World War Two - The Police State

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The Police State

Nazi Germany is often described as a totalitarian state meaning that individual people were completely controlled by the Government.

A Security system was set up to ensure that Nazi ideas and policies were followed and that any opposition was dealt with.

The control was enforced by Heinrich Himmler -  head of the Nazi Police

  • This was the SS a military corps which was established in 1925, Heinrich Himmler took over control in 1929.
  • In 1936 it took over the police force including the Gestapo, they did exactly what they wanted in Germany.        
  • The SS had its own schools, factories and race farms, these were set up to produce ‘perfect’ German children.

The Gestapo was set up by Hermann Goering in 1933 and then it was linked to the SS in 1936 when Reynhard Heydrich supervised it.  He was one of the most ruthless of the Nazis.  He worked closely with Himmler who was his superior.

Most of the people of Germany did not dare to question Hitler’s Authority.

Any person who did would be arrested and tortured, they would often be taken late at night and punishment would be to be sent to a concentration camp, or alternatively to be executed.  Anyone arrested had less than three minutes to pack clothing and say their goodbyes.

The concentration camps were barbaric.  The idea was that anyone who had been in one would tell others about how terrible they were.  This was another way of getting people to keep their ideas to themselves.  How long people were kept in the camps depended on whether it was felt that the lesson had been learned and that person would “behave” in an “acceptable” manner once out of prison.  They were run by very violent men, flogging was common and 25 strokes was the normal.  At Buchenald 280 men had one water tap between them which could only be used for 15 minutes on getting up.  Food and drink were very sparse and the Jews would only be given half of the rations of other prisoners.

The law did nothing to protect individuals people would be arrested for a variety of ‘crimes’

  • Making jokes about the Nazi Party (jokes about Hitler would result in death)
  • Any one refusing to do menial work would be arrested as “work shy”
  • People who refused to take on Nazi ideas and do military service because they would only seek guidance from the Bible.  “Bibelforshcer’s”
  • Homosexuals
  • Habitual criminals.

The justice system was not fair, judges were often appointed for their loyalty to the Nazi Party, and this made them unlikely to be concerned with individual rights.  An example of this was Judge Roland Friesler, who shouted and screamed at defendents in  his court during a famous trial for treason in 1944.

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In 1936 Gestapo Law meant that the activities of the Gestapo did not have to have any review by courts of law.  This meant that the Gestapo became a law to themselves.  This non-uniformed branch were just as feared as the black uniformed SS men were.  Himmler had a view on the SS and in 1943 he said:

“ We have always selected the highest and abandoned the lowest.  As long as we maintain this principle, the Order (the SS) will remain healthy.  After the war, we shall really build up our Order …. It will provide Germany ...

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