The Uschla (Untersuchung und Schlichtungs-Ausschuss, roughly translated as the Committee for Investigation and Settlement) was an internal Nazi tribunal system that was established by Adolf Hitler in 1926 to settle intra-party problems and disputes.
The Uschla eventually evolved into a four-level system, organized on geographic lines.
Immediately below this level was the Gau-Uschla, with one such tribunal for each Gau. Following the general geographic organization of the Gau system, below this Gau-level was the Kreis-Uschla, which in turn linked to the lowest level of tribunal, the Ort-Uschla. At the zenith of the system's development, a typical Gau might contain approximately 100 Ort-Uschlas. Grant, p. 57-8.
The initial chairman of the Uschla was a former Reichswehr Lieutenant General Heinemann, who failed to grasp the real purpose of the tribunal: namely, to settle disputes so as to keep them quiet, rather than to achieve substantive justice between the disputants or to enforce a moral code.
Accordingly, he was soon replaced in 1927 by the politically more astute Major Walter Buch (also a former Reichswehr officer), who was in turn aided by two close and highly trusted Hitler cohorts, Ulrich Graf and Hans Frank.
Conflicts between the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the Uschla system were perhaps inevitable, reflecting in part the typical conflict between political and military functions in less pathological institutions. The SA leadership sought maximum autonomy within the Nazi system, and resented any infringement upon its free-wheeling style, especially if based (even theoretically) upon some principles of law. The natural antagonism between the two loci of power peaked when the Uschla attempted to subject SA men to its jurisdiction.
A particular case in January 1930 defined the jurisdictional issue between the rivals. After a hearing before an Ort-Uschla in Saxony, expulsion was ordered for an SA man, but his SA commander disagreed with the decision and claimed that the tribunal had no jurisdiction over SA men performing their functions in the line of duty. A rather feeble SA attempt at compromise in May 1930 stipulated that the Uschla lacked jurisdiction over "SA affairs" and could only intervene in those affairs if (a) the SA man's conduct did serious harm to the interests of the NSDAP and (b) his commanding officer agreed that serious harm had been done. While this bit of Nazi lawyering appeared to make Uschla jurisdiction, in effect, entirely contingent upon the consent of the SA commander, it left the undefined term "SA affairs" open to interpretation and argument, so little progress in settling the jurisdictional squabble resulted.
Upon assuming control of the SA in January 1931, Ernst Röhm attempted a conciliation with Buch over SA-Uschla affairs. However, these conciliatory attempts crashed upon the rock of the Stennes Revolt.
- Sometimes rendered in all capital letters as USCHLA.
- Alternate translations include Tribunal of Inquiry and Arbitration, Bramsted p 108; "Settlement" in this context is sometimes translated as "Arbitration" or "Mediation" or "Conciliation."
- While sometimes called a "court," the Uschla was more in the nature of an arbitration or mediation board, since its true function was not to determine which party had the correct legal view or position in a dispute (as does a court of law), but rather to resolve disputes promptly and effectively, so that internecine battles would not adversely affect the public's (or the general party membership's) perception of the NSDAP. See generally William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Simon & Schuster, 1960), p. 122 ("Shirer").
- The territory comprising the Third Reich consisted of approximately 35 Gau, or geographic divisions for administrative purposes.
- Shirer, op. cit..
- Grant p. 57.
- Grant p. 58.
- Grant p. 58.
- The SA commander could simply claim that no "serious harm" to party interests had resulted, thereby entirely avoiding any Uschla jurisdiction
- Grant, p.xx