Ernst Schlange (September 1, 1888 – † 1947) was a Nazi German politician, Gauleiter of Berlin-Brandenburg and a member of the Prussian Landtag. Severely wounded in World War I, he became active in various anti-Semitic far right political groups and eventually joined the National Socialist German Worker's Party in 1925. He was opposed to the party's more extreme tactics for gaining power and eventually ran afoul of Reich Minister of Propaganda and Gauleiter of Berlin, Joseph Goebbels. This caused Schlange to lose his leadership posts by the mid-1930s. He died under obscure circumstances at the end of World War II.
Born in Randowtal, Pomerania, Schlange was the eldest son of an estate owner. After attending elementary school and high school, he studied law and political science in Greifswald. In 1913, he was employed as a clerk at the Darmstädter und Nationalbank in Berlin. He earned his Doctor of Law and passed the Great State Legal Examination (German: Große Juristische Staatsprüfung) in Prenzlau in 1914.
By the start of World War I, Schlange had injured his left hand in a hunting accident so could not be drafted. He volunteered for the German Army instead, serving on both the Western Front in 1914 and the Eastern Front in 1915. He was wounded on 31 May 1915 at Stepj in Galicia, losing his right arm and right lung. He served out the rest of the war as a Reserve Lieutenant in Kaiser Franz Garde-Grenadier Regiment No. 2. He married in 1917.
In 1922 he joined the Deutschsoziale Partei (DtSP) founded by Richard Kunze, a völkisch, anti-Semitic political group and early rival to the Nazi Party. Schlange established local DtSP chapters in Wilmersdorf, Zehlendorf and Steglitz. In 1925 he founded the ephemeral Großdeutsche Volksgemeinschaft in Berlin, but dissolved it in favor of joining the NSDAP when that party regained legal status that same year.
In March 1925, Schlange was appointed Party Gauleiter in the district of Berlin-Brandenburg. His time in office as was marked by disputes over the course of the party. Schlange, a close confidant of Otto Strasser, spoke out against the violent methods of the Sturmabteilung in Berlin but could not prevail. In particular he was explicitly opposed to SA Frontbann formations. He was not opposed to their political orientation, but rather wanted a more cautious course for the NSDAP and the pursuit of power by legal means. Criticized for his weak leadership style within his own wing of the party, Schlange resigned from his post in June 1926.
Schlange moved to Potsdam, where he took over the building of the Nazi Party there. In 1932 he was democratically elected to the Prussian Landtag. On 18 October 1932 the NSDAP leadership reappointed him to Gauleiter, this time of Gau Brandenburg. Here he ran afoul the Gauleiter of Berlin, Joseph Goebbels. When Schlange's district was split between Gau Ostmark and the new Gau Kurmark upon the Seizure of Power in 1933, he was pushed out of his office and lost political influence. He held only minor posts after that: In 1934 he was elected President-General of the Prussian-South German Lottery, appointed to President of the State Gazette in 1935, and Chairman of the Kösener Senioren-Convents-Verband (KSCV) in 1936. On March 10, 1937, Hitler refused Schlange the right to wear his former Gauleiter service uniform. His further fate remains unknown.
When the Third Reich collapsed in 1945, Schlange was allegedly seen in a Soviet internment camp in the Spreewald. Another source indicates that he was killed in 1947 at NKVD special camp Nr. 7, a prison set up by the Russians to hold political detainees on the site of the previous Nazi Sachsenhausen concentration camp. According to the KSCV Corps listings and his award of the Iron Cross, Schlange died sometime in 1947.
- Martin Schuster: Die SA in der nationalsozialistischen "Machtergreifung" in Berlin und Brandenburg 1926-1934. (pdf, 3,8 MB) Dissertation, Technische Universität Berlin 2005, p. 19.
- Bernhard Sauer: Goebbels "Rabauken". Zur Geschichte der SA in Berlin-Brandenburg. (pdf, 6,5 MB) In: Jahrbuch des Landesarchivs Berlin, 2006, p. 111.
- Helmut Heiber: "Akten der Partei-Kanzlei der NSDAP, Volume 1, Part 1", p. 312 (12669).
- Karl Höffkes "Gauleiters of the Third Reich" Grabert-Verlag Tübingen, 2nd Edition 1997, pp 311
- Kösener Corpslisten 1960, 53, 605