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 it was banned subsequent to the abortive Beer Hall Putsch of November 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 (SS) 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 national 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.
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 their 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 in Europe 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. Feeling dejected and isolated, Hess conceived a plan to become a national hero by offering a peace treaty with the United Kingdom.
On 10 May 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, Adolf Hitler abolished the office of Deputy Führer on 12 May 1941. Hitler replaced it with the office of the Parteikanzlei (Party Chancellery) and assigned Hess's former duties to Martin Bormann, who was made chief of that new office.
The title of Deputy Führer features prominently in the Star Trek episode "Patterns of Force" in which a futuristic historian (named John Gill) re-invents the Nazi Party on a primitive planet and establishes himself as the Führer. Gill's Deputy Führer, a man named Melakon, then drugs his leader and Gill slips into an induced stupor while Melakon turns the Nazi government into one of genocide and aggression. Gill is eventually rescued by Captain James T. Kirk, but is then killed by Melakon during a speech where Gill denounces Melakon in front of the entire planet.
- Lang, Jochen von (1979). The Secretary. Martin Bormann: The Man Who Manipulated Hitler. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-50321-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Miller, Michael (2006). Leaders of the SS and German Police, Vol. 1. San Jose, CA: R. James Bender. ISBN 978-93-297-0037-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Encyclopedia of the Third Reich