Creation and early usage
The first use of the term Gauleiter by the Nazi Party was in 1925 after Adolf Hitler refounded the Nazi party following the failed Beer Hall Putsch. The origin of the name was derived from the German word Leiter (meaning leader) and Gau which was an old word for a region of the German Reich. The original term Gau may also be traced to the Frankish word Gaugraf, translating closely to the English word "shire". Gau was one of the many archaic words from medieval German history[disambiguation needed] that the Nazis revived for their own purposes.
In the earliest days of the term's existence, Gauleiters were heads of election districts during a time period when the Nazis were attempting to gain political representation in the Weimar Republic. Gauleiters oversaw several Politische Leiters (Political Leaders) who assisted the Nazis with election campaigns and hosted senior Nazis (such as Hitler) on campaign tours.
In 1928, a mid-level official known as a Kreisleiter was introduced as an intermediary between the Gauleiter and the Political Leaders. In 1930, as the Nazis attempted to organize on a national level, Gauleiters were themselves subordinated to a new official known as a Landesinspektor, in charge of all Nazi Gaus in a particular German state. It was also at this time that a standard political uniform was created for the Gauleiter, consisting on a brown nazi party shirt and Army style collar bars with braided shoulder cords.
 Nazi Germany
In 1933, when the Nazis took power and established the state of Nazi Germany, Gauleiter became the second highest Nazi paramilitary rank, ranking below the new rank of Reichsleiter (National Leader). The Gauleiters were now heads of the Gauleitung, which were Nazi political regions set up to mirror the German states. It was also at this time that Gauleiters adopted the two leaf collar insignia which is most often historically associated with the rank.
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. Party control over the civil administration was institutionalized, as in many cases Gauleiters also held the supreme civil administrative posts in their areas (Reichsstatthalter or Oberpräsident). However, since Party Gau boundaries and provincial/state boundaries were rarely the same, this arrangement led to mutually overlapping jurisdictions and added to the administrative chaos typical of Nazi Germany.
Within each Gau were a number of Kreis (districts or counties), followed by the Ort (municipal) level, which was the lowest in the Nazi Party organization. There were also two additional lower local levels (Block and Zelle), describing Party Cells and local Neighborhood Blocks. By this point, all political leaders wore official uniforms, with the piping and background color of the uniform collar tabs indicating which level of the Party (Local, County, Regional, or National) within which a Political Leader served.
All political leaders working at Gau level had rhomboid 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. The Gauleiter had authority over the district leaders (kreisleiter), who in turn directed chapter leaders (Ortsgruppenleiter). An Ortsgruppe (chapter) encompassed 1500 households—usually a city suburb or a few villages. Chapter leaders directed cell leaders (Zellenleiter), responsible for 160 to 480 households. Zellenleiter had control over the lowest local leaders, Blockleiter, who had charge of one block consisting of 40 to 60 households. The cell and block leaders at the bottom of the hierarchy gave the party a strong hold on the civilian populace
 See also
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- Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte. Braunschweig: Westermann. 1985. ISBN 3-14-100919-8.
- Gauleiter: The Regional Leaders Of The Nazi Party And Their Deputies, 1925-1945 (Herbert Albrecht-H. Wilhelm Huttmann)-Volume 1 by Michael D. Miller and Andreas Schulz R. James Bender Publishing, 2012.