Blockleiter (English: Block Leader, derived from city block) from 1933 was the title of a lower Nazi Party political rank responsible for the political supervision of a neighborhood. Referred to in common parlance as Blockwart (Block Warden), the officials were in charge to form the link between the Nazi authorities and the general population. The derogatory term Blockwart ("snoop") survives in German colloquial language.
History and usage
The title of Blockleiter was first created in 1930 and was initially known as Blockwart. The purpose of the Blockwart was to organize local support for elections during a period when Nazis were attempting to gain both local and national political offices in the Weimar Republic. Blockwarte were organized by neighborhoods in German towns and cities, and answered to a "Cell Warden" known as the Zellenwart. Typically, there were eight to ten blocks in one cell.
In 1933, when the Nazis came to power, the old political rank of Blockwart was phased out of the Nazi rank system to be replaced by a new rank known as Mitarbeiter. It is at this point that the term Blockleiter was most often used, although not as an actual political rank but as a title for a Mitarbeiter assigned to the local level of the Nazi Party in charge of a local neighborhood or a street.
Those Mitarbeiter assigned as Blockleiter now answered to an official known as a Zellenleiter. Zellenleiter, also itself a title and not an actual rank, was held by Nazis holding the political rank of Stellenleiter.
In 1939, with the establishment of a new array of Nazi Party political ranks, both Mitarbeiter and Blockleiter became political positions, denoted by special armbands. The organization of the Nazi Block unit now encompassed several positions; the complete array of Block titles was as follows:
- Blockhelfer – Block Assistant
- Blockleiter – Block Warden
- Blockwalter – Block Administrator
- Blockobmann – Block Foreman
A special operations position known as Betriebsblockobmann also existed, but was to control the political attitudes and behaviour of managers and workers in war time production.
Whereas the old Blockwart position had been concerned with election district leadership, the new Blockleiter was concerned with enforcing Nazi doctrine and supervising the local population. After 1933, the local Blockleiter was in charge of spreading propaganda and developing an acceptance to the policies of the NSDAP among the households (typically 40 to 60) in his area.
It was also the duty of the Blockleiter to spy on the population and report any anti-Nazi activities to the local Gestapo office; this allowed a Nazi terror state. This was helped by keeping files on each household (Haushaltskarten). Due to such activities, Blockleiters were particularly disliked by the general population. Other duties included allocating beds in homes for visiting NSDAP demonstrators, the collection of subscriptions and charitable donations especially for Winterhilfe and organising the clearing of rubble after air-raids.
- Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, vol. 4, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1946, p. 449
- Clark, J. (2007). Uniforms of the NSDAP. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing