secret State Police

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Secret State Police Main Office; Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8 in Berlin (1933)

The Secret State Police , or Gestapo for short (until 1936 also Gestapa for Secret State Police Office ), was a criminal police authority and the political police during the Nazi era from 1933 to 1945. It emerged shortly after the NSDAP came to power in 1933 from the Prussian secret police and from the corresponding areas of the police in the states of the Weimar Republic . In 1939 the Gestapo was incorporated into the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) (Office IV). As an instrument ofNational Socialist government she had far-reaching powers in the fight against political opponents . In the Nuremberg trials it was declared a criminal organization . The Gestapo was notorious for its brutal torture and investigation methods to force statements during interrogations.

Organizational development

Founded in 1933 and the first years until 1936

Hermann Göring appoints Heinrich Himmler as head of the Gestapo (Berlin, April 20, 1934)

On January 30, 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler as Reich Chancellor , who in turn appointed Hermann Göring to his cabinet as Reich Commissioner for the Prussian Ministry of the Interior . On the same day, he in turn appointed Rudolf Diels , head of the political police force of the Prussian Ministry of the Interior (3 units in Department II) , as head of Department IA , the Prussian political police , whose main task was to observe and combat political opponents. On March 3, 1933, a Prussian ministerial ordinance repealed the police's restrictions on competencies. This was the first step towards releasing the Gestapo from its obligation to comply with the law. On April 11th, Goering also became Prime Minister of Prussia. With his decree of April 26, 1933, the Prussian secret police was spun off from the police apparatus and the Secret State Police Office (Gestapa) was formed, which was directly subordinate to the Prussian Minister of the Interior, Hermann Göring, and had the position of a state police authority. Diels once said of the name Gestapa / Gestapo that it was an independent invention of the Reichspost, which arbitrarily abbreviated the long name of the office and added it to the stamps used. With the second Gestapo law of November 30, 1933, the Gestapo became a completely independent branch of the internal administration, which was directly subordinate to the Prime Minister (Göring). With a decree of March 9, 1934, Göring also transferred the top management of the state police from the office of the Prussian Minister of the Interior to the office of the Prussian Prime Minister, before Wilhelm Frick also became the Prussian Minister of the Interior with effect from May 1, 1934 .

In the first years of Nazi rule, the power struggle over the leadership of the political police in the Reich had not yet been decided. From 1933 to 1936 there were rivalries regarding the restructuring and management of the police units, especially between Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler and Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick. Starting in Bavaria, by April 1934, Himmler had gradually united the responsibilities for the political police in the non-Prussian states (except for the small Schaumburg-Lippe , which only followed after Prussia) to his person.

On April 1, 1934, Diels was dismissed as the Prussian Gestapo chief and on April 20, 1934 Heinrich Himmler became inspector and deputy chief of the Prussian Gestapo, but in fact he was already in command. Direct management was handed over to Reinhard Heydrich , previously head of the Bavarian Political Police (BPP) and reporting to Himmler there. Now the Gestapo developed into a nationwide large organization for spying on the population and eliminating opponents of the regime, which was closely interwoven with the SS . Organizationally and legally, it was strongly influenced by Heydrich's deputy Werner Best . Göring tried to regain control of the Gestapo in Prussia, but on November 20, 1934, he felt compelled to transfer the business of the entire Prussian Secret State Police to Himmler under his sole responsibility. Goering, on the other hand, now concentrated on expanding the air force .

Development from 1936

Gestapo order for protective custody against an "incorrigible homosexual" (Berlin 1940)

On June 17, 1936, Heinrich Himmler was appointed head of the entire German police force on the basis of Hitler's “Decree by the Führer and Reich Chancellor on the appointment of a chief of the German police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior ”.

This meant that the various police associations such as the protective police, gendarmerie and local police were no longer under the supervision of the interior ministries of the federal states, but the police were centralized. Officially, Himmler was subordinate to Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, but in fact he was now one of the most powerful men in the state. He fundamentally restructured the police administration. On August 20, 1943, he also became Minister of the Interior. Himmler had subdivided the "Ordnungspolizei" and the "Sicherheitspolizei" separately. The Gestapo was now nominally subordinate to him. In particular, the state police stations (political police) in the non-Prussian states were clearly assigned to the Gestapo at this time, although the Gauleiter, as in Hamburg, for example, still had an influence on the work of the state police stations. The Gestapo was merged with the criminal police in the Security Police Office (Sipo), which Reinhard Heydrich again took over. Directly responsible for combating the opponents of the regime was the Gestapo as Department II (Political Police), headed by Heinrich Müller . In addition, the Gestapo now became an instrument of repression to take action against the political opponents of National Socialism . However, it was mainly the minority of Jews who were persecuted. It also went against other minorities such as homosexuals , so-called " anti - social and work-shy " as well as the underground Jehovah's Witnesses .

Joint training by the Gestapo, Kripo and SD from 1938

A decree of February 18, 1938, which regulated career guidelines for the enforcement service of the Security Police (Kripo, Gestapo) and SD, prescribed a joint training course for Kripo, Gestapo and SD.

The applicants for the simple police enforcement service and the subordinate service of the SD completed a 12-month training course. Of these, 9 months consisted of internships at offices of the criminal police, the state police and the SD. Kripo trainees spent 8 months with the Kripo and 1 month with the SD. Gestapo and SD candidates went to the state police for 5 months and to Kripo and SD for 2 months each. This was followed by a 3-month course at the criminal school of the security police in Berlin-Charlottenburg. The training ended with the 1st specialist examination to become a criminal assistant.

The hiring in the senior criminal police service took place after an entrance examination as a criminal inspector candidate. After 13 months of practical training, the candidate was seconded to a nine-month course at the driving school of the Security Police (Sipo) in Berlin-Charlottenburg. The practical training of the Kripo differed from that of the Gestapo and SD. Kripo trainees spent 7 months at the police station, 2 months at the Gestapo, 3 months at the SD and 6 months each in the police station and in the police administration service. Candidates from the Gestapo and SD completed 6 months with the Gestapo, 3 months with the Kripo, 3 months with the SD and 6 months each with the protection police and the administrative police. After passing the exam to become a detective inspector, immediate promotion to an auxiliary criminal inspector was mandatory. The assignment of a post (and thus the further promotion to the detective detective on probation) took place within a few days. After a probation period of six to 24 months, he was promoted to extraordinary detective inspector.

Merger to form the Reich Security Main Office in 1939

The next change took place on September 27, 1939: Gestapo and criminal police were merged as parts of the security police with the security service (SD) to form the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). The Gestapo now operated as Department IV of the RSHA with the designation “Combat against opponents” and stood next to the departments for “Opponent Research”, “German Areas of Life” and the former foreign service, all of which had emerged from the SD. The Gestapo was to retain this position in the structure of the Nazi state until 1945. Until its dissolution after the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht, the Gestapo had become part of a power conglomerate in which the distinction between the actual police authority and the organizational units belonging to the SS, i.e. a political organization, was no longer possible.

The internal structure of the Gestapo changed in parallel to the change in subordination: after it was founded, it was divided into ten departments, one of which was responsible for Generalia and one for protective custody matters. The other eight departments had the task of monitoring one political movement each. The Gestapo adhered to this organizational principle even after it had been subordinated to Himmler and Heydrich and now consisted of three main departments (administration, political police, and defense police). When it was merged with the criminal police to form the security police in 1936, an office for administration and personnel was created that regulated the interests of both police establishments. The merger of the security police with the SD to form the RSHA did not change this division, so that the Gestapo formed a specialist department in the RSHA according to the business distribution plan. During the Second World War, the specialist units, which focused on the persecution of one enemy group, were supplemented by state units that were responsible for the occupied territories. The Abwehr Police was finally renamed the Border Police Department and monitored customs and immigration activities.

Development of the number of employees

With various organizational changes and the increasing scope of tasks, the number of Gestapo employees steadily increased. While the Secret State Police Office was a staff organization with less than 50 employees in 1933 to coordinate the repressive measures carried out against political opponents during the consolidation phase of the regime, the Gestapo presented a different picture in 1935. With around 4,200 employees, the State Police Office and the control centers formed their nationwide surveillance and tracking apparatus in 1935. For 1937 a total of 7,000 employees can be assumed. For 1941, 14,835 Gestapo members were recorded on the payroll, of which, however, around 4,000 were deployed outside the Reich. When the war broke out, the Gestapo not only expanded its persecution measures spatially, but also fought against new groups of opponents. At the end of the Third Reich, no fewer than 31,000 men were employed.

Regional structures

At the same time as the establishment of the Gestapa in Berlin, state police stations were set up in large cities (mostly the seat of a regional council, a district administration or an upper presidium) whose internal structure was similar to the Gestapa and which were directly subordinate to it. After 1937/38, some central Stapo control centers were set up, to which other Stapo offices, branch offices, branches and border commissariats were subordinate. There were a total of 63 Stapo offices, of which the most important were control offices . The respective offices were subordinate to the Berlin Gestapa, after 1936 also to the regional inspector of the Security Police and the SD, and after the start of the war also to the newly founded RSHA. After 1939, further offices and control centers were set up in the occupied territories of Europe, which were subordinate to the respective commander of the security police and the SD .

In the Nazi state there were Stapo control centers in Berlin, Breslau, Brno, Danzig, Dortmund, Dresden, Düsseldorf , Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg , Hanover, Karlsruhe, Katowice, Königsberg, Magdeburg , Munich, Münster / Westphalia, Nuremberg-Fürth, Posen , Prague, Reichenberg (south), Stettin, Stuttgart and Vienna (from 1938).

Subordinate to them were further Stapo offices with their respective branch offices and branches: Aachen (belonged to the Düsseldorf control center area), Bielefeld, Braunschweig, Bremen, Bromberg, Chemnitz, Darmstadt, Dessau (until 1941 an independent state police station in Dessau , then a field office of the Magdeburg state police station), Eisenstadt (from 1938, control center area Vienna), Erfurt (merged with the state police station Weimar from July 1941), Frankfurt / Oder, Graz (from 1938, control center area Vienna), Halle / Saale, Innsbruck (from 1938, control center area Vienna), Karlsbad, Kassel, Kiel ( Control center area Hamburg), Klagenfurt (from 1938, control center area Vienna), Koblenz (control center area Düsseldorf), Cologne (control center area Düsseldorf), Leipzig, Limburg a .d. Lahn (from 1944, control center area Frankfurt / Main), Linz / Danube (from 1938, control center area Vienna), Litzmannstadt (Lodz / Warthegau ) (from 1939), Oppeln, Potsdam (control center area Berlin), Regensburg, Saarbrücken, Salzburg (from 1938, Control center area Vienna), Schwerin, Tilsit, Troppau, Weimar and in Zichenau-Schröttersburg. Until October 1943 there were also Stapo positions in Graudenz, Hohensalza, Köslin, Schneidemühl, Trier and Wilhelmshaven.

The spatial-regional division could turn out very differently and depended on security police aspects. From 1939, for example, the state police stations in Cologne, Koblenz and Aachen were subordinate to the state police headquarters in Düsseldorf. It thus covered the entire Prussian Rhine Province (division by province). The state police headquarters in Münster and Dortmund were responsible for the administrative districts of Münster and Arnsberg (division according to administrative districts). The state police headquarters in Wilhelmshaven was responsible for East Frisia. The Secret State Police Office in Karlsruhe was responsible for the entire Baden region (division according to the population-political aspects of a region).

State police practice and groups of opponents

Main hall of the Secret State Police Office in Berlin (1934)
Release certificate from prison with the immediate transfer of the prisoner to the concentration camp (1936)

In the early years, the Gestapo built up intensive domestic political reporting. The various state police stations informed the Nazi authorities in detail about the approval that the regime received from the population. This activity was stopped in 1936 and transferred to the SD a year later. The reason for this was that the Gestapo reports were accused of establishing fragile loyalty among the population and thus possibly promoting defeatism . The basis for this was the decree on separation of functions of July 1, 1937, in which Heydrich regulated the different areas of responsibility of the SD and Gestapo: The Gestapo was solely responsible for observing and combating Marxism , treason and emigration - and thus for solid political resistance. In numerous other areas, the two secret services shared the observation, which was only evaluated by the SD with regard to the mood of the population. Information he gained about political opponents he passed on to the Gestapo, which initiated persecution measures.

From 1936 onwards, the only task was to fight the political and ideological opponents of the regime and National Socialism. In doing so, it had a wide range of instruments at its disposal, which began with relatively harmless fines and ban on taverns and culminated in the serial executions of political opponents of the Nazi regime during the last years of the war. What all these measures had in common was that they were ordered and carried out without review by courts or other administrative authorities. Only when the Gestapo considered it expedient, for example in the pursuit of prominent opponents of the regime, did they hand over the cases to the judiciary , which was nazified from 1933 onwards.

The most important instrument of the Gestapo for combating political opponents of National Socialism was the so-called protective custody . Before 1933, this was only used for short-term custody of people. The emergency ordinance after the Reichstag fire repealed time limits and judicial review. By decree of the Reich Minister of the Interior of January 25, 1938, only the Secret State Police Office in Berlin was allowed to order protective custody. This was generally carried out in concentration camps . The opportunity was not infrequently used to kill the political opponent. This gave the Gestapo an instrument to correct unpleasant judgments. If the victims had served a sentence imposed by the courts, they were taken into protective custody after their release and sent to a concentration camp on the basis of the same allegations.

The fight against political opponents was a focus of the work of the Gestapo. In the early years, the Gestapo infiltrated conspiratorial groups that had developed out of the banned political parties. Members of these organizations were persuaded to cooperate through threats, the use of force and material advantages. These informants ensured that an organized resistance was crushed before the war began. Special commissions were set up to fight political opponents in later years, for example after Heydrich's murder or the attempted assassination of July 20, 1944 on Hitler.

Common interrogation methods were extortion, flattery, confrontation with real or falsified evidence and with real or fake statements from fellow inmates. Information was also obtained through torture and used in subsequent trials. The arrested were insulted, humiliated and threatened as part of the “ intensified interrogation ” or beaten with a rubber baton , bull pizzle , whip , stick or other object. When the accused then brought the torture before the People's Court , as in the proceedings against the resistance group around Heinrich Maier, the judicial verdict stated that, according to the credible statements of the Gestapo officials, no unlawful means of coercion were used against any prisoner to obtain statements. Some convicts, such as Heinrich Maier, were taken into protective custody in the Mauthausen concentration camp even after the People's Court trial and were severely tortured in order to obtain further information. The Gestapo wanted to use the discovery of the Red Orchestra to deceive the Soviet war opponent in cooperation with the Wehrmacht with radio games . The Gestapo also combated critical expressions of opinion about the regime that had been declared illegal by the Treachery Act. For this she primarily used denunciations .

Block of stamps depicting resistance fighters of the Red Orchestra from the GDR

Parallel to the fight against political opponents, which should serve to stabilize the regime, the ideological goals of National Socialism also found their way into the work of the Gestapo. So ideological opponents such as homosexuals or "work-shy" came into the sights of the secret police.

The measures against homosexuals intensified massively in the course of the Third Reich. Initially, the Gestapo relied on raids on the scene and passed most of the cases on to the judiciary, but in later years it continued to denounce and enforce reckless imprisonment in concentration camps. Cynically, the accused were given a choice between castration and further detention. So-called anti-socials were harassed with protective custody in the early years , later the Gestapo bundled these persecution measures. In 1940 so-called labor education camps (AEL) were set up, to which people could be admitted for “not fulfilling their duty to work”. According to a circular issued by the Reichsführer SS on December 15, 1942, education camps under the direction of the state police headquarters were set up in the larger companies that had no labor education camp in their vicinity. The prisoners were guarded by members of the works security .

During the war, the Gestapo expanded its persecution measures to include new groups of opponents. The countless prisoners of war and forced laborers had to be monitored, which tied about half of the staff. The focus of attention was on strolling around, sabotage in the factories and work stoppages as well as unauthorized contact with Germans, for example doing business on the black market or sexual intercourse. In the second half of the war, the forced labor resistance organized itself either in a conspiratorial manner in the factories or, in the case of forced laborers who had escaped, in the form of small groups that hid in the big cities. The Gestapo then resorted to increasingly brutal methods, especially Eastern European and Soviet forced laborers were executed in large numbers and without trial. The Gestapo was also active in the occupied countries and fought the resistance movements there. The brutal treatment of entire sections of the population was to find a direct continuation in Germany after the Wehrmacht had to withdraw from more and more countries. During the last months of the war the Gestapo executed their prisoners indiscriminately in many places before the places were taken by Allied troops.

In addition, the Gestapo took on crucial functions in connection with the persecution, deportation and murder of European Jews during the Second World War. While the Gestapo limited itself to individual actions in the early phase of Nazi rule in the persecution of the Jews , it took on a leading role in the perpetrator conglomerate at the latest from the beginning of the war. Like other police formations, Gestapo men were assigned to the Einsatzgruppen , which carried out summary executions behind the front . But the more important role in the murder of European Jewry did not play the Gestapo in the newly conquered areas, but in Berlin, the political center of the Third Reich. The notorious Judenreferat under Adolf Eichmann was a Gestapo office (IV B 4) in the RSHA, from where the anti-Jewish measures were coordinated. The deportation of Jews from Germany was carried out under the auspices of the Gestapo as a division of labor and bureaucratic process in which the secret police worked closely with the Reichsbahn and made use of the local police stations. This annihilation by the general staff came to an end in the factory operation , in the planning and implementation of which the Gestapo was equally involved. Previous discriminatory measures such as admission to Jewish houses were also planned by the Gestapo and implemented by the Stapo control centers.

Gestapo and the Nazi movement

The leadership elite of the secret police were recruited from a predominantly bourgeois background. These were young career academics, almost all of whom were lawyers and to a large extent had doctorates . With a few exceptions, all Stapo supervisors had a high school diploma . In addition to this high level of education, there was not infrequently a certain distance from individual positions of National Socialism or from its character as a mass and party movement. As a generation of the “new objectivity”, which had gained their political socialization in the unstable 1920s, its members were career-led, often ethnically oriented, elitist and anti-republican. They put the effectiveness and efficiency of state administrative action and a tator-oriented leader principle over a containment through basic rights and the rule of law.

This mentality can be seen in the membership of Gestapo members in political organizations. A substantial part, around two thirds, were involved in a Nazi organization. In the headquarters, close ties to the SS state established themselves early on: 49.9% of the members belonged to the SS , 31.1% to the SD and thus to the most elitist organizations within the Nazi movement. It was precisely these memberships that established a special relationship of loyalty, because these Gestapo members were not only subordinate to Himmler as employers, but also in his function as Reichsführer SS. In contrast, there were considerable differences between the regional offices, for example many Gestapo members in the Westphalian branches of the SA . The close connection between the actually state Gestapo and the SD as the secret service of the Nazi movement was also evident in a lively exchange of personnel between the two organizations.

Rapid personnel expansion of the Gestapo, personnel selection and penetration by the Nazi movement influenced each other. In the early years, recruiting was mainly from the police force and there was pressure to become a member of a Nazi organization. This relationship was reversed in later years. The technically high qualification level could no longer be maintained and SS men trained in crash courses entered the service, so that de facto SS membership became an important criterion in personnel selection.

Gestapo and German society

Current historical research, in spite of its considerable increase in personnel, no longer assesses the Gestapo as an omnipotent organization that practically observed all of German society across the board , as it did in the 1950s and 1960s . This “Gestapo myth” was cultivated in public by Heydrich and other employees in order to exaggerate the effects of the persecution measures. But it did not correspond to reality. Rather, in the best-observed city, Berlin, around 4,000 inhabitants per Gestapo officer, in the Prussian province a secret service employee had to deal with the possibly anti-regime activities of 25,000 residents.

The Gestapo could not only rely on its own operations, as its staff were insufficient, but was dependent on support from the population. This was done by the recruitment of undercover agents , but during the Second World War reinforced by denunciations that from the center of the population came.

V-people were recruited by the Gestapo mainly in groups that were resistant to National Socialism, such as the social democratic or communist workers or the Catholic milieu. During the war, the Gestapo recruited informants from among the forced laborers in order to be able to better control this group. The threats of protective custody, material advantages and ideological convictions are the most important motives for informers to cooperate. The cooperation between V-people and the Gestapo was correspondingly different: Delaying informing the Gestapo in order to protect the members of the own group stood alongside active participation in the persecution. Overall, there is a considerable shortage of sources for research into this matter, mainly for internal reasons of the Gestapo. On the one hand, informants could not testify to their victims themselves in court because otherwise their anonymity would have been endangered, on the other hand, according to the decree of the Reich Ministry of the Interior of October 12, 1944, the Gestapo succeeded in destroying official documents almost everywhere to blur.

The Gestapo opened up a further source of denunciations, i.e. indications from the population about crimes. These mostly concerned actions and statements that were criminalized by the regime. For example, political assessments of the accused were passed on and formed the basis for investigations, protective custody proceedings and trials. The informers rarely turned to the Gestapo directly, rather the reports were often passed on by the Schutzpolizei ( SchuPo ) or by the party. The Nazi organizations in particular used the information provided to them at their own discretion and only then passed it on to the Gestapo. Even if no figures are available for the entire territory of the Reich, numerous local studies show the paramount importance of denunciations for the Gestapo's practice. According to Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Gerhard Paul , the general willingness to denounce the population represented "the central investigative body of the Gestapo, the quantitatively and qualitatively most important resource of state police knowledge [...]." Robert Gellately describes the population of the Nazi state, the majority of whom were Hitler's goals shared, hence as a "self-monitoring society".

Although the Gestapo succeeded in putting considerable parts of the population into service for the regime, denunciations proved to be problematic in practice. Similar to the recruitment of informants, a wide range of informers, accused and alleged motives for denunciations can be assumed. From the large number of individual cases, historical research has identified a recurrent pattern: denunciations were a significant part of magisterial hearing , low net worth, income and poorly educated social circles and directed often than the average to higher social strata of society. The Gestapo also recognized this instrumentalization of denunciation to act out social conflicts, without wanting to face this difficulty in state police practice.

Post-war history of the Gestapo

Arrested Gestapo employees after the liberation of Liège by the Allies (around October 1944)

With the Control Council Act No. 2 of October 10, 1945, the Gestapo was banned by the Allied Control Council and its property was confiscated. In the Nuremberg trials it was declared a criminal organization . High officials had to answer in the follow-up processes or were convicted for their actions in other European countries. The behavior of the middle and lower ranks was judged by the court proceedings , which often prevented further employment in police authorities .

1951 granted amnesty to the American High Commissioner John J. McCloy many of them. Section 67 of the Act regulating the legal relationships of persons falling under Article 131 of the Basic Law also facilitated the re-employment of civil servants who had been incriminated. As a result of this regulation, numerous former Gestapo employees returned to the police and judiciary in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s. One can therefore speak of a creeping and silent integration of the employees of this organization of the Third Reich into the society of post-war Germany.

One of the most important collections of sources on the Gestapo is stored in the State Archive of North Rhine-Westphalia Rhineland Department in Duisburg, where its activities in the Rhineland are documented.

Remnants of buildings from the topography of terror

The buildings on the Prinz Albrecht site were partly destroyed during the war or demolished after the war. In the 1970s, among other things, a construction waste company and an autodrome used the open space for driving without a license.

In the early 1980s, several initiatives campaigned to build a memorial on the site. As a result, the museum project Topography of Terror came into being in 1987 . On the site of the former Prinz-Albrecht-Straße 8 , today Niederkirchnerstraße 8 in the Kreuzberg district, the headquarters of the Secret State Police , in a former arts and crafts school, efforts are being made to document the Nazis' terror apparatus. In the immediate vicinity was the Prinz-Albrecht-Palais at Wilhelmstrasse 102, which became the headquarters of the SS Security Service (SD) from 1934 and the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) from 1939 . The former Hotel Prinz-Albrecht, Prinz-Albrecht-Straße 9 , was the seat of the “Reichsführung SS” from 1934 onwards. This ensemble of buildings is summarized today under the term “Prince Albrecht site”. The documentation center at Niederkirchnerstrasse 8 is one of the state museums in Berlin .

Remnants of the house prison in the cellar of the Secret State Police have been preserved and are now a listed building. They are open to the public as part of the Topography of Terror exhibition . Between 1933 and 1945 around 15,000 political prisoners were detained and interrogated in the prison cells. The prison was notorious for its torture methods and for many prisoners it was a transit station to the concentration camps.

Gestapo in Austria

With Himmler's decree of March 18, 1938, the state police headquarters in Vienna and state police stations in Linz , Salzburg , Klagenfurt , Innsbruck and Eisenstadt were established. After the Austrian federal states were divided into Reichsgaue , the Eisenstadt Stapo post was divided between Vienna and Graz . In Wiener Neustadt , St. Pölten and Znaim , branch offices of the Stapo office in Vienna were created. The Stapo control center in Vienna was able to issue instructions to the other Stapo units and request reports. Each Stapo post was also directly subordinate to the Secret State Police Office (Gestapa), later to the Reich Security Main Office . The respective Higher SS and Police Leader could also give instructions to the Stapo positions. For their part, the Stapostellen were able to make use of the district and regulatory police authorities . Between 1940 and 1944, the Stapo headquarters were directed from Berlin directly and without the involvement of the Stapo headquarters in Vienna.

State Police Headquarters Vienna

The former Hotel Métropole on Morzinplatz, from 1938 to 1945 the seat of the Vienna Gestapo

The Vienna Gestapo, based in the former Hotel Métropole on Morzinplatz, was the largest Gestapo office in the German Reich with around 900 employees. Every day up to 500 people were summoned here for questioning or brought in after they had been arrested. Karl Ebner , the deputy head of the Vienna Gestapo control center, euphemistically called this "party traffic". In total, at least 50,000 people are likely to have ended up in the mills of Vienna's Gestapo. Around 12,000 people are recorded in the present ID card index of the Vienna Gestapo; Photos were taken (see example photo on the right: " Maria Fischer ", ID card file of the Gestapo control center Vienna) and the "criminal class" was recorded on "photography tickets".

The citizens arrested by the Gestapo were brought directly into the cellar, which served as a prison and torture chamber, through a back entrance in Salztorgasse. Through physical and psychological violence, confessions and denunciations were extorted here - often resulting in death . The prisoners were brutally beaten, kicked, hung on cell bars for days and put on dehydration. In some cases, prisoners were transferred to concentration camps for execution immediately after being questioned, even without a trial. When judicial proceedings took place, the responsible Nazi judges judged the allegations of Gestapo torture as completely implausible (as, for example, in the proceedings against the members of the Maier-Messner-Caldonazzi resistance group ) or, even after the war, asserted them untruthfully Proceedings against her for abuse of official authority and torture that there never were “intensified interrogations” in Vienna. The first large wave of arrests in March and April 1938, which primarily targeted well-known opponents of National Socialism and Jews, was coordinated by the Gestapo in the Hotel Métropole, as were the subsequent deportation transports to the concentration camps. In 1938 the resistance group around Karl Burian planned the demolition of this Gestapo headquarters with the construction plans of the Hotel Métropole provided for this purpose by the former owner Markus Friediger, but the resistance group was arrested before the plan could be implemented.

The Vienna control center was regarded by the National Socialists as "the most successful Gestapo headquarters in the Reich", with the Vienna Gestapo officials working extensively with V-people. The Gestapo headquarters in Vienna exceeded the budget provided for in the guidelines for the remuneration of spy services by five times. The Gestapo paid not only professional criminals, but also prominent socialist politicians, high-ranking RS activists, top international KPÖ functionaries and communist activists. Hans Pav, Ludwig Leser , Kurt Dernberger, Robert Frank, Anna Mönch, Josef Koutny, Kurt Koppel , Margarete Kahane, Leopold Koutny, Georg Weidinger and Josef Lochmann were well-known informants, some of whom received substantial donations from the Gestapo and betrayed hundreds of resistance fighters.

From March to December 1938, the head of the Gestapo in Vienna was the Bavarian Kriminalrat and later SS Brigade Leader and Major General of the Police Franz Josef Huber , who had already worked for the criminal police in Munich during the Weimar Republic . SS-Standartenführer Rudolf Mildner became his successor. Huber is considered one of the main Nazi criminals in Austria. After the war in the Federal Republic of Germany he was classified as a “minor offender” and was conditionally released from prison with a fine of 500 D-Marks and a year in prison. He enjoyed the protection of the American authorities because he came to terms with them in good time. SS-Obersturmbannführer (1943) Karl Ebner was deputy head of the Gestapo control center in Vienna. He had started his career as a member of the Cartell Association in the first republic and in the corporate state in the police and, as head of the Department for Jews (II B 4, later IV B 4) in Vienna, ruthlessly persecuted communist resistance fighters and Jews in particular . Ebner was sentenced to 20 years in prison by the People's Court in 1948 and was pardoned by Federal President Theodor Körner in 1953. For a long time, Johann Sanitzer , notorious for his brutality , headed the department responsible for the legitimist and Austrian patriotic resistance.

On March 12, 1945, the building burned down after being hit by bombs and was later demolished. In 1968 the Leopold Figl -Hof was built on the site of the former Gestapo headquarters . On the front there is a relief commemorating the victims of the Gestapo, on the back there is a memorial room (entrance Salztorgasse 6). The memorial room was reopened in 2011 after a thorough renovation and construction of a new exhibition as a memorial for the victims of the Gestapo Vienna . Simon Wiesenthal - who also lived here - ran his documentation center at the same address . Vis-a-vis the front of the former headquarters of the Gestapo headquarters has been a memorial for the victims of Nazi tyranny since 1951 , which was renewed in 1985 and expanded in 1999.

Memorial to the victims of the Nazi tyranny on Morzinplatz Lower area of ​​the Morzinplatz memorial (on the left the memorial stone with inscription erected in 1951)
Memorial to the victims of the Nazi tyranny on Morzinplatz
Lower area of ​​the Morzinplatz memorial (on the left the memorial stone with inscription erected in 1951)

The so-called memorial for the victims of Nazi tyranny (also: memorial for the victims of fascism ) on Morzinplatz was erected in 1985 by the City of Vienna on the initiative of the Working Group of Concentration Camp Associations . Part of today's memorial is a memorial stone with an inscription, which was unveiled there in 1951 as part of a rally by the concentration camp association . The inscription comes from the then President of the concentration camp association, Wilhelm Steiner , and reads:

“Here was the Gestapo house. It was hell for the confessors of Austria. For many of them it was the forecourt of death. It has sunk into ruins like the millennial empire. Austria, however, has risen again, and with it our dead. The immortal victims. "

The City of Vienna took care of the memorial stone, which was donated by the concentration camp association and erected without official approval, and in the years that followed, many rallies , some of them international, took place here. The monument was redesigned in 1985 by the sculptor and master stonemason Leopold Grausam and was carried out by the municipal stonemason workshop , whose technical director was Grausam. He supplemented the existing stone block with simple, roughly hewn stone blocks and a bronze figure standing in between . The cube above, which covers the niche with the figure, was cruelly inscribed:

On both sides of the inscription two of the former Nazi compulsory markings were inserted into the cuboid, on the left the red triangle of the political prisoners and on the right the yellow Star of David . In 1999 a stone was added to the memorial showing the pink angle and the black angle .

Grausam chose granite from the Mauthausen quarry for the stone ; For him, the reference resulted from the fact that the Nazi persecuted persons arrested by the Gestapo and interrogated in the state police headquarters on Morzinplatz were mostly taken to the Mauthausen concentration camp , where they had to do hard labor in the local quarry . Leopold Grausam created numerous memorials and memorial stones, the memorial he designed on Morzinplatz is one of his most important works. The monument was unveiled on November 1, 1985 by Mayors Helmut Zilk and Rosa Jochmann .

The symbolism of the monument designed by Grausam - a man clenching his fist, striding forward and rising between the stone blocks - is described by the Austrian publicist Peter Diem as "a symbol of overcoming the darkest years in the history of our republic".


The Gestapo used the ranks of the criminal police .

Rank comparison of the Security Police, Ordnungspolizei and Schutzstaffel (SS)
(as of April 10, 1941 to May 8, 1945)
Ranks of the security police
(criminal investigation, Gestapo)
Ranks of the regulatory police
(administrative police )
Ranks of the regulatory police
(protection police, gendarmerie, fire police)
Ranks of the Schutzstaffel (SS)
Higher SS and police leaders (generals)
Reichsführer SS and "Chief of the German Police"
- "Chief of the Ordnungspolizei" (from April 1942) “Chief of the Ordnungspolizei” (from April 1942)
Colonel General of the Police and SS-Oberstgruppenführer
" Chief of the Security Police and the SD "
"Chief of the Ordnungspolizei" (until April 1942) “Chief of the Ordnungspolizei” (until April 1942)
General of the Police and SS-Obergruppenführer
??? Ministerial Director Lieutenant General of the Police and SS Group Leader SS group leader
??? "Police President"
Ministerial Director
Major General of the Police and SS Brigade Leader SS brigade leader
Leaders (officers)
- "Police President"
- SS-Oberführer
government and criminal director
"Police President"
Ministerial Councilor
Government Director
Police Colonel SS standard leader
Higher government and criminal councilor "Police Director" (police chief of smaller towns)
Upper Government Council
Police lieutenant colonel SS-Obersturmbannführer
Government and Criminal
Police Officer Criminal Director
Criminal Police Officer (with over 15 years of service)
Government Council,
Council, Amtsrat
Major in the police SS-Sturmbannführer
(ap) Kriminalrat
Kriminalkommissar (with over 15 years of service)
Government Assessor
(ap bailiff)
(ap) Police Board Chief Police
Captain of the Police
Revier-Hauptmann (until 1939: Chief Inspector)
(ap) Detective
Detective Supervisor
registrar Assessor
Police inspector (also with allowance)
Police chief secretary
Lieutenant of the police
Revier-Oberleutnant (until 1939: inspector)
Detective Inspector on probation / for examination
Criminal Inspector Criminal Secretary
(ap) Police inspector,
secretary, office secretary,
technical senior secretary
Lieutenant of the police
Revier-Lieutenant (until 1939: Obermeister)
Unterführer (NCOs)
Criminal secretary
Police secretary master SS Sturmscharführer
Chief Detective Assistant
Prison Chief Sergeant Chief Police Assistant
Chief constable SS-Hauptscharführer
Detective Assistant
Assistant Police Prison Superintendent
Revier-Oberwachtmeister (protection police)
District-Oberwachtmeister (gendarmerie)
( barracked police units)
SS Oberscharführer
(ap) criminal assistant (unscheduled position) (ap) police assistant Sergeant major SS squad leader
Criminal Assistant Candidate
Constable SS-Unterscharführer
Men (teams)
- - Red Sergeant SS Rottenführer
- - Sergeant SS storm man
- - Candidate (after six months of service) SS man
Criminal assistant candidate in the preparatory service - candidate SS candidate

Note: ranks of the middle service are in normal type, ranks of the upper service are in bold, and ranks of the higher service are in italics . Positions (such as "Reichskriminaldirektor", "Polizeidirektor" or "Police President") are in quotation marks.

See also


  • Shlomo Aronson : Reinhard Heydrich and the early history of the Gestapo and SD . Ed .: Institute for Contemporary History (=  studies on contemporary history ). Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1971, ISBN 3-421-01569-4 (339 pages, also: Diss., Berlin (West), Free University, Philosophical Faculty, 1966).
  • Ingrid Bauz, Sigrid Brüggemann, Roland Maier (eds.): The Secret State Police in Württemberg and Hohenzollern . Butterfly-Verlag, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-89657-138-0 (477 pages).
  • Holger Berschel: Bureaucracy and Terror . The Department for Jews of the Gestapo Düsseldorf 1935–1945 (=  Düsseldorfer Schriften zur Modern Landesgeschichte and the history of North Rhine-Westphalia ). Klartext, Essen 2001, ISBN 3-89861-001-2 (480 pages).
  • Heinz Boberach: Reports of the SD and the Gestapo on churches and church people in Germany 1934-1944 . Matthias Grünewald Verlag , Mainz 1971, OCLC 923074953 (1021 pages).
  • Hans Buchheim : The SS - the system of rule . Command and obedience / Hans Buchheim. In: Anatomy of the SS State . tape 1 . dtv Verlagsgesellschaft , Munich 1967, DNB  454575629 (323 pages, dtv 462).
  • Hellmut Butterweck: National Socialists before the Vienna People's Court . Austria's struggle for justice 1945–1955 in contemporary public perception. 2nd Edition. Studien Verlag, Vienna 2016, ISBN 978-3-7065-5480-0 (800 pages).
  • Carsten Dams, Michael Stolle: The Gestapo . Rule and Terror in the Third Reich. 2nd Edition. Beck, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-57355-2 (249 pages).
  • Jacques Delarue: History of the Gestapo . Droste / Athenaeum, Frankfurt am Main 1986, ISBN 3-7610-7228-7 .
  • Rudolf Diels: Lucifer ante portas: ... the first head of the Gestapo speaks ... Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1950, OCLC 26394696 (326 pages).
  • Robert Gellately : The Gestapo and German Society . The Enforcement of Racial Policy 1933–1945. Schöningh, Paderborn 1993, ISBN 3-506-77487-5 (323 pages).
  • Robert Gellately: Looked and looked the other way . Hitler and his people. 2nd Edition. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-421-05582-3 (480 pages, also licensed edition by the Federal Agency for Civic Education , Bonn 2003).
  • Christoph Graf: Political police between democracy and dictatorship . Copress, Berlin 1988, ISBN 978-3-7678-0585-9 (457 pages).
  • Siegfried Grundmann: The informants of the Gestapo commissioner Sattler . Hentrich & Hentrich Verlag, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-941450-25-7 (344 pages).
  • Hans-Christian Harten: The ideological training of the police in National Socialism . Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2018, ISBN 978-3-506-78836-8 (663 pages).
  • Bernd Hey: On the history of the Westphalian state police and the Gestapo . In: Westphalian research . tape 37 , 1987 (58-90 pp.).
  • Bastian Fleermann, Hildegard Jakobs, Frank Sparing: The Secret State Police in Düsseldorf 1933–1945 . History of a National Socialist Special Authority in West Germany. In: Small series of publications by the Düsseldorf Memorial . Droste, Düsseldorf 2012, ISBN 978-3-7700-1486-6 .
  • Eric A. Johnson: Nazi Terror . The Gestapo, Jews and Ordinary Germans. John Murray, London 2002, OCLC 59377848 (English).
  • Gabriele Lotfi: Gestapo concentration camp . Labor education camp in the Third Reich. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-596-15134-1 .
  • Thomas Mang: 'Gestapo Headquarters Vienna - My name is Huber' . Who was locally responsible for the murder of the Jews of Vienna? Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-8258-7259-9 , pp. 131 .
  • Wilhelm Mensing: Gestapo informants of communist origin - also a structural problem of the KPD? In: Bulletin of the Institute for Social Movements . tape 34 , 2005, ISBN 3-89861-486-7 , ISSN  0173-2471 .
  • Andreas Nachama (Ed.): Wilhelmstrasse 1933–1945 . The rise and fall of the Nazi government district. Topography of Terror Foundation, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-941772-10-6 , p. 78 ff . (196 pp.).
  • Gerhard Paul , Klaus-Michael Mallmann (ed.): The Gestapo . Myth and Reality. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1995, ISBN 3-534-12572-X .
  • Jan Ruckenbiel: Social Control in the Nazi Regime. Protest, denunciation and persecution; on the practice of everyday oppression in the interplay between the population and the Gestapo. University of Siegen, 2001, accessed on May 26, 2018 (dissertation).
  • Hans Schafranek: V-people and "traitors" . The infiltration of communist resistance groups by confederates of the Vienna Gestapo. In: International scientific correspondence on the history of the German labor movement . tape 3 , 2000, ISSN  0046-8428 , OCLC 204923147 , p. 300-349 .
  • Hans Schafranek: Resistance and betrayal . Gestapo spies in the anti-fascist underground. Czernin Verlag, Vienna 2017, ISBN 978-3-7076-0622-5 (504 pages, related to Vienna and the so-called Ostmark ).
  • Herbert Schultheis, Isaac E. Wahler: Pictures and files of the Gestapo Würzburg about the deportations of Jews 1941-1943 . In: Bad Neustädter contributions to the history and local history of Franconia . Rötter (Rhön and Saalepost), Bad Neustadt ad Saale 1988, ISBN 3-9800482-7-6 (208 pages).
  • Gerd Steinwascher: "Gestapo Osnabrück reports ..." Police and government reports from the Osnabrück administrative district from 1933 to 1936. In: Osnabrück historical sources and research . tape XXXVI . Self-published d. Association for History and Regional Studies, Osnabrück 1995, ISBN 978-3-9803412-3-3 .
  • Michael Stolle: The Secret State Police in Baden . Personnel, organization, effect and aftermath of a regional prosecution authority in the Third Reich. UVK Medien-Verlags-Gesellschaft, Konstanz 2001, ISBN 3-89669-820-6 (412 pp., Diss.).
  • Jan Valtin : Diary of Hell . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1957, OCLC 954989022 (598 pages, American English: Out of the Night . USA 1941. Translated by Werner Krauss, licensed edition in Komet MA-Service und Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Frechen).
  • Herbert Wagner : The Gestapo wasn't alone ... Political social control and state terror in the German-Dutch border area 1929–1945. In: Adaptation, Assertion, Resistance . No. 22 . Lit Verlag, Münster 2004, ISBN 3-8258-7448-6 (about the Grafschaft Bentheim).
  • Franz Weisz: The Secret State Police State Police Headquarters Vienna . Vienna 1992.
  • Walter Otto Weyrauch: Gestapo informants. Secret Service Facts and Theory . Investigations into the Secret State Police during the National Socialist rule. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-596-11255-9 (160 pages).
  • Friedrich Wilhelm: The police in the Nazi state. The history of your organization at a glance . Collection Schöningh on the past and present. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 1997, ISBN 3-506-77503-0 (288 pages).


  • Holger Hillesheim, Wolfgang Schoen: The Gestapo. Three-part documentary by ARD / SWR (1. Hitler's sharpest weapon. 2. Terror without borders. 3. Executioners on the home front. First broadcast: April 18, 2005).

Web links

Commons : Gestapo  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Secret State Police  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Der Spiegel Geschichte 3/2017, ISSN  1868-7318 , p. 63.
  2. Michael Wildt : Police of the Volksgemeinschaft . Nazi regime and police 1933–1945. In: Conference "Police and Nazi Crimes" - Processing and Documentation in the Nazi Documentation Center Cologne 2. – 5. November 2000 . Cologne November 2000.
  3. a b c Zdenek Zofka: The emergence of the Nazi repression system - or: The seizure of power by Heinrich Himmler. ( Memento of the original from January 5, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Bavarian State Center for Political Education, Report 1/2004. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. ^ A b Alfred Schweder : Political Police. Heymannverlag, Berlin 1937, p. 15.8.
  5. Hans-Christian Harten: The ideological training of the police in National Socialism , Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2018, ISBN 978-3-506-78836-8 , p. 49.
  6. ^ Elisabeth Kohlhaas: The employees of the regional state police stations. In: Gerhard Paul, Klaus-Michael Mallmann: The Gestapo. Unv. Special edition Darmstadt 2003, ISBN 3-89678-482-X , p. 222.
  7. Figures based on Elisabeth Kohlhaas: The staff… p. 221 and p. 224 f.
  8. See judgment of the People's Court GZ 5H 96/44 et al., P. 21 ff.
  9. Fritz Molden : The fire in the night. Victims and meaning of the Austrian resistance 1938–1945 . Amalthea , Vienna 1988, p. 122.
  10. See Carsten Dams, Michael Stolle: Die Gestapo. (2008), p. 116 ff.
  11. Carsten Dams, Michael Stolle: The Gestapo. Rule and Terror in the Third Reich. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2008, p. 59.
  12. Michael Wildt: Generation of the Unconditional . The leadership corps of the Reich Security Main Office. Hamburger Edition of HIS Verlagsgesellschaft, Hamburg 2003, OCLC 933797052 , p. 23 ff. and 165 ff .
  13. Carsten Dams, Michael Stolle: The Gestapo. Rule and Terror in the Third Reich. CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2008, p. 62.
  14. Robert Gellately : Omniscient and Omnipresent? Origin, function and change of the Gestapo myth. In: Gerhard Paul , Klaus-Michael Mallmann : The Gestapo. P. 47 ff.
  15. Cf. Thomas Mang: "He brought very good and beautiful news." Leutgebs V-People of the Gestapo. In: Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance (Ed.), Yearbook 2014, pp. 165 ff.
  16. ^ Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Gerhard Paul: Gestapo - Myth and Reality. In: Bernd Florath (Ed.): The powerlessness of the Almighty. Secret Services and Political Police in Modern Society. Ch.links, Berlin 1992, p. 107.
  17. ^ Robert Gellately: The Gestapo and the German Society. On the history of the development of a self-monitoring society. In: Detlef Schmiechen-Ackermann (Ed.): Adaptation - Denial - Resistance. Social milieus, political culture and the resistance against National Socialism in Germany in a regional comparison . German Resistance Memorial Center , Berlin 1997, pp. 109–121 ( online , accessed May 4, 2019).
  18. Martin Rath: The "131 Law": The Inclusion of Nazi Officials Legal Tribune Online , February 19, 2017.
  19. Ground monument: cells or cellars of the buildings of the Secret State Police and the Reich leadership of the SS
  20. Documentation archive of the Austrian resistance: No longer anonymous - photos from the identification file of the Gestapo Vienna, Gestapo victims . To search for a profile, Marie Fischer, born 30.1897, click on the "More information" button on the following page:
  21. cf. B. Butterweck Hellmut: National Socialists before the Vienna People's Court , Vienna 2016, p. 438 ff., 593 ff.
  22. Judgment of the People's Court GZ 5H 96/44 et al., P. 21 ff.
  23. cf. B. Butterweck Hellmut: National Socialists before the People's Court Vienna , Vienna 2016, p. 468 ff.
  24. See also DÖW yearbook (2012), p. 37.
  25. See Hans Schafranek: Resistance and Treason. Gestapo spies in the anti-fascist underground 1938–1945. 2017.
  26. Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. S. Fischer-Verlag, Frankfurt 2003.
  27. Elizabeth Boeckl Klamper, Thomas Mang, Wolfgang Neugebauer: Gestapo headquarters in Vienna from 1938 to 1945 . 2018, ISBN 978-3-902494-83-2 , pp. 299 ff .
  28. a b c d Memorial Morzinplatz. In: The former association for research into Nazi violent crimes and their processing. Post-War Justice Research Center (, accessed on May 8, 2010 .
  29. a b c Peter Diem : The memorial for the victims of fascism. In: Symbols made of stone and bronze. Austria Forum , accessed on May 8, 2010 .
  30. Beatrix Neis: About monuments, graves and other memorials. Of stones and people. In: Wiener Zeitung . November 1, 2002.
  31. ^ Friedrich Wilhelm: The police in the Nazi state. The history of your organization at a glance , Schöningh Collection on History and the Present, Paderborn 1997, p. 256.
  32. Ulrich Eumann: Review of: Grundmann, Siegfried: The V-People of the Gestapo Commissioner Sattler. Berlin 2010. In: H-Soz-u-Kult. June 29, 2010. Retrieved May 26, 2018 .

Coordinates: 52 ° 30 ′ 25.9 ″  N , 13 ° 22 ′ 57 ″  E