The Gestapo ( ? · I ) (contraction of Ge Heime Sta ats po lizei : ‘Secret State Police “) was the secret police officer Nazi Germany , led since 1936 by Reinhard Heydrich until his death in the bombing of Prague in 1942 . Fully subordinate to the SS , was administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) and considered a dual organization of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and a sub – office of the Sicherheitspolizei (SIPO). Established by decree on 26 April as as 1933 and dissolved on 7 as maypole as 1945 by order of General Dwight D. Eisenhower . 


Formed by career police officers and legal professionals, her organization and functions were quickly set by Hermann Göring after Hitler came to power in January 1933. Rudolf Diels was the first head of the organization.

The role of the Gestapo was to investigate and combat “all tendencies dangerous to the State”. He had authority to investigate cases of treason , espionage and sabotage , as well as cases of criminal attacks on the Nazi Party and the State.

The 1936 norm that regulated its action granted him carte blanche and placed it above the law by excluding it from any form of judicial control. In particular, it was exempted from liability before the administrative courts, which ordinarily were responsible for resolving disputes that the citizens directed against the State if they considered that their action was not in accordance with law. Werner Best , Legal Counsel for the Gestapo, 2 went on to state: “As long as the police comply with the will of the political leaders, it is acting legally.” 3

The power of the Gestapo that allowed him the most abuse was the Schutzhaft or ‘preventive custody’, a euphemism for imprisonment without legal procedures, typically in concentration camps . The incarcerated person even had to sign his own Schutzhaftbefehl (document stating his desire to be imprisoned). Normally this was achieved by subjecting it to torture . [ Citation needed ]


The Gestapo was created by decree 26 of April of 1933 , in Germany , starting from the organization that had the Prussian Secret Police. The Gestapo was, at the time, simply the first branch of the Prussian Police, known as “Department 1A of the Prussian State Police”.

Already in the time of the Third Reich, the State Secret Police ( Geheime Staats Polizei ) responded directly to the Führer and Chancellor of the Reich Adolf Hitler and its first Director was Rudolf Diels , who recruited members from the professional police departments and turned the Gestapo into a Police agency with national jurisdiction, comparable with many modern examples, such as the FBI in the United States . The role of the Gestapo as a political police force was not evident until Hermann Goering was appointed successor of Diels as commander of the Gestapo in Prussia . Göring recommended to the Nazi government to extend the power of the Gestapo beyond Prusia until covering all Germany. This got Göring except in Bavaria , where the Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler played the role of President of the Police of Bavaria and used the local units of the SS as a political police force.

In April 1934 , Göring and Himmler agreed to put aside their differences (largely due to the hatred felt by both the Sturmabteilung (SA) of Ernst Röhm ) and Göring transferred full authority of the Gestapo to the SS . At such a point, the Gestapo was incorporated into the Sicherheitspolizei and considered a sister organization of the Information Service Sicherheitsdienst or SD.

The end

Gestapo building in Prinz-Albrecht-Straße 8, after the bombing of 1945.

As the allies approached on all fronts into Germany , the institution was disappearing. On the morning of 3 of February of 1945 , US planes conducted a ferocious bombing over all Berlin , focusing on the government area and killing some three thousand Berliners. Both the Chancellery of the Reich , of the Nazi Party , the Gestapo headquarters in Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse and the People ‘s Court were affected. From the first days of April, Gestapo officials began burning files and documents in the building’s central facilities and courtyards, visible smoke columns from the Wilhelmstrasse or main avenue of the Ministries.

At dawn of 29 of April of 1945 , the 301st Rifle Division belonging to Colonel Soviet Antonov, launched an assault with two regiments and managed to place a red flag at the headquarters of the Gestapo but had to fall back that afternoon by a strong and nourished Counterattack of the Waffen SS that drove them back without being able to release the last seven political detainees who had survived a massacre of detainees on 23 April . In the ruins of the building was installed a unit of French SS men under the command of SS Hauptsturmführer Henri Fenet, who defended the site until the time of the arrival of the Soviet troops.

On 1 May during the night, SS men removed the seven prisoners from the main cell and moved them to another cell in a basement, killing one of the detainees, a non-commissioned officer of the Wehrmacht . At dawn on 2 May , the building was taken over by the Soviet Army , which freed the detainees and gave them food; However a Russian soldier was shot and accidentally killed former Gauleiter Joseph Wagner who had fallen out of favor with the Nazi regime for his Catholic beliefs and was one of six detained.

Trials of Nuremberg

The organization was dissolved by decree of General Dwight Eisenhower , commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, 7 of maypole of 1945 . In the Nuremberg trials , the Gestapo was considered a criminal organization and was banned throughout Germany .


The Gestapo headquarters in Berlin was in the Prinz Albrechtrasse, number 8, a building that had been a theater and now houses an exhibition on the “Topography of Terror”. Since 1934, Berliners have commonly known the building as the “house of horrors” for torture and ill-treatment of detainees who were handcuffed by short chains to the walls horizontally. In Munich , the Gestapo was home to the Wittelsbacher Palais, Brienner Straße 50, nowadays it corresponds to the house number 20.

Hierarchical grades

Main hall of the headquarters, in Berlin, of the Gestapo, in the year 1934 .

Officials of the SS (Schutzstaffel) that were part of the Gestapo kept their usual range . However, civil career officials, in addition to being lawyers or university graduates in subjects related to the requirements of the institution, had a particular grade scale, with the following ranks:

  • Kriminaldirektor.
  • Kriminalrat.
  • Kriminalkommissar
  • Kriminalinspektor.
  • Kriminalobersekretär.
  • Kriminalsekretär
  • Kriminaloberassistent.
  • Kriminalassistent.

Internal Structure


  • Group IV A – SS Gruppenführer Friedrich Panzinger .
Section VAT1: Communism , Marxism and related organizations, war crimes, propaganda , enemy and illegal – First Chief: SS Sturmbannführer Heinrich Vogt, Deputy Chief: SS Hauptsturmführer Franz Konigshaus
Section IVA2: Counter-sabotage, sabotage , political commissioner for the police , political forgery – SS Sturmbannführer Horst Kopkow
Sección IVA3: Reacción, oposición, liberales, emigrantes, traición a la Patria — SS Sturmbannführer Litzenberg
Section IVA4: Protection, reports of assassinations, special missions, survival, criminal investigation – SS Sturmbannführer Franz Schulz
  • Group IV B – SS Obersturmbannführer Albert Hartl .
Section IVB1: Political Catholicism – SS Sturmbannführer Joseph Roth
Section IVB2: Political Protestantism, sects – SS Sturmbannführer Joseph Roth
Section IVB3: Other Churches, Freemasonry – (vacant)
Section IVB4 : Jewish affairs, matters relating to evacuation – SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann
  • Group IV C – SS Obersturmbannführer Rang
Section IVC1: Evaluation, Main Files, Personnel Administration, Information, Foreigners’ Stay, Central Visa Office – Matzke
Section IVC2: Preventive Custody Matters – Berndorff
Section IVC3: Literature and press affairs – SS Obersturmbannführer Richard Jahr
Sección IVC4: Asuntos del Partido y sus organizaciones — SS Standartenführer Kurt Stage
  • Group IV D – SS Oberführer Erwin Weinmann
Section IVD1: Protectorate Affairs, Czechs within the Reich – Jonak
Section IVD2: General Government Affairs, Poles within the Reich – SS Hauptsturmführer Karl Thiemann
Section IVD3: Informants, enemies of foreigners and the State – Schröder
Section IVD4: Occupied Areas: France , Luxembourg , Alsace and Lorraine , Belgium , Netherlands , Norway , Denmark – Baatz
  • Group IV E – SS Gruppenführer Walter Schellenberg
Section IVE1: General defense issues, reporting on high treason , factory security and customs guard – Lindow
Section IVE2: General affairs of the economy, defense economic espionage
Section IVE3: Abwehr West – Fischer
Section IVE4: Abwehr North – Schambacher
Section IVE5: Abwehr East – Kubitzky
Section IVE6: Abwehr South – Schmitz