The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Accused Organisations:
Gestapo And SD:
Criminal Activity
(Part 5 of 10)

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Criminal Activity: Originally, one of the primary functions of the Gestapo was the prevention of any political opposition to the Nazi regime, a function which it performed with the assistance of the SD. The principal weapon used in performing this function was the concentration camp. The Gestapo did not have administrative control over the concentration camps, but, acting through the RSHA, was responsible for the detention of political prisoners in those camps. Gestapo officials were usually responsible for the interrogation of political prisoners at the camps.

The Gestapo and the SD also dealt with charges of treason and with questions relating to the press, the churches and the Jews. As the Nazi program of anti-Semitic persecution increased in intensity the role played by these groups became increasingly important. In the early morning of 10th November, 1938, Heydrich sent a telegram to all offices of the Gestapo and SD giving instructions for the organisation of the pogroms of that date and instructing them to arrest as many Jews as the prisons could hold "especially rich ones," but to be careful that those arrested were healthy and not too old. By 11th November, 1938, 20,000 Jews had been arrested and many were sent to concentration camps. On 24th January, 1939, Heydrich, the Chief of

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the Security Police and SD, was charged with furthering the emigration and evacuation of Jews from Germany, and on 31st July, 1941, with bringing about a complete solution of the Jewish problem in German dominated Europe. A special section of the Gestapo office of the RSHA under Standartenfuehrer Eichmann was set up with responsibility for Jewish matters which employed its own agents to investigate the Jewish problem in occupied territory Local offices of the Gestapo were used first to supervise the emigration of Jews and later to deport them to the East both from Germany and from the territories occupied during the war. Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and SD operating behind the lines of the Eastern Front engaged in the wholesale massacre of Jews. A special detachment from Gestapo headquarters in the RSHA was used to arrange for the deportation of Jews from Axis satellites to Germany for the "final solution."

Local offices of the Security Police and SD played an important role in the German administration of occupied territories. The nature of their participation is shown by measures taken in the summer of 1938 in preparation for the attack on Czechoslovakia which was then in contemplation. Einsatzgruppen of the Gestapo and SD were organized to follow the Army into Czechoslovakia to provide for the security of political life in the occupied territories. Plans were made for the infiltration of SD men into the area in advance, and for the building up of a system of files to indicate what inhabitants should be placed under surveillance, deprived of passports, or liquidated. These plans were considerably altered due to the cancellation of the attack on Czechoslovakia, but in the military operations which actually occurred, particularly in the war against USSR, Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and SD went into operation, and combined brutal measures for the pacification of the civilian population with the wholesale slaughter of Jews. Heydrich gave orders to fabricate incidents on the Polish-German frontier in 1939 which would give Hitler sufficient provocation to attack Poland. Both Gestapo and SD personnel were involved in these operations.

The local units of the Security Police and SD continued their work in the occupied territories after they had ceased to be an area of operations. The Security Police and SD engaged in widespread arrests of the civilian population of these occupied countries, imprisoned many of them under inhumane conditions, subjected them to brutal third degree methods, and sent many of them to concentration camps. Local units of the Security Police and SD were also involved in the shooting of hostages, the imprisonment of relatives, the execution of persons charged as terrorists and saboteurs without a trial, and the enforcement of the "Nacht und Nebel" decrees under which persons charged with a type of offense believed to endanger the security of the occupying forces were either executed within a week or secretly removed to Germany without being permitted to communicate with their family and friends.

Offices of the Security Police and SD were involved in the administration of the Slave Labor Program. In some occupied territories they helped local labor authorities to meet the quotas imposed by Sauckel. Gestapo offices inside of Germany were given surveillance over slave laborers and responsibility for apprehending those who were absent from their place of work. The Gestapo also had charge of the so- called work training camps. Although both German and foreign workers could be committed to these camps, they played a significant role in forcing foreign laborers to work for the German war effort. In the latter stages of the war as the SS embarked on a slave labor program of its own, the Gestapo was used to arrest workers for the purpose of insuring an adequate supply in the concentration camps.

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The local offices of the Security Police and SD were also involved in the commission of War Crimes involving the mistreatment and murder of prisoners of war. Soviet prisoners of war in prisoner of war camps in Germany were screened by Einsatz Kommandos acting under the directions of the local Gestapo offices. Commissars, Jews, members of the intelligentsia, "fanatical Communists" and even those who were considered incurably sick were classified as "intolerable," and exterminated. The local offices of the Security Police and SD were involved in the enforcement of the "Bullet" decree, put into effect on 4th March, 1944, under which certain categories of prisoners of war, who were recaptured, were not treated as prisoners of war but taken to Mauthausen in secret and shot. Members of the Security Police and SD were charged with the enforcement of the decree for the shooting of parachutists and commandos.


The Gestapo and SD were used for purposes which were criminal under the Charter involving the persecution and extermination of the Jews, brutalities, and killings in concentration camps, excesses in the administration of occupied territories, the administration of the slave labor program, and the mistreatment and murder of prisoners of war. The defendant Kaltenbrunner, who was a member of this organisation, was among those who used it for these purposes. In dealing with the Gestapo the Tribunal includes all executive and administrative officials of Amt IV of the RSHA or concerned with Gestapo administration in other departments of the RSHA and all local Gestapo officials serving both inside and outside of Germany, including the members of the Frontier Police, but not including the members of the Border and Customs Protection or the Secret Field Police, except such members as have been specified above. At the suggestion of the Prosecution the Tribunal does not include persons employed by the Gestapo for purely clerical, stenographic, janitorial, or similar unofficial routine tasks. In dealing with the SD the Tribunal includes Amts III, VI, and VII of the RSHA and all other members of the SD, including all local representatives and agents, honorary or otherwise, whether they were technically members of the SS or not.

The Tribunal declares to be criminal within the meaning of the Charter the group composed of those members of the Gestapo and SD holding the positions enumerated in the preceding paragraph who became or remained members of the organisation with knowledge that it was being used for the commission of acts declared criminal by Article 6 of the Charter, or who were personally implicated as members of the organisation in the commission of such crimes. The basis for this finding is the participation of the organisation in war crimes and crimes against humanity connected with the war; this group declared criminal cannot include, therefore, persons who had ceased to hold the positions enumerated in the preceding paragraph prior to 1st December, 1939.

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