Walter Arthur Zirpins (born May 26, 1901 in Königshütte , Upper Silesia , † February 17, 1976 in Hanover ) was a German lawyer and police officer . He was best known for his investigations into the Reichstag fire of 1933.
Education and early career
Walter Zirpins was born in 1901 as the son of the engineer Arthur Bernhard Waldemar Zirpins and his wife Clara Auguste nee. Born reluctant. After attending school, Zirpins studied law . He was at the University of Breslau with the 1927 published dissertation The term border between ownership servant and an intermediary: (§§ 855 and 868 BGB.) For Dr. jur. PhD . He then entered the police force. From 1929 to 1932 Zirpins worked for the first time in the political and police force of the Elbing-Marienburg border police.
time of the nationalsocialism
In January 1933, Zirpins was transferred to Department I A (Political Police) at the Berlin Police Headquarters. In this capacity, one month later he was significantly involved in the investigation into the Reichstag fire on the night of February 27-28, 1933: As a member of the provisional fire commission, he was one of the first to question the suspect Marinus van der Lubbe and accompany him during the day after the fire during an inspection of the crime scene where van der Lubbe was supposed to demonstrate how the fire was carried out. During his interrogations of the suspect, according to current research, Zirpins "deliberately falsified his statement [...] in order to corroborate the thesis of sole perpetrator (van der Lubbes)." In addition, a few months later Zirpins appeared as an expert in the so-called Reichstag fire trial.
At the end of March or beginning of April 1933, Zirpins was accepted into the newly founded Secret State Police (Gestapo), from which he left on May 23, 1933 at Rudolf Diels' initiative . The background was apparently a submission from an unknown source, according to which Zirpins had been accused of employing a Jewish informant at the beginning of May 1933, when Kurt Daluege, chief of the police department in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior , was employed.
Instead, in May 1933, Zirpins switched to teaching at the police institute in Berlin-Charlottenburg . There he was promoted to Kriminalrat on December 1, 1934 , before being appointed Staff Leader of the Security Police Driving School on April 1, 1937 . At this time he began to come out publicly through essays on the National Socialist legal conception.
In 1937 Zirpins published the thesis that it is not primarily the individual rights of people that should be protected by the executive. Rather, it must promote the well-being of the “ national community ”, which is why “any poor fulfillment of obligations towards the people” entitles the police “to intervene [...] regardless of their criminal prosecution”.
Second World War
During the Second World War , Zirpins was used in occupied Łódź (Litzmannstadt) . From May 1940 to February 1941 he headed the criminal police in the Litzmannstadt ghetto . Zirpins regarded his activity there as a pioneering achievement, as his two-part essay "The ghetto in Litzmannstadt, seen by criminal police " shows, which appeared in October and September 1941 in the journal Kriminalistik . There he stated:
“ Such a cramping together of criminals, smugglers, usurers and fraudsters [has] immediately given rise to its particular manifestations that are significant for the criminal police. However, since the creation of such a large and, above all, firmly closed ghetto is so far unique, there is a lack of relevant criminal experience and any role model. It therefore took an extensive study of the Jewish mentality and customs [...] to find out the ways of preventive and repressive combat by the criminal police. "
Following his activity in Łódź, Zirpins worked from 1941 to 1943 as head of department in Office IB 3 (“Curriculum Design of Schools” or “Training, Further Education and Special Training”) in the Reich Main Security Office. According to Klee, he was also instrumental in the persecution of Jews in the ghettos of Łódź and Warsaw . In addition, since his promotion to the Government and Criminal Police Council in 1943, Zirpins has been operating as a “Lecturer for Crime Commitment and Combating Crime” at the German Charles University in Prague . He was also a member of the of Reinhard Heydrich used International Criminal Police Commission .
On January 15, 1945, Zirpins was appointed senior government and criminal adviser and shortly thereafter, in March 1945, was appointed head of the Hamburg criminal police .
post war period
When the war ended Zirpins fell into Allied captivity. He was interned until 1947 and, because of his work in the Łódź ghetto, was added to the official Polish list of war criminals.
In October 1951, according to Article 131 of the Basic Law , Zirpins was appointed to the civil service as a senior government and criminal councilor. In a double function, he was a consultant for criminal police matters in the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and at the same time head of the Lower Saxony State Criminal Police Office . At the end of 1951 he headed the 60-person special commission S (S for explosives ) with members of the police in the states of Bremen and Lower Saxony, which was looking for the bomb bombers in Bremen and Eystrup . After a discussion about his past in the time of National Socialism arose, he was demoted to deputy in 1951 in his functions in the Ministry of the Interior and at the State Criminal Police Office.
Before he was hired, Bernhard Wehner had named an "SS-Hauptsturmführer honoris causa" in a Spiegel article dated March 14, 1951 on the personnel policy of the BKA Zirpins, thus downplaying his work as head of the criminal investigation department in Łódź in order to demand his reinstatement. The historian Patrick Wagner , who specializes in the history of the police under National Socialism , describes a statement by Zirpins in 1955 that from 1933 to 1945 the Kripo "always made [...] legal awareness, personal responsibility and respect for human dignity" the measure of their actions, in view of the participation of Zirpins in the persecution of the Jews in 1940/41 in the Litzmannstadt ghetto as "deeply cynical". In addition to Wehner, Zirpins made a name for himself as the second "past politician of the Kripo" who played down the involvement of the police in the crimes of National Socialism. In 1956 he changed to the post of "Head of the Hanover Criminal Police" at the Hanover Police Department , which he held until his retirement in 1961.
Zirpins was on the Polish government's list of war criminals . According to a radio program broadcast by NDR on April 30, 1960 under the title “The Lodz Ghetto 1940-1944”, in which Zirpins was mentioned as the former head of the Lodz criminal police station, in May 1960 the Hanover public prosecutor's office received charges of “inciting Murder ”and“ Participation in the killing of Jews in the Lodz ghetto ”. However, since Zirpins had already been recalled as head of the Lodz Criminal Police Department in February 1941 and transferred to the Reich Main Security Office, and the systematic extermination of the Jews in the Lodz ghetto had only begun in January 1942, it was not possible to prove that he was involved in the murder of the Jews and “his knowledge the impending mass murders [...] an already statute-barred offense ”, so that the public prosecutor's investigation was discontinued in March 1961.
In 1961 Zirpins retired and then, together with Otto Terstegen, wrote a standard work on white-collar crime that appeared in 1963. Until his death in 1976 he was highly regarded as the "Nestor of economic criminology in the Federal Republic".
According to recent research, Zirpins was part of a network of former Nazi criminologists who managed to “determine not only the personnel policy and the criminal policy discourse of the West German criminal investigation department, but also the importance of criminal police activity in the Nazi state”. In 1986 a police textbook adopted Zirpins' justification for the high level of crime after the end of the war: This had its cause in the "release of the majority of the prisoners and detained professional criminals, anti-social and criminal rural drivers".
Zirpins testified about the complex of the Reichstag fire both in 1933 in the Reichstag fire trial and in 1961 before the Hanover District Court . He was also Fritz Tobias' most important witness in the controversy surrounding Marinus van der Lubbe's sole guilt for the Reichstag fire.
In the Berlin Federal Archives, personal documents on Zirpins have been preserved in the holdings of the former Berlin Document Center, in particular an SS-Führer personal file (R 9361-III / 565564) and a personal file from the Reich Chamber of Culture (R 9361-V / 12241). In the Koblenz Federal Archives, an extensive collection of material on Zirpins (especially correspondence with and about him as well as biographical documents) compiled by Fritz Tobias from the 1950s to the 2000s is stored as part of the Fritz Tobias Contemporary History Collection (Zsg 163) as file "Zsg 163/185 ".
- The conceptual boundary between property servant and property intermediary (§§ 855 and 868 BGB) , Eschenhagen, Ohlau 1927. (Dissertation)
- Criminal law made easy! Novel introduction to criminal law. With 250 exercise questions and examples along with solutions , Kameradschaft, Berlin 1939. (Foreword by Arthur Nebe ; five editions until 1944).
- Criminal Code for the German Reich. Explanatory text edition with a detailed subject index, along with introductory law and the most important subsidiary laws , Kameradschaft, Berlin 1940. (Ed. By Robert Gersbach; revised by Walter Zirpins; five editions until 1944)
- Reich Criminal Code (Criminal Code for the German Reich) with systematic explanations and the most important criminal ancillary laws , Hanover 1949. (New edition of the previous Criminal Code for the German Reich )
- Business crime audit , Hagedorn, Hanover 1949.
- The development of the police fight against crime in Germany , Verlag Deutsche Polizei, Hamburg 1955.
- Of fraudulent companies and other dishonest (criminal) companies in business life , Federal Criminal Police Office, Wiesbaden 1959.
- White-collar crime. Manifestations and how to combat them . Schmidt-Römhild, Lübeck 1963. (with Otto Terstegen; reprint Keip, Goldbach 1995).
- Hersch Fischler: News on the Reichstag fire controversy. As Kriminalrat Dr. Walter Zirpins, key witness for Marinus van der Lubbe's alleged sole perpetrator, helped refute Fritz Tobias' sole perpetrator thesis. In: Dieter Deiseroth (ed.): The Reichstag fire and the trial before the Reichsgericht . Verlagsgesellschaft Tischler, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-922654-65-7 , pp. 89–143.
- Frank Liebert: “Things have to come to rest, you have to put a line through them.” Political “cleansing” in the Lower Saxony criminal police after 1945 . In: Gerhard Fürnetz, Herbert Reinke, Klaus Weinhauer (eds.): Post-war police . Security and order in East and West Germany 1945–1969. Results Verlag, Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-87916-058-9 , pp. 71-104.
- Rolf Surman, Dieter Schröder: From Nazi gold robber to leading economic criminologist in the Federal Republic. The career of Dr. Walter Zirpins . In: Rolf Surman, Dieter Schröder (ed.): The long shadow of the Nazi dictatorship. Texts on the debate about looted gold and compensation . Hamburg / Münster 1999, ISBN 3-89771-801-4 , pp. 51-60 (with a complete facsimile of Zirpins' texts in Kriminalistik 15, 1941, issues 9 and 10).
- Patrick Wagner : Hitler's Criminalists: The German Criminal Police and National Socialism between 1920 and 1960 . CH Beck, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-406-49402-1 .
- Michael Wildt : Generation of the Unconditional. The leadership corps of the Reich Security Main Office . Hamburger Edition, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-930908-87-5 (also habilitation thesis, University of Hanover 2001).
- Thomas Gehringer: History Documentation . Hitler's willing helpers . In: Der Tagesspiegel , March 22, 2011.
- Andreas Strippel: German Careers: Walter Zirpins . In: Publikative.org , April 17, 2013.
- Walter Zirpins: Overview of my work during the interrogation of the Reichstag fire bomber van der Lubbe in spring 1933 (PDF; 1.7 MB) Institute for Contemporary History , Hanover 1951.
- Angelika Henkel, Stefan Schölermann: The Lower Saxony LKA was built with Nazi thoughts ( memento from October 10, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) as an NDR (video) contribution from October 8, 2015
- registry office Königshütte II: birth register . No. 697/1901.
- Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945 , Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 697.
- cf. Entry at the DNB
- Michael Wildt: Generation of the Unconditional. The leadership corps of the Reich Security Main Office . Hamburg 2003, p. 311 f .; According to his footnote 86 on p. 312, Wildt refers to Alexander Bahar , Wilfried Kugel : Der Reichstagbrand in his assessment in addition to his own archive research . How history is made . Berlin 2001, pp. 209-213.
- Walther Hofer : The Reichstag fire . Munich 1978, vol. 2, p. 40.
- Marcus Giebeler: The controversy over the Reichstag fire. Source problems and historiographical paradigms , Munich 2010, p. 271 and passim.
- Walter Zirpins: What lessons can the police learn from the Seefeld-Schwerin case? . In: Der deutsche Polizeibeamte , 5, 1937, pp. 93–96 and 121–124, here p. 123. Quoted from: Patrick Wagner: Hitler's Kriminalisten: Die deutsche Kriminalpolizei and National Socialism between 1920 and 1960 . Munich 2002, p. 92.
- Criminalistics. Monthly notebooks for the entire criminal science and practice . Berlin, 15th year, September and October 1941 (e.g. BA, RD 19/26).
- Walter Zirpins: The ghetto in Litzmannstadt, seen by the criminal police. In: Kriminalistik , 15, 1941, Issue 9, pp. 97–99, here p. 98. Quoted from: Michael Wildt: Generation des Unbedingten. The leadership corps of the Reich Security Main Office. Hamburg 2003, p. 312; complete facsimile in: Rolf Surman, Dieter Schröder: From Nazi gold robber's leading Wirtschaftskriminologen the Federal Republic. The career of Dr. Walter Zirpins . In: Rolf Surman, Dieter Schröder (ed.): The long shadow of the Nazi dictatorship. Texts on the debate about looted gold and compensation . Hamburg / Münster 1999, p. 51–60, here p. 54 ff., Quotation p. 55.
- Walter Zirpins: We found Halacz in Der Spiegel issue 51/1951 from December 19, 1951
- Patrick Wagner: Hitler's Criminalists. The German criminal police and National Socialism between 1920 and 1960 . Munich 2002, p. 157. Wagner refers to the article: Bernhard Wehner: Revolver-Harry for Bonn . In: Der Spiegel . No. 11 , 1951 ( online ).
- Patrick Wagner: Continuity of criminological concepts . In: The Federal Criminal Police Office faces its history. Documentation of a series of colloquia . Bundeskriminalamt (Ed.), Cologne 2008, pp. 95–110, here p. 105, bka.de ( memento of the original from September 19, 2011 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. (PDF). Wagner quotes here from Walter Zirpins: The development of the police fight against crime in Germany . Hamburg 1955, p. 45.
- Patrick Wagner: Hitler's Criminalists: The German Criminal Police and National Socialism between 1920 and 1960 . Munich 2002, p. 170.
- Michael Wildt: Generation of the Unconditional. The leadership corps of the Reich Security Main Office . Hamburg 2003, p. 770.
- Marcus Giebeler: The controversy over the Reichstag fire. Source problems and historiographical paradigms . Munich 2010, p. 272.
- Frank Liebert: “Things have to come to rest, you have to put a line through them.” Political “cleansing” in the Lower Saxony criminal police after 1945 . In: Gerhard Fürnetz, Herbert Reinke, Klaus Weinhauer (eds.): Post-war police . Security and order in East and West Germany 1945–1969 , Hamburg 2001, p. 99. Cf. also Rolf Surman, Dieter Schröder: From Nazi gold robber to leading economic criminologist in the Federal Republic. The career of Dr. Walter Zirpins . In: Rolf Surman, Dieter Schröder (ed.): The long shadow of the Nazi dictatorship. Texts on the debate about looted gold and compensation . Hamburg / Münster 1999, ISBN 3-89771-801-4 , p. 53.
- Frank Liebert: “Things have to come to rest, you have to put a line through them.” Political “cleansing” in the Lower Saxony criminal police after 1945 . P. 99 f.
- Rolf Surman, Dieter Schröder: From Nazi gold robber to leading economic criminologist in the Federal Republic. The career of Dr. Walter Zirpins , p. 53.
- Stephan Linck: The Stammtisch history of the "old Charlottenburg". A network in West Germany . In: Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Andrej Angrick (Ed.): The Gestapo after 1945. Career, conflicts, constructions . Darmstadt 2009 ( publications by the Ludwigsburg Research Center of the University of Stuttgart , vol. 14), pp. 105–121, here p. 118.
- Stephan Linck: The Stammtisch history of the "old Charlottenburg". A network in West Germany . In: Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Andrej Angrick (Ed.): The Gestapo after 1945. Career, conflicts, constructions . Darmstadt 2009 ( Publications of the Research Center Ludwigsburg of the University of Stuttgart , vol. 14), p. 118. Accordingly, the quote from Walter Zirpins can be found: The development of police crime control . Hamburg 1955, p. 292, also in Robert Harnischmacher, Arved Semerak: Deutsche Polizeigeschichte. A general introduction to the basics . Stuttgart 1983, p. 31.
- Alexander Bahar, Wilfried ball: The Reichstag fire. How history is made . Berlin 2001, p. 771 ff.
- Marcus Giebeler: The controversy over the Reichstag fire. Source problems and historiographical paradigms . Munich, 2010, passim, in particular p. 61 f.
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Zirpins, Walter Arthur (full name)|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||German lawyer and police officer|
|DATE OF BIRTH||May 26, 1901|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Königshütte , Upper Silesia|
|DATE OF DEATH||17th February 1976|
|Place of death||Hanover|