BERLIN (Feb. 4)
Chancellor Adolf Hitler tonight assumed personal command of all Germany’s armed forces, named his chief aide, Hermann Wilhelm Goering, a field marshal, and announced a drastic shake-up in the German army, Government and diplomatic corps.
Ousted in the drastic reorganization — most sensational move by Hitler since the “blood purge” of June, 1934 — were Marshal Werner von Blomberg, War Minister, and Col. Gen. Werner von Fritsch, Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr.
Baron Constant in von Neurath, Foreign Minister throughout the five years of the Nazi regime, was replaced by Joachim von Ribbentrop, Reich Ambassador to London. Von Neurath was given a special post described as “Chief of Hitler’s Personal Cabinet.”
The Ambassadors to Rome and Tokyo, respectively Ulrich von Hassel and Herbert von Dirksen, were recalled, as was Franz von Papen, Minister to Vienna and one-time Chancellor.
Gen. Walther von Brauschitsch, Commander of the 4th Army Corps, was named Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr, succeeding Col. Gen. von Fritsch.
Marshal Goering will remain Air Minister as well as commissioner of the four-year self-sufficiency plan. He is practically economic dictator of Germany by virtue of the latter post.
The Reichstag was convoked for Sunday, Feb. 20, presumably to be given further details of the Government shake-up, which could be compared to the “blood purge” of 1934, although the new move was bloodless.
General Keitel, up to now Chief of the Army’s Central direction, was named Chief of the Supreme Command of the German Army. He will have the rank of cabinet minister, and will thus act as Hitler’s Chief of Staff. The Supreme Army Command will carry on the affairs of the War Ministry. The Chief of the Supreme Army Command is to exercise in Hitler’s name the powers which heretofore belonged to the War Minister. Admiral Erich Raeder remains as Navy Minister.
Hitler also instituted a secret private council of his cabinet to advise him on foreign policy. Baron von Neurath will preside over this council. The other members are Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop, Marshal Goering, Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s personal deputy in the Nazi Party, Dr. Hans Heinrich Lammers, Secretary of State for the Reich Chancellery, Gen. von Brauschitsch, Admiral Raeder, and Gen. Keitel.