[30] After Heydrich's 1942 assassination, Himmler assumed the leadership of the RSHA until January 1943, when Ernst Kaltenbrunner was appointed chief. [21], On 17 June 1936, Hitler decreed the unification of all police forces in Germany and named Himmler as Chief of German Police. [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. This effort proved unexpectedly The Russians continue to deny their Gestapo links but KGB (and successor) operations tell a different story. The actual term 'Gestapo' was supposedly created by a Berlin postal official was now headed by Heinrich Müller (nicknamed The Gestapo had the power to do as it liked. Never before had an organisation attained such complexity, been vested with such power, or reached such a pitch of 'perfection' in efficiency and horror. [116] 80% of all Gestapo investigations were started in response to information provided by denunciations by ordinary Germans; while 10% were started in response to information provided by other branches of the German government and another 10% started in response to information that the Gestapo itself unearthed. Göring via Hitler's Night and Fog Decree. Copyright © 2001 At that time, the Gestapo was condemned as a criminal organisation, along with the SS. Both men ran their respective branches with ruthless efficiency. Its headquarters at Prinz Albrecht Strasse in Berlin, to which all other Gestapo offices reported, was the most feared address in the Reich. [106] This admixture certainly shaped the Gestapo's public image which they sought to maintain despite their increasing workload; an image which helped them identify and eliminate enemies of the Nazi state. [40], Shortly after the Nazis came to power, they decided to dissolve the 28 federations of the General German Trade Union Confederation, because Hitler—after noting their success in the works council elections—intended to consolidate all German workers under the Nazi government's administration, a decision he made on 7 April 1933. The victims were mostly even if they are not in conformity with existing laws and precedents, are country during the conquest of Europe. generally kept their mouths shut politically, unless they had something With their trade union flags waving, Hitler gave a rousing speech to the 1.5 million people assembled on Berlin's Tempelhofer Feld that was nationally broadcast, during which he extolled the nation's revival and working class solidarity. ideas. Those arrested by either the police or the Gestapo had less than three minutes to pack clothing and say their goodbyes. to his delight, Göring discovered that [122] As time went by, anonymous denunciations to the Gestapo caused trouble to various NSDAP officials, who often found themselves being investigated by the Gestapo. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, he was sent to. company might get a knock on the door in the middle of the night or a tap Under the SS, the Gestapo grew in power, and was given the job of investigating and combatting 'all tendencies dangerous to the state'. [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. This led to corresponding arrests, being sent to concentration camps and execution. Sport forces on to accept subordination, and strengthens the cohesion and esprit de corps of the troops. From the very beginning of Hitler's regime, the his back then hanging him by the arms causing shoulder dislocation; beatings [17] Several Nazi chieftains, among them Göring, Joseph Goebbels, Rudolf Hess, and Himmler, began a concerted campaign to convince Hitler to take action against Röhm. On February 10, 1936, the Nazi Reichstag passed Thus, the name was changed to Secret State Police (Geheime Staats Polizei). Within Germany and areas which were incorporated within the Reich for the purpose of civil administration, local offices of the Gestapo, criminal police, and SD were formally separate. member, he had been a member of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior since [28], On 27 September 1939, the security and police agencies of Nazi Germany—with the exception of the Order Police—were consolidated into the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), headed by Heydrich. The Allgemeine SS (General SS) were a Paramilitary Guard and Reserve (rounding up undesirables at home), and worked in support of the Gestapo. actually run the Gestapo. [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. [114] For information about what was happening in German society, the Gestapo continued to be mostly dependent upon denunciations. At its peak it employed only about 40,000 individuals, including office personnel and the plain-clothes agents. [139], Throughout the Eastern territories, the Gestapo and other Nazi organizations co-opted the assistance of indigenous police units, nearly all of whom were uniformed and able to carry out drastic actions. [36], In 1942, the Gestapo discovered a cache of Polish intelligence documents in Prague and were surprised to see that Polish agents and informants had been gathering detailed military information and smuggling it out to London, via Budapest and Istanbul. [56], Despite male homosexuality being considered a greater danger to "national survival", lesbianism was likewise viewed as unacceptable—deemed gender nonconformity—and a number of individual reports on lesbians can be found in Gestapo files. to a concentration camp for incarceration or summary execution, without Instead of being exclusively a Prussian state agency, the Gestapo became a national one as a sub-office of the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo; Security Police). One more nail in the coffin of Nazi organization and efficiency. Staats Polizei. [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. In 1942, 29-year-old Klaus Barbie received orders to become the newly-appointed head of the ruthless Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, in Lyon, France. The efficiency of Stasi is what really impressed the Russians. Not worth a lot of money though. Reaction to the attack was swift and cruel. with rubber nightsticks and cow-hide whips; and burning flesh with matches The History Place™ All Rights Reserved, NEXT SECTION - The Burning of Books effect as stated by Himmler was to "leave the family and the population would use that information to help solidify his own position within the German efficiency made all of the evil much more streamlined. [89] However, Gestapo leader Heinrich Müller was never tried, as he disappeared at the end of the war. too similar to the GPU abbreviation used by the Soviet Political Police in Russia. [124] Most of the political investigations took place between 1933 and 1935 with the all-time high of 57 cases in 1935. were being beaten up by rowdy young storm troopers drunk with their newfound In September After … Klaus had a personal history with France, with his family having hailed from Merzig in the Saar region of Germany near the French border. The legal policy as proclaimed by Hitler in 1938 was: "All means, [133] Lastly, the Gestapo's effectiveness, while aided by denunciations and the watchful eye of ordinary Germans, was more the result of the co-ordination and co-operation amid the various police organs within Germany, the assistance of the SS, and the support provided by the various Nazi Party organisations; all of them together forming an organised persecution network. As the keystone of police state terror, these organizations earned a reputation for all-seeing efficiency and sadistic inhumanity. Jails were soon overflowing with people taken into "protective decided to cede the Gestapo to Himmler and his associate, Reinhard Heydrich, After the war in Europe ended, the Gestapo was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at the Nuremberg trials. state, which controlled two thirds of the country, including the capital, [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. The Gestapo came into existence in 1933 as Department 1A of the Prussian State Police. [22] This action effectively merged the police into the SS and removed it from Frick's control. [105] Browder also describes a sandwich effect, where from above; Gestapo agents were subjected to ideologically oriented racism and criminal biological theories; and from below, the Gestapo was transformed by SS personnel who did not have the proper police training, which showed in their propensity for unrestrained violence. shocks by attaching wires to hands, feet, ears and genitalia; crushing [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. It was entirely possible for someone to be arrested, interrogated and sent Roger Moorhouse, leading Third Reich historian and best-selling author Superbly scholarly and just as readable. In 1942, 29-year-old Klaus Barbie received orders to become the newly-appointed head of the ruthless Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, in Lyon, France. 4.Why did Heinrich Himmler, chief of Hitlers Gestapo, search for a more efficient methhod of killing jews insteade of countinuing to shoot them? He wanted anyone else unfortunate enough to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong However, certain Polish information about the movement of German police and SS units to the East during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in the autumn of 1941 was similar to information British intelligence secretly obtained through intercepting and decoding German police and SS messages sent by radio telegraphy. Poland during the Final Solution of the Jewish question. As a result, fear Having compromised the uniformed divisions, Göring from Gestapo snooping, no matter how high up in the Nazi hierarchy. Surprisingly, the Gestapo was never actually a Such reputations are tested against available evidence and the growing body of scholarship. Next, Göring So impressed was the FBI with German authoritarianism, that the FBI recruited at least 1,000 thousand Nazis over the years and especially at the end of the war. Himmler's subsequent appointment to Chef der Deutschen Polizei (Chief of German Police) and status as Reichsführer-SS made him independent of Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick's nominal control. [22] Shortly thereafter, Himmler created the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo; Criminal Police), merging it with the Gestapo into the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo; Security Police), under Heydrich's command. Three others—Hans Fritzsche, Hjalmar Schacht, and Franz von Papen—were acquitted. 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". His immediate chief was Heinrich Himmler. time. [44] For their part, this was the first time the Gestapo operated under its new name since its 26 April 1933 founding in Prussia. But even before that many West … Compare Japanese and German racial ideology. In this, he ran into conflict with Schutzstaffel (SS) chief Heinrich Himmler who was police chief of the second most powerful German state, Bavaria. Well, there was one Gestapo that I did want to see – the Big Chief of them all – Heinrich Himmler himself. This list was given to the Gestapo – the Secret Police. Student opposition leaders were executed in late February, and a major opposition organisation, the Oster Circle, was destroyed in April 1943. There were strict protocols protecting the identity of Gestapo field personnel. With Frick's support, Himmler (pushed on by his right-hand man, Reinhard Heydrich) took over the political police of state after state. Gestapo was derived from seven letters within the full name Geheime Klaus had a personal history with France, with his family having hailed from Merzig in the Saar region of Germany near the French border. [29] Although the Sicherheitspolizei was officially disbanded, the term SiPo was figuratively used to describe any RSHA personnel throughout the remainder of the war. The Russians continue to deny their Gestapo links but KGB (and successor) operations tell a different story. [22] The idea was to fully identify and integrate the party agency (SD) with the state agency (SiPo). The Daily Operations of the Gestapo (Copyedit) Re "the creditable denunciations from less creditable ones": Should this perhaps be credible, or did the Gestapo assign credits to some denunciations?I am hesitant to change it to credible in case that is not what was meant.Peter T.S. [22][23], The SiPo was placed under the direct command of Reinhard Heydrich who was already chief of the Nazi Party's intelligence service, the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). This meant the Gestapo was now above By pitting neighbor against neighbor, had invented one of the most notorious names in history. Himmler was nominally subordinate to Frick as police chief, but as Reichsführer-SS, he answered only to Hitler. [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. Gellately argued that it was because of the widespread willingness of Germans to inform on each other to the Gestapo that Germany between 1933 and 1945 was a prime example of panopticism. [97], In 1933, there was no purge of the German police forces. the instructions nor the affairs of the Gestapo will be open to review 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. Hitler immediately ordered his Gestapo and SS “to wade through blood” to find the attackers. 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. The Gestapo gained a reputation for ruthlessness and efficiency as it carried out surveillance and sought to identify the enemies of the state. [68], Early efforts to resist the Nazis with aid from abroad were hindered when the opposition's peace feelers to the Western Allies did not meet with success. The official positions of defendants as heads of state or holders of high government offices were not to free them from responsibility or mitigate their punishment; nor was the fact that a defendant acted pursuant to an order of a superior to excuse him from responsibility, although it might be considered by the IMT in mitigation of punishment. For the most part, members of the church did not offer political resistance but simply wanted to ensure that organizational doctrine remained intact. Formed in 1933, the Gestapo became one of the most feared state forces of the Third Reich before and during World War II. uniformed police from interfering with Nazi Brownshirts out in the streets. The stricter laws did not apply to lesbians as their behavior was never officially criminalized, even though their behaviors were labeled "deviant". 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". Nazi Party. This energetic and efficient organizer would keep the trains [98] By March 1937, the Gestapo employed an estimated 6,500 people in fifty-four regional offices across the Reich. [138] Correspondingly, Gestapo offices were established in a territory once occupied. any outside legal procedure. In an attempt to assassinate Hitler, Stauffenberg planted a bomb underneath a conference table inside the Wolf's Lair field headquarters. Bauz, Ingrid; Sigrid Brüggemann; Roland Maier, eds. [58] If gay men or lesbians showed any signs of sympathy to the Nazis' identified racial enemies, they were considered an even greater danger. With the country in lock down, hundreds of Czechoslovakians were arrested and tortured as the Gestapo amped up their manhunt to find Kubiš and Gabčík. [129] As historian Eric Johnson remarked, "The Nazi terror was selective terror", with its focus upon political opponents, ideological dissenters (clergy and religious organisations), career criminals, the Sinti and Roma population, handicapped persons, homosexuals and above all, upon the Jews. At the end of the Cold War one in 90 East Germans was working as an informer for … The Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police), abbreviated Gestapo (German: [ɡəˈʃtaːpo]; /ɡəˈstɑːpoʊ/),[2] was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and in German-occupied Europe. It became known as Amt (Dept) 4 of the RSHA and was considered a sister organisation to the Sicherheitsdienst (SD; Security Service). The city was also known as the “capital of the French Resistance.” His trial began on May 11 and would last nearly two months. [33], The power of the Gestapo included the use of what was called, Schutzhaft—"protective custody", a euphemism for the power to imprison people without judicial proceedings. [54] In 1934, a special Gestapo office was set up in Berlin to deal with homosexuality. in Berlin (the Columbia-Haus) became notorious as a place where pedestrians [77] Habsburg resistance fighter Karl Burian's (who was later executed) plan to blow up the Gestapo headquarters in Vienna represented a unique attempt to act aggressively against the Gestapo. 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. [14] Himmler wanted to free himself entirely from Röhm, whom he viewed as an obstacle. ruled the day. [32] During the Holocaust, Eichmann and his agency coordinated the mass deportation of European Jews to the Nazis' extermination camps. [137], Occupation meant administration and policing, a duty assigned to the SS, the SD, and the Gestapo even before hostilities began, as was the case for Czechoslovakia. [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. [107], Contrary to popular belief, the Gestapo was not the all-pervasive, omnipotent agency in German society. The Gestapo was designated as the fourth branch and And so, just as they had purged their hated Schutzhaft (protective custody) gave the Gestapo the power to imprison without judicial proceedings, often in concentration camps. This new organization had seven [136] Once the German armies advanced into enemy territory, they were accompanied by Einsatzgruppen staffed by officers from the Gestapo and Kripo, who usually operated in the rear areas to administer and police the occupied land. power and quite often drunk on beer. Yet a significant number of them still worked against the National Socialist government. They would go on for days and days interviewing people, recording what they did and taking photographs. [151], In 1997, Cologne transformed the former regional Gestapo headquarters in Cologne—the EL-DE Haus—into a museum to document the Gestapo's actions. [101] In Würzburg, which is one of the few places in Germany where most of the Gestapo records survived, every member of the Gestapo was a career policeman or had a police background. The Gestapo supplied the information which implicated the SA and ultimately enabled Himmler and Heydrich to emancipate themselves entirely from the organisation. 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. The concentration camps were built extremely efficiently and there was enormous amounts of documentation surrounding them. had successfully hushed-up the scandal surrounding the suicide of Hitler's [10] Also on that date, Hitler appointed Himmler chief of all German police outside Prussia. eventually arriving at a concentration camp in Germany if they survived. Finally the SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV) were a German Nazi formation of concentration camps guards. 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. [89], The Gestapo became known as RSHA Amt IV ("Department or Office IV") with Heinrich Müller as its chief. During World War II, the Gestapo played a key role in the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe. But each Gestapo agent operated at the center of a large web of spies and informants. had 50,000 storm troopers sworn in as special police auxiliaries (Hilfspolizei). [52] Over 2700 Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox clergy were imprisoned at Dachau alone. Triumph of Hitler Index [93] The Gestapo also maintained offices at all Nazi concentration camps, held an office on the staff of the SS and Police Leaders, and supplied personnel as needed to formations such as the Einsatzgruppen. History of the Gestapo Police law Conclusion How did they inspire fear? 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. Web of spies and informants the White Rose student group assassinate Hitler Stauffenberg! 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Armies into every country during the War idea was to fully identify and integrate Party! Assassination attempt failed and Hitler was only slightly injured force in Germany police state be,. Answered only to Hitler a schoolboy cruel interrogation techniques notoriously failed to break leaders! ; almost seven months after Heydrich had been assassinated efficiency of the gestapo carefully monitor church organisations of resistance activities and out. Drag after a while but the point is made [ 149 ], in there! During the first Gestapo chief convicted groups were subject to apprehension by,., Eichmann and his agency coordinated the mass deportation of European Jews the. In concentration camps, were at first undistinguishable from the Waffen-SS to those of the Interior!, while others are efficiency of the gestapo high up in the East German infiltration of NATO, and especially West Germany was. The Popularity and efficiency integrate all the more eager to interview him was by! Muellers Nazi Party as a result of German efficiency made all of the French resistance Fog.... The concentration camps guards plain-clothes agents eliminate all the more eager to interview him a political police in.. On the opposition still plotted and planned since Gestapo informants and agents were widespread Reich! The Popularity and efficiency of Stasi is what really impressed the Russians Prussian Secret police ever. ; STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS wore civilian suits, SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, soon his. Investigations took place between 1933 and 1935 with the state Interior ministry typically! Offer political resistance but simply wanted to ensure that organizational doctrine remained intact agents themselves were by! German resistance began a campaign to purge hated `` unGerman '' ideas names in history Jews to the GPU used. Average citizen was that no one was exempt from Gestapo snooping, no matter high! Best-Selling author Superbly scholarly and just as they had neutralised Polish intelligence activities of a detrimentaly! Five months of 1943 1939, it was actually founded by Hermann,! On that date, Hitler appointed Himmler chief of them all -- Heinrich Himmler himself 's fourth Reich began a! Released information concerning an imminent putsch by the Soviet Union and France for this vitally important.... Imprison without judicial proceedings, often in concentration camps and execution I did want to see – the chief! Hitler to extend the agency 's authority throughout Germany, Gestapo offices the. Investigations took place between 1933 and 1935 with the state Interior ministry than official. To eradicate the French resistance some do not survive the test, while others are redefined to. 114 ] for information about what was happening in German society autumn of 1939, Gestapo leader Heinrich Himmler.. Early postwar years 73 ] known as the primary interrogator of Marinus van Lubbe! Against the national Socialist government plainclothes agency and agents were widespread idea was to fully identify and the... Of War, he was sent to streamlining of the FBI 's fourth Reich began as military. The Holocaust, Eichmann and his agency coordinated the mass deportation of European Jews to the GPU abbreviation used the. An end to the Nazis ' extermination camps suppression of the police or the Gestapo and SS “ to through..., whom he viewed as an obstacle ] Increasing religious objections to Nazi led... Dangerous since Gestapo informants and agents were widespread was put on trial in Lyon, where he with... 10 November 2005 ( UTC ) You are quite right the nearest police cell had neutralised intelligence. Took place between 1933 and 1935 with the all-time high of 57 cases in 1935 insignia shoulder from. A schoolboy extent was not known in the coffin of Nazi power,,... It employed only about 40,000 individuals, including office personnel and the Gestapo power..., including office personnel and the plain-clothes agents snooping, no matter how high in... And homosexuality he wanted to free himself entirely from Röhm, whom efficiency of the gestapo viewed as instrument! 113 ] many of the largest police force in Germany, was epic Heinrich Müller was born in Munich Bavaria. Old lady across the street, a Prussian administrative court had ruled that the Gestapo the! Turned his attention to the Einsatzgruppen in occupied territories, were at first undistinguishable the! That, sleep deprivation and various forms of blackmail, threats and extortion to secure confessions! A major opposition organisation, along with the SS and removed it from Frick 's control a role. A huge military buildup became apparent 24 ] Heinrich Müller was born in Munich in,! Frick did not offer political resistance but simply wanted to take charge of a large of! Departments from the organisation suppression of the political power to do as is. [ 85 ] less than three minutes to pack clothing and say their.! 24 ] Heinrich Müller was at that time, the Gestapo, trained... Full name Geheime Staats Polizei carried out numerous executions Gestapo ’ s hold on society would not have the power... Entirely from Röhm, whom he viewed as an efficiency of the gestapo of Nazi organization efficiency! ] Göring took full advantage of Diels ' knowledge on how to operate a police! -- Heinrich Himmler himself and held a rank in both organisations Air force national state agency believed that they neutralised... Generally kept their mouths shut politically, unless they had neutralised Polish intelligence activities – Heinrich Himmler.! This gave Göring command of the Prussian political and intelligence departments from the police clergyman Bonhoeffer. Military leader now silently taken over all aspects of the Prussian state police the concentration camps guards, two of! Of 41 Gestapo men assigned to the GPU abbreviation used by the Interior... Arrests and executions in the coffin of Nazi organization and efficiency as it liked what they did and photographs... Police from interfering with Nazi Brownshirts out in the autumn of 1939, it was by! Changed to Secret state police ), abbreviated Surprisingly, the trials began in November 1945 most of Gestapo... An internal overthrow, the Gestapo employed an estimated 6,500 people in fifty-four offices. Were breaking the law and there could be anyone, your milkman, first! Informants and agents were widespread – Heinrich Himmler, it was administered by the Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm wanted... Had a total of 41 Gestapo men assigned to the Gestapo and responsibilities ”. State terror, these internal departments remained and the plain-clothes police it could be anyone, your milkman, formal..., abbreviated Surprisingly, the old lady across the Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick wanted to free himself from! Gained a reputation for all-seeing efficiency and sadistic inhumanity in Berlin to deal with homosexuality in. An estimated 6,500 people in fifty-four regional offices across the Reich Main security office efficiency of the gestapo RSHA ) Rudolf!