Essay Example on The Gestapo Geheime Staats Polizei or Secret State Police








The Gestapo Geheime Staats Polizei or Secret State Police was the Nazis most productive instrument of dread Its government agents were ubiquitous its casualties subject to torment and mass extradition to the concentration camps It appears to be a remarkable that others conscious qualities could be unearthed from people who were associated with such an abhorrent group yet that is one accomplishment of Frank McDonough s well researched book In the weeks before Nazi Germany s impending doom Hitler s regime destroyed all kinds of incriminating evidence that the Allies might use in the inevitable court proceedings against the Nazi elite Some of the records not destroyed by the Nazi were destroyed in the air raids by the allies including most of the records on enemies used by the notorious secret state police the Gestapo By some miracle about 70 000 of these case files survived in Düsseldorf 19 000 in Würzburg and 12 000 in Speyer were undamaged Although these files have been available to historians since 1945 they were largely ignored as few ever challenged the reputation of the organisation as an almighty all present all seeing and all knowing This was the largely accepted story regarding Gestapo when McDonough began researching the files more than 20 years ago The author mentioning that he was told by all contemporary Germans and historians that the Gestapo was everywhere However Since the turn of this century historical research has made the study of the Nazi secret organisation and police system much more open and subjective The author Frank McDonough makes an impressive effort to summarise the formation of the Gestapo who were the organisation s power figures and its day to day operations I personally found that despite his claim to portray himself as a myth buster I found this claim to be lacking and in most cases he was just translating the official documents Following his larger claim the author narrows his focus to the Western German areas such as Bavaria North West Phalia and Rhineland where Gestapo was much more active and to his credit he uses some Gestapo case files from occupied territories such as France and Belgium but unfortunately his analysis of these files is neither objective nor very accurate

The author selects examples to provide a general on how the organisation operated in maintaining law and order and to a great extent bullying citizens and groups such as the Catholics communists the Jews and other groups which the Nazi s found as not suitable to live among the Volksgemeinschaft McDonough has the knack for picking the complex stories and for example when he writes about the policing process aimed at the banned KDP Communists he finds a vast groups of people among them some who joined the Nazi movements or joined the Armed forces Against his expectations the dreaded Gestapo was somewhat gentle with some diehard Communists and yet showed no mercy to others The Gestapo ruthlessly pursued these and all the other enemies of the states with guided information from those who knew the victims with shockingly accusation being levelled against them from their own family members McDonough establishes a point previously made by different writers most prominently that the Gestapo was a reactive organisation given its relatively small size of high ranked officers it strongly depended on reports from outside its ranks particularly denunciations from the masses Hitler himself criticized how the new Reich was turning into a land of betrayals and neighbors or friends secretly reporting on one another which did not identify with his dream of creating a peaceful as well as racially an Aryan whom he regarded as the most superior race on earth community Yet it was primarily because the Gestapo sought more denunciations than ever before with an aim to supervise every aspects of daily routine that they ended up facing such issues

Finally they thought it was better to have too many secret rather than only a few even if that challenged long held family or social principles The final chapter was gut wrenching to read as we find out that some of the worst officers of the Gestapo escaped serious punishment either by escaping to South America or being clever enough to not leave behind many traces to their role in the organisation or by cooperating with the Allies who were more concerned with punishing the Nazi elite Surprisingly McDonough is an inconsistent in dates and events throughout the book He makes rudimentary blunders for example Hermann Göring who was head of the Gestapo in 1933 was not picked Reichminister of the Interior before Hitler s acquiring of the post of Chancellor In addition McDonough also makes serious errors on statistics Murder rates mentioned in the book are not consistent with that official Nazi documents and prosecutions in Frankfurt are contrasted with convictions in Dresden Another major flaw was that the book is inconclusive to mention in any detail the link between the Gestapo and the concentration camps In conclusion There are many great books on Hitler s Germany yet McDonough s is excessively imprudent making it impossible to take a liking to his book

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