Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 26, 2012

Secret State Police of Nazi Germany headquarters

April 26, 1933: The Secret State Police of Nazi Germany is formed. The German name is Genheime Staatspolizei and the name was shortened to Gestapo. When Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Hermann Göring was made Interior Minister of Prussia. As such, Göring was in charge of the largest police force in Germany. He separated out the political and intelligence departments and staffed them with loyal Nazis. He merged the newly staffed departments into the Gestapo and wanted to call it Secret Police Office or Geheimes Polizeiamt (GPA), similar to the Soviet GPU.

The first commander was Göring’s protégé, Rudolf Diels who was a loyal Nazi Party official as well as commander of the Luftwaffe. Wilhelm Frick, Reich Interior Minister, wanted to join all the German police forces under one banner in late 1933. Göring ousted him and by 1934 Göring himself was in charge of the Gestapo. Göring wanted Hitler to give him control over the secret police in all of Germany. Heinrich Himmler, police chief in Bavaria (second most powerful state in Germany) was against the plan. Frick allied himself with Himmler and also with Reinhard Heydrich. With other forces conspiring against them, they all agreed to work together.

On April 20, 1934 Göring handed over control of the Gestapo to Himmler and by June  1936 Himmler was chief of all German police. The Gestapo merged with the SIPO or Sicherheilspolizie and with the Kripo or Kriminalpolizel (Criminal Police) with all of them under the SS or Schutzstaffel, Hedrick became the head of the SIPO (Gestapo and Kripo) and the SD or Sicherheitsdienst or Security Service. Heinrich Müller was chief of operations of the Gestapo and answered only to Heydrich, who reported to Himmler, directly under Hitler.

The Gestapo was responsible for investigating cases involving treason, espionage, and sabotage. They looked into attacks on the Nazi Party and Germany. By 1936 laws were passed by the government giving the Gestapo a free hand with no oversight by any judicial bodies. They were specifically exempt from administrative courts where citizens could sue for their breach of legal proceedings. They were responsible for many crimes against humanity and the 46,000 members of the secret police struck fear into even law abiding citizens.

Freedom is when one hears the bell at seven o’clock in the morning and knows it is the milkman and not the Gestapo. – Georges Bidault

To put the point sharply: If an informer in the French underground who sent a friend to the torture chambers of the Gestapo was equally a victim, then there can be no right or wrong in life that I understand. – Albert Maltz

With the opening of the eastern European archives, the role of the police battalions and the Gestapo in the extermination of the Jews in eastern Europe has become much clearer. – Norbert Kampe

It also gives us a very special, secret pleasure to see how unaware the people around us are of what is really happening to them.  – Adolf Hitler

Also on this day:

Chernobyl – In 1986 there is a nuclear disaster in the Chernobyl power plant.
John Wilkes Booth – In 1865, the actor was found and killed.
Tanzania – In 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged.