The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume II
Criminality of Groups and Organizations
The Schutzstaffeln (SS)
(Part 6 of 16)

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D. Criminal Aims and Activities of the SS.

(1) The Purge of 20 June 1934. Proof of the elite Nazi quality and thorough reliability of the SS, the test by which it won its spurs, occurred on 30 June 1934, when it participated in the purge of the SA and other opponents or potential opponents of the Nazi regime. That was the first real occasion for use of this specialized organization which could operate with the blessing of the Nazi State but outside the law. In an affidavit signed and sworn to in Nurnberg on 19 November 1945, Wilhelm Frick says, referring to the victims of that purge:

"They were just killed on the spot. Many people were killed -- I don't know how many -- who actually did not have anything to do with the putsch. People who just weren't liked very well, as for instance, Schleicher, the former Reich Chancellor, were killed *** The SS was used by Himmler for the execution of these orders to suppress the putsch." (2950-PS)

Himmler referred to this same event in his Posen speech:

"Just as we did not hesitate on June 20,1934, to do the duty we were bidden, and stand comrades who had lapsed, up against the wall and shoot them, so we have never spoken about it and will never speak about it." (1919-PS)

It was in recognition of its services in this respect that the SS was elevated to the status of a component of the Party equal in rank to the SA and other similar branches. The following announcement appeared on page 1 of the Voelkischer Beobachter of 26 July 1934:

"The Reich press office announces the following order of the Fuehrer.

"In consideration of the greatly meritorious service of the SS, especially in connection with the events of 30 June 1934, I elevate it to the standing of an independent organization within the NSDAP.

"Munch 20 July 1934." (1857-PS)

(2) Functions as a Repressive Police Organization.

One of the first steps essential to the security of any regime is control of the police. The SS was the type of organization which the conspirators needed for this purpose. Their aim was to fuse the SS and police, and to merge them into a single, unified repressive force.

Shortly after the seizure of power the conspirators began to develop as part of the state machinery, secret political police forces. These originated in Prussia with the Gestapo, established

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by decree of Goering in April 1933, and were duplicated in the other German States. (This development is discussed in Section 6.on the Gestapo.) By 1934 Himmler, the Reichsfuehrer SS, had become the chief of these secret political police forces in each of the German states except Prussia, and deputy chief of the Prussian Gestapo. In that capacity he infiltrated these forces with members of the SS until a virtual identity of membership was assured.

On 17 June 1936, by Decree on the Establishment of a Chief of the German Police (2073-PS), the new post of Chief of the German Police was created in the Ministry of the Interior. Under the terms of the decree, Himmler was appointed to this post with the title of "Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police in the Ministry of the Interior." The combination of these two positions, that of leadership of the SS and head of all the police forces in the Reich, was no accident but was intended to establish a permanent relation between the two bodies and not a mere "transitory fusion of personnel." The significance of the combination of these two positions was referred to by Hitler in the preamble his secret order of 17 August 1938:

"By means of the nomination of the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police in the Ministry of the Interior on 17 June 1936 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, page 487), I have created the basis for the unification and reorganization of the German Police.

"With this step, the Schutzstaffeln of the NSDAP, which were under the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police even up to now, have entered into close connection with the duties of the German Police." (647-PS)

Upon his appointment, Himmler immediately proceeded to reorganize the entire Reich Police Force, designating two separate branches: (1) the regular uniformed police force (Ordnungspolizei, or Orpo), and (2) the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei, Sipo). The Sipo was composed of all criminal police organization the Reich and all the secret political police forces, or Gestapo. This reorganization was achieved by the Decree Assigning Functions in the Office of the Chief of the German Police (1551-PS). To be head of the Sipo, that is the criminal police and Gestapo, Himmler appointed Reinhard Heydrich, who was at that time the Chief of the SD. Thus, through Himmler's dual capacity as leader of the SS and as Chief of the Police, and through Heydrich's dual capacity as head of the Sipo and as chief of the SD, a unified personal command of the SS and Security Police Forces was achieved. But further steps toward unification were later taken. In 1939, Security Police and the SD were combined in a single depart-

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ment, the Reich Security Main Office, commonly referred to as the RSHA. (The details of the organization of the RSHA are discussed in Section 6 on the Gestapo.) The important point to be observed is this: The newly created Reich Security Main Office was not a mere department of the Government. It was a dual body: an agency of the government, organizationally placed in the Department of the Interior, and at the same time one of the principal departments of the SS, organizationally placed in the Supreme Command of the SS. (Cf. the chart of the SS organization (Chart Number 3)). The following description of the RSHA appears in the Organizations Book of the NSDAP for 1943:

"The RSHA handles all the organizational, personnel, management and technical affairs of the Security Police and the SD. In addition, it is the central office of he State Police and criminal police executive, as well as the central directorate of the intelligence net of the SD." (2640-PS)

The position of the RSHA in the Supreme Command of the SS is also similarly described in the SS manual, "The Soldier Friend".

But it was not merely the Gestapo and the Criminal Police which came under the sway of the SS. The regular uniformed police as well were affected. For, like the RSHA, the Department of the Regular Police (Ordnungspolizei, or Orpo), was not merely a department in the Ministry of the Interior, but also simultaneously in the Supreme Command of the SS. Its position in the SS is indicated by the seventh box on the chart of the SS organization (Chart. Number 3). The following description of the Department of the Regular Police appears in the Organizations Book of the NSDAP for 1943:

"The sphere of duties of the Main Office of the Ordnungspolizei includes police administration as well as the management and direction of the protective police (Schutzpolizei) of the Reich, the Gendarmes, the protective police of the community, the water protection police, the air protection police, the fire protection police, the protective groups in the occupied territories, the colonial police, the volunteer fire department, the compulsatory and youth fire departments, the technical aid and the technical SS and police academy." (2640-PS)

The position of this Department in the SS Supreme Command is also similarly described in the SS Manual, "The Soldier Friend". (2825-PS)

This unity of the Command was not a mere matter of the highest headquarters. It extended down to the operating level. As the chart shows, the Higher SS and Police Leader in each region, who

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was directly subordinate to Himmler, had under his command both the Security Police and the regular, uniformed police (Chart Number 3). These forces were subject to his orders as well as to those of the RSHA and the Department of the Regular Police respectively. This position of the Higher SS and Police Leader is described in the Organizations Book of the NSDAP for 1943. (2640-PS)

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