A document of great historical importance, one of only four official copies [two originals in the U.S. National Archives and two photostatic printings certified by Hans Lammers] of Adolf Hitler's 1938 decree appointing Reichsmarschall HERMAN GORING (1893-1946) to serve as his successor in the case of Hitler's death or complete disability, and Deputy Fuhrer RUDOLF HESS (1894-1987) to retain his position as Deputy Fuhrer under Goring, the new ruler of Nazi Germany. The document offered here is 1p. 4to., a photostatic copy (one of only two made) of Hitler's April 23, 1938 decree signed in Berlin, bearing the facsimile signatures of Hitler and HANS LAMMERS (1879-1962), Chief of the Reichs Chancellery. It reads, in full: 'On the replacement for the Fuhrer, dated 23rd April 1938. In the event of my being prevented from carrying out my duties by illness or other eventualities, even if only temporarily, and of my not being in a position to give particular orders, I designate General Field Marshal Hermann Goring to replace me in all official functions. Under him, Reich Minister Hess will be in charge of the National Socialist Workers Party, just as he is, under me, as my regular deputy....' On the verso, the document is made official with the addition of Lammers' signed description dated April 20th in Berlin: '...The correspondence of this photocopy with the original is certified herewith. The original has been produced in two copies, one of which is in the Fuhrer's possession and the other in my keeping in my office safe. One certified photocopy each of the edict is in the possession of General Field Marshal Goring and of General Keitel, Chief of Staff to the High Command of the Armed Forces...' Later, following Hess' ill-advised attempt to make a separate peace with England by flying to Scotland, this document was returned to Lammers who then wrote at the top: 'Superseded by the decree of 29th June 1941' and boldly signed his name. Very good condition. The nomination of Goering was a tactical move designed to encourage the popular Goering's support for the proposed invasion of Czechoslovakia. Two original signed decrees were produced - one was retained by Hitler and the other by Lammers in his office safe. Two photocopies were also made, of which this is one. One was given to Goring who of course was certainly advised by Hitler of the decree personally, and the other copy was for the Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, WILHELM KEITEL (1882-1946, appointed 4th February 1938) and which was delivered to him by Lammer's assistant Major Deckert on May 1, 1938. This, we believe, is Keitel's official copy. SOLD WITH: JOACHIM KEITEL (1882-1946) German field marshal and army chief of staff under Adolf Hitler, convicted of war crimes and executed at Nuremburg. Keitel's official receipt of Hitler's decree described above, a T.L.S., 1p. 4to., Berlin, May 1, 1938, to Hans Lammers, in full: 'TOP SECRET Acknowledgement of receipt
I hereby acknowledge that Reich Minister Dr. Lammers, head of the Reich Chancellery, has today delivered to me, by hand of his assistant, Major of Police Deckert, a letter dated 1st May 1938, in which was enclosed a photocopy of the edict of 23rd April 1938 on the replacement for the Fuhrer.' Both documents bear marginal file holes and light soiling but are otherwise very good. This decree remained secret until finally, in late September 1939, in a speech to the Reichstag, Hitler declared Goering as his successor with Hess as the second-in-line to the leadership of Nazi Germany. Following Hess' unauthorized flight to England on May 10, 1941, an enraged Hitler revoked the decree of April 23rd 1938, removed Hess from his former position and issued a new decree on the 29th of June 1941 giving Goring all power. Goring had always been Hitler's sycophant, always seeking more power. Even before this edict was issued, he would brag among friends how he would succeed the Fuhrer in the event of any disaster. This intrigue would arise again in the final days of the war, when on April 23, 1945 Goring wired Hitler in the Fuhrerbunker, advising that he (Goring) would assume all power in the absence of any contact with Hitler. Prompted by Martin Bormann, Hitler replied to Goring, rescinding the 1941 decree and threatening him with execution for high treason unless he immediately resigned from all of his offices. Goring duly resigned. Afterwards, Hitler (or Bormann, depending on the source) ordered the SS to place Goring, his staff, and Lammers under house arrest at Obersalzberg. Bormann made an announcement over the radio that Goring had resigned for health reasons. An extraordinary pair of documents, the first ever offered showing Hitler's approved line of succession.

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January 25, 2023 10:00 AM EST
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