Gestapo and SS Organization

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Himmler’s police system of Gestapo and SS increasingly undermined the traditional responsibilities of courts and district attorneys’ offices over the course of the war. As of September 18, 1942, the SS was also formally responsible for the pursuit of “Jews and ethnically alien persons” in the occupied East. The Gestapo had sweeping authority “to protect the state domestically” in the “Altreich”.

“Corrections of judgments” were already made in the first year of the war, simply by executing offenders by firing squads immediately after their trials. Not seldom, individuals, whom the “People’s Court” itself had acquitted, were arrested anew by the Gestapo and hauled off to concentration camps. A state ruled by law had long ceased to exist. There was no more due process for anyone. Certain minorities such as Jews as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses were regarded as “fair game”.

Without a doubt, the excessively severe judgments disciplined the “home front”, especially since many Germans held drastic measures to be the most effective instrument against offenders, at least for the duration of the war. These judgments did not act directly as a deterrent, however. Not only social minorities but also members of the lower classes were primarily victims of the Gestapo’s and the judiciary’s violence and terror.

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  • Et Mikkel at de.wikipedia, public domain