THE ENVELOPE THAT CARRIED HITLER'S DECREE OF HIS SUCCESSOR
Offered here is one of two envelopes that carried Adolf Hitler's June 29, 1941 decree ordering that in the event of his death or disablement, Reichsmarschall Herman Goring would replace him as Fuhrer. The order would become critical in the final days of the war, when Goring would cite it in what Hitler was led to believe was a power grab, resulting in Hitler's order for Goring's arrest and expulsion from the Nazi Party. On April 23, 1938, Hitler formalized the first arrangement he would make for his chosen successors by designating Field Marshal Goering as Fuhrer and Rudolf Hess as Goering's deputy in the event of Hitler's demise or complete incapacity. The nomination of Goering was a tactical move designed encourage Goering's support for the proposed invasion to of Czechoslovakia. Two original decrees were produced: one was retained by Hitler and the other by Dr. Hans Lammers (Chief of the Reichs Chancellery) which Lammers kept in his office safe. Two photocopies of the succession document were also made, with one copy sent to Goring and the other to Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht, Wilhelm Keitel. The decree read, 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....' Following Hess' flight to England on May 10, 1941, Hitler revoked the decree of April 23rd 1938, removed Hess from his former position and issued a new decree on the June 29, 1941. In the revised document, Hitler ordered that Goring alone would replace him. Marked 'State Secret', the front panel of the envelope that contained a copy of the revised decree reads: 'Contents. Instructions of the Fuhrer on 29th June 1941 on the succession to him in the event of his death'. It bears the ink signature of Lammers and the official stamp of the Reichs Chancellery. The back of the envelope contains five official red paper seals bearing the imprint of the Reichs Minister and Chief of the Reichs Chancellery and two further paper seals, both dated April 13, 1943 indicating the date the envelope was sealed and pencil-signed by Lammers. Since Lammers and Hitler retained the original hand-signed pair of 1941 succession documents, this envelope would have have contained one of the duly-executed copies destined for Goring or Keitel, as was the case with the first decree. The envelope is letter-sized, roughly opened at one end with some wrinkles, and file holes along one margin. A historic piece.