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Gestapo

Gestapo

Overview
The Gestapo was the official secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 leader Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 in his position as Chief of German Police (Chef der Deutschen Polizei). From September 1939 forward it was administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) ("Reich Main Security Office") and was considered a sister organization
Organization
An organization is a social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon - as we know `organ` - and it means a compartment for a particular job.There are a variety of legal types of...

 of the Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

(SD) ("Security Service") and also a suboffice of the Sicherheitspolizei
Sicherheitspolizei
The Sicherheitspolizei , often abbreviated as SiPo, was a term used in Nazi Germany to describe the state political and criminal investigation security agencies. It was made up by the combined forces of the Gestapo and the Kripo between 1936 and 1939...

(SiPo) ("Security Police").


As part of the deal in which Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 became Chancellor of Germany
Chancellor of Germany
The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

, Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

—future commander of the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

and an influential Nazi Party official—was named Interior Minister
Interior minister
An interior ministry is a government ministry typically responsible for policing, national security, and immigration matters. The ministry is often headed by a minister of the interior or minister of home affairs...

 of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

.
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Encyclopedia
The Gestapo was the official secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

 of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 leader Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 in his position as Chief of German Police (Chef der Deutschen Polizei). From September 1939 forward it was administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) ("Reich Main Security Office") and was considered a sister organization
Organization
An organization is a social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon - as we know `organ` - and it means a compartment for a particular job.There are a variety of legal types of...

 of the Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

(SD) ("Security Service") and also a suboffice of the Sicherheitspolizei
Sicherheitspolizei
The Sicherheitspolizei , often abbreviated as SiPo, was a term used in Nazi Germany to describe the state political and criminal investigation security agencies. It was made up by the combined forces of the Gestapo and the Kripo between 1936 and 1939...

(SiPo) ("Security Police").

History



As part of the deal in which Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 became Chancellor of Germany
Chancellor of Germany
The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

, Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

—future commander of the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

and an influential Nazi Party official—was named Interior Minister
Interior minister
An interior ministry is a government ministry typically responsible for policing, national security, and immigration matters. The ministry is often headed by a minister of the interior or minister of home affairs...

 of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

. This gave him command of the largest police force in Germany. Soon afterward, Göring detached the political and intelligence departments from the police and filled their ranks with Nazis. On April 26, 1933, Göring merged the two units as the Gestapo. He originally wanted to name it the Secret Police Office , but discovered the German initials "GPA" would be too similar to the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 GPU
State Political Directorate
The State Political Directorate was the secret police of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and the Soviet Union from 1922 until 1934...

.

Its first commander was Rudolf Diels
Rudolf Diels
Rudolf Diels was a German politician and SS-Oberführer. A protégé of Hermann Göring, Diels was in charge of the Gestapo from 1933 to 1934....

, a protégé of Göring. Diels was best known as the primary interrogator of Marinus van der Lubbe
Marinus van der Lubbe
Marinus van der Lubbe was a Dutch council communist convicted of, and controversially executed for, setting fire to the German Reichstag building on February 27, 1933, an event known as the Reichstag fire. ....

 after the Reichstag fire
Reichstag fire
The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The event is seen as pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany....

. The Reich Interior Minister, Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick was a prominent German Nazi official serving as Minister of the Interior of the Third Reich. After the end of World War II, he was tried for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials and executed...

, wanted to integrate all the police forces of the German states in late 1933. Göring outflanked him by removing the Prussian political and intelligence departments from the state interior ministry. Göring himself took over the Gestapo in 1934 and urged Hitler to extend the agency's authority throughout Germany. This represented a radical departure from German tradition, which held that law enforcement was (mostly) a Land (state) and local matter. In this, he ran into conflict with Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, who was police chief of the second most powerful German state, Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

. Frick did not have the muscle to take on Göring himself so he allied with Himmler and Heydrich. With Frick's support, Himmler (pushed on by his right hand man, Heydrich) took over the political police of state after state. Soon only Prussia was left.

On April 20, 1934, Göring and Himmler agreed to put aside their differences—largely because of mutual hatred and growing dread of the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

(SA)—and Göring transferred full authority over the Gestapo to Himmler, who was at that time also named chief of all German police forces outside Prussia. Himmler named Heydrich the head of the Gestapo on 22 April 1934. Himmler was later named the chief of all German police on 17 June 1936. At that point, the Gestapo became a national state agency rather than a Prussian state agency. It was incorporated together with the Kripo or Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police) into the SiPo or Sicherheitspolizei
Sicherheitspolizei
The Sicherheitspolizei , often abbreviated as SiPo, was a term used in Nazi Germany to describe the state political and criminal investigation security agencies. It was made up by the combined forces of the Gestapo and the Kripo between 1936 and 1939...

(Security Police), and considered a complementary organization to the SS Security Service, the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

 was head of both the SiPo (Gestapo & Kripo) and SD. Heinrich Müller, was the chief of operations of the Gestapo. He answered to Heydrich; Heydrich answered only to Himmler; and Himmler answered only to Hitler. The joint command of the SS and Gestapo effectively removed it from the oversight of Frick, who as interior minister would have normally been Himmler's superior.
The Gestapo had the authority to investigate cases of treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, espionage
Espionage
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

, sabotage
Sabotage
Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is...

 and criminal attacks on the Nazi Party and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. The basic Gestapo law passed by the government in 1936 gave the Gestapo carte blanche to operate without judicial oversight
Judicial review
Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

. The Gestapo was specifically exempted from responsibility to administrative courts, where citizens normally could sue
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

 the state to conform to laws. As early as 1935, however, a Prussian administrative court had ruled that the Gestapo's actions were not subject to judicial review. The SS officer Werner Best
Werner Best
Dr. Werner Best was a German Nazi, jurist, police chief, SS-Obergruppenführer and Nazi Party leader from Darmstadt, Hesse. He studied law and in 1927 obtained his doctorate degree at Heidelberg...

, onetime head of legal affairs in the Gestapo, summed up this policy by saying, "As long as the police carries out the will of the leadership, it is acting legally." A further law passed later in the year gave the Gestapo responsibility for setting up and administering concentration camps.

In September 1939, the security and police agencies of Nazi Germany—with the exception of the Ordnungspolizei
Ordnungspolizei
The Ordnungspolizei or Orpo were the uniformed regular police force in Nazi Germany between 1936 and 1945. It was increasingly absorbed into the Nazi police system. Owing to their green uniforms, they were also referred to as Grüne Polizei...

(or Orpo, regular uniformed police) —were consolidated into the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA
RSHA
The RSHA, or Reichssicherheitshauptamt was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei and Reichsführer-SS...

), headed by Heydrich. The Gestapo became Amt IV (Department IV) of RSHA and Müller became the Gestapo Chief, with Heydrich as his immediate superior. After Heydrich's 1942 assassination, Himmler assumed the leadership of the RSHA, but in January 1943 Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner was an Austrian-born senior official of Nazi Germany during World War II. Between January 1943 and May 1945, he held the offices of Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt , President of Interpol and, as a Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS, he was the...

 was appointed Chief of the RSHA. Müller remained the Gestapo Chief, a position he occupied until the end of the war. Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Otto Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust...

 was Müller's direct subordinate and head of Department IV, Section B4, which dealt with Jews.

The power of the Gestapo most open to misuse was called Schutzhaft—"protective custody", a euphemism
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

 for the power to imprison people without judicial proceedings. An oddity of the system was that the prisoner had to sign his own Schutzhaftbefehl, an order declaring that the person had requested imprisonment—presumably out of fear of personal harm (which, in a way, was true). In addition, thousands of political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s throughout Germany—and from 1941, throughout the occupied territories under the Night and Fog Decree—simply disappeared
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

 while in Gestapo custody.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Gestapo was expanded to around 46,000 members.

Student opposition


Between June 1942 and March 1943, student protests were calling for an end to the Nazi regime. These included the non-violent resistance of Hans
Hans Scholl
Hans Fritz Scholl was a founding member of the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany.-Biography:...

 and Sophie Scholl
Sophie Scholl
Sophia Magdalena Scholl was a German student, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans...

, two leaders of the White Rose
White Rose
The White Rose was a non-violent/intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor...

 student group. 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. In fact, reprisals did come in response to the protests. Fearful of an internal overthrow, the forces of Himmler and the Gestapo were unleashed on the opposition. The first five months of 1943 witnessed thousands of arrests and executions as the Gestapo exercised their powers over the German public. Student opposition leaders were executed in late February, and a major opposition organization, the Oster Circle
Hans Oster
Hans Oster was a German Army general, deputy head of the Abwehr under Wilhelm Canaris, and an opponent of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He was a leading figure of the German resistance from 1938 to 1943.-Early career:...

, was destroyed in April, 1943.

The German opposition was in an unenviable position by the late spring and early summer of 1943. On one hand, it was next to impossible for them to overthrow Hitler and the party; on the other, the Allied demand for an unconditional surrender meant no opportunity for a compromise peace, which left the people no option (in their eyes) other than continuing the military struggle.

Nevertheless, some Germans did speak out and show signs of protest during the summer of 1943. Despite fear of the Gestapo after the mass arrests and executions of the spring, the opposition still plotted and planned. Some Germans were convinced that it was their duty to apply all possible expedients to end the war as quickly as possible; that is, to further the German defeat by all available means. The Gestapo cracked down ruthlessly on the dissidents in Germany, just as they did everywhere else.

In June, July and August, the Gestapo continued to move swiftly against the opposition, rendering any organized opposition impossible. Arrests and executions were common. Terror against the people had become a way of life. A second major reason was that the opposition's peace feelers to the Western Allies did not meet with success.

This was partly because of the aftermath of the Venlo incident
Venlo Incident
The Venlo Incident was a covert German Sicherheitsdienst engineered capture of two British SIS agents on 9 November 1939....

 of 1939, when SD and Gestapo agents posing as anti-Nazis in the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 kidnapped two British Secret Intelligence Service
Secret Intelligence Service
The Secret Intelligence Service is responsible for supplying the British Government with foreign intelligence. Alongside the internal Security Service , the Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence Intelligence , it operates under the formal direction of the Joint Intelligence...

 (SIS) officers lured to a meeting to discuss peace terms. That prompted Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 to ban any further contact with the German opposition. In addition, the British and Americans did not want to deal with anti-Nazis because they were fearful that the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 would believe they were attempting to make deals behind the Soviets' back.

Nuremberg Trials


Between 14 November 1945 and 3 October 1946, the Allies established an International Military Tribunal (IMT) to try 22 of 24 major Nazi war criminals and six groups for crimes against peace, war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s and crimes against humanity. Nineteen of the 22 were convicted, and nine of them were given the death penalty; others got a life term. At this time, the Gestapo was condemned as a criminal organization.

Leaders, organisers, investigators and accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit the crimes specified were declared responsible for all acts performed by any persons in execution of such plan. 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.

At the trial of any individual member of any group or organisation, the IMT was authorised to declare (in connection with any act of which the individual was convicted) that the group or organisation to which he belonged was a criminal organization. When a group or organization was thus declared criminal, the competent national authority of any signatory had the right to bring persons to trial for membership in that organisation, with the criminal nature of the group or organisation assumed proved.

These groups—the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 party and government leadership, the German General Staff and High Command
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

 (OKW); the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

(SA); the Schutzstaffel
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

(SS), including the Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

(SD); and the Gestapo—had an aggregate membership exceeding two million, making a large number of their members liable to trial if the organisations were convicted.

The trials began in November 1945. On October 1, 1946, the IMT rendered its judgement on 21 top officials of the Third Reich: 18 were sentenced to death or to long prison terms, and three acquitted. The IMT also convicted three of the groups: the Nazi leadership corps, the SS (including the SD) and the Gestapo. Gestapo members Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 and Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Arthur Seyss-Inquart was a Chancellor of Austria, lawyer and later Nazi official in pre-Anschluss Austria, the Third Reich and for wartime Germany in Poland and the Netherlands...

 were individually convicted.

Three groups were acquitted of collective war crimes charges, but this did not relieve individual members of those groups from conviction and punishment under the denazification
Denazification
Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology. It was carried out specifically by removing those involved from positions of influence and by disbanding or rendering...

 programme. Members of the three convicted groups were subject to apprehension by Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Moreover, even though individual members of the convicted groups might be acquitted of war crimes, they still remained subject to trial under the denazification
Denazification
Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology. It was carried out specifically by removing those involved from positions of influence and by disbanding or rendering...

 programme.

Aftermath


In 1997, Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 transformed the former regional Gestapo headquarters in Cologne—the EL-DE Haus
EL-DE Haus
EL-DE Haus, officially the Nazism Documentation Center, located in Cologne, is the former headquarters of the Gestapo and now a museum documenting the Third Reich....

—into a museum to document the Gestapos actions.

Organization



From its conception, the Gestapo was a well established bureaucratic mechanism, having been created from the Prussian Secret Police
Prussian Secret Police
The Prussian Secret Police was the state police agency of the German state of Prussia in the 19th century and early 20th century.In 1851 Police Union of German States was set up by the police forces of Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, Baden, and Württemberg...

. In 1936, the Gestapo was transferred from the Prussian Interior Ministry to the Reich Interior Ministry and was combined with the Kripo to form the SiPo, Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police). However, it was only nominally under the control of the Interior Ministry with actual control by the SS.

Over the next five years, the Gestapo underwent considerable expansion, and in the autumn of 1939 the SiPo together with the SD were placed under the authority of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), the Reich Main Security Office, all under Heydrich until his death in 1942 and then under Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner was an Austrian-born senior official of Nazi Germany during World War II. Between January 1943 and May 1945, he held the offices of Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt , President of Interpol and, as a Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS, he was the...

. Within the RSHA, the Gestapo was known as Amt IV ("Dept. or Office IV") with Müller the Chief. The internal organisation of the group is outlined below.

Referat N: Central Intelligence Office


The Central Command Office of the Gestapo formed in 1941. Before 1939, the Gestapo command was under the authority of the office of the Sicherheitspolizei
Sicherheitspolizei
The Sicherheitspolizei , often abbreviated as SiPo, was a term used in Nazi Germany to describe the state political and criminal investigation security agencies. It was made up by the combined forces of the Gestapo and the Kripo between 1936 and 1939...

(SiPo). The Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

(SS Security Service) or SD envied the power of the Gestapo and the Gestapo did not care for what it saw as interference from SD agents. Later after September 1939 the Gestapo was run directly through the overall command of the RSHA. However, after Heydrich's death in June 1942, and as the war progressed, Müller's power and the independence grew substantially. This trickled down the chain of his subordinates, such as the commanding general of this office. It led to much more independence of action.

Department A (Enemies)

  • Communists (A1)
  • Counter Sabotage (A2)
  • Reactionaries and Liberals (A3)
  • Assassinations (A4)

Department B (Sects and Churches)

  • Catholics (B1)
  • Protestants (B2)
  • Freemasons (B3)
  • Jews (B4)

Department C (Administration and Party Affairs)


The central administrative office of the Gestapo, responsible for card files of all personnel including all officials.

Department D (Occupied Territories)


A repeat of departments A and B for use outside the Reich.
  • Opponents of the Regime (D1)
  • Churches and Sects (D2)

Department E (Counterintelligence)

  • In the Reich (E1)
  • Policy Formation (E2)
  • In the West (E3)
  • In Scandinavia (E4)
  • In the East (E5)
  • In the South (E6)

Local offices


The local offices of the Gestapo, known as Stapostellen and Stapoleitstellen, answered to a local commander known as the Inspekteur der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD ("Inspector of the Security Police and Security Service") who, in turn, was under the dual command of Referat N of the Gestapo and also his local SS and Police Leader
SS and Police Leader
SS and Police Leader was a title for senior Nazi officials that commanded large units of the SS, of Gestapo and of the regular German police during and prior to World War II.Three levels of subordination were established for bearers of this title:...

. The classic image of the Gestapo officer, dressed in trench coat
Trench coat
A trench coat or trenchcoat is a raincoat made of waterproof heavy-duty cotton drill or poplin, wool gabardine, or leather. It generally has a removable insulated lining; and it is usually knee-length.-History:...

 and hat
Hat
A hat is a head covering. It can be worn for protection against the elements, for ceremonial or religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status...

, can be attributed to Gestapo offices in German cities and larger towns. This image seems to have been popularized by the assassination of the former Chancellor General Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher was a German general and the last Chancellor of Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. Seventeen months after his resignation, he was assassinated by order of his successor, Adolf Hitler, in the Night of the Long Knives....

 in 1934. General von Schleicher and his wife were gunned down in their Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 home by three men dressed in black trench coats and wearing black fedoras. The killers of General von Schleicher were widely believed to have been Gestapo men. At a press conference held later the same day, Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 was asked by foreign correspondents to respond to a hot rumour that General von Schleicher had been murdered in his home. Göring stated that the Gestapo had attempted to arrest Schleicher, but that he had been "shot while attempting to escape".

Auxiliary duties


The Gestapo also maintained offices at all Nazi concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

, held an office on the staff of the SS and Police Leaders, and supplied personnel as needed to formations such as the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

. Personnel assigned to these auxiliary duties were often removed from the Gestapo chain of command and fell under the authority of branches of the SS.

Ranks


The Gestapo maintained police detective ranks which were used for all officers, both those who were and who were not concurrently SS members.
Agents Administrators Orpo Equivalent SS Equivalent
Kriminalassistentanwärter Wachtmeister Unterscharführer
Kriminalassistent auf Probe Oberwachtmeister Scharführer
Kriminalassistent Revieroberwachtmeister Oberscharführer
Kriminaloberassistent Hauptwachtmeister Hauptscharführer
Meister Sturmscharführer
Kriminalkomissar auf Probe Kriminalsekretär Leutnant d. Polizei Untersturmführer
Kriminalkomissar
Kriminalinspektor auf Probe
Kriminalobersekretär Oberleutnant d. Polizei Obersturmführer
Kriminalinspektor
Kriminalrat auf Probe
Kriminalassessor Hauptmann d. Polizei Hauptsturmführer
Kriminalrat Regierungs- und Kriminalrat
Kriminaldirektor
Major d. Polizei Sturmbannführer
Oberregierungs- u. Kriminalrat Oberstleutnant d. Polizei Obersturmbannführer
Regierungs- u. Kriminaldirektor
Reichskriminaldirektor
Oberst d. Polizei Standartenführer

Membership of the Gestapo


In 1933, there was no purge of the German police forces. The vast majority of Gestapo officers came from the police forces of the Weimar Republic, members of the SS, the SA, and the NSDAP also joined the Gestapo. In 1939, only 3,000 out of the total of 20,000 Gestapo men held SS ranks, and in most cases, these were honorary. One man who served in the Prussian Gestapo in 1933 recalled that most of his co-workers "were by no means Nazis. For the most part they were young professional civil service officers..." The Nazis valued police competence more than politics, so in general in 1933, almost all of the men who served in the various state police forces under the Weimar Republic stayed on in their jobs. In Würzburg
Würzburg
Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia which lies in the northern tip of Bavaria, Germany. Located at the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Lower Franconia. The regional dialect is Franconian....

, 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 Canadian historian Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately is a Newfoundland-born Canadian academic who is one of the leading historians of modern Europe, particularly during World War II and the Cold War era. He is presently Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University....

 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.

Uniforms



Before their 1939 amalgamation into the RSHA, the Gestapo and Kripo were plainclothes police agencies and had no uniforms. Although individual Gestapo officers could and did join the Allgemeine-SS or other Party organizations, those uniforms would not have been worn on duty.

From June 1936, a concerted effort was made to recruit policemen of the SiPo into the SS, and SS members into the Kripo and especially the Gestapo. With the formation of RSHA in September 1939, Gestapo officers who were also SS members began to wear the wartime grey SS uniform
Uniforms and insignia of the Schutzstaffel
The uniforms and insignia of the Schutzstaffel were paramilitary ranks and uniforms used by the SS between 1925 and 1945 to differentiate that organization from the regular German armed forces, the German state, and the Nazi Party....

 when on duty in the Hauptamt or regional headquarters (Abschnitte). Hollywood notwithstanding, after 1939 the sinister black uniform was only worn by Allgemeine-SS reservists; it was abolished in 1942. Outside the central offices, Gestapo agents working out of the Stapostellen and Stapoleitstellen continued to wear civilian suits in keeping with the secret, plainclothes nature of their work.

There were in fact very strict protocols protecting the identity of Gestapo field personnel. In most cases, when asked for identification, an operative was only required to present his warrant disc. This identified the operative as Gestapo without revealing personal identity and agents—except when ordered to do so by an authorized official—were not required to show picture identification, something all non-Gestapo people were expected to do.

Beginning in 1940, the grey SS uniform was worn by Gestapo in occupied countries, even those who were not actually SS members, because agents in civilian clothes had been shot by members of the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

thinking that they were partisans.

Unlike the rest of the SS, the right-side collar patch of the RSHA was plain black without insignia, as was the uniform cuffband. Gestapo agents in uniform did not wear SS shoulderboards, but rather police-pattern shoulderboards
Ranks and insignia of the Ordnungspolizei
The Ranks and insignia of the Ordnungspolizei developed in 1936 after the nationalization of Germany's regular police forces.- Ordnungspolizei Rank Titles :...

 piped or underlaid in "poison green". A diamond-shaped black patch with "SD" in white was worn on the lower left sleeve even by SiPo men who were not actually in the SD. Sometimes this Raute was piped in white; there is some debate over whether this may or may not have indicated Gestapo personnel.

Daily operations


Contrary to popular belief, the Gestapo was not the all-pervasive, omnipotent agency in German society. In Germany proper, many towns and cities had fewer than 50 official Gestapo personnel. For example, in 1939 Stettin and Frankfurt am Main only had a total of 41 Gestapo men combined. In Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

, the local Gestapo office of only 281 men were responsible for the entire Lower Rhine region, which comprised 4 million people. "V-men", as undercover Gestapo agents were known, were used to infiltrate Social Democratic
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 and Communist
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 opposition groups, but this was more the exception, not the rule. The Gestapo office in Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken is the capital of the state of Saarland in Germany. The city is situated at the heart of a metropolitan area that borders on the west on Dillingen and to the north-east on Neunkirchen, where most of the people of the Saarland live....

 had 50 full-term informers in 1939. The District Office in Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

, which had the responsibility for all of northern Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 employed a total of 80–100 full-term informers between 1943 and 1945. The vast majority of Gestapo informers were not full-term informers working undercover, but were rather ordinary citizens who for whatever reason chose to denounce those they knew to the Gestapo.

According to Canadian historian Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately is a Newfoundland-born Canadian academic who is one of the leading historians of modern Europe, particularly during World War II and the Cold War era. He is presently Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University....

's analysis of the local offices established, the Gestapo was—for the most part—made up of bureaucrats and clerical workers who depended upon denunciations by citizens for their information. 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
Panopticism
Panopticism is a social theory originally developed by French philosopher Michel Foucault in his book, Discipline and Punish.-Background:...

. Indeed, the Gestapo—at times—was overwhelmed with denunciations and most of its time was spent sorting out the credible from the less credible denunciations. Many of the local offices were understaffed and overworked, struggling with the paper load caused by so many denunciations. Gellately has also suggested that the Gestapo was "a reactive organization" that "...which was constructed within German society and whose functioning was structurally dependent on the continuing co-operation of German citizens".

After 1939, when many Gestapo personnel were called up for war-related work such as service with the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

, the level of overwork and understaffing at the local offices increased. For information about what was happening in German society, the Gestapo continued to be mostly dependent upon denunciations. 80% of all Gestapo investigations were started in response to information provided by denunciations by ordinary Germans; while 10% were started in response in to information provided by other branches of the German government and another 10% started in response to information that the Gestapo itself unearthed.

Thus, it was ordinary Germans by their willingness to denounce one another who supplied the Gestapo with the information that determined whom the Gestapo arrested. The popular picture of the Gestapo with its spies everywhere terrorizing German society has been rejected by many historians as a myth invented after the war as a cover for German society's widespread complicity in allowing the Gestapo to work. Work done by social historians
Social history
Social history, often called the new social history, is a branch of History that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life. In its "golden age" it was a major growth field in the 1960s and 1970s among scholars, and still is well represented in history departments...

 such as Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert was a German historian, noted for his studies of the relationship between what he called the "spirit of science" and the Holocaust and in social history and the Weimar Republic. Peukert taught modern history at the University of Essen and served as director of the Research Institute...

, Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately is a Newfoundland-born Canadian academic who is one of the leading historians of modern Europe, particularly during World War II and the Cold War era. He is presently Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University....

, 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 Gestapos 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. For example, of the 84 cases in Würzburg
Würzburg
Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia which lies in the northern tip of Bavaria, Germany. Located at the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk Lower Franconia. The regional dialect is Franconian....

 of rassenschande
Rassenschande
Rassenschande or Blutschande was the Nazi term for sexual relations between Aryans and non-Aryans, which was punishable by law...

(race defilement) as sex with Jews were known under the Nuremberg Laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

, 45 (54%) were started in response to denunciations by ordinary people, two (2%) by information provided by other branches of the government, 20 (24%) via information gained during interrogations of people relating to other matters, four (5%) from information from (Nazi) NSDAP organizations, two (2%) during "political evaluations" and 11 (13%) have no source listed while none were started by Gestapos own "observations" of the people of Würzburg.

An examination of 213 denunciations in Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

 showed that 37% were motivated by personal conflicts, no motive could be established in 39%, and 24% were motivated by support for the Nazi regime. The Gestapo always showed a special interest in denunciations concerning sexual matters, especially cases concerning rassenschande with Jews or between Germans and Polish slave workers; Jews and Catholicism and homosexuality. As time went by, anonymous denunciations to the Gestapo caused trouble to various NSDAP officials, who often found themselves being investigated by the Gestapo.

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. Most of the political investigations took place between 1933-35 with the all time high of 57 cases in 1935. 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. The "other" category associated with non-conformity included everything from a man who drew a caricature of Hitler to a Catholic teacher suspected of being lukewarm about teaching National Socialism in his classroom. The "administrative control" category concerned whose were breaking the law concerning residency in the city. The "conventional criminality" category concerned economic crimes such as money laundering, smuggling and homosexuality.

Normal methods of investigation included various forms of blackmail, threats and extortion to secure "confessions". Beyond that, sleep deprivation and various forms of harassment were used as investigative methods. Failing that, torture and planting evidence were common methods of resolving a case, especially if the case concerned someone Jewish.

Cooperation with the NKVD


From the Autumn of 1939, Soviet secret police (NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

) and Gestapo closely collaborated in the aftermath of the partition of Poland. Several conferences took place (see: Gestapo-NKVD Conferences
Gestapo-NKVD Conferences
The Gestapo–NKVD conferences were a series of meetings organized in late 1939 and early 1940, whose purpose was the mutual cooperation between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union...

). Exchanges of prisoners took place as early as December 1939. In March 1940, representatives of the NKVD and Gestapo met for the third time in the best known of these conferences which lasted for one week in Zakopane
Zakopane
Zakopane , is a town in southern Poland. It lies in the southern part of the Podhale region at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. From 1975 to 1998 it was in of Nowy Sącz Province, but since 1999 it has been in Lesser Poland Province. It had a population of about 28,000 as of 2004. Zakopane is a...

, to coordinate the pacification of resistance in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 delivered hundreds of German and Austrian communists to the Gestapo, as unwanted foreigners, together with relevant documents. The Soviet-Nazi cooperation continued up to the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Counterintelligence


The Polish government in exile
Polish government in Exile
The Polish government-in-exile, formally known as the Government of the Republic of Poland in Exile , was the government in exile of Poland formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland of September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which...

 in London during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 received sensitive military information about Nazi Germany from agents and informants throughout Europe. After Germany conquered Poland in the autumn of 1939, Gestapo officials believed that they had neutralized Polish intelligence activities.

Polish Intelligence Resistance


Some of the Polish information about the movement of German police and SS units to the East during the German invasion
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in the autumn of 1941 was similar to information British intelligence secretly got through intercepting and decoding German police and SS messages sent by radio telegraphy.

In 1942, the Gestapo discovered a cache of Polish intelligence documents in Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 and were surprised to see that Polish agents and informants had been gathering detailed military information and smuggling it out to London, via Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

 and Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

. The Poles identified and tracked German military trains to the Eastern front and identified four Ordnungspolizei
Ordnungspolizei
The Ordnungspolizei or Orpo were the uniformed regular police force in Nazi Germany between 1936 and 1945. It was increasingly absorbed into the Nazi police system. Owing to their green uniforms, they were also referred to as Grüne Polizei...

("Order Police") battalions sent to conquered areas of the Soviet Union in October 1941 and engaged in war crimes and mass murder.

Polish agents also gathered detailed information about the morale of German soldiers in the East. After uncovering a sample of the information the Poles had reported, Gestapo officials concluded that Polish intelligence activity represented a very serious danger to Germany. As late as 6 June 1944, Heinrich Müller—concerned about the leakage of information to the Allies—set up a special unit called Sonderkommando Jerzy that was meant to root out the Polish intelligence network in western and southwestern Europe.

See also

  • Glossary of Nazi Germany
  • Geheime Feldpolizei
    Geheime Feldpolizei
    The ' or GFP, was the secret military police of the German Wehrmacht until the end of Second World War. These units were used to carry out plain-clothed security work in the field such as counter-espionage, counter sabotage, detection of treasonable activities, counter-propaganda and to provide...

    , the secret military police service of the Wehrmacht
    Wehrmacht
    The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

    .
  • Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism – Fascist Italy
    Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
    The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

    's civilian intelligence service
    Secret police
    Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

    .
  • Tokkō – may be thought of as Japan
    Empire of Japan
    The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

    's version of the Gestapo / NKVD
    NKVD
    The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

    .

Other meanings


Sometimes the word Gestapo is used colloquially for other organizations which are felt to be disciplinarian: see Nazism in popular culture.

Books

  • Höhne, Heinz, Der Orden unter dem Totenkopf, Verlag der Spiegel (Hamburg 1966), translated by Richard Barry as The Order of the Death's Head (1969), ISBN 0 330 02963 0.
  • Lumsden, Robin (2001). A Collector's Guide To: The Allgemeine – SS, Ian Allan Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-7110-2905-9.
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945, Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-906626-49-5.
  • Padfield, Peter (1990). Himmler: Reichsfuhrer-SS. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
  • Williams, Max (2001). Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography: Volumes 1, Ulric Publishing, ISBN 0-9537577-5-7.
  • Editors of Time-Life Books (1988). The SS: The Third Reich Series. Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books.

Journal articles

(translated as Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent? Gestapo, Society and Resistance, and included in Crew, Nazism and German Society, 1994)