23 April 2023

What is the Gestapo? – Know the function and work of this Nazi police

By Donald

The Gestapo was a political and secret police of Nazi Germany, which was responsible of protect interests of the government of Adolf Hitler and to finish off his political enemies. To carry out their investigations, they relied on surveillance, informants, home searches, and savage interrogation methods, such as torture.

One of its main functions was coordinate deportations Jews to concentration and extermination camps. In addition, they inflicted the psychology of terror on the population and, in this way, earned respect and fear from society throughout Europe.

Concept and definition of Gestapo

Its definition comes from the abbreviation of the legitimate name in German Geheime Staatspolizei, which means ‘secret state police’. It was made up of men with professional training in police careers and experts in Law. They were tasked with investigating, prosecuting, and suppressing activities they considered unacceptable.

The Gestapo was not the first political police Germany had, as there was a long history of government surveillance. Before the Nazis gained power, it was known as the Weimar Republic. Her organization was established by stateswhere each one had its own political police.

In the constitution of this time, individual rights and legal protection were guaranteed, therefore these organizations had to respect these guarantees. One of them was the right to freedom of expressionalso the autonomy of the press and even the equality of all citizens before the law.

they should stop violent attacksespecially from the Nazi and communist Party movements, but little by little these political organizations were gaining more strength, to the point that it was almost impossible to stop these massive acts.

When the Nazi Party gained power in Germany, they planned to establish a dictatorship in order to eliminate all opposition, but there were certain obstacles to establishing the Nazi political police. In the first place, because it was a decentralized body and did not report to Adolf Hitler. Second, since the constitution was still in force and had legal protections against the arbitrary actions of the police.

Therefore, emergency decrees were created to be able to transform german laws. Among these changes, the political police were freed from the limitations of the constitution and, in this way, they were allowed to carry out investigations, to be able to interrogate and arrest political opponents.

Despite the fact that most of the men who made up the Gestapo had professional training, there were many civilians who arrived through the intelligence service of the SS. These people were followers of the Nazis, with very little police knowledge, who are hired to be part of the plan of Heinrich Himmler, commander of the SS, which consisted of transforming the political police into a ideological institutiongenerator of destruction against their enemies.

What was the role of the Gestapo?

Was investigate and contain conflicts that arose against the state. These threats covered many things, from political opposition to criticism of the Nazis. The members were free to punish anyone who did not act correctly according to their beliefs.

One of the ways in which they fulfilled their duties was by making obey nazi lawalthough the Gestapo not only focused on individual people, but on groups considered as ‘racial enemies’ or ‘political’.

Now, this body began with espionage and containment work against political opponents, but when the Second World War began in 1939 it became a killing machine for the naziswhich did not have any type of legal or judicial supervision, or a manual on what procedures to follow and how to do them.

Despite the fact that their investigative work did not follow legal parameters, they received help from ordinary people such as neighbors and relatives, who used to notify them of any individual who was acting illegally. According to its parameters, this type of reports were known as ‘denuncias’ and they were usually motivated by politics, ideology or personal gain.

When carrying out investigative work, the Gestapo could carry out searches of any place they wanted, such as houses and offices. This was allowed since They didn’t need a court order. to enter properties or listen to telephone conversations.

Another of his functions was conduct interrogations, although these were done cruelly, as they resorted to intimidation as well as physical and psychological torture. Although the agents they did not kill those they arrested, people did die in their custody while they were under interrogation. In addition, they had the power to determine what would be done with the detainees.

Despite the existence of judicial bodies, they they enjoyed autonomywhere the only monitoring was obtained from within the same organization.

What were the characteristics of the Gestapo?

Although the Gestapo was created under the figure of political police, it violated all the legal parameters of the constitution, which were losing validity due to the decrees made by Adolf Hitler, generating, in this way, a convenience police which had the following characteristics:

  • It was created to protect Nazi interests.
  • counted with 32,000 troops police.
  • It was made up of career professionals, especially in the police field.
  • They had so much autonomy that even was above the law.
  • Its headquarters were in Berlin and it was called “the house of horrors”, although it should be noted that the Gestapo spread throughout Europe.
  • The most notable crimes occurred during World War II, between 1939 and 1945.
  • He joined the main office of the SS for the security of the Reich, forming part of the apparatus that I carry out the Holocaust.

Founding date of the Gestapo

It was created on April 26, 1933. Its founder was the interior minister Hermann Göring, who by means of a decree started the secret police of the Nazi State, which spread terror during the Hitler government, being its first objective remove everything that was different to Nazism.

The organization was dissolved in 1945 after the end of the war. Said dissolution was given by means of a decree by the commander of the Expeditionary Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower. At the Nuremberg trials, the Gestapo was prohibited throughout Germany for being considered a criminal organization.

What country was the Gestapo from?

From Germany, the Gestapo being the first branch of the Prussian Guard, also known as department 1A of the Prussian state police. Its headquarters were in Berlin, at Prinz-Albrecht-Straße, number 8, in a building that would have been a theater and was known as the house of horrors, since there multiple tortures were carried out on the detainees.

there was also a headquarters in Wittelsbacher PalaisBrienner Straße 50. Shortly thereafter, the Gestapo spread throughout the country and Europe.

What was the jurisdiction of the Gestapo?

At the time of its foundation, it wanted to have national jurisdiction. Its first director was Rudolf Diels, who was in charge of recruiting the members of each department. but it was not until Hermann Göring named himself Diels’ successor. as commander of the Gestapo in Prussia, where the Nazi government would be recommended to extend power beyond Prussia, to encompass all of Germany.

With the start of the war in 1939, the Gestapo was expanding its jurisdiction throughout Europe, since they were in charge of the expulsions to concentration camps and extermination. In this way they carried out gypsy arrestsJews and people of other races, applying strong repressions.

What relationship is there between the Gestapo and the SS?

At the time the Nazis seized power in Germany, various police agencies were created. The SS stands out, whose function was the direct protection of Hitler. The SD, on the other hand, were the intelligence service belonging to the SS and the Gestapo, which were in charge of defend the nazis of his political enemiesalthough over time it was acquiring more functions and permissions.

In 1934, Göring and Himmler reached an agreement to transfer the Gestapo to the SS, giving control of these two organizations to Reinhard Heydrich, appointed commander of the secret police. Shortly after the house of horrors was created In Berlin.

With the union of the two organizations, the secret police began to have the power to send people to the concentration camps and decide if they lived or not. This had the name of ‘protective custody‘, since they were allowed to pass over the judiciary, where people who were placed in this protective custody they couldn’t even consult a lawyerdefend themselves in court or appeal sentences.

In fact, many times they used this figure to annul the judicial decisions already issued, in case they considered that the imposed punishment was very lenient. This way, the Gestapo and the SS formed a single organization which had much more power.