Cleaning ladies in the cabinet roomA day in the Chancellery

Erich Peter Neumann (pseudonym Hubert Neun), a writer for the weekly newspaper Das Reich, visited the Chancellery and recorded his impressions in issue number 14, April 6th, 1941.

    The front of the New Reich Chancellery measures four hundred meters, and no one can walk by without wondering what goes on inside…
    The officials in their brown uniforms behind the massive swinging doors know the government executives well. They recognize their faces and the way they move, whether they are taciturn or friendly…On many days three generals’ coats hang on coat hooks in the waiting room. On other days, the checkroom is filled with the coats of Reichsleiter, Gauleiter, SA officials, or armament inspectors. Sometimes civilians also check their coats.
    The elevators are completely automatic, the doors opening and closing noiselessly. Unerringly the guards appear and demand passes. Slowly the eye accustoms itself to the unusual dimensions of Speer’s building, which are constantly surprising the visitor. Anxiety generated by the long corridors gradually dissipates. One begins effortlessly to orient oneself, and what one hardly noticed on first pass becomes clear: the relationship between location and way.
    The visitor walks over thick carpets that muffle all sounds. Here and there, yellow signs point to the air-raid shelter.
    There are more than 400 rooms…In contrast to the size of the chancellery, the number of officials, employees, and workers is small. Only about seventy people are actually performing the tasks of government. The entire staff consists of 250 people, but most are engaged in maintaining the building.
    Employees stride up and down the steps with gray folders under their arms. Cleaning ladies with innumerable whirring vacuum cleaners fill the long marble halls. A workman is bent over repairing a damaged spot in the floor…
    Chancellery mail roomLike every other corporate office, the mailroom is the first stop for much of the day’s business. Early in the morning the letter carrier brings sacks of mail from the Leipzigerstraße post office to the third floor chancellery mailroom. Many letters and packages are immediately forwarded to their ultimate destination, while others must be evaluated. In 1932, 51,500 pieces of mail arrived. In 1933, the volume increased to 375,000. As unemployment decreased, the flood of letters diminished to 200,000 annually and has stabilized at that number...Every letter, no matter how important, is logged in. If the Chancellery cannot answer it, the letter is forwarded to the appropriate agency. In all cases the sender receives an acknowledgment with a file number so that he may at any time inquire regarding the status of his correspondence.
    Along with official communications, every day brings a mountain of letters from individuals. People from every corner of the Reich, and foreigners as well, write about personal concerns. A glance at today’s pile reveals the peculiar address designations: ‘To the Führer’s cabinet,’ ‘to the Reich government and revered Führer,’ ‘To his Excellency the noble, high-born Führer,’ ‘To the Obersalzberg in Berlin.’ The huge outpouring of opinion provides a glimpse of the trust accorded Adolf Hitler by a broad swath of the German population. The volume of letters from foreign countries is substantial, and the foreigners’ letters, by and large, have the highly reverent addresses…
    An ordinary chancellery day passes swiftly. Couriers come and go. The grand rooms are often empty, but the offices are constantly busy, even more so since the war began…One little office holds a cot for the night concierge. The telephone switchboard is in operation twenty-four hours. A chancellery official is always on call. The chancellery never closes.

Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels published the first issue of Das Reich May 26th, 1940. Goebbels himself wrote many of the front-page articles in an attempt to reach the educated classes, both inside and outside of Germany. Erich Peter Neumann’s best-known article for Das Reich was a March 1941 report on the Warsaw Ghetto, in which he described “the horribly repulsive variety of all Jewish types in the East.” Neumann wrote Nazi propaganda for other publications, including the Berliner Tageblatt and the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.
After the war, Neumann continued to prosper by churning out anti-communist propaganda for the West German government. With his wife, Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, who also wrote for Das Reich, Erich Neumann compiled opinion surveys for Konrad Adenauer and founded the Deutsche Korrespondenz, a compendium of foreign press clippings that was very popular among government officials.

The Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker Complex by Steven Lehrer