The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Accused Organisations:
Gestapo And SD
(Part 4 of 10)

[Page 71]

Structure and Component Parts: The Prosecution has named Die Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) and Der Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsfuehrer SS (SD) as groups or organisations which should be declared criminal. The Prosecution presented the cases against the Gestapo and SD together, stating that this was necessary because of the close working relationship between them. The Tribunal permitted the SD to present its defense separately because of a claim of conflicting interests, but after examining the evidence has decided to consider the case of the Gestapo and SD together.

The Gestapo and the SD were first linked together on 26th June, 1936, by the appointment of Heydrich, who was the Chief of the SD, to the position of Chief of the Security Police, which was defined to include both the Gestapo and the Criminal Police. Prior to that time the SD had been the intelligence agency, first of the SS, and, after 4th June, 1934, of the entire Nazi Party. The Gestapo had been composed of the various political police forces of the several German Federal states which had been unified under the personal leadership of Himmler, with the assistance of Goering. Himmler had been appointed Chief of the German Police in the Ministry of the Interior on 17th June, 1936, and in his capacity as Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police issued his decree of 26th June, 1936, which placed both the Criminal Police, or Kripo, and the Gestapo in the Security Police, and placed both the Security Police and the SD under he command of Heydrich.

This consolidation under the leadership of Heydrich of the Security Police, a State organisation, and the SD, a Party organisation, was formalized by the decree of 27th September, 1939, which united the various State and Party offices which were under Heydrich as Chief of the Security Police and SD into one administrative unit, the Reichs Security Head Office (RSHA) which was at the same time both one of the principal offices (Hauptamter) of the SS under Himmler as Reichsfuehrer SS and an office in the Ministry of the Interior under Himmler as Chief of the German Police. The internal structure of the RSHA shows the manner in which it consolidated the offices of the Security Police with those of the SD. The RSHA was divided into seven offices (Amter), two of which (Amt I and Amt II) dealt with administrative

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matters. The Security Police were represented by Amt IV, the head office of the Gestapo, and by Amt V, the head office of the Criminal Police. The SD were represented by Amt III, the head office for SD activities inside Germany, by Amt VI, the head office for SD activities outside of Germany and by Amt VII, the office for ideological research. Shortly after the creation of the RSHA, in November, 1939, the Security Police was "coordinated" with the SS by taking all officials of the Gestapo and Criminal Police into the SS at ranks equivalent to their positions.

The creation of the RSHA represented the formalisation, at the top level, of the relationship under which the SD served as the intelligence agency for the Security Police. A similar coordination existed in the local offices. Within Germany and areas which were incorporated within the Reich for the purpose of civil administration local offices of the Gestapo, Criminal Police, and SD were formally separate. They were subject to coordination by Inspectors of the Security Police and SD on the staffs of the local Higher SS and Police Leaders, however, and one of the principal functions of the local SD units was to serve as the intelligence agency for the local Gestapo units. In the occupied territories, the formal relationship between local units of the Gestapo, Criminal Police, and SD was slightly closer. They were organized into local units of the Security Police and SD and were under the control of both the RSHA and of the Higher SS and Police Leader who was appointed by Himmler to serve on the staff of the occupying authority. The offices of the Security Police and SD in occupied territory were composed of departments corresponding to the various Amts of the RSHA. In occupied territories which were still considered to be operational military areas or where German control had not been formally established, the organisation of the Security Police and SD was only slightly changed. Members of the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD were joined together into military type organisations known as Einsatz Kommandos and Einsatzgruppen in which the key positions were held by members of the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD and in which members of the Order Police, the Waffen SS and even the Wehrmacht were used as auxiliaries. These organisations were under the over-all control of the RSHA, but in front line areas were under the operational control of the appropriate Army Commander.

It can thus be seen that from a functional point of view both the Gestapo and the SD were important and closely related groups within the organisation of the Security Police and the SD. The Security Police and SD was under a single command, that of Heydrich and later Kaltenbrunner, as Chief of the Security Police and SD it had a single headquarters, the RSHA; it had its own command channels and worked as one organisation both in Germany, in occupied territories, and in the areas immediately behind the front lines. During the period with which the Tribunal is primarily concerned applicants for positions in the Security Police and SD received training in all its components, the Gestapo, Criminal Police, and D. Some confusion has been caused by the fact that part of the organisation was technically a formation of the Nazi Party while another part of the organisation was an office in the Government, but this of no particular significance in view of the law of 1st December, 1933, declaring the unity of the Nazi Party and the German State.

The Security Police and SD was a voluntary organisation. It is true that many civil servants and administrative officials were transferred into the Security Police. The claim that this transfer was compulsory amounts to nothing more than the claim that they had to accept the transfer or resign their positions, with a possibility of having incurred official disfavor. During the war a member of the Security Police and SD did not have a free choice of assignments within that organisation and the refusal to accept a particular

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position, especially when serving in occupied territory, might have led to serious punishment. The fact remains, however, that members of the Security Police and SD joined the organisation voluntarily under no other sanction than the desire to retain their positions as officials.

The organisation of the Security Police and SD also include three special units which must be dealt with separately. The first of these was the Frontier Police or Grenzpolizei which came under the control of the Gestapo in 1937. Their duties consisted in the control of passage over the borders of Germany. They arrested persons who crossed illegally. It is also clear from the evidence presented that they received directives from the Gestapo to transfer foreign workers whom they apprehended to concentration camps They could also request the local office of the Gestapo for permission to commit persons arrested to concentration camps. The Tribunal is of the opinion that the Frontier Police must be included in charge of criminality against the Gestapo.

The border and customs protection or Zollgrenzschutz became part of the Gestapo in the summer of 1944. The functions of organisation were similar to the Frontier Police in enforcing border regulations with particular respect to the prevention of smuggling. It does not appear, however, that their transfer was complete but about half of their personnel of 54,000 remained under the Reich Finance Administration or the Order Police. A few days before the end of the war the whole organisation was transferred back to the Reich Finance Administration. The transfer of the organisation to Gestapo was so late and it participated so little in the over-all activities of the organisation that the Tribunal does not feel that it should be dealt with in considering the criminality of the Gestapo.

The third organisation was the so-called Secret Field Police which was originally under the Army but which in 1942 was transferred by military order to the Security Police. The Secret Field police was concerned with security matters within the Army in occupied territory, and also with the prevention of attacks by civilians on military installations or units, and committed War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity on a wide scale. It has not been proved, however, that it was a part of the Gestapo and the Tribunal does not consider it as coming within the charge of criminality contained in the Indictment, except such members as may have been transferred to Amt IV of the RSHA or were members of organisations declared criminal by this Judgment.

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