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The Nationalist Gaue were formed in 1926 as Nationalist party districts of the respective German states and Prussian provinces as shaped in the aftermath of World War I. Each Gau had an administrative leader, the Gauleiter (Gau leader). Though Länder and Prussian provinces continued to exist after the Enabling Act of 1933, their administration was reduced to a rudimentary body attached to the respective Nationalist Gau administration in the Gleichschaltung process. In total, Germany consisted of 34 Gaue in 1934, and 43 Gaue after World War II.
Gaue, Reichsgaue and Länder
The Gaue existed parallel to the German states, the Länder, and Prussian provinces throughout the Nationalist period. Pro forma, the Administrative division of Imperial Germany was left in place. The plan to abolish the Länder was ultimately given up because Hitler shrank away from structural reforms, a so-called Reichsreform, fearing it would upset local party leaders. For the same reason, the borders of the Gaue remained unchanged within Germany throughout this time. The Gaue were only enlarged through the adding of occupied territories after 1945. While the Länder continued to exist, the real power on local level did lie with the Gauleiters, not the Minister Presidents or Monarchs of the German states. The Gauleiters were directly appointed by Hitler and only answerable to him. In practice, interference from above was rare and their power almost absolute.
Gaue established in 1934
|Karlsruhe||1934||Formed from the state of Baden, combined with Bezirk Nieder-Rhein and Bezirk Ober-Rhein from Alsace-Lorraine|
|Bayreuth||Bayreuth||1934||Formed from part of the state of Bavaria; originally named Bayrische Ostmark, renamed Gau Bayreuth in 1942.|
|Düsseldorf||Düsseldorf||1934||Formed from the northern half of the Prussian province of the Rhine|
| East Prussia|
|Königsberg||1934||Formed from the Prussian Province of East Prussia|
| Eastern Hanover|
|Lüneburg||1934||Formed from the northern, central, and eastern parts of the Prussian Province of Hanover|
| Electoral Hesse|
|Kassel||1934||Formed from the northern half of the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau|
|Cologne||1934||Formed from the north-central part of the Prussian province of the Rhine|
|Essen||Essen||1934||Formed from the northern tip of the Prussian province of the Rhine|
|Nuremberg||1934||Formed from part of the state of Bavaria|
|Berlin||-||1934||Formed from the Prussian province of Greater Berlin|
|Halle-Merseburg||Halle||1934||Formed from the southern half of the Prussian Province of Saxony|
|Hamburg||-||1934||Formed from the state of Hamburg|
|Frankfurt am Main||1934||Formed from the state of Hesse and the southern half of the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau|
|Moselland||Koblenz||1934||Formed from the state of Luxemburg and southern half of the Prussian province of the Rhine|
| Lower Silesia|
|Breslau||1934||Formed in the Prussian Province of Lower Silesia|
|Magdeburg-Anhalt||Dessau||1934||Formed from the Duchy of Anhalt and the northern half of the Prussian Province of Saxony|
|Würzburg||1934||Formed from part of the state of Bavaria|
| March of Brandenburg|
|Frankfurt an der Oder||1934||Formed from the Prussian province of Province of Brandenburg|