4th February 1938
Himmler and Goring’s campaign against the Chiefs of Staff seems to be paying off. Generaloberst Fritsch resigned today after allegations of homosexuality were raised. Reinhard Heydrich first raised these allegations against Fritsch back in 1936, but Hitler rejected it, ordering the files be destroyed. Heydrich, however, kept the files and they were passed to Heinrich Himmler. Himmler has been trying to reduce the influence of the regular armed forces and improve the standing of his SS organisation.
Hitler has accepted Fritsch’s resignation as chief of staff, but he is to remain in the Army. The entire senior command structure has been revamped with Hitler installing himself as minister of war. The new Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW or in English Supreme Command of the Armed Forces) will be headed up by Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel. Walther von Brauchitsch will be in charge of the Army, reporting to Keitel and the OKW.
Much of the army senior command support Fritsch and an honour court is to be convened to investigate the charges. The case seems weak, the accusations may, in fact, be related to a much more junior cavalry officer who shares the Fritsch surname and nothing to do with the General. Goring is going to chair the honour committee, so we’ll wait to see the outcome.
For now the damage is done. Fritsch is out and Hitler has reorganised the armed forces senior command. It is doubtful Frisch will regain his post, even if the charges are entirely unsubstantiated and dismissed. Blomberg has gone off in disgrace with his new wife, leaving the posts of Commander in Chief and War Minister. The foreign minister, von Neurath is replaced by von Ribbentrop. Sixteen other generals have been sacked and replaced with younger more loyal men. 44 senior generals have been reassinged to other posts. Hitler is getting rid of the old guard and bringing in his new team. Several other ministers have been replaced in a cabinet reshuffle as well. Of the five principle attendees at November’s Hossbach Conference, only Admiral Raeder and Goring remain in their posts.
Goring’s only disappointment would be that he hasn’t been granted the coveted C-in-C role he was after and nor has Himmler. While the two remain favourites, the nominal head of the armed forces is Keitel. Hitler though is effectively in charge of the entire armed forces, treating Keitel as more of a puppet than a true C-in-C. This is quite an achievement for someone who finished the Great War with the rank of Corporal.