36 Facts About Gestapo


On 20 April 1934, oversight of the Gestapo passed to the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, who was appointed Chief of German Police by Hitler in 1936.

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Gestapo originally wanted to name it the Secret Police Office, but the German initials, "GPA", were too similar to those of the Soviet State Political Directorate .

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The Gestapo supplied the information which implicated the SA and ultimately enabled Himmler and Heydrich to emancipate themselves entirely from the organisation.

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Gestapo had the authority to investigate cases of treason, espionage, sabotage and criminal attacks on the Nazi Party and Germany.

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The basic Gestapo law passed by the government in 1936 gave the Gestapo to operate without judicial review—in effect, putting it above the law.

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The Gestapo was specifically exempted from responsibility to administrative courts, where citizens normally could sue the state to conform to laws.

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The SS officer Werner Best, one-time 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".

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The Gestapo became of RSHA and Muller became the Gestapo Chief, with Heydrich as his immediate superior.

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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.

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Early in the regime's existence, harsh measures were meted out to political opponents and those who resisted Nazi doctrine, such as members of the Communist Party of Germany ; a role originally performed by the SA until the SD and Gestapo undermined their influence and took control of Reich security.

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In 1934, a special Gestapo office was set up in Berlin to deal with homosexuality.

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One of the methods employed by the Gestapo to contend with these resistance factions was 'protective detention' which facilitated the process in expediting dissenters to concentration camps and against which there was no legal defence.

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Reports indicate that the Gestapo was caught unaware of this plot as they did not have sufficient protections in place at the appropriate locations nor did they take any preventative steps.

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The Gestapo cracked down ruthlessly on dissidents in Germany, just as they did everywhere else.

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Less than two weeks later in early May 1933, the Gestapo moved into their Berlin headquarters at Prinz-Albrecht-Straße 8.

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Gestapo became known as RSHA with Heinrich Muller as its chief.

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However, these internal departments remained and the Gestapo continued to be a department under the RSHA umbrella.

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The Gestapo 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.

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In Wurzburg, 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.

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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.

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Over time, membership in the Gestapo included ideological training, particularly once Werner Best assumed a leading role for training in April 1936.

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Gestapo'storian George C Browder contends that there was a four-part process in effect which legitimised the psycho-social atmosphere conditioning members of the Gestapo to radicalised violence.

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Browder 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.

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Contrary to popular belief, the Gestapo was not the all-pervasive, omnipotent agency in German society.

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The majority of Gestapo informers were not full-term employees working undercover, but were rather ordinary citizens who chose to denounce other people to the Gestapo.

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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.

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For information about what was happening in German society, the Gestapo continued to be mostly dependent upon denunciations.

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Much like their affiliated organisations, 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.

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Whenever a region came fully under German military occupational jurisdiction, the Gestapo administered all executive actions under the military commander's authority, albeit operating relatively independent of it.

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Correspondingly, Gestapo offices were established in a territory once occupied.

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Many of the auxiliary police personnel operating on behalf of German Order Police, the SD, and Gestapo were members of the, which included staffing by Ukrainians, Belorussians, Russians, Estonians, Lithuanians, and Latvians.

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In places like Denmark, there were some 550 uniformed Danes in Copenhagen working with the Gestapo, patrolling and terrorising the local population at the behest of their German overseers, many of whom were arrested after the war.

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At that time, the Gestapo was condemned as a criminal organisation, along with the SS.

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Gestapo was a secretive plainclothes agency and agents typically wore civilian suits.

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Uniforms worn by Gestapo men assigned to the in occupied territories, were at first indistinguishable from the Waffen-SS field uniform.

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Gestapo maintained police detective ranks which were used for all officers, both those who were and who were not concurrently SS members.

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