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Deputy Führer

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Title: Deputy Führer  
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Subject: Martin Bormann, Rudolf Hess, 1936 Summer Olympics, Hauptamt Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, National Socialist German Lecturers League
Collection: Nazism, Rudolf Hess
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Deputy Führer

Deputy Führer (German: Stellvertreter des Führers, more faithfully translated as "Deputy of the Führer") was the title for the deputy head of the Nazi Party. The only person to ever hold this title was Rudolf Hess.

Creation and Early Usage

The office of Deputy Führer first appeared in Nazi terminology in 1925. The position was created initially as a secretary for Hitler upon the re-founding of the Nazi Party after the abortive Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. Hitler choose Hess as the obvious candidate, given that Hess had been at Hitler's side throughout the latter's stay in Landsberg Prison, acting as Hitler's personal secretary.

In 1926, Hess began serving in the Schutzstaffel and was one of the first members of the SS command staff under Julius Schreck. At the time, Hess began wearing a Nazi Party uniform with a unique collar patch, and was listed in early SS records as "SS Adjutant". Until 1929, Hess's duties in the SS and his position of Deputy Führer were merged. This ceased to be the case after Heinrich Himmler took over the SS, abolished Hess's titular position, and Hess returned to duties simply as Hitler's secretary.

The Nazi Government

When the Nazi Party took power in 1933, Rudolf Hess became a far more powerful figure. With Hitler now the Chancellor of Germany, and operating from Berlin, Hess became the de facto head of the political branch of the Nazi Party, meaning that Hess was the commander of all the Nazi political leaders in Germany. Hess's department was also responsible for handling party affairs, the settling of disputes within the party, and acting as an intermediary between the party and the state regarding policy decisions and legislation.[1]

The office of Deputy Führer also held the position as host for the annual Nuremberg Rally.

With the advent of Gleichschaltung, Nazi political leaders began to merge thier offices with the state and national government and thereafter reported directly to Hitler. By 1939, Hess was left with little to do and was seen simply as the ceremonial head of the Nazi Party in Munich. His office was maintained in the Brown House headquarters, and Hess did still control some Munich based Nazi functions; however, his influence in the capitol of Berlin was negligible.


When World War II began in 1939, Hess was informed that he would have no significant war roles in the German government and also that he was to coordinate through Martin Bormann for any matters requiring Hitler's attention. Hess was still a member of the SS, but Himmler had little use for him in that organization as well. Feeling dejected and isolated, Hess conceived a plan become a national hero by offering a peace treaty with the United Kingdom. In 1941, he flew a small plane to England and was immediately arrested by the British.

After Hess' flight to Scotland to seek peace negotiations with the British government on 10 May 1941, Adolf Hitler abolished the office of Deputy

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