“Protective custody” for Dissidents

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Immediately after Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, the National Socialists quite openly set about systematically combatting political dissidents, above all Social Democrats and Communists, with acts of terror under the cover of the state.

National Socialists controlled the ministry of the interior in Prussia and thus police powers. 40,000 members of the SA and SS were deployed as auxiliary police throughout all of Germany. Paramilitary gangs of thugs were frequently granted police powers for this purpose.

One of the SS’s first concentration camps was constructed in Dachau near Munich on March 22, 1933 at Hermann Göring’s initiative as a model for the entire Reich. Vocal opponents of National Socialism were taken out of circulation and locked up there. The arrest of dissidents was described with the euphemism “protective custody” used by Nazi authorities to pretend that they were safeguarding victims of persecution from possible attacks by the populace. The National Socialists tested the limits of persecuting political opposition in this early period at Dachau.

An extensive system of other concentration camps was soon added. Once the political opposition had largely been eliminated over the course of 1933, the National Socialists expanded their persecutions to other groups of society, chiefly on the basis on racial factors. The German public frequently saw the newly erected concentration camps as facilities that stabilized order and welcomed them accordingly.

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  • Kwz, public domain

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