|M. Broszat & H. Krausnick
Anatomy of the SS State
Source: M. Broszat & H. Krauszat, Anatomy of the SS State (London, 1965), pp.143-173.
Part A, B, C, D
The SS and the Police
The build-up of the Fuehrer executive began in 1933 in the political police sphere and it was here that in process of time it reached its fullest development. There was good reason for this - of all public institutions the political police was the one providing the greatest scope, or at least the most convenient justification, for secret processes, unauthorised executive measures and deviation from normal rules. As a result it was possible for a comparatively long period to conceal from the public the fact that from the outset the Third Reich political police had ceased to be a defensive governmental instrument for the protection of the State and had become an offensive instrument under the authority of the Fuehrer, for use against anything inconsistent with the Fuehrer's will or endangering the realisation of his totalitarian claim to dispose. Neither its position, its duties nor its purposes gave this political police any right to include the word "State" in its title.
The Political Police under the Weimar Republic
A highly instructive description of post-World War I development of the political police in Germany is to be found in an article by Bernhard Weiss, ex-Vice-President of the Berlin Police and one of the most vigorous and therefore most hated opponents of National Socialism. It was published in 1928 under the title Polizei und Politik [Police and Politics] and includes the following:
'When the Social Democrats came to power in Germany after the 9 November 1918 revolution, political police activity at first ceased altogether. Abolition of the political police had always been one of the planks in the Social Democrat platform. In 1911 Eugen Ernst, who had played a leading role in the Berlin Social Democrat organisation prior to the revolution and was later Berlin Police President, had produced a pamphlet entitled "police Snooping and Emergency Legislation"; he ended with the words: "Away with the secret political police, this shameful sink of the basest corruption." This was the basic principle on which Emil Eichhorn, the new People's Commissar for Public Security, dealt with Abteilung [Section] V of Police Headquarters, hitherto the authority for political police matters. Similar measures were taken in other areas of Germany where a political police force existed. By roundabout means, however, a political police was very soon reintroduced. In the case of Berlin Eichhorn himself soon realised that some police authority was required to protect the new State; he was hesitant, however, to use the old police officials for political police work and accordingly set up his own organisation, drawing his personnel from worker and soldier circles (similarly, in many provincial cities the workers' and soldiers' councils took over political police business immediately after the revolution). Eugen Ernst, Eichhorn's successor in the Berlin Police Presidency, had at one time been a violent opponent of the political police, but from the moment he took office he became convinced that the political police were indispensable. He had no scruples about manning the political police with regularly recruited police officials. In view of the Social Democrat attitude to the political police referred to above, the existence of such an organisation could not at the time (early 1919) be publicly admitted; the political police was therefore revived, not as an independent political section but as a concealed appendage to another section (Abteilung I) of Berlin Police Headquarters which ostensibly dealt with other matters. This was the origin of the notorious Abteilung IA of the Berlin police. This situation lasted several years until the aversion to the existence of a political police had vanished and Abteilung IA, which had so far worked under cover, could come out into the open as the political police. '
In fact, though never officially authorised as such, Abteilung IA developed into a political police information centre for the entire Reich. To protect the Republic attempts were made to centralise the political sections of criminal police headquarters in the various Laender, but these efforts failed. Greater opportunities were offered by counter-espionage, the main task of which at this period was to ensure that the arms forbidden by the Versailles Treaty were kept secret; a special highly secret desk entitled 'C.St.' [Centrals Staats-polizei - Central State Police] made its appearance within Abteilung IA . This worked with the corresponding police offices in the Laender and was the first de jure central police organisation in Germany.
History of the Gestapo to the Gestapo Law of 10 February 1936
The history of the political police under the Hitler regime has two independent starting points, one in Prussia and the other in Bavaria.
On 30 January 1933, in other words before the Reichstag fire, Goering was put in charge of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior; he appointed Diels, a senior civil servant [Ober-regierungsrat] and hitherto head of the political police branch in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, head of Abteilung IA. As early as 3 March a Prussian ministerial ordinance was issued authorising the police to disregard the restrictions imposed upon their authority by paragraphs 14 and 41 of the Prussian Administrative Police Law; this was of course primarily of importance to the political police and constituted the first step in their release from all obligation to abide by the law. A few days later the first step, albeit a purely administrative one, was taken towards the detachment of the political police from the Ministry of the Interior; on 8 March an instruction was issued by the acting Prussian Minister of the Interior placing the 'Horst-Wessel' (late 'Karl-Liebknecht') House at the disposal of (the political police and in particular its newly formed Abteilung' (for the suppression of bolshevism). In mid-April Abteilung IA accordingly moved from Berlin Police Headquarters to No. 8 Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse.
By a law of 26 April 1933 the Geheime Staatspolizeiamt [Secret State Police Office] or "Gestapo", located at No. 8 Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, was set up (to deal with political police tasks in parallel with or in place of the normal police authorities'); it was directly subordinate to the Minister of the Interior and ranked as a Land police authority. According to a Prussian Ministry of the Interior circular of the same day this was done (in the interests of uniform higher direction of the political police). The circular also laid down that the Gestapo not the Land Criminal Police Office [Landeskriminal-polizeiamt] was to deal with all political police matters and in each Regierungsberzirk [governmental district] a Staatspolizeistelle [Gestapo regional office] was set up under the Gestapo; what happened in practice was that existing political sections of local police headquarters became Staatspoliziestellen. The Ministry of the Interior remained the authority for political police matters for a few more months only; under a law of 30 November 1933 the Gestapo was constituted as an independent branch of the administration and the Gestapo took over the functions hitherto carried out by the Ministry of the Interior. The Gestapo was directly under the Minister President who appointed an Inspector to deal with its business; the latter supervised the Stapostellen acting on the Minister President's instructions.
The executive instructions attached to the Gestapo law dated 8 March 1934 laid down that the Gestapo regional offices were to be subordinate to the Regierungspraesident [local government representative in a Regierungsbezirk] (in so far as the Minister President does not instruct otherwise). This provision was, however, modified by two circulars from the Minister President issued more or less simultaneously; one of 8 March 1934 laid down that the head of a Stapostelle was to conform to the wishes othe Regierungspraesident only 'in so far as thidoes not conflict with existdirectives and instructions' (from the Gestapo); another circular dated 14 March stated: 'With effect from the commencement of the financial year 1934 Stapostellen will cease to be organically connected to local government authorities and will be regarded as independent organs of the Gestapo'. So the Prussian Gestapo with all its ramifications was now divorced from the rest of the State administration. Confirmation of this situation was to be found in a Gestapo memorandum of 3 April 1936 (signed by Dr Best); it referred to an article on the position of the Gestapo written by a certain Dr Walter Hamel and published in the Deutsche Juristenzeitung [German Lawyers' Newspaper] on 15 March 1935 and it included this: 'Dr Hamel's view that Stapostellen in Prussia are under the Regierungspraesident is incorrect.' Elsewhere Dr Hamel himself says that the unity of the State demands that all important political police business be dealt with by State Police authorities directly subordinate to the Minister President. As far as Prussia is concerned this has been laid down in paragraph 1 of the Gestapo Law of 30 November 1933 as follows: 'The Gestapo is an independent branch of the internal administration. Its head is the Minister President.'
In Bavaria General Ritter von Epp was installed as Reich Commissar for Political Affairs on 9 March 1933. The very same day he appointed the Reichsfuehrer-SS [Reich SS leader - RFSS] Heinrich Himmler to be Acting Police President of Munich; Reinhard Heydrich Head of the ROSS Sicherheitsdienst [SS Security Service - SD] became head of the existing political desk in Abteilung VI of the Munich Criminal Police. In the official announcement of these appointments the reason given was not the usual maintenance of security and public order; instead the announcement stated that the object was to ensure 'loyal adherence to the Reich Government of National Revival under the leadership of Adolf Hitler'. As early as this, therefore, the legal and official responsibility of the police for the maintenance of public security and order - a defensive mission - had been replaced by an offensive and purely political mission. When Held's provisional government went out of office on 16 March the State Commissar for the Interior, the Gauleiter 1 Adolf Wagner, announced that 'to ensure the stricter execution of the necessary political police actions the Police President at Police Headquarters Munich will with immediate effect be nominated political adviser to the State Ministry of the Interior and in this capacity the entire Bavarian political police force will be subordinate to him'. At the same time the political police was renamed "Bavarian Political Police". An instruction of 1 April 1933 from the provisional Minister of the Interior created within the Ministry the post of "Political Police Commander [Polizeikommandeur] Bavaria" and nominated Himmler to fill it:
'1 The post of Political Police Commander Bavaria is hereby created in the Ministry of the Interior.
2 With immediate effect the Bavarian Political Police will be removed from the authority of Police Headquarters Munich.
3 Subordinate to the Political Police Commander Bavaria will be:
a) The Bavarian Political Police comprising Central Headquarters and the political sections of State Police Directorates [ Direktionen ] and Offices [ Aemter ] together with Political Police advisers in local government and borough offices;
b) For executive purposes all formations of the auxiliary political police;
c) Existing and future concentration camps.
4 The mobile Police [Bereitschaftspolizei], uniformed police [blaue Polizei] and rural police will be made available on demand to the Political Police Commander Bavaria for executive duties.
5 The office of Political Police Commander Bavaria will have its own supply section and transport park.'
During the winter 1933/4, beginning with Bavaria, Himmler succeeded in making himself head of the Political Police in all German Laender with the exception initially of Prussia and Schaum-burg-Lippe. The following paragraphs give the details of the process in the individual Laender.
In Anhalt Himmler became Commander of the Political Police on 20 December 1933. By an Ordinance issued by the Anhalt State Ministry on 29 March 1934 the Political Police was re-organised as a special section of the State Ministry and made a central organisation divorced from and independent of the other Land authorities. It was entitled "Anhalt Political Police (Gestapo)". The only Political Police matters dealt with by the normal State administration were personnel, finance and budget.
In Baden the basic Political Police organisation was laid down by paragraph 10 of the Land Criminal Police Law of 22 August 1933 together with its executive instruction of 26 August. The same day an order by the Minister of the Interior set up a "Gestapo Office" attached to the Land Police Headquarters but under the direct supervision of the Minister to whom the head of the Office had direct access. Both for material and personnel questions the office was entirely divorced from the remainder of the Land administration. Himmler became Commander of the Political Police on 18 December 1933.
In Brunswick Himmler became Commander of the Political Police at the end of January 1934. The legal basis for the organisation was a law of 17 April 1934 and its executive instruction of 24 April. The "Brunswick Political Police" became an independent authority divorced from the remainder of the administration and directly subordinate to the Minister of the Interior.
In the Bremen urban area the Political Police was reorganised by instruction from the Chief of Police dated 16 June 1933 followed by an instruction from the Senator for Internal Administration dated 13 July 1935. Himmler became Commander of the Political Police on 13 December 1933.
In Hamburg a Political Police force was set up by Burgomaster's instruction dated 6 October 1933; this divorced the State Police, hitherto responsible for Political Police matters, from the criminal police and set it up as an independent police section. Himmler became Commander of the Political Police in autumn 1933 (probably November).
In Hesse a National Socialist member of the Landing [Land Chamber of Deputies], Dr Werner Best, was nominated Special Commissar for the Hesse Police. In his capacity as Special or State Commissar for Police Affairs he issued a decree on 28 March 1933, setting up an independent Political Police authority entitled "State Commissar for Police Affairs in Hesse (Central Police Office)" [Zentralpolizeistelle]; organisationally this was formed by removing the political and information sections from the Land Criminal Police Headquarters. In June 1933 this office was re-christened "Hesse State Police Office Darmstadt"; on 10 July 1933 Dr Best was given the title Land Police President and placed in charge of the police Abteilung in the Ministry of the Interior. By decree of the Hesse State Ministry dated 23 October 1933 the State Police Office was placed directly under this Abteilung, thus forming a central organisation divorced from the remainder of the Land administration. When the Hesse Land Government was taken over by a Reichsstatthalter [State Regent], the State Police Office was at the same time re-named "Gestapo Office Darmstadt" and by an instruction of 8 March 1935 was subordinated directly to the Reichsstatthalter. Himmler became Commander of the Political Police on 20 December 1933.
In Luebeck Himmler became Commander of the Political Police in autumn 1933 (probably November). The basic regulations laying down the authority of the Gestapo Office were promulgated by the Senator for Internal Administration on 1 March 1935.
In Mecklenburg-Schwerin a political Abteilung was set up in the Land Criminal Police Office Schwerin by simple office instruction from the State Minister dated 30 August 1932; an Intelligence Centre already existed under the Minister of the Interior but this was abolished on 13 September 1933 by a Ministry of the Interior instruction. When Himmler was nominated Commander of the Political Police in autumn 1933 (probably November), the Minister of the Interior at his instigation issued an instruction on 7 December 1933 re-organising the office: the Political Police was removed from the competence of the Land Criminal Police Office and constituted as an independent central authority directly subordinate to the Internal Affairs Abteilung of the State Ministry. Mecklenburg-Strelitz had already been amalgamated with Mecklenburg-Schwerin on 13 October 1933.
In Oldenburg a Gestapo Office was set up by instruction of the Minister of the Interior on 4 November 1933. Himmler became Commander of the Political Police in January 1934.
In Saxony a Gestapo Office was set up by State Ministerial instruction dated 5 July 1933; further details of the Political Police organisation were given in the executive instruction attached to a law on (Changes in the police system' passed on 9 August 1933. The Gestapo Office was constituted as a central authority under the Ministry of the Interior; by sub-paragraph 2 of paragraph 40. Of the above executive instruction the office was authorised to communicate direct with the Land and Reich authorities. Himmler became Commander of the Political Police in January 1934.
Schaumburg-Lippe, as already mentioned, was the last Land in which Himmler took over command of the Political Police; this he did by virtue of a Land government memorandum dated 2 June 1934.
In Thuringia the "Thuringian Gestapo Office Weimar" was set up with effect from 1 January 1934 under a law passed on 14 December 1933; it was an independent authority divorced from the general administration of the Land but initially linked to the Weimar Police Presidency, the same official being head of both. By a proclamation of the Thuringia Minister of the Interior dated 30 December 1933 Himmler was made Commander of the Political Police with effect from 21 December 1933 and head of the Gestapo Office with effect from 28 December. The Weimar Police President became Himmler's permanent representative in charge of the Gestapo Office.
In Wuerttemberg Himmler was nominated Commander of the Political Police on 12 December 1933. A Land Political Police Office was set up by State ministerial law dated 27 January 1934 as an authority divorced from the remainder of the administration and directly subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior. The Head of the Office and his deputy dealt with all political police matters even within the Ministry of the Interior.
On 20 April 1934 Himmler became Deputy Chief and Inspector of the Prussian Secret State Police and on 22 April Heydrich was made Chief of the Prussian Gestapo Office. So Himmler was now in charge of the most important political police force in Germany; although on paper only Goering's deputy, in practice he was in command. This is clear from the following decree of 20 November 1934 from the Prussian Minister President:
'Organisational reasons impel me to authorise the Reiahsfuehrer-SS Himmler to represent me in Gestapo matters hitherto dealt with through the Prussian State Ministry. The Inspector of the Gestapo will henceforth deal with the business of the entire Prussian Gestapo, being responsible to me alone. Correspondence on matters which I have reserved to myself will be headed "Prussian Gestapo. Deputy Chief and Inspector".
In announcing this I request that correspondence dealing with all Prussian Gestapo matters be henceforth addressed directly and exclusively to the Gestapo Office, 8 Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, Berlin S.W. 11
Up to 17 June 1936 when a decree issued by the Fuehrer and Chancellor appointed Himmler Chief of the German Police, the existence of Political Police forces in the individual Laender rested upon Land law. The various Political Police forces nevertheless formed an entity and the fact that Himmler was head of them all was not the only reason, between spring 1934 and June 1936 a process of unification of practice, gradual centralisation and institutionalisation took place. The June 1936 law together with the Prussian Gestapo law of 10 February 1936 can hardly therefore be said to be the starting point of the organisational unification of the Political Police; rather it gave official blessing to an already existing situation. As early as 1934 the Gestapo in Berlin included a Zentralbuero des Politischen Polizei Kommandeurs der Laender ("Central Bureau - Land Political Police Commander") empowered to co-ordinate the activities of the Land Political Police forces in relation both to each other and the Prussian Gestapo, to represent them in dealings with outside authorities and issue instructions applicable to them all.
The Land Political Police forces were under obligation to report any special occurrences to the Central Bureau and to render regular reports. The authority and activities of the Central Bureau naturally to some extent restricted the powers of the individual Laender over their erstwhile Political Police forces. This gave rise to no legal difficulties, however, since basically all the sovereign rights of the Laender had already been made over to the central government under the 30 January 1934 Law on the Reconstruction of the Reich, consequently the authority of the Laender in police matters continued only upon subject to cancellation basis. Dr Werner Best when chief of administration in the Gestapo gave an illuminating explanation of this process of unification and institutionalisation of the Land Political Police forces under Himmler:
'The implication of the situation described in paragraph III B 1 was that each Land worked upon the suppression of anti-State tendencies independently and from its own viewpoint. This carried with it the danger that each Land might develop its own Political Police practice differing from that of the other Laender. This development would inevitably have led to a situation in which, owing to differing political police practices in the individual Laender, the uniform suppression of anti-State tendencies throughout the Reich would have been rendered more difficult if not impossible; this could not but assist the enemies of the State and moreover lack of uniformity in the measures taken would have given rise to uncertainty and unrest among the population. It was therefore of the very highest importance for the development of the German Political Police that the Reichsfuehrer-SS, Heinrich Himmler, after having set up the Bavarian Political Police in his capacity as Political Police Commander Bavaria, addressed himself with vigour and dispatch to the task of concentrating all Political Police Forces under his own hand.' Hans Frank, Deutsches Verwaltungsrecht (Munich, 1937), pp 427 et seq.
'Within a few months he had persuaded the Land Government or the Reirhsstatthalter as the case might be to nominate him Political Police Commander in all the various Laender. In spring 1934 Goering, the Minister President of Prussia, appointed him Deputy Chief of the Prussian Gestapo.
From that time control of all political police activities throughout Germany was in the hands of Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler as Political Police Commander in the German Laender and Deputy Chief of the Prussian Gestapo. From his central command post, Gestapo Headquarters Berlin, he was able to co-ordinate political police practice in all the Laender by issuing similar instructions on all subjects to the Land political police forces.'
The years 1935 and 1936 were marked by a certain slowing down in the process of disengaging the Fuehrer's authority from the restraints imposed by normal governmental practice, and the political police followed suit. Efforts were made by the civil administration to keep the Gestapo under some measure of control, at least on the intermediate and lower levels. For instance, the Oberpraesident [provincial prefect] of the Province of East on several occasions complained to the Reich/Prussian Minister of the Interior that the Stapoleitstelle in Koenigsberg was not under his control. On 23 September 1935 he wrote to Himmler as follows:
'I consider the present relationship between th Oberpraesident and the Head of th Stapoleitstelle to be impossible in the long term and highly injurious to the authority of the State. Moreover this instance shows once more the necessity for the immediate subordination of the Stapostellen to the Regierungspraesidenten. I request that instructions be issued on these lines despite the fact that the draft law on the Gestapo has now been hanging fire for a year; apparently it is not possible to reckon on finalisation of this law in the immediate future.'
1. The Senior Nazi Party official in a Gau
Himmler thereupon wrote to the Prussian Minister President on 6 November:
'On the occasion of my interview with the Fuehrer on 1 November 1935, I laid before him the Reich/Prussian Minister of the Interior's memorandum of 29 September forwarded to me on 29 October and requesting subordination of the Stapostellen to the Regierungs-praesidenten with particular reference to the Koenigsberg office and the Oberpraesident of East Prussia. The Fuehrer has decided that no change should be made in the position of the Koenigsberg Gestapo.'
Continuous complaints from representatives of the civil administration nevertheless forced Himmler and Heydrich grudgingly to embark upon negotiations for a new Prussian Gestapo law; after months of wrangling it was eventually issued on 10 February 1936 superseding the 26 April and 30 November 1933 laws. It reads as follows:
'The State Ministry has resolved the following law:
1i The duty of the Gestapo is to investigate and suppress all anti-State tendencies throughout Prussia, to assemble and evaluate the results of any unrest, to keep the State government informed, to keep other authorities abreast of any conclusions of importance to them and to put forward suggestions. The Chief of the Gestapo in agreement with the Minister of the Interior will lay down in detail the duties to be transferred to the Gestapo.
ii The responsibilities of the constituted legal authorities remain unaffected.
2i The Chief of the Gestapo is the Minister President.
ii Current business will be transacted on his behalf by a Deputy Chief of Gestapo nominated by him.
3i The highest Gestapo authority in the Land is the Gestapo. It has the prerogatives of a Land Police authority.
ii The Gestapo is located in Berlin.
4 At intermediate level Gestapo duties will be carried out by Stapostellen in the individual Land Police districts [Landes-polizeibezirke]. Gestapo duties on the frontier will be the responsibility of special frontier commissions. In other respects Gestapo duties will be carried out by the Kreis [district] and Ort [locality] Police authorities acting as agents for the Stapostellen.
5 Stapostellen are at the same time subordinate to the Regierungs-praesident concerned, will conform to his instructions and will keep him informed of all political police matters. The Head of the Stapostelle is at the same time the Regierungspraesident's expert political adviser.
6 Appointment and dismissal of Gestapo officials will be the responsibility of the Chief of the Gestapo in agreement with the Minister of the Interior in accordance with the general legal provisions concerning appointment and dismissal of officials of the Land.
7 Neither the instructions nor the affairs of the Gestapo will be open to review by the administrative courts.
8 The Chief of the Gestapo in agreement with the Minister of the Interior will issue executive instructions for the present law.
9 The law of 26 April 1933 concerning the formation of Gestapo headquarters, the law of 30 November 1933 concerning the Gestapo and paragraphs 1 to 3 of the Executive Ordinance attached to the law of 8 March 1934 on the Gestapo are hereby repealed.
10 The present law will come into force on the day following its promulgation.
Berlin, 10 February 1936. Prussian State Ministry.
(Seal) Goering Frick'
Some indication of the Gestapo's reaction to this law is given in an
article by Dr Best in the periodical Deutsches Recht [German Law] of 15 April 193 6; the article concludes:
'To summarise, it is clear that the principles of the 30 November 1933 Gestapo law were proved sound by more than two years experience and could therefore have been perpetuated in the new law of 10 February 1936. Now, however, the desire of the civil administration authorities to have a hand in the activities of the Gestapo has been largely met.
How far this present arrangement regarding the Prussian Gestapo will develop into one for a future Reich Gestapo depends in details upon the solution of numerous questions concerning future reform of the Reich and the administration. One thing is clear: the basic principles upon which the new political police of the Third Reich has developed must under no circumstances be abandoned if serious damage to the fulfilment of its tasks is to be avoided.'
The reference to the civil administration authorities having a hand in the activities of the Gestapo undoubtedly refers to the paragraph subordinating the Srapostellen to the Regierungspraesidenten. At the same time, however, Stapostellen were also subordinate to Gestapo headquarters and nothing was laid down as to what was to happen if the head of a local Gestapo Office received contradictory instructions from the Gestapo and the Regierungspraesident. Moreover the executive instructions attached to the 10 February law and issued on the same day laid down that the Oberpraesidenten and Regierungspraesidenten were to conform to Gestapo instructions on all matters relating to the Gestapo and that in case of urgency Gestapo offices were entitled to address demands to all police authorities within their area subject only to informing the Landrat [ Land District President or Magistrate]. Dr Best's article quoted above says elsewhere:
'The highest Gestapo authority in a Land is the Gestapo. This makes it clear that no other Ministry is entitled to take final decisions in political police matters. This sets the seal upon the distinction between the Gestapo on the one hand and the administration on the other; the former operates according to special principles and requirements, the latter works on general and regularly legalised rules - and the distinction has been shown to be essential by the foregoing basic considerations.'
Here the decisive point emerges once again: the Gestapo operated upon an entirely different principle from that of the civil administration - not on regularly legalised rules but "according to special principles and requirements". This is tantamount to saying that it operated as the instrument of the Fuehrer's authority and that to execute the Fuehrer's will it had no need of further legitimisation in law. This principle is clearly entirely incompatible with that of the rule of law as applied to governmental action; if recognised to be valid (and that it was so recognised can be deduced from paragraph 7 of the Gestapo law where it was laid down that Gestapo orders and affairs were not subject to review by the administrative courts), then it is clear that any provision subordinating the intermediate and lower level Gestapo offices to the civil administration authorities was illusory; in other words, from the Gestapo point of view it was no more than a minor tactical concession. In individual cases the Gestapo had only to quote its own principles in order to suspend any legally based regulation which might stand in its way. When therefore in an article on the new law in Deutsche Verwaltung [German Administration] a representative of the civil administration said:
'The position of the Gestapo as the highest authority in a Land is therefore of significance primarily from the organisational point of view', he was indulging in pure wishful thinking.
Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chef der
A few months later Himmler and Heydrich recouped themselves handsomelfor the tactical concessions forced on them over the Gestapo law; on 17 June 1936 by decree of the Fuehrer and Chancellor, the Party post of Reichsfuehrer was formally amalgamated with the newly created governmental office of Chief of the German Police. This was the all-important step in transformation of the German Police into an instrument of Fuehrer's authority. But a clear dimust be drawn between two aspects of the creation of this new institution. In the first place the entire German Police Force was how centralised, a process referred to at the time as Verreichlichung ['Reich-ifying']. This was something at which the Reich Ministry of the Interior itself had aimed and it implied no more than a concentration of governmental strings of power. The other aspect, however, was that the Police was now riveted to the SS - and the object of this was to de-governmentalize the Police. A process was thus initiated which first diluted and then gradually obliterated governmental authority over the police - the process of integrating the police into the sphere of authority of the Reichsfuehrer-SS. All attempts by the Reich Ministry of the Interior to prevent this development remained fruitless.
Under the Weimar Republic police authority had rested with the Laender; they were responsible for police organisation, employment and discipline. Article 9 of the Reich Constitution laid down that the Reich Minister of the Interior was responsible only for overall supervision and legislation:
'In so far as the issue of general regulations is required the Reich has legislative authority over
1 Welfare services
2 Preservation of law and order.'
In addition under Article 48 of the Weimar constitution there had been a Reich Executive, an institution used by the National Socialists from 5 March 1933 onwards as a pretext for installing Reich Commissars for Police Affairs in those Laender where they had no parliamentary majority.
* Abbreviated RFSSuChDtPol.
The basic step in the abolition of tile authority of the Laender over their police and therefore in the centralisation of the police force was the 30 January 1934 Law on the Reconstruction of the Reich which in essence transferred the police powers of the Laender to the Reich. An important material step was the amalgamation on 1 November 1934 of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior with that of the Reich, thus placing by far the largest and most powerful police force in the country under control of the Reich Minister of the Interior. A further instance of the centralisation process was the declaration of the Saar police as a Reich police force on 1 March 1935 when the Saarland was re-incorporated into the Reich.
From the outset the SS played a decisive role in the negotiations on centralisation; with unconcealed support from Hitler it made every effort at this juncture to remove the police from the authority of the Minister of the Interior (1). It was probably in May 1936 that Heydrich entered into preliminary verbal negotiations with the Ministry of the Interior; as a result the latter prepared three drafts of a Fuehrer decree concerning 'The concentration of police authority in the Reich'. They proposed that Himmler should be no more than "Inspector of the German Police" and in that capacity subordinate to the Reich Minister of the Interior. Himmler's position at the head of the German police was therefore already accepted as a fact and the - Ministry of the Interior was merely trying to ensure that, as far as possible, he was subject to properly constituted governmental authority. This was of course exactly what Himmler wished to avoid; accordingly on 9 June 1936 he put forward counter-proposals through Heydrich. The latter moreover stated that the Fuehrer wished Himmler to be officially entitled Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei considering it important that in his new capacity he should be on a level with the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and Navy. The draft handed over by Heydrich accordingly included the following:
'1 In order to concentrate police responsibility throughout the Reich under one hand, a Chief of the German Police will be appointed; conduct of work on all police matters within the authority of the Reich/Prussian Minister of the Interior will be transferred to him.
2 The Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler will be nominated Chief of the German Police.
He will be personally responsible to the Reich/Prussian Minister of the Interior.
He will be entitled: Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei.
3 The Chief of the German Police will rank as a Reich Minister and will participate in meetings of the Reich Cabinet.'
Frick, the Reich Minister of the Interior, discussed this draft with Hitler on the same day and attempted to oppose Himmler's demands. He was successful, however, only on the subject of ministerial rank, it being agreed that Himmler should only be summoned to meetings of the Cabinet as a State Secretary (Permanent Official). For the rest all Frick could do after his interview with Hitler was to make a unilateral amendment to Himmler's draft, adding the words "within the Reich Ministry of the Interior" to the title Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei in the four places where the latter appeared. This was intended to demonstrate that the police remained closely linked to the civil administration. On 11 June, advised by Pfundtner, a Ministry of the Interior official, Frick went so far as to delete Reichsfuehrer-SS from the proposed new official title; the very next day, however, at an interview with Frick, Heydrich insisted upon the original wording and also upon an amendment to the paragraph on Himmler's participation in Cabinet meetings to the effect that he "would" rather than "might" attend. Heydrich did agree a "limiting clause" to the effect that Himmler's attendance at Cabinet would be only in so far as matters connected with the sphere of activity of the RFSSuChDtPol are concerned; what this concession was worth, however, can be judged from the fact that Heydrich - as will be shown later - considered 90 per cent of all administrative matters to be the concern of the police.
The final text of the decree read as follows:
'1 To ensure unified control of police duties in the Reich, a Chief of the German Police will be appointed within the Reich Ministry of the Interior; power of direction and executive authority for all police matters within the sphere of the Reich/ Prussian Ministry of the Interior will be transferred to him.
2 i The Deputy Chief of the Prussian Gestapo, Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler, is hereby nominated Chief of the German Police within the Reich Ministry of the Interior.
ii He will be personally and directly subordinate to the Reich/ Prussian Minister of the Interior.
iii For matters within his sphere he will represent the Reich/ Prussian Minister of the Interior in the latter's absence.
iv His title will be Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei within the Reich Ministry of the Interior.
3 The Chief of the German Police within the Reich Ministry of the Interior will take part in meetings of the Reich Cabinet in so far as matters within his sphere are concerned.
4 1 hereby charge the Reich/Prussian Minister of the Interior with the execution of this decree
Berlin, 17 June 1936.
The Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler
The Reich Minister of the Interior
A circular from the Reich/Prussian Minister of the Interior of 15 May 1937 shows the extent to which the Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei was considered as an independent authority. The Minister criticised certain doubts which had arisen concerning the authority of the "Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Poliz ei within the Reich Ministry of the Interior", i.e. whether he was empowered to take decisions reserved under law or other regulations to the Minister himself. The circular laid down that within his sphere of responsibility he was the Minister's permanent representative (not merely in the 's absence as in the 17 June decree) and that in every case his decisions were ministerial decisions irrespective of whether the official title of the Ministry or his own special title was used. The effect, therefore, of the establishment of the Chief of Police within the Ministry of the Interior was rather to guarantee to the Chief of Police the rights of a Minister than to establish the Minister's authority over the police. This is reminiscent of Best's on the subordination of local Gestapo offices to the Regierungspraesidenten as being an instance of the civil administration taking a hand in the activities of the Gestapo. It should further be noted that after Himmler himself had become Reich Minister of the Interior and General Plenipotentiary for Reich administration (25 August 1943), from November of that year he allowed the words "within the Ministry of the Interior" to lapse from his official title as Chief of Police.
For details regarding the background to the decree concerned see H.J. Neufeldt's article on the origin and organisation of Ordnungspolizei Headquarters in Schriften des Bundesarchivs No. 3 Koblenz, 1957.
With its subordination to the Reichsfuehrer-SS the only constitutional link remaining between the police and the normal governmental administration was the (personal and direct' subordination of the Chief of Police to the Minister of the Interior. On the surface this would seem to imply a close and binding relationship, in the context of the overall structure of National Socialist domination, however, this form of words "personal and direct" simply set the seal upon the independence of the police. In the Third Reich sovereignty and political power rested with the Fuehrer, not the State. Moreover institutions concerned with political direction had precedence over administrative authorities and amongst the former those with more intimate and direct links to the Fuehrer were considered superior to those further removed from him. In the Third Reich's structure of tyranny the post of Reichsfuehrer-SS was a typical political directing authority and so naturally took precedence over the Reich Minister of the Interior, who was head of a typical administrative department. Personal and direct subordination in no way affected this relative order of precedence; in fact it confirmed and substantiated it. From the point of view of the so-called subordinate, (personal and direct) implied an extremely close relationship with his superior since he had no specific rights or duties attaching to his position within the organisation which his superior had to take into account. If, however, - a man is (personally and directly' subordinate to two authorities), the senior of the two must logically take precedence in every case, and the junior cannot argue that his subordinate has certain specific obligations under normal governmental discipline and practice. All he can do is to bring his personal authority to bear against that of the other superior.
The Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chef der deutschen Polizei were now identical; the Reichsfuehrer-SS, however, was personally and directly sub-ordinate to the Fuehrer. In the event of conflict over control of the Police, therefore, the Minister of the Interior could not quote the legal authority of his Ministry nor could he bring his own authority to bear upon his personal and direct (subordinate), since he would then have been in conflict with the authority of the Fuehrer. The (personal and direct) subordination of the Chief of Police to the Minister of the Interior accordingly implied that, as far as the police were concerned, the normal rules of the civil administration and the principle that administrative action must remain within the law could, and at any time might, be set aside. In fact the police were only indirectly under the Minister and only indirectly a State institution - in other words only in so far as subordination to the Minister did not stand in the way of execution of the Fuehrer's sovereign will. That this was the position is proved by the fact that Hitler habitually sent his instructions direct to the Reichsfuehrer-SS und Her Chef der deutschen Polizei, not through the Minister. When Frick once complained to Hitler of his "subordinate's" independence he was told to leave the Reichsfuehrer as free a hand as possible since with him the police were in good shape. Moreover it is significant that, when nominated Chief of the German Police, Himmler specifically refused to be classified as a government official. 1
There is no doubt that combination of the offices of Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chef der deutschen Polizei implied much more than a mere double banking and was intended to lead to a real merger. This is proved both by the instructions of 1936 and later years and also by the general development of the relationship between the SS and the police. On this subject, Dr Best as the interpreter of the Security Police concept, stated in an article in Deutsches Recht that the official title Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei was testimony to the fact 'that a permanent identity between the Office of Reichs-fuehrer-SS and that of Chef der deutschen Polizei was intended'. Later in the same-article he says: 'Under the leadership of the Reichs-fuehrer-SS the German Police has become the focus of the Movement and of the State. The significance of this fact cannot be underestimated (sic! - he obviously means "overestimated") not only in its significance for the further reconstruction of the Reich but also in its implications for the security of our people's future.' It is true that Ernst Rudolf Huber in his Verfassungsrecht des Grossdeutschen Reiches [Greater German Reich Constitutional Law] refers to the office of Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei as an example of the system of personal links; but this is an instance of Huber's attempt to cling to the principle of State sovereignty - and yet he gives a striking description of the Fuehrer's authority as something incompatible with the sovereignty of the State.
Nevertheless the fact that, even if only secondarily, the Chief of the Police was subordinate to the Minister of the Interior was not entirely meaningless. In the first place it was a development typical of the Nationalist Socialist system of domination. The Weimar Constitution was never entirely or explicitly abolished; it was simply undermined and superseded by new case-by-case regulations. Similarly, the standard phrase when the numerous authorities of the Third Reich were created, was that the competence and prerogatives of existing authorities remained unaffected thereby, in fact the flow of official business was diverted, leaving the old channels in existence but atrophied. Moreover, although the police were now constitutionally and organisationally divorced from the authority of the government, this did not mean that all legal, official, technical and organisational links with the previous system were severed, particularly for matters of minor political importance. Time was required for the official character of the police and its internal and organisational regulations to be adapted to the very different forms and rules operative in the SS. Many aspects of police administration therefore remained unaffected but they were allowed to continue only on a "subject to cancellation" basis and only so long as established practice did not run counter to the aims and actions of the political leadership.
In his capacity as Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei Himmler initiated a fundamental police reorganisation set out in two decrees issued on 26 June 1936. He appointed Police General Kurt Daluege Chief of the Ordnungspolizei [Regular or uniformed police - Orpo ] and SS-Gruppenfuehrer [Lieut. General] Reinhard Heydrich Chief of the Sicherheitspolizei [Security Police - Sipo ] . Under the Chief of the Orpo were the Schutzpolizei [lit. Protection Police - Urban Constabulary- Schupo ] the Gendarmerie [Rural Constabulary] and the Gemeindepolizei [Municipal Police]; the Chief of the Sicher-heitspolizei had charge of the Political Police and the Kriminalpolizei [Criminal Police - Kripo ] . The corresponding authorities at Ministry level were the two Hauptaemter [departments], Ordnungspolizei and Sicherheitspolizei. Within the SicheHauptamt the "Political Police" side was represented in practice by the Gestapo and the "Criminal Police" by the Prussian Landeskriminalpolizeiamt [Land Criminal Police Office], the latter being re-christened Reichskriminal-polizeiamt [Reich Criminal Police Office - RKPA] on 16 July 1937. When the Gestapa was acting as a Ministry authority it used the signature block Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei; when acting as an executive administrative authority it used the title "Gestapa". Similarly with the criminal police the same authorities uthe title Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei when acting as a Ministry authority, and Reichskriminalpolizeiamt when acting as an executive authority. According to an establishment of early 1938 Hauptamt Sicher-heitspolizei was organised as follows:
Chief of the Sicherheitspolizei.
Main Bureau (Hauptbuero - S-HB).
Private Office of Head of Bureau.
Budget in so far as not dealt with by V.2 below.
Administrative and Legal Division [ Amt Verwaltung und Recht-V ]
V.1 Organisation and Law.
V.2 Budget and Supply.
V.3 Personnel I.
V.4 Personnel II (Kripo) .
V.6 Passports and Identity Papers.
V.7 Foreign Police Forces, Frontier Security, Correspondence on Legal Assistance in other countries in Police or Criminal matters.
V.8 Armed Forces and National Defence.
V.9 Technical Matters.
Political Police Division [ Amt Politische Polizei - PP]
PP.IIA Communism and other Marxist Groups.
PP.IIB Churches, Sects, Emigres, Jews, Freemasons.
PP.IIC Reaction, Opposition, Austrian Affairs.
PP.IID Protective Custody, Concentration Camps.
PP.IIE Economic, Agricultural and Socio-Political Matters, Societies.
PP.IIG Radio Watch.
PP.IIH Party Matters, Party Organizations and Affiliated Formations.
PP.IIJ Foreign Political Police Forces.
PP.IIBER Reports Section.
PP.IIS Suppression of Homosexuality and Abortion.
PP.III. Counter Espionage.
Criminal Police Division [ Amt Kriminalpolisei - S-Kr]
S-Kr.1 - S-Kr.3
Sections dealing with all matters falling within the competence of the Criminal Police.
The significance of the creation of the new office Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei together with the 1936 reorganisation of the German police is therefore as follows:
1 Both constitutionally and organisationally the entire German police force throughout the Reich was centralised; the centralised political police organisation already existing in practice was given de jure status. A circular issued by Himmler on 20 September 1936 formally charged the Gestapo with all tasks falling to the Political Police Commander of the Laender. In subsequent years centralisation of the entire German police force both for technical and personal administration proceeded in regular stages, the most noteworthy steps being the two laws concerning police financial measures dated 19 March 1937 and 28 March 1940 together with the Police Personnel Law of 24 June 1937.
2 The creation-of the office Reichsfuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei implied a real merger between an institution under the authority of the Fuehrer and a governmental office; this implied that the decision of principle had been taken to remove the entire police force from the sphere of influence of the State. In the case of the Sicherheitspolizei not only was this process fully completed in later years but a claim was staked to form a "Political Administration" which in fact competed successfully with the State administration in all matters of political importance.
3 The practical effect of the division of the police force as a whole into two main branches, Ordnungspolizei and Sicherheitspolizei, was to constitute the Political Police as an independent branch and at the same time draw the Criminal Police into the sphere of influence of the Political Police. A process was thus initiated harmonising the Criminal Police organisation with that of the Political Police and bringing Criminal Police practice increasingly into line with that of the Political Police - and this process continued throughout the entire period of National Socialist domination.
4 The introduction of the title Hauptamt [department] - a title which did not exist in the governmental hierarchy- for the two central offices of the Ordnungspolizei and Sicherheitspolizei was the outward and visible sign that Himmler's aim of incorporating the police into the SS had been achieved. That this was his object is confirmed by the fact that he never set up a separate Chief of the German Police office; he dealt with matters concerning this aspect of his activities through his own personal staff, to which he merely added one, sometimes two, police aides. In an SS order of 9 November 1936 setting out the then existing SS-Hauptaemter, Hauptamt Ordnungs-polizei is shown; Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei on the other hand does not figure since "SS-wise" it was represented by the SD-Hauptamt, which of course was also headed by Heydrich.
The four changes decided upon with the creation of the Reichs-fuehrer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei, all of decisive importance for subsequent developments, were therefore:
1 Centralisation of the police.
2 De-governmentalization of the police.
3 Differentiation between the Gestapo and the remainder of the police force and inclusion of the Kripo in the sphere of the Gestapo.
4 Incorporation of the police into the SS.
The Sicherheitsdienst RFSS or SD [SS Security Service] was set up in 1931 with Reinhard Heydrich at its head. In spring 1933 he was allowed his own central office and his own organisation covering the entire Reich: SD Oberabschnitte [Regions] and Abschnitte [Districts] were set up paralleling the Oberabschnitte and Abschnitte of the AIIgemeine SS [General SS]. The AIIgemeine SS, the SD and the Politische Bereitschaften [Political Warm Squads], also formed in 1933, were at that time three separate branches of the Gesamt-SS [SS as a whole]. In contrast to the Politische Bereitschaften which later developed into the Verfuegungstruppe [General Service SS Troops] or Waffen-SS [armed SS], the SD was always borne on the books of the Nazi Party Treasurer.
As Roehm had wished to turn the SA into a National Socialist "People's Army" to supplant the Reichswehr, so Heydrich's long-term plans envisaged making the official security police superfluous or at least down-grading it to semi-auxiliary status; his object was to bring every single individual in Germany under continuous supervision. As with the SA, however, the dream did not materialise. Particularly in the early years of National Socialist domination the SD did exert some political influence and in the political police field competed tenaciously with the official State organisation; this influence must not, however, be overestimated, for in the ultimate issue the SD proved neither sufficiently numerous nor sufficiently well trained to take over in tots the tasks of the Security Police. Moreover since Himmler and Heydrich quickly contrived to assume authority over the Political Police of all the Laender, it was basically the SD which became superfluous. In any case organisationally it never became the great machine, which it was intended to be in 1933. It is significant that from 1936 onwards it was the police and not the SD which, together with the AIIgenaeine SS and the Waffen-SS, were looked upon as the "three pillars" of the SS.
As compensation for their exclusion from executive political duties and supervision of particular individuals, the SD was given intelligence duties of a more general nature; it was, for instance, to report on developments within the various spheres of public life - the economy, cultural affairs, science, the churches, etc. The resulting Reich Information Reports' or "Special Reports" on specific problems were circulated to a limited number of senior Party and State functionaries. Examples of SD reports were:
Debasement of the basic National Socialist virtues in German-language literature since 1933.
The situation in the Protestant Church and the various sects; the effects therinjurious to the State.
Poisoning of the relationship between the national armed forces and the State and Party ideologists.
In an address to a Wehrmacht political course of instruction given in January 1937 Himmler described the role of the SD as follows:
'The primary SD fields of activity are communism, political activity by religious persuasions, and reaction. The SD is not, however, concerned with detailed executive problems. You will perhaps observe this during your visit, so I need say only a few words here. The SD is concerned only with major ideological questions.
Take an example: suppose there were an attempt on the other side of the frontier to produce an Austrian racial theory and so gradually turn Austria into a sort of Switzerland. Seven or eight hundred years ago this happened in the case of Switzerland and, although they speak German, the Swiss now no longer feel themselves akin to Germany; similarly a few centuries ago we lost Holland and the whole lower German region; suppose now, through propaganda supported by scientific theory and scientific work in the universities, this problem of the south-east German race or the Austrian race was drummed into people long enough to produce a spirit of separatism. Then we should be interested in the following: which German professors support this theory and with which string-pullers abroad or elsewhere are they connected? These are problems, which interest us. As a Security Service we are not, for instance, interested in the problem of whether the Communist Party cell organisation in Berlin-Wedding has been broken up or not. That is a question for the executive. One day it will be broken up or perhaps it already has been and if it is reformed it will be broken up again. That sort of thing does not interest us; that will not bring Germany down. We are interested in this sort of thing: what major plans has the Comintern in the years to come, in which country does it propose to make an effort, what Bolshevist influences can be detected in Freemason circles abroad, which way do the threads run and whither are the major emissaries going? Recently, for instance, 800 emissaries went to Austria. They arrived there three or four months ago, so for us this poses a burning question : what is going on in Austria? What are their plans, what major organisation plans have they for Germany, from which direction will they attack, what are the connections between Bolshevism and, for instance, the Confessional Front, why are they supporting these gullible clerics when their ultimate object is atheism, how can that suddenly be? Then again we are interested in the economic influence which the Jews are acquiring (again only the overall plan in general) in order to strangle us, sabotage us or manipulate the currency. All these questions the SD studies scientifically and - the phrase is apt here - using general staff methods; these studies frequently take years and in many, if not the majority, of cases we are still in the early stages.'
See Neufeldt, op. Cit. Frick's lack of authority is illustrated in Jochen Klepper's diary and in the (unpublished) memoirs of an official in the then Reich Office for Ecclesiastical Affairs. The lartter says: It was in fact striking that any appeal to Frick concerning the behaviour of the Gestapo was invariably ineffective. Such representations were not dealt with by Frick but by the RSHA which was in practise the highest authority.'
The division of responsibility between the SS and the Political Police was laid down in the so-called functional decree issued by the Reichs-fuehrer-SS on 1 July 1937. The text of this decree has so far not been found; something of its content can be gathered from a memorandum by Schellenberg (written in typical SS official German) dated 24 February 1939:
'Moreover it seems that the reason for non-appointment of a common head in Gestapo and SD Abschnitte is that the so-called "functional order" of 1 July 1937 did not bring about a combination of the two in so far as their operations were concerned. The functional order did not itself lay down the necessary interlocking organisation between the various functional cogs in the machine (information service-executive evaluation); instead it laid down spheres of responsibility showing what functions were to be allotted to this or that branch without laying down a clear dividing line between information service and executive and without giving priority to one or the other.'
According to the functional decree the SD had to hand over to the Gestapo its individual personal files, but this was done only very slowly; it is quite possible that right up to the outbreak of war individual cases were still being dealt with by the SD. The final division of responsibility between the Gestapo and the SD seems, in fact, to have been laid down only in the 4 August 1941 decree concerning enemy intelligence; this introduced into every local Gestapo office [Stapo-Stelle] a so-called intelligence adviser who kept a card index of police informers and supervised their co-operation with the various experts.
In 1938, during the arguments, which led to the formation of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt [Reich Central Security Office] in the autumn of 1939, consideration was given to disbanding the SD or turning it into a State authority. The principal reason for its continued existence and its maintenance as a Nazi Party organisation and the sole Party information service, was probably that this was the only method by which Himmler could be sure of retaining his monopoly within the Nationalist Socialist Movement. If he had disbanded or officialised the SD, some Party authority might have set up an intelligence service to report on the Movement.
The racial policy field provides a parallel here. In spring 1942 an office for racial questions was set up within the headquarters of the Nazi Party; it was headed by Himmler but specifically not in his capacity as Reichskommissar fuer die Festigung deutschen Volkstums [Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of Germanism] but as Party representative for racial questions. He was empowered to issue executive instructions only in agreement with the Head of the Party Chancellery, the Reich Party Treasurer and Chief Party Organiser. By this device Himmler achieved two objects; in the first place he eliminated any possibility of some authority not under his control being set up to deal with racial policy within the Nazi Party; secondly he satisfied the Party's claim to have a voice in racial political questions.
The SD intelligence monopoly within the National Socialist Movement was based on the following instruction issued by the Fuehrer's Deputy on 9 June 1934:
'1 The preliminaries for the transfer to the Sicherheitsdienst RFSS of the internal intelligence organisation of the Aussenpolitisches Amt (of the Nazi Party) having been completed, the transfer will now take place forthwith.
2 In so far as this has not already been done, executive instructions for the transfer will be agreed between the Chief of the Sicher-heitsamt RFSS and the Head of the Aussenpolitische Nach-richtendienst [Foreign Political Intelligence Service].
3 The Chief of the Sicherieitsamt RFSS will report completion of the transfer to me through the Reichsfuehrer-SS by 15 July 1934.
4 Once the transfer has taken place, apart from the Sicher-heitsdienst RFSS, there will be no Party intelligence or counter-espionage service, not even in the form of an internal intelligence organisation for foreign policy purposes.
5 Payment by Gauleiter to any form of intelligence office will cease from 1 July 1934. A contribution for the work of the SD will be made to the central office, special instructions being issued by the Party Treasurer.
6 The Sicherheitsamt RFSS will make available to Gauleiter special information reports giving such results of their activities as may be of importance. Gauleiter will be personally responsible to me for preservation of the secrecy of these reports.
The information sheet 'IFO' will cease. The Chief of the Sicherheitsamt will instruct the heads of SD Oberabschnitte through the usual channels to keep Gauleiter informed as necessary of matters of importance to them.
At the next Gauleiter meeting I propose to give the Reichs-fuehrer-SS an opportunity to inform the Gauleiter of the work of the SD and conduct them round SS headquarters.'
Foreign Policy Office.
On 14 December 1938 this monopoly was confirmed by a further instruction issued by the Fuehrer's Deputy; the initial paragraphs read as follows:
'By virtue of my instruction of 9 June 1934 the Sicherheitsdienst RFSS is established as the sole political information and counterespionage service of the NSDAP, its organisations and affiliated formations.
The SD-RFSS is a Party institution. The SS, as a branch of the Party, is responsible for organisation and manning of this institution.'
The price which the SD had to pay for this monopoly was a ban on any activity connected with internal Party affairs; any complaints concerning the Party which might reach it were to be forwarded to the Fuehrer's Deputy or later to the Head of the PartyChancellery. There were, however, frequent infringements of this regulation, probably with Himmler's or Heydrich's secret connivance. It was notorious that in a whole series of cases the SD was concerning itself with Party matters, and complaints were accordingly made to Himmler. Correspondence with Gauleiters Florian and Weinrich of 1942/3 has been found in which both complained about the SD. Florian referred to a questionnaire issued to SD agents in the Duesseldorf Leitabschnitt [Region] asking for a detailed report on Nazi Party festivities. He added: 'My suspicion, hitherto unfortunately impossible to prove, that the SD is meddling in Party matters, is unequivocally confirmed by this questionnaire.' Weinrich wrote to the Party Chancellery that he had been watching the activity of the Gestapo and SD with astonishment for years, the SD being worse than the Gestapo. Many of the SD agents, he said, were "odd fish" and only junior Party members (1940 vintage); if these people continued to report on internal Party matters he would accuse them of anti-Party activity.
In the autumn of 1933 the activity of the SD received facial sanction by Ministry of the Interior decree dated 11 November.
'As an intelligence organisation for Party and State - in particular in support of the security police - the Sicherheitsdienst RFS S (SD) has important tasks to fulfil. In fulfilling them, the SD is acting in an official capacity. This necessitates close and sympathetic co-operation between the SD and the general and civil administration authorities.'
Although the available sources tell us no more of the details, it is reasonable to suppose that there was some connection between this grant of official status and confirmation of the SD monopoly, that this marked the end of the SD crisis and was the start of those further developments which led to the formation of the Reichssicherheits-hauptamt (RSHA) in the autumn of 1939.
Although in the early years of the Third Reich the SD had no true sphere of responsibility, it was nevertheless not without considerable political influence. Surrounded by the SS aura, it not only functioned as an auxiliary police force but busied itself in matters of political importance over the most varied fields. The real significance of the SD, however, lay in the fact that it produced a whole series of people who, as the years went by, came to occupy positions of political importance within the Security Police. Later, during the war, they are to be found as leaders of Einsatzkommandos [action commandos] or as Befehlshaber [Security Police Commanders] and Kommandanten [local commanders] and in influential positions within the RSHA.
Finally, as an independent formation within the Gesamt-SS, the SD had a definite organisational function; during Himmler's fusion of the SS and police, members of the police were brought under more or less severe pressure to join the SS. Members of the Sicherheitspolizei were drafted into the SD and wore SS uniform with the so-called SD diamond on the left sleeve, Since, when working in the occupied territories, the Sicherheitspolizei normally wore SS uniform, they were considered by the outside foreign observer to be the SD, just as in Germany proper they were identified with the Gestapo.
The 'Reichssicherheitshauptamt': Further Development of the Regional
and Local Organisation of the 'Sicherheitspolizei' and the SD
On 27 September 1939 the Sicherheitspolizei and the Sicherheitsdienst RFSS (SD) were amalgamated to form the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA).
(Reich Security Department - abbreviated RSHA. This abbreviation will be used throughout.) Compared to the fundamental changes of 1936, however, this did not in fact produce anything very new. Of course once again a governmental office, Chief of the Sicherheitspolizei, and a Nazi Party office, Chief of the SD, were merged into a single post "Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und dew SD" [Chief of the Security Police and SD]; In this case, however, it represented the culmination rather than initiation of a phase of development. In the first place th e Sicherheits-polizei had in practice already been divorced from the State and turned into an instrument of the Fuehrer's authority; secondly the SD was, and continued to be, only an auxiliary. In this case, therefore, the SD did not swallow up the Sicherheitspolizei but vice versa.
The "amalgamation of the Sicherheitspolizei and the SD Z entrale Aemter" [central offices] into the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) was decreed by Himmler on 27 September 1939, to take effect on 1 October 1939. The RSHA was organised as follows:
RSHA Amt 2 I was formed from:
Amt 'administration and legal' of Hauptamt Sipo
Amt I of the SD Hauptamt (less 1/3)
Abteilung 3 I of the Gestapa
Abteilung IV of the Gestapa
In charge: Dr Best. Best's presence accounted for the inclusion of Abteilung IV from the Gestapo in Amt I ; in addition to his general and organisation duties, he was responsible for the build up of the Abwehrpolizei [counter-espionage police].
RSHA Amt II was formed from:
Abteilung II/1 (investigation of opposition) from the SD Hauptamt
Abteilung 1/3 of the SD Hauptamt
In charge: Professor Six.
RSHA Amt III was formed from:
Abteilung II/2 (Spheres of German Life) 4 from the SD Hauptamt In charge : Ohlendorf.
RSHA Amt IV was formed from:
Political police department of Hauptamt Sipo.
Abteilung II of the Gestapa
Abteilung III of the Gestapa.
In charge : Heinrich Mueller.
1. Abbreviated CSSD. This abbreviation will be used throughout.
2. Branch or office.
4. Deutsche Lebensgebiete.
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