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Foundations of the Nazi Police State

Foundations of the Nazi Police State: The Formation of Sipo and SD

Copyright Date: 1990
Edition: 1
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Foundations of the Nazi Police State
    Book Description:

    The abbreviation "Nazi," the acronym "Gestapo," and the initials "SS" have become resonant elements of our vocabulary. Less known is "SD," and hardly anyone recognizes the combination "Sipo and SD." Although Sipo and SD formed the heart of the National Socialist police state, the phrase carries none of the ominous impact that it should. Although no single organization carries full responsibility for the evils of the Third Reich, the SS-police system was the executor of terrorism and "population policy" in the same way the military carried out the Reich's imperialistic aggression. Within the police state, even the concentration camps could not rival the impact of Sipo and SD. It was the source not only of the "desk murderers" who administered terror and genocide by assigning victims to the camps, but also of the police executives for identification and arrest, and of the command and staff for a major instrument of execution, the Einsatzgruppen. Foundations of the Nazi Police State offers the narrative and analysis of the external struggle that created Sipo and SD. This book is the author's preface to his discussion of the internal evolution of these organizations in Hitler's Enforcers: The Gestapo and the SS Security Service in the Nazi Revolution.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4850-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. [Illustrations]
    (pp. vi-ix)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The abbreviation “Nazi,” the acronym “Gestapo,” and the initials “SS” have become resonant elements of our vocabulary. Less known is “SD,” and hardly anyone recognizes the combination “Sipo and SD.” Although Sipo and SD formed the heart of the National Socialist police state, the phrase carries none of the ominous impact that it should.

    Sipo and SD was a conglomerate, formed in the summer of 1936 when Heinrich Himmler, Reichfuehrer SS, became chief of the German Police. He fused the Criminal Investigative Police (Kripo) and the Gestapo (the political police) to form the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei or Sipo) under the...

  7. 1 Factionalism in Pursuit of Power The Nazi Movement to 1931
    (pp. 9-20)

    The struggle for police power at the higher levels of the Nazi Party culminated in 1936 with Himmler’s triumph: the addition of the title chief of the German Police to his National Socialist power base as Reichsfuehrer of the SS. It was in June 1936 that he created Sipo—the German Reichs Security Police—and added it to Reinhard Heydrich’s command over the SD, the SS Security Service of the NS Movement. At that point, the foundations of the Nazi police state were firmly laid, and the agencies for controlled police terror, and ultimately genocide, were in place. Until then,...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. 2 The Roots of the SD
    (pp. 21-34)

    Although no documentary records of Nazi intelligence agencies predating 1930 have surfaced, ad hoc Party and SA intelligence organizations did exist as far back as the early twenties.¹ A few years later, the Reich Propaganda Leadership under Gregor Strasser and Himmler were using their apparatus to assemble material on political enemies and individual Party members, and Himmler used the SS as a source of similar intelligence. Early Reich-level intelligence made no use of specialists, however, and most operations were purely local, such as several Gau intelligence services that existed at least as early as 1930.² Like much else in the...

  10. 3 The Weimar Police
    (pp. 35-42)

    The detectives who became an element of Sipo and SD were but one part of the larger German police establishment, which requires a brief description to clarify the process of its absorption. Since Germany was a federation of states with decentralized police forces, each state, orLand, had its own police establishment, as did many municipalities, and the Weimar constitution left most police authority to the states. Consequently, aside from small special forces, no true Reich police force existed before the Nazis. The Reich Minister of the Interior had relatively little police authority, not even command over a Reich bureau...

  11. 4 Plans, Preparations, Penetrations: 1931-1932
    (pp. 43-49)

    At the same time that the NS intelligence agencies were forming, preliminary NS maneuvers for police power took place with little concern for the embryonic SD. For his part, Himmler clearly planned a link between SS and police, and every component of the SS therefore involved itself in efforts toward that end. The SD was no exception, but its work contributed only incidentally to the initial penetration of the police. Furthermore, although Himmler and his SS entered early into the NS contest for police power, they faced powerful competition.

    Since 1928, both the KPD (Communist Party) and the Nazis had...

  12. 5 Prussian Beginnings
    (pp. 50-62)

    When Hitler became chancellor on January 30, 1933, Franz von Pap en, his vice chancellor and the man who had largely engineered the new government, intended to restrict the powers of the Nazi leader and his Movement. Papen and the other nationalist leaders with whom Hitler had ostensibly agreed to share power hoped to control Hitler and use him for their purposes. He seemed in check because, at the Reich level, the Nazis held only two ministerial seats, Wilhelm Frick’s less-than-powerful Reich Ministry of the Interior and Hermann Goering’s position of minister without portfolio. Hitler’s access to the presidential powers...

  13. 6 Himmler in Bavaria
    (pp. 63-75)

    After Heydrich left Berlin for Munich on March 5, 1933, events soon presented Himmler with opportunities more exploitable than those in Berlin. Bavarian developments had lagged approximately one month behind those in Prussia; ironically, the home of the Movement was among the last German states the Nazis “coordinated.” Prime Minister Heinrich Held and his Bavarian Peoples’ Party retained enough strength to shape any coalition government as long as Hitler’s Reich government refrained from intervention. Since Bavaria, with its strong traditions of suspicious independence from Berlin, represented a touchy situation, any seizure based on power from Berlin might well backfire. The...

  14. 7 The Vortex of Intrigue
    (pp. 76-90)

    By the time Diels’s Gestapo and Himmler’s BPP had emerged, moves to create a centralized Reich police force were well under way, with Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick taking the lead. In his newly acquired role, Frick had attempted to assert his authority even before the imposition of theReichsstatthalterhad given local Nazis control over the police of the various states. He became a natural rallying point for those who shared his objectives—the creation of a Reich police force purged of the enemy and obedient to a central command under the Fuehrer, but at the same...

  15. 8 The SD Emergent
    (pp. 91-97)

    Between its official emergence in the summer of 1932 and the fall of 1933, the SD became dominant among Party intelligence agencies. The impetus for this rapid rise seems related to the fall of Gregor Strasser and the subsequent realignment of factions within the Movement. Throughout the summer of 1932, Strasser’s star had been in the ascendant. As Reich Organization Leader, he had reorganized the Party, consolidating more power in his hands than Hitler had ever allowed any one man, and he had determined the Party’s strategy. In September, however, urged on by more activist elements like Goebbels and the...

  16. 9 Toward Command of a Reich Political Police
    (pp. 98-116)

    Himmler’s claim to command a centralized political police drew strength from more than just his success in Bavaria. From the beginning, he had nursed the SS image as the proper security force of the Reich. Perhaps with the intention of playing on Hitler’s phobias, or perhaps just to proclaim a success, in March he released to newspapers reports about plots he had uncovered to assassinate Hitler, enhancing the image of his SS-SD-BPP team. If he intended to remind Hitler how he had always relied on the SS for personal protection, there was no need to do so. Hitler had already...

  17. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  18. 10 Acquiring the Prussian Power Base
    (pp. 117-131)

    While Himmler’s people nibbled away from within, the power struggle at the Reich level matured into a complex web of rivalries. Frick wanted to curb independent powers like Goering and Himmler and to subordinate their police to his ministry. Outside Prussia, Himmler, building his model of the efficient, unrestrained police state, strove to impose it on the Reich. Within Prussia, Goering had to defend his power base from Frick and Himmler and to parlay it into Reich-wide power. What was common to all three was a growing concern over Roehm and the SA. Others shared this concern: the Reich Party...

  19. 11 The SD and Conservative Opposition to June 1934
    (pp. 132-138)

    With guaranteed survival and the increased appreciation of the Party Leadership came badly needed funds. When Party Treasurer Schwarz calculated the SO budget in January 1934, he set it at 4,000 RM per month. Shortly thereafter, perhaps in May, he increased it to 20,000 RM. Heydrich had argued for more funds on the basis of increased responsibility for Party intelligence work and the need to reward field service personnel with salaries after their long period of unsalaried sacrifice. He badly needed money to establish the still embryonic SO and to secure personnel who might otherwise turn elsewhere for better pay....

  20. 12 The Roehm Purge
    (pp. 139-147)

    Although conflict between the radical and conservative wings was as old as the Movement itself, Hitler had held them together so well that there had been amazingly few factional splits. However, in the spring of 1934, tensions became so great that Hitler reluctantly approved a decisive purge. The forces of the so-called Second Revolution consisted of those dissatisfied with the extent of the NS revolution. Having broken the power of the left and intimidated the liberals into submission, they also wanted to sweep aside the establishment, especially those allies who had made the initial power seizure possible and whose continued...

  21. 13 The Conservative Counterattack
    (pp. 148-162)

    If Frick had not been building his forces before June 30, the experience of the purge would have compelled him to do so. On the first day of the action, when he realized that something was afoot, he rushed to Goering, who was busy coordinating things with Himmler and Heydrich. Goering allegedly dismissed him, telling him not to worry, that things were being taken care of and that he could go home.¹ If Frick had needed it, he now had a clear lesson about his relative standing among supposed allies. They had maneuvered without his knowledge and would conduct their...

  22. 14 The Selling of the Police State
    (pp. 163-171)

    Between 1934 and 1936, the nascent police state evolved into an established system, with Himmler in command. Before he could overcome Hitler’s ambivalence about his control of all police and gain appointment from the Fuehrer, Himmler had to reduce opposition to more extensive police power. To do this, he had to “sell” the idea of a permanent police state. In that “sales campaign,” the major thrust had to be against the contention that the extraordinary political police and concentration camp system was only a temporary response to a state of emergency. Beyond Himmler’s opposition, the targets of the campaign were...

  23. 15 The Military Factor, 1934-1936
    (pp. 172-186)

    Although the military had emerged from the Roehm purge with some complacency and with renewed confidence, tensions soon developed with the SS, and Himmler’s attitudes certainly contributed to the problem. Basically, he shared the belief of the Second Revolution that, as a reactionary body, much of the professional officer corps had to be swept away before the new order could be complete. Beyond that, as the agent primarily responsible for security, he knew that the generals’ loyalty to the Fuehrer was qualified.

    As a counter to the military, Himmler was to build both the SS police system and the Waffen-SS...

  24. 16 Persistent Opposition
    (pp. 187-200)

    The period between January and June 1935 saw much legalistic sparring as various elements of the conservative opposition made exploratory probes at the evolving SS-police system. Himmler’s people responded by developing rationalizations for the nascent police state and using them to parry the thrusts and to establish a broader base of support for the expansion of their powers. The subsequent display of relative strengths and weaknesses determined the strategy of both sides during the decisive period that followed, from June 1935 to June 1936.

    On January 10, Frick initiated 1935 with another effort to prod Goering into asserting himself, apparently...

  25. 17 A Conservative Victory?
    (pp. 201-218)

    Until Himmler’s triumph in June 1936, the conservative opposition continued its fight on two major fronts. It sought to curb the Gestapo within Prussia, and it tried to establish Reich central control over all police, including the political police. On the first front, the opposition achieved a fleeting victory in the fall of 1935. On the second, there was a near success, then stalemate.

    Despite the curbing of uncontrolled radicals in 1934, the struggle still had more complexity than one between two polarized camps—the conservative opposition versus Himmler’s group. It might be described as occurring along a continuum. At...

  26. 18 Himmler’s Triumph
    (pp. 219-230)

    During early 1936 the “sales campaign” reached new levels as a variety of sources delivered it to a wide spectrum of German society—but always with the same monotonous uniformity. For instance, the broad outline of the message for the general public appeared in the January 23 issue of theVoelkischer Beobachter, describing the Gestapo as the indispensible organ for the defense of the state against its enemies. The article employed the increasingly familiar theme of the camouflaged enemy to reassert the need for aspecialpolitical police. Assured that due process provided sufficient guarantees against the Gestapo’s abusing its...

  27. 19 The Formation of Sipo and SD
    (pp. 231-249)

    On June 26, 1936, after assuming his position as chief of police, Himmler created the two major divisions he had announced during negotiations. He united all uniformed police into the Order Police (Ordnungspolizei), with General of the Police (and SS General) Kurt Daluege as their chief. SS Lieutenant General Heydrich became chief of the Security Police, or Sipo, consisting of all detective police, both political and criminal,¹ thus reestablishing the former link between the plainclothes detective forces. But instead of the criminal police reabsorbing the political police and returning them to subordination under the state administration as Himmler’s opponents had...

  28. Appendix. Table of Comparative Officer Ranks
    (pp. 250-251)
  29. Notes
    (pp. 252-309)
  30. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 310-331)
  31. Index to First Citations of Published Literature Not in the Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 332-333)
  32. General Index
    (pp. 334-346)