Hitler's Enforcers: The Gestapo and the SS Security Service in the Nazi Revolution

Hitler's Enforcers: The Gestapo and the SS Security Service in the Nazi Revolution

Hitler's Enforcers: The Gestapo and the SS Security Service in the Nazi Revolution

Hitler's Enforcers: The Gestapo and the SS Security Service in the Nazi Revolution

Synopsis

This first socio-organizational history of the Gestapo, the SD, and the regular detectives of the Third Reich, 1932-1937, this book explores the roots of their roles in police terror and programs of mass murder. These personnel helped to form the character and missions of their organizations, which were not simply created from above by Hitler, Himmler, or Heydrich. Hitler's Enforcers is based on research at 34 archives in Germany and the United States, including the personnel files of over 1,000 former members, and is the first such study to benefit from the German documents captured by the Soviets and Poles and kept secret until recently.

Excerpt

In 1936, when Heinrich Himmler, already Reichsführer of the SS, became chief of all German police, he created a special branch for the detective police which he designated Security Police -- Sicherheitspolizei, or Sipo. Sipo reunited the political police, or Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei), with the regular detectives, or Kripo (Kriminalpolizei). As their chief, Himmler appointed SS General Reinhard Heydrich, who was also head of the SS Security Service, or SD (Sicherheitsdienst). Heydrich's joint command then became known as Sipo and SD, but that was much more than a logical alignment of complementary Nazi and state agencies (chart A).

In 1990, I published Foundations of the Nazi Police State: The Formation of SIPO and SD as the first part of a study of the creation of that organization and its place in the Nazi police state. I hoped to bring more serious attention to Sipo and SD -- more significant in its totality than the Gestapo, a component that has overshadowed it in popular and scholarly attention. This volume completes that study, and I hope that it will contribute to our understanding of both the Nazi experience and the emerging field of police history.

The previous book focused on the political power struggle in which the Nazi police state was created and on the goals of those who created it. Here I shall pursue, in contrast to that "history from above," an internal history, or "history from below." I concluded the first book by suggesting that "the membership of the separate agencies in Sipo and SD were bound together in an uneasy union, but in such a way as to drive them not only to fulfill their missions but also to contribute to the further growth of police-state terrorism and ultimately genocide." The peculiar relationship among the members helped draw them into their future roles. I shall pursue that theme in this volume.

Robert Gellately has noted that all studies of the Nazi police-terror system from the top down have failed to show how the terror actually . . .

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