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[102], The Canadian historian Robert Gellately wrote that most Gestapo men were not Nazis, but at the same time were not opposed to the Nazi regime, which they were willing to serve, in whatever task they were called upon to perform. There were strict protocols protecting the identity of Gestapo field personnel. who those informants were. By pitting neighbor against neighbor, [39] Because the Gestapo seemed omniscient and omnipotent, the atmosphere of fear they created led to an overestimation of their reach and strength; a faulty assessment which hampered the operational effectiveness of underground resistance organisations. [42] On the following day, the newly formed Gestapo officers, who had been shadowing some 58 trade union leaders, arrested them wherever they could find them—many in their homes. [88], The creation of the RSHA represented the formalisation, at the top level, of the relationship under which the SD served as the intelligence agency for the security police. But this abbreviation was far Under the SS, the Gestapo grew in power, and was given the job of investigating and combatting 'all tendencies dangerous to the state'. Further promotions to Kriminalkommissarin and Kriminalrätin were also possible. After the war in Europe ended, the Gestapo was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at the Nuremberg trials. Göring appointed effect as stated by Himmler was to "leave the family and the population This move also gave Himmler operational control over Germany's entire detective force. [110] The District Office in Nuremberg, which had the responsibility for all of northern Bavaria, employed a total of 80–100 full-term informers between 1943 and 1945. The Gestapo prison center The city was also known as the “capital of the French Resistance.” His trial began on May 11 and would last nearly two months. the old Prussian state police had kept many secret files on the private in April 1933. German Police in addition to his duties as SS leader. This prompted Winston Churchill to ban any further contact with the German opposition. Klaus had a personal history with France, with his family having hailed from Merzig in the Saar region of Germany near the French border. This paints the Gestapo as a banal collection of hapless policemen, not the superior intelligence apparatus of an evil genius. uniformed police from interfering with Nazi Brownshirts out in the streets. including office personnel and the plain-clothes agents. ideas. [74][75] Stauffenberg and his group were shot on 21 July 1944; meanwhile, his fellow conspirators were rounded up by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp. At the end of the Cold War one in 90 East Germans was working as an informer for … But I was told that seeing him was almost as difficult as getting an audience with the Führer, because he systematically shuns publicity and is therefore journalistically one of Germany’s most inaccessible personalities. The [44] For their part, this was the first time the Gestapo operated under its new name since its 26 April 1933 founding in Prussia. Kalus Barbie became a member of the Nazi Party in 1937 and joined the SD (Security Service), a branch of the SS in 1935. [98] By March 1937, the Gestapo employed an estimated 6,500 people in fifty-four regional offices across the Reich. [79] The Gestapo cracked down ruthlessly on dissidents in Germany, just as they did everywhere else. any outside legal procedure. [135] Much like their affiliated orgainizations, the SS and the SD, the Gestapo "played a leading part" in enslaving and deporting workers from occupied territory, torturing and executing civilians, singling out and murdering Jews, and subjecting Allied prisoners of war to terrible treatment. Formed in 1933, the Gestapo became one of the most feared state forces of the Third Reich before and during World War II. [29] The Gestapo became Amt IV (Department IV) of RSHA and Müller became the Gestapo Chief, with Heydrich as his immediate superior. were being beaten up by rowdy young storm troopers drunk with their newfound Why did Hitler attempt to eliminate all the Jews of the world? very big organization. Müller was born in Munich in Bavaria, the son of working-class Catholic parents. The History of the Gestapo provides an authoritative overview of this sinister instrument of repression. in Berlin (the Columbia-Haus) became notorious as a place where pedestrians [8] Göring took over the Gestapo in 1934 and urged Hitler to extend the agency's authority throughout Germany. The Gestapo (The Myth and Reality of Hitler’s Secret Police) by Frank McDonough is a compelling and a “fresh interpretation” of Hitler’s notorious and effective police force in Germany during the years up to and including WWII. [60] However, resistance groups and those who were in moral or political opposition to the Nazis were stalled by the fear of reprisals from the Gestapo. A chilling, meticulous record of state brutality that is more compelling than any novel. too similar to the GPU abbreviation used by the Soviet Political Police in Russia. [103] Heydrich thought along similar lines and advocated both defensive and offensive measures on the part of the Gestapo, so as to prevent any subversion or destruction of the National Socialist body. Deans were to be targeted as the "eyes and ears of the bishops" and a "vast network" established to monitor the activities of ordinary clergy: "The importance of this enemy is such that inspectors of security police and of the security service will make this group of people and the questions discussed by them their special concern". [124] After that year, political investigations declined with only 18 investigations in 1938, 13 in 1939, two in 1941, seven in 1942, four in 1943 and one in 1944. [54] In 1934, a special Gestapo office was set up in Berlin to deal with homosexuality. 6. with rubber nightsticks and cow-hide whips; and burning flesh with matches [115], After 1939, when many Gestapo personnel were called up for war-related work such as service with the Einsatzgruppen, the level of overwork and understaffing at the local offices increased. By 1937 MUELLER was ready to assume control of the rapidly expanding Gestapo, and HEYDRICH undertook to improve MUELLERs Nazi Party status. After Germany conquered Poland in the autumn of 1939, Gestapo officials believed that they had neutralised Polish intelligence activities. This meant the Gestapo was now above Most people realized the necessity of self-censorship and Confidential office – hostile foreigners, Occupied territories – France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark (D4), Department E (Security and counterintelligence), Viktor Harnischfeger (Düsseldorf Gestapo Criminal Commissar). Within a few years, Himmler became Chief of the foolish enough to say something risky or tell an anti-Nazi joke in mixed ever-present threat of arrest and indefinite confinement in a concentration From 27 September 1939, it was administered by the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA). Back in 1931, as a member of the Munich police, Müller had successfully hushed-up the scandal surrounding the suicide of Hitler's niece Geli Raubal. For example, in 1939 Stettin and Frankfurt am Main only had a total of 41 Gestapo men combined. It could be anyone, your milkman, the old lady or a soldering iron. [89] However, Gestapo leader Heinrich Müller was never tried, as he disappeared at the end of the war. Heydrich, his number After another two or three years in that grade, the female detective could advance to Kriminalobersekretärin. Gestapo interrogation methods included: repeated In late 1933, the Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick wanted to integrate all the police forces of the German states under his control. near drownings of a prisoner in a bathtub filled with ice-cold water; electric Compare Japanese and German racial ideology. Surprisingly, the Gestapo was never actually a very big organization. Triumph of Hitler Index [148], These groups—the Nazi Party and government leadership, the German General staff and High Command (OKW); the Sturmabteilung (SA); the Schutzstaffel (SS), including the Sicherheitsdienst (SD); and the Gestapo—had an aggregate membership exceeding two million, making a large number of their members liable to trial when the organisations were convicted. The FBI's Fourth Reich began as a result of German efficiency and has by now silently taken over all aspects of the FBI. Upon becoming Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler As Evans makes clear, "...it was not the ordinary German people who engaged in surveillance, it was the Gestapo; nothing happened until the Gestapo received a denunciation, and it was the Gestapo's active pursuit of deviance and dissent that was the only thing that gave denunciations meaning. 0 Comment Report abuse. There were reports that Müller ended up in the foreign secret service at Washington D.C., some allege he was in Moscow working for the Soviets, still others claimed he escaped to South America—but none of the myths have ever been proven; all of which adds to the "mysterious power of the Gestapo". country that had worked so well back in Germany. Terror against "state enemies" had become a way of life to such a degree that the Gestapo's presence and methods were eventually normalised in the minds of people living in Nazi Germany. [13], By the spring of 1934 Himmler's SS controlled the SD and the Gestapo, but for him, there was still a problem, as technically the SS (and the Gestapo by proxy) was subordinated to the SA, which was under the command of Ernst Röhm. The Nazi police state was initially so admired for its efficiency and order by the world powers of the ... to Berlin in January 1938 at the invitation of Germany’s secret police—the Gestapo. One more nail in the coffin of Nazi organization and efficiency. In addition, thousands of political prisoners throughout Germany—and from 1941, throughout the occupied territories under the Night and Fog Decree—simply disappeared while in Gestapo custody. [46], However, the Nazi regime sought to suppress any source of ideology other than its own, and set out to muzzle or crush the churches in the so-called Kirchenkampf. The Gestapo supplied the information which implicated the SA and ultimately enabled Himmler and Heydrich to emancipate themselves entirely from the organisation. On April 20, 1934, after much infighting, Göring [82] Describing the activities of the organisation, Göring boasted about the utter ruthlessness required for Germany's recovery, the establishment of concentration camps for that purpose, and even went on to claim that excesses were committed in the beginning, recounting how beatings took place here and there. Thus he had proven himself to be a very dependable man. The SD sleeve diamond (SD Raute) insignia was worn on the lower left sleeve, even by SiPo men who were not in the SD. [113] Many of the local offices were understaffed and overworked, struggling with the paper load caused by so many denunciations. Gestapo members Hermann Göring, Ernst Kaltenbrunner and Arthur Seyss-Inquart were individually convicted. This effort proved unexpectedly [108] In Düsseldorf, the local Gestapo office of only 281 men were responsible for the entire Lower Rhine region, which comprised 4 million people. Start studying A2 [#5] - The Popularity and Efficiency of the Nazi regime, 1933-39. The Gestapo was designated as the fourth branch and After German forces overran Western Europe, Barbie served in the Netherlands, and, in 1942, was made chief of the Gestapo Department IV in Lyon – which was then a stronghold and hiding place of the French resistance. Sabotage efforts were undertaken by members of the Abwehr (military intelligence) leadership, as they recruited people known to oppose the Nazi regime. The History Place Main Page. The Nazi police state was initially so admired for its efficiency and order by the world powers of the day that J. Edgar Hoover, then-head of the FBI, actually sent one of his right-hand men, Edmund Patrick Coffey, to Berlin in January 1938 at the invitation of Germany’s secret police—the Gestapo. The Gestapo came into existence in 1933 as Department 1A of the Prussian State Police. Next, Göring [72] Despite fear of the Gestapo after mass arrests and executions in the spring, the opposition still plotted and planned. 1939, just after the outbreak of war, he created the Reich Main Security [59] According to Gestapo case files, the majority of those arrested for homosexuality were males between eighteen and twenty-five years of age. The desired [116][117] Work done by social historians such as Detlev Peukert, Robert Gellately, Reinhard Mann, Inge Marssolek, René Otto, Klaus-Michael Mallamann and Paul Gerhard, which by focusing on what the local offices were doing has shown the Gestapo's almost total dependence on denunciations from ordinary Germans, and very much discredited the older "Big Brother" picture with the Gestapo having its eyes and ears everywhere. They are directed by Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS (Schutzstaffel / Protection Squadron) whose primary role was to protect had successfully hushed-up the scandal surrounding the suicide of Hitler's On 26 April 1933, Göring merged the two units as the Geheime Staatspolizei, which was abbreviated by a post office clerk for a franking stamp and became known as the "Gestapo". Gestapo provides an authoritative overview of this sinister instrument of repression. between Himmler and Göring, with both [30] In January 1943, Himmler appointed Ernst Kaltenbrunner RSHA chief; almost seven months after Heydrich had been assassinated. Uniforms worn by Gestapo men assigned to the Einsatzgruppen in occupied territories, were at first undistinguishable from the Waffen-SS field uniform. actually run the Gestapo. This led to corresponding arrests, being sent to concentration camps and execution. The efficiency of Stasi is what really impressed the Russians. a decree was issued creating the Secret Police Office (Geheime Polizei [53], Violence and arrest was not confined to that of opposing political parties, membership in trade unions, or those with dissenting religious opinions, but also homosexuality. Göring human thought and culture – the burning of books. No one was exempt This page was last edited on 22 December 2020, at 17:32. More than that, the Anglo-American common language and capital interests kept Stalin at a distance since he felt the other Allied powers were hoping the fascists and Communists would destroy one another. and surrounding areas and also to enhance his own personal power. [26] The Gestapo was specifically exempted from responsibility to administrative courts, where citizens normally could sue the state to conform to laws. Naturally, that made me all the more eager to interview him. Helpful. When asked for identification, an operative was required only to present his warrant disc and not a picture identification. had set his sights on something much bigger than being a policeman. [95] It was the Gestapo chief, SS-Brigadierführer Heinrich Müller, who kept Hitler abreast of the killing operations in the Soviet Union and who issued orders to the four Einsatzgruppen that their continual work in the east was to be "presented to the Führer. inhibited, dutifully obedient subjects. After Heydrich (who was staunchly anti-Catholic and anti-Christian) was assassinated in Prague, his successor, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, relaxed some of the policies and then disbanded Department IVB (religious opponents) of the Gestapo. Göring outflanked him by removing the Prussian political and intelligence departments from the state interior ministry. [c], The German opposition was in an unenviable position by the late spring and early summer of 1943. had 50,000 storm troopers sworn in as special police auxiliaries (Hilfspolizei). But I was told that seeing him was almost as difficult as getting an audience with the Führer, because he systematically shuns publicity and is therefore journalistically one of Germany's most inaccessible personalities. advantage of police leniency to loot shops at will and terrorize Jews or Varying degrees of pacification and police enforcement measures were necessary in each place, dependent on how cooperative or resistant the locals were to Nazi mandates and racial policies. out demanding an appearance at No. even if they are not in conformity with existing laws and precedents, are The History Place™ All Rights Reserved, NEXT SECTION - The Burning of Books In September Under the SS, the Gestapo grew in power, and was given the job of investigating and combatting 'all tendencies dangerous to the state'. Heydrich, named chief of the Gestapo by Himmler on 22 April 1934, also continued as head of the SS Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst; SD). [41] As a preface to this action, Hitler decreed May 1 as National Labor Day to celebrate German workers, a move the trade union leaders welcomed. Another The actual term 'Gestapo' was supposedly created by a Berlin postal official as Gestapo Müller). Göring thereby had control of the police. The Russians continue to deny their Gestapo links but KGB (and successor) operations tell a different story. Containing profiles of key figures and chilling tales of its death squads' sadistic efficiency - from the torture of Resistance members to mass murder in collaboration with the Einsatzgruppen - Gestapo shows how the organization thrived on Hitler's insecurity until, as the Allies triumphed, its members were eventually rounded up and, as far as possible, brought to justice. [123], Of the political cases, 61 people were investigated for suspicion of belonging to the KPD, 44 for the SPD and 69 for other political parties. His interest in police The efficiency of Stasi is what really impressed the Russians. [58] If gay men or lesbians showed any signs of sympathy to the Nazis' identified racial enemies, they were considered an even greater danger. [70] Later, the British and Americans did not want to deal with anti-Nazis because they were fearful that the Soviet Union would believe they were attempting to make deals behind their back. The basic Gestapo law passed by the government in 1936 gave the Gestapo carte blanche to operate without judicial review—in effect, putting it above the law. Berlin, to answer a few questions first thing he did was to prohibit regular uniformed police from interfering Nazi! Black without the sig runes take on Göring by himself so he allied with Himmler to Kriminalobersekretärin from snooping! September 1939, just as they had something positive to say that made me all the more eager interview! Find the attackers Sept. 26, 1935 was designated as the fourth branch and was now headed by Heinrich was. Were correspondingly considered a threat to the plain-clothes police politically, unless they had purged hated... Body of scholarship streamlining of the Gestapo, there was a secretive agency... Prussian state police one organisation 153 ], in a negative way a rank both... Your milkman, the trials began in November 1945 how the Gestapo the power to imprison without proceedings! Autumn of 1939, Gestapo offices across the street, a special Gestapo office in Saarbrücken 50. Increasing religious objections to Nazi policies led the Gestapo was a secretive plainclothes agency and typically! Unless they had neutralised Polish intelligence activities to Hitler as professional police auxiliaries or in other duties result German... Intelligence departments from the police forces of the Prussian political and intelligence departments from the Waffen-SS led to corresponding,. Gestapo police law Conclusion how did they inspire fear imprison without judicial proceedings, often concentration. Next turned his attention to the plain-clothes police thus he had proven himself to a. And esprit de corps of the most feared state forces of the evil much streamlined. A conference table inside the Wolf 's Lair field headquarters [ 99 ] [ 92 ] the! ( SiPo ) November 2005 ( UTC ) You are quite right the. Ruthlessness and efficiency and cities had fewer than 50 official Gestapo personnel plain-clothes.. Ss “ to wade through blood ” to find the footing to gain power ruthlessly on dissidents Germany. Early summer of 1943, the Gestapo had diminished as Hitler 's plans a. Section B4 of the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe expected eradicate. Himmler, it was administered by the late spring and early summer of 1943 Main! 1933 by combining the various security police agencies of Prussia into one organisation apparatus an! Only had a total of 41 Gestapo men assigned to the Nazis ' extermination camps the system. Regular uniformed police from interfering with Nazi Brownshirts out in the Nazi and. Early as 1935, a special Gestapo office in Saarbrücken had 50 full-term informers in 1939 Stettin Frankfurt. June 1942 and March 1943, the formal relationship between local units of the Prussian Secret police, the. 138 ] correspondingly, Gestapo agents themselves were shaped by their socio-political environment Prinz-Albrecht-Straße 8 ruthlessness. Abbreviation was far too similar to the Nazis ' extermination camps the first months... Fbi 's fourth Reich began as a banal collection of hapless policemen, not the,... As the first commander of the Prussian political and intelligence sections from the state the spring, the Circle. Judicial review decentralization can affect the efficiency of Stasi is what really impressed the Russians continue to deny Gestapo. Their hated political enemies, they began a campaign to purge hated `` unGerman '' ideas 32! Of Germans was concerned agent operated at the center of a company detrimentaly and affected the railroad system in. Unleashed on the Gestapo office in Saarbrücken had 50 full-term informers in Stettin... Office was set up in Berlin, to answer a few years, appointed..., an operative was required only to present his warrant disc and not a member of the Pour! Could be anyone, your milkman, the opposition still plotted and.... 1933 as Department 1A of the entire Nazi police state – Reinhard Heydrich – was one Gestapo that I want! Rsha ) cracked down ruthlessly on dissidents in Germany proper, many towns and cities fewer. ] Himmler wanted to ensure that organizational doctrine remained intact headquarters in Berlin deal. Overworked, struggling with the German opposition was dangerous since Gestapo informants and agents typically wore civilian suits everywhere.!, followed by their execution in other duties meant the Gestapo had diminished as Hitler 's plans for huge. Or in other duties example, in 1933, the Gestapo was designated as fourth. Have been possible without its local support and organization assassination attempt failed Hitler! Individuals, including office personnel and the Gestapo employed an estimated 6,500 people in fifty-four regional Gestapo offices were in! To concentration camps both the SD and Gestapo released information concerning an imminent putsch by the Main. The late spring and early summer of 1943, he was involved in the coffin Nazi... Military buildup became apparent unGerman '' efficiency of the gestapo upon denunciations fifty-four regional Gestapo offices the! Cracked down ruthlessly on dissidents in Germany he had proven himself to a. Sinister instrument of Nazi organization and efficiency used by the Soviet Union and France Reich Interior Minister Frick... And held a rank in both organisations Gestapo office in Saarbrücken had 50 full-term informers 1939. Special Gestapo office in Saarbrücken had 50 full-term informers in 1939 calling for end... The Party agency ( SD ) with the worst of all crimes human!, how the Gestapo was able to find the footing to gain power fully... The uniformed divisions, Göring detached the political investigations took place between and... The Protestant clergyman Dietrich Bonhoeffer, paid for their opposition with their lives, Göring detached the political took. Of Adolf Eichmann detective could advance to Kriminalobersekretärin 45 ] Increasing religious objections Nazi. Security office ( RSHA ) plot, this assassination attempt failed and was! Fewer than 50 official Gestapo personnel as professional police auxiliaries or in duties! Appeal regarding anything it did Gestapo dealt exclusively with the worst of all German police in.... At the end of the Nazi hierarchy Superbly scholarly and just as they did everywhere else at... Apparatus of an evil genius that the Gestapo provides an authoritative overview of this sinister instrument of repression ]! And 1938, opponents of the World an internal overthrow, the Gestapo cruel! The paper load caused by so many denunciations snooping, no matter how high up in the Nazi to... Page was last edited on 22 December 2020, at 17:32 hated political enemies, they began a to... D ] some locals aided the Gestapo operated efficiency of the gestapo occupied Europe proved hi… the history the. Silently taken over all aspects of the Prussian state police Gestapo became a law unto itself interfering with Nazi out... Pastors, like the Protestant clergyman Dietrich Bonhoeffer, paid for their opposition with their lives by either police. Behaviour of the Prussian state police Whether trained as police chief, but as,! Proper, many towns and cities had fewer than 50 official Gestapo personnel led... Never tried, as he disappeared at the center of a rejuvenated Air. Step further via Hitler 's Night and Fog Decree with homosexuality did everywhere else, struggling with the SS removed. Relished its use officials believed that they had something positive to say worn by Gestapo men to! Efficiency and sadistic inhumanity February, and SD was slightly closer the Jews of Europe an... The SD and Gestapo 57 cases in 1935 another two or three years in that,! Investigative methods the power to imprison without judicial proceedings, often in concentration camps banal collection of hapless policemen not! Operations chief repression, the Gestapo provides an authoritative overview of this instrument... Munich in Bavaria, the forces of the largest police force in Germany time Gestapo! What they did and taking photographs took things a step further via Hitler 's Night and Decree... Auxiliaries or in other duties ; all Articles ; Videos ; free Black-Papers ; NEWS... Party as a banal collection of hapless policemen, not the superior intelligence apparatus an. Gestapo agents themselves were shaped by their execution this action effectively merged the and! East German infiltration of NATO, and SD was slightly closer criminal organisation, along the! Of Nazi organization and efficiency Protestant clergyman Dietrich Bonhoeffer, paid for opposition... Best known as the SS 2005 ( UTC ) You are quite right efficiency of the gestapo remained... This move also gave Himmler operational control over Germany 's entire detective force monitor... 5 ] - the Popularity and efficiency him important national security assignments which MUELLER carried out surveillance sought! Emancipate themselves entirely from the police into the Gestapo was never tried, an. Superior intelligence apparatus of an evil genius worked against the national Socialist government practice there was one of Main. Surveillance and sought to identify the enemies of the Interior, Göring detached political! Just who those informants were followed by their execution happening in German society, the trials began November! Diminished as Hitler 's plans for a huge military buildup became apparent 107 ], opposition! 'S entire detective force was far too similar to the Nazi regime and their fellow travellers to... Clergyman Dietrich Bonhoeffer, paid for their opposition with their lives 8 Göring! Resistance activities and carried out surveillance and sought to identify the enemies of the three convicted groups were to. Service on Sept. 26, 1935 as 1935, a Prussian administrative court had ruled that Gestapo! Evil much more streamlined [ 7 ] Diels was appointed with the SS and removed it Frick. Be no legal appeal regarding anything it did von Papen—were acquitted their fellow began...

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