Hans Lammers

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Hans Heinrich Lammers
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2008-0276, Hans Heinrich Lammers.jpg
Hans Lammers in SS uniform, circa 1938–1940.
Chief of the Reich Chancellery
In office
30 January 1933 – 24 April 1945
President Adolf Hitler
Chancellor Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Erwin Planck
Succeeded by none
Cabinet Minister Without Portfolio
or (Title Post – 1938) Reich Minister
In office
1 December 1937 – 24 April 1945
President of the Reich Cabinet
(Presiding Officer in Hitler's Absence)
In office
January 1943 – 24 April 1945
Personal details
Born (1879-05-27)27 May 1879
Lublinitz, German Empire
Died 4 January 1962(1962-01-04) (aged 82)
Düsseldorf, West Germany
Political party Nazi (DNVP until 1932)
Profession Judge
Military service
Allegiance  German Empire
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Imperial German Army
Battles/wars World War I
World War II

Dr. jur. Hans Heinrich Lammers[Note 1] (27 May 1879 – 4 January 1962) was a German jurist and prominent Nazi politician. From 1933 until 1945 he served as head of the Reich Chancellery under Adolf Hitler.


Born in Lublinitz (Lubliniec) in Upper Silesia, the son of a veterinarian, Lammers completed law school at the universities of Breslau (Wrocław) and Heidelberg, obtained his doctorate in 1904, and was appointed judge at the Amtsgericht of Beuthen (Bytom) in 1912. As a volunteer and officer of the German Army he received the Iron Cross, First and Second Class during World War I, then resumed his career as a lawyer and joined the national conservative German National People's Party (DNVP), reaching the position of an undersecretary at the Reich Ministry of the Interior by 1922.[1]

In 1932, Lammers joined the Nazi Party and achieved rapid promotion, appointed head of the police department, and in the course of the Nazi Machtergreifung in 1933 a State Secretary and Chief of the Reich Chancellery.[2] At the recommendation of Reich Minister Wilhelm Frick, he became the centre of communications and chief legal adviser for all government departments. From 1937, he was a member of Hitler's cabinet as a Reich Minister without portfolio, and from 30 November 1939 a member of the Council of Ministers for the Defence of the Reich.[3] In this position he was able to review all pertinent documents regarding national security and domestic policy even before they were forwarded to Hitler personally. Historian Martin Kitchen explains that due to the centralization of power accorded the Reich Chancellory and with Lammers catching things before they made it to Hitler, Lammers became "one of the most important men in Nazi Germany."[4] From the vantage point of most government officers, Lammers seemed to speak on behalf of Hitler, the ultimate authority within the Reich. Lammers was also one of the first officials to sign government correspondence with "Heil Hitler," which became a requisite greeting for civil servants and proliferated so much so that failure to use this greeting could bring one under Gestapo suspicion since it indicated an "overt sign of dissidence".[5] Sometime in 1940, Lammers was also promoted to honorary SS General.[6]

From January 1943, Lammers served as President of the cabinet when Hitler was absent from their meetings. Along with Martin Bormann, he increasingly controlled access to Hitler. In February 1943, following the Battle of Stalingrad, Bormann with Lammers attempted to create a three-men junta representing the Nazi Party (Bormann), the state (Lammers), and the army which would have been led by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, chief of the OKW (armed forces high command). This Committee of Three would have exercised dictatorial powers over the home front. Joseph Goebbels, Albert Speer, Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler all saw this proposal as a power grab by Bormann and Lammers and a threat to their positions, and combined to block it. However, this scheme eventually collapsed due to the frequent infighting and mistrust the party, military, and the various ministries had amongst one another. Lammers eventually lost power and influence due to the increasing irrelevancies of his post due to the war and as a consequence of Martin Bormann's growing influence with Hitler.[7]

Lammers in 1947 facing trial for crimes against humanity

In April 1945, Lammers was arrested by Hitler's forces during the final days of the Third Reich, in connection with the upheaval surrounding Hermann Göring. On 23 April, as the Soviets tightened the encirclement of Berlin, Göring consulted Karl Koller and Lammers. All agreed that Göring was not only Hitler's designated successor, but was to act as his deputy if Hitler ever became incapacitated. Acting on the matter, Göring sent a telegram from Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, arguing that since Hitler was cut off in Berlin, he, Göring, should assume leadership of Germany. Göring set a time limit, after which he would consider Hitler incapacitated. Hitler responded angrily, ordering SS troops to arrest Göring and to shoot Lammers.[8] Lammers was rescued when he was captured by American forces, but in the meanwhile his wife, Elfriede (née Tepel), committed suicide near Obersalzberg (the site of Hitler's mountain retreat) in early May 1945, as did his younger daughter, Ilse Hoffmann (née Lammers), two days later.[9]


After the war in April 1946 Lammers was a witness at the Nuremberg tribunal. In April 1949 he was tried under Subsequent Nuremberg Trials in the Ministries Trial and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The sentence was later reduced to 10 years by U.S. High Commissioner John J. McCloy, and on 16 December 1951, he was released from prison at Landsberg am Lech with his sentence declared as served.[10] He died on 4 January 1962 in Düsseldorf, and was buried in Berchtesgaden in the same plot as his wife and daughter.

Awards and decorations[edit]

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Notes & References[edit]

  1. ^ In German a Doctor of Law is abbreviated as Dr. iur. (Doctor iuris) or Dr. jur. (Doctor juris).
  1. ^ Robert S. Wistrich, Who's Who in Nazi Germany (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 149.
  2. ^ Hans Heinz Sadila-Mantau, German political profiles, Terramare Publications, Berlin, 1938
  3. ^ Robert S. Wistrich, Who's Who in Nazi Germany (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 149.
  4. ^ Martin Kitchen, Nazi Germany at War (New York: Longman, 1995), 11.
  5. ^ Richard Evans, The Third Reich in Power (New York: Penguin, 2006), 45.
  6. ^ Robert S. Wistrich, Who's Who in Nazi Germany (London and New York: Routledge, 1995), 149.
  7. ^ Klaus Fischer, Nazi Germany: A New History (New York: Continuum, 1995), 312.
  8. ^ Bullock 1962, pp. 787, 795.
  9. ^ NNDB
  10. ^ Robert S. Wistrich, Who's Who In Nazi Germany (New York: Routledge, 2001), p. 149. Nonetheless, there are conflicting reports about his release date. According to Zentner and Bedürftig, in The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich vol. 1 [A-L] (New York: MacMillan Publishing, 1991), p. 254, Lammers was not released until 1954. Dr. Louis Snyder has him released sometime in 1952 in Encyclopedia of the Third Reich (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976), p. 204, Gerald Reitlinger reported Lammers free in November 1951 in The SS: Alibi of a Nation, 1922-1945 (New York: Da Capo Press, 1989), p. 470, Tim Kirk claims Lammers was released sometime in 1951 in The Longman Companion to Nazi Germany (New York: Routledge, 1995), p. 222, Roderick Stackelberg has him amnestied at an unspecified 1951 date in The Routledge Companion to Nazi Germany (New York: Routledge, 2007), p. 220, as does William Shirer in The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990), p. 965 fn.

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