946) was the head of the publishing house of the Nazi "Frankfurter Volksblatt". In September 1933, he replaced Dr. Lutsch who had been democratically elected but then removed from office, and became Landeshauptmann of the district agency of Nassau. In 1936 he also was given the direction of the district agency of Hesse (where Landeshauptmann Gottfried Rabe von Pappenheim was in office) and transferred his domicile to the Ständehaus of Kassel. According to post-war testimonies, Traupel had said more than once in the years 1936137, "it is better to have a law to kill the mentally sick, because they are only ballast existences..:'. Because of domestic struggles with Gau leader Jacob Sprenger, the SS Standartenführer spent the years 1941 until 1944 with the Wehrmacht. In 1945, Traupel was removed from office under the denazification programme. He died in 1946.

    Ständehaus in Kassel, about 1938

    LWV archives, Collection of photographs Since I 867, the Ständehaus in Kassel, constructed in the years 1834-1836 as domicile of the Electoral Hesse Diet, was Parliament- and Administrative House of the Prussian district agency of Hesse of the province of Hesse-Nassau. The agency was responsible for road building, loan management, culturural life and especially for all local welfare institutions of a regional character.

    otto schellmann

    Landesrat Otto Schellmann, 1937 (on the right)

    Berlin Document Center (Federal archives) From 1911, Dr. jur. Otto Schellmann (born in 1880) was working for the district agency in Kassel. In his function of Landesrat he was responsible for youth welfare services and youth welfare, the state welfare agency and the general welfare services. At the same time, the Nazi party member Schellmann (he joined the party in 1933) was the Landeshauptmann's deputy for directing both district agencies. During the years of the war Schellmann practically carried out the business of the Landeshauptmann.

    Fritz Bernotat (1937)
    Berlin Document Center (Federal archives)

    Throughout Hesse, Fritz (Otto-Friedrich) Bernotat (1890-1951) was the motor for the extermination of "life unworthy of fife". He vehemently stood for the Nazi austerity programme and publicly declared to stay the inmates of the institutions.

    Having joined the NSDAP as soon as in 1928, he was admitted to the SS in 1932. Bernotat quickly was promoted 1933 in the administration of the district agency in Wiesbaden, where he had begun in 1922 as simple assistant with only a first-grade. He became head of department for political affairs, for the state welfare service agency, the central administration of the institutions, the state welfare office and the headquarters of the welfare authorities for war-disabled and war victims in 1938. In this function, Bernotat was also president of different private and clerical institutions of the Nassau region, which were subject to the "Fuhrer principle" and now under the political direction of the district agency. In 1945, Bernotat managed to escape and to live undisturbed until his death in 1951 in Neuhof near Fulda where he lived under an assumed name.

    Main doorway of the Landeshaus in Wiesbaden, before 1933

    Archives of the town of Wiesbaden The Landeshaus in Wiesbaden, constructed in the years 1905-1907, was the domicile of the administration of the municipal agency established in 1867. In the big meeting-hall the local diet met. In 1933, the local parliament was dissolved, the democratically elected Landeshauptmann was removed from office and the whole administration was directly subject to the Oberpräsident (senior executive).

    Organization chart of the local district agency of Hesse, 1939

    System according to the organization chart dated 29th August 1939

    In 1933, all officials of the public administration were put under racial and political assessment. Civil servants whom the Nazis disliked, were removed from office. Step by step, all executive positions were filled by Nazis. The "old fighters" enjoyed preferential treatment.