Study Notes

The Gestapo

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

The Gestapo were the secret police of Germany. The full name was Geheime Staatspolizei or the State Secret Police. There were initially created in 1933 by Herman Goering. Goering’s rule over the Gestapo was short when it was given to the SS to control. Himmler placed Heydrich in charge of the Gestapo in 1936.

The Gestapo worked alongside SS and SD to protect the Nazi government. They would use intelligence and espionage to find out those who were opposing the government. ALongside phone taps and mail reading they relied on a network on informants to provide information. The Reich Government authorised the use of torture when interviewing suspects.

Unlike members of the SD and SS the Gestapo members were plain clothed. This added a new level of fear to the Gestapo unmatched by other agencies. It became increasingly difficult for the German people to tell them apart from other citizens. The Gestapo would imprison with trial and send those accused to concentration camps. Fear spread further through the use of early morning arrests and rumours of conditions in concentration camps.

In reality the fear of Nazi security forces was exaggerated with such small numbers of officers being employed. However, they provided the illusion of control over a population terrified of being found out and arrested.

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