The Reich Main Security Office[a] (German: Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA) was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei (Chief of German Police) and Reichsführer-SS, the head of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel (SS). The organization's stated duty was to fight all "enemies of the Reich" inside and outside the borders of Nazi Germany.
|Reich Main Security Office|
|Formed||27 September 1939|
|Dissolved||8 May 1945|
|Type||Secret police, Security and Intelligence agency|
|Jurisdiction|| Nazi Germany|
|Employees||50,648 c. February 1944|
|Parent RSHA||Ministry of the Interior (nominally)|
Himmler established the RSHA on 27 September 1939. Himmler's assumption of total control over all security and police forces in Germany was the "crucial precondition" for the establishment and growth of the Nazi state. He combined the Nazi Party's Sicherheitsdienst (SD; SS intelligence service) with the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo; "Security Police"), which was nominally under the Interior Ministry. The SiPo was composed of two sub-departments, the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo; "Secret State Police") and the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo; "Criminal Police"). The RSHA was often abbreviated to RSi-H in correspondence to avoid confusion with the SS-Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt (RuSHA; "SS Race and Settlement Office").
The creation of the RSHA represented the formalization, at the top level, of the relationship under which the SD served as the intelligence agency for the security police. A similar coordination existed in the local offices. Within Germany and areas which were incorporated within the Reich for the purpose of civil administration, local offices of the Gestapo, criminal police, and SD were formally separate. They were subject to coordination by inspectors of the security police and SD on the staffs of the local higher SS and police leaders, however, and one of the principal functions of the local SD units was to serve as the intelligence agency for the local Gestapo units. In the occupied territories, the formal relationship between local units of the Gestapo, criminal police, and SD was slightly closer.
Throughout the course of wartime expansion, the RSHA continued to grow at an enormous rate and was "repeatedly reorganized". Routine reorganization did not change the tendency for centralization within the Third Reich nor did it change the general trend for organizations like the RSHA to develop direct relationships to Hitler, adhering to a familiar National Socialist pattern of the leader-follower construct. For the RSHA, its centrality within Nazi Germany was pronounced since departments like the Gestapo (within the RSHA) were controlled by Himmler and his immediate subordinate SS-Obergruppenführer and General of Police Reinhard Heydrich; they held the power of life and death for nearly every German and were essentially above the law.
Heydrich remained the RSHA chief until his assassination in 1942. In January 1943 Himmler delegated the office to SS-Obergruppenführer and General of Police Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who headed the RSHA until the end of World War II in Europe. The head of the RSHA was also known as the CSSD or Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD (Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service).
According to British author Gerald Reitlinger, the RSHA "became a typical overblown bureaucracy... The complexity of RSHA was unequalled... with at least a hundred... sub-sub-sections, a modest camouflage of the fact that it handled the progressive extermination which Hitler planned for the ten million Jews of Europe".
|№||Chief of SiPo and SD||Took office||Left office||Time in office|
|27 September 1939||4 June 1942 †||2 years, 250 days|
|4 June 1942||30 January 1943||240 days|
|30 January 1943||12 May 1945||2 years, 102 days|
The RSHA controlled the security services of Nazi Germany and the Nazi Party (NSDAP). Its activities included intelligence-gathering, criminal investigation, overseeing foreigners, monitoring public opinion, and Nazi indoctrination. The RSHA was also "the central office for the extra-judicial NS (National Socialist) measures of terror and repression from the beginning of the war until 1945". The list of "enemies" included Jews, Communists, Freemasons, pacifists, and Christian activists. In addition to dealing with identified enemies, the RSHA advocated expansionist policies for the Reich and the Germanization of additional territory through settlement. Generalplan Ost (General Plan East), which was the secret Nazi plan to colonize Central and Eastern Europe exclusively with Germans, displacing inhabitants in the process through genocide and ethnic cleansing in order to obtain sufficient Lebensraum, stemmed from officials in the RSHA, among other Nazi organizations.
According to German historian, Klaus Hildebrand, the RSHA was "particularly concerned with racial matters". An order issued by the RSHA on 20 May 1941 overtly demonstrates its utter complicity for the systematic extermination of Jews, namely since the order included instructions to block emigration of any and all Jews attempting to leave Belgium or France as part of the "imminent Final Solution of the Jewish question". Besides blocking emigration, the RSHA, working with Adolf Eichmann's Reich Association of Jews in Germany, deliberately deceived Jews still living in Germany and those of other countries by promising them good living quarters, medical care, and food in Theresienstadt (a concentration camp which was a way station to extermination facilities like Auschwitz) if they turned over their assets to the RSHA through a 'phony' home-purchase plan.
The RSHA oversaw the Einsatzgruppen, death squads that were formed under the direction of Heydrich and operated by the SS. Originally part of the SiPo, in September 1939 the operational control of the Einsatzgruppen was taken over by the RSHA. When the units were re-formed prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the men of the Einsatzgruppen were recruited from the SD, Gestapo, Kripo, Orpo, and Waffen-SS. The units followed the invasion forces of the German Army into Eastern Europe. In its role as the national and NSDAP security service, the RSHA coordinated activities among a number of different agencies that had wide-ranging responsibilities within the Reich. Not infrequently, commanders of Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommando sub-units were also desk officers from the main office of the RSHA. Historian Raul Hilberg estimates that between 1941 and 1945 the Einsatzgruppen and related auxiliary troops killed more than two million people, including 1.3 million Jews.
Part of the RSHA's efforts to encourage other nations (many of whom were occupied by the Germans) to hand over their Jews or entice them into the arms of the Nazis, included coercing them by assigning Jewish advisory officials, all of which was part and parcel to Eichmann's goal of rounding up and transporting "Jews from Slovakia and Hungary, Croatia and Romania". Entry into the Second World War afforded the RSHA the power to act as an intermediary in the areas extended far beyond the Reich, which according to Hans Mommsen, lent itself to solving "emergency situations" and the RSHA's radicalized destructive goals like the Final Solution, were implemented thereupon with bureaucratic methodical cruelty as its power expanded.
Amersfoort concentration camp (Dutch: Kamp Amersfoort, German: Durchgangslager Amersfoort) was a Nazi concentration camp in Amersfoort, Netherlands. The official name was "Polizeiliches Durchgangslager Amersfoort", P.D.A. or Police Transitcamp Amersfoort. During the years of 1941 to 1945, over 35,000 prisoners were kept here. The camp was situated in the southern part of Amersfoort, on the city limit between Amersfoort and Leusden in central Netherlands.Blechhammer
The Blechhammer (English: sheet metal hammer) area was the location of Nazi Germany chemical plants, prisoner of war (POW) camps, and forced labor camps (German: Arbeitslager Blechhammer; also Nummernbücher). Labor camp prisoners began arriving as early as June 17, 1942, and in July 1944, 400–500 men were transferred from the Terezin family camp to Blechhammer. The mobile "pocket furnace" (German: Taschenofen) crematorium was at Sławięcice.) and Bau und Arbeits Battalion (BAB, English: Construction Battalion) 21 was a mile from the Blechhammer oil plants and was not far from Kattowitz and Breslau. Blechhammer synthetic oil production began April 1, 1944 with 4000 prisoners, with the slave labor camp holding these prisoners during April 1944, becoming a satellite camp of the dreaded Auschwitz extermination camp, as Arbeitslager Blechhammer.Breitenau concentration camp
Breitenau concentration camp was established in June 1933 in Germany. It was located in the Breitenau, a part of the village of Guxhagen, ca. 15 km south of Kassel, Hesse.Carlingue
The Carlingue (or French Gestapo) were French auxiliaries who worked for the Gestapo, Sicherheitsdienst and Geheime Feldpolizei during the occupation of France in the Second World War. The group, which was based at 93, rue Lauriston in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, was active between 1941 and 1944. It was founded by Pierre Bonny, a corrupt ex-policeman. Later it was jointly led by Henri Lafont and Pierre Loutrel, two professional criminals who had been active in the French underworld before the war.Central Office for Jewish Emigration
The Central Office for Jewish Emigration (German: Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung) was a designation of Nazi institutions in Vienna, Prague and Amsterdam. Its purpose was to expel Jews from Nazi-controlled areas.Gross-Rosen concentration camp
Gross-Rosen concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager Groß-Rosen) was a German network of Nazi concentration camps built and operated during World War II. The main camp was located in the German village of Gross-Rosen, now the modern-day Rogoźnica in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland; directly on the rail-line between the towns of Jawor (Jauer) and Strzegom (Striegau).At its peak activity in 1944, the Gross-Rosen complex had up to 100 subcamps located in eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia, and on the territory of occupied Poland. The population of all Gross-Rosen camps at that time accounted for 11% of the total number of inmates incarcerated in the Nazi concentration camp system.Kriminalpolizei (Nazi Germany)
Kriminalpolizei (English: Criminal Police), often abbreviated as Kripo, is the German name for a criminal investigation department. This article deals with the agency during the Nazi era.
In Nazi Germany, the Kripo consisted of the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt (Reich Criminal Police Department; RKPA), which in September 1939 became Department V of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA). The Kripo had directly subordinated criminal investigation centers (Kripo-Leitstellen and Kripo-Stellen), as well as the criminal investigation divisions of the local state (Staatliche Kriminalabteilungen) and municipal police departments (Gemeindekriminalpolizeiabteilungen). In 1943 both the latter became directly subordinated to the criminal investigation centers. The personnel consisted of detectives in the Junior Criminal Investigation Career, the Executive Criminal Investigation Career, and the Female Criminal Investigation Career.Lager Sylt
Lager Sylt was a Nazi concentration camp on Alderney in the British Crown Dependency in the Channel Islands. Built in 1942, along with three other labour camps by the Organisation Todt, the control of Lager Sylt changed from March 1943 to June 1944 when it was run by the Schutzstaffel - SS-Baubrigade 1 and Lager Sylt became a subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp (located in Hamburg, Germany).Niederkirchnerstraße
Niederkirchnerstraße (German: [ˈniːdɐkɪʁçnɐˌʃtʁaːsə]) is a street in Berlin, Germany. The thoroughfare was known as Prinz-Albrecht-Straße until 1951 but the name was changed by the post-war German government due to its connotation with Nazi Germany. The street was the location of the SS Reich Main Security Office, the headquarters of the Sicherheitspolizei, SD, Einsatzgruppen and Gestapo. The site is now marked by the Topography of Terror memorial and a museum which includes a permanent exhibition showing the crimes of Nazism.Polish decrees
Polish decrees, Polish directives or decrees on Poles (German: Polen-Erlasse, Polenerlasse) were the decrees of the Nazi Germany government announced on 8 March 1940 during World War II to regulate the working and living conditions of the Polish workers (Zivilarbeiter) used during World War II as forced laborers in Germany. The regulation intentionally supported and even created anti-Polish racism and discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity and racial background.Reich Association of Jews in Germany
The Reich Association of Jews in Germany (German: Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland) also called the new one for clear differentiation, was a Jewish umbrella organisation formed in Nazi Germany in February 1939. The Association branched out from the Reich Representation of German Jews (Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden) established in September 1933. The new Association was an administrative body concerned predominantly with the coordination and support of the emigration and forcible deportation of Jewish people, subject to the Reich government's ever-changing legislation enforced by the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt). The legal status of the new organisation was changed on 4 July 1939 on the basis of the Nuremberg Laws, and defined by the 10th Regulation to the Citizenship Law issued by the Reich's ministry of the Interior. The Association assumed the so-called old Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland, which was the name under which the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Reich's deputation of German Jews) had been operating since February 1939.The new Reichsvereinigung assumed the staff, installations and buildings of the old Reichsvereinigung. The RSHA subjected the new Reichsvereinigung to its influence and control, and confirmed Rabbi Leo Baeck as president, who had been elected as president of the old Reichsvereinigung. By the end of 1939 the RSHA appointed Adolf Eichmann as its Special Referee for the Affairs of the Jews (German: Sonderreferent für Judenangelegenheiten), officiating in a bureau in Kurfürstenstraße #115–116, Berlin. Eichmann had come to dubious fame for expelling 50,000 Jewish Austrians and Gentile Austrians of Jewish descent. within the first three months after the Anschluß. Thus he was commissioned to expel Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent from within the old Reich borders. The local supervision of the Reichsvereinigung was commissioned to the local Gestapo branches.Reichskriminalpolizeiamt
Reichskriminalpolizeiamt (RKPA), was Nazi Germany's central criminal investigation department, founded in 1936 after the Prussian central criminal investigation department (Landeskriminalpolizeiamt) became the national criminal investigation department for Germany. It was merged, along with the secret state police department, the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) as two sub-branch departments of the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo). The SiPo was under Reinhard Heydrich's overall command. In September 1939, with the founding of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security office; RSHA), the Sicherheitspolizei as a functioning state agency ceased to exist as the department was merged into the RSHA.Salaspils concentration camp
Salaspils camp was established at the end of 1941 at a point 18 km (11 mi) southeast of Riga (Latvia), in Salaspils. The Nazi bureaucracy drew distinctions between different types of camps. Officially, it was the Salaspils Police Prison and Re-Education Through Labor Camp (Polizeigefängnis und Arbeitserziehungslager). It was also known as camp Kurtenhof after the German name for the city of Salaspils. Planning for the development of the camp and its prisoner structure changed several times. In 1943, Heinrich Himmler briefly considered converting the camp into an official concentration camp (Konzentrationslager), which would have formally subordinated the camp to the National Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA), but nothing came of this. The camp has had a lasting legacy in Latvian and Russian culture due to the severity of the treatment at the camp, especially with regards to children.Salon Kitty
Salon Kitty was a high-class Berlin brothel used by the Nazi intelligence service, the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), for espionage purposes during World War II.
Created in the early 1930s, the salon was taken over by SS general Reinhard Heydrich and his subordinate Walter Schellenberg in 1939. The brothel was managed by original owner Kitty Schmidt throughout its entire existence. The plan was to seduce top German dignitaries and foreign visitors, as well as diplomats, with alcohol and women so they would disclose secrets or express their honest opinions on Nazi-related topics and individuals. Notable guests included Heydrich himself, Joseph Dietrich, Galeazzo Ciano and Joseph Goebbels. The building housing the salon was destroyed in an air raid in 1942 and the project quickly lost its importance. Salon Kitty has been the inspiration or subject to many brothels featured in films involving Nazi espionage.Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst (German: [ˈzɪçɐhaɪtsˌdiːnst], Security Service), full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS (Security Service of the Reichsführer-SS), or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. Originating in 1931, the organization was the first Nazi intelligence organization to be established and was considered a sister organization with the Gestapo (formed in 1933) through integration of SS members and operational procedures. Between 1933 and 1939, the SD was administered as an independent SS office, after which it was transferred to the authority of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA), as one of its seven departments/offices. Its first director, Reinhard Heydrich, intended for the SD to bring every single individual within the Third Reich's reach under "continuous supervision".Following Germany's defeat in World War II, the tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials declared the SD a criminal organisation, along with the rest of Heydrich's RSHA (including the Gestapo) both individually and as branches of the SS in the collective. Heydrich's successor, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials, sentenced to death and hanged in 1946.Sicherheitspolizei
The Sicherheitspolizei (English: Security Police), often abbreviated as SiPo, was a term used in Germany for security police. In the Nazi era, it was used to describe the state political and criminal investigation security agencies. It was made up by the combined forces of the Gestapo (secret state police) and the Kriminalpolizei (criminal police; Kripo) between 1936 and 1939. As a formal agency, the SiPo was folded into the RSHA in 1939, but the term continued to be used informally until the end of World War II in Europe.Special Prosecution Book-Poland
Special Prosecution Book-Poland (German: Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen, Polish: Specjalna księga Polaków ściganych listem gończym) was the proscription list prepared by the Germans immediately before the onset of war, that identified more than 61,000 members of Polish elites: activists, intelligentsia, scholars, actors, former officers, and prominent others, who were to be interned or shot on the spot upon their identification following the invasion.Wolfgang Birkner
Wolfgang Birkner (27 October 1913 – 24 March 1945) was a German SS functionary with the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer, and the Holocaust perpetrator in World War II. Birkner served as the KdS Warschau (Komandeur der Sicherheitspolizei) in Warsaw following the German invasion of Poland in 1939.
After the German attack on the Soviet forces in eastern Poland during Operation Barbarossa, Birkner and his Einsatzkommando were deployed in the newly-formed Bezirk Bialystok district in the Army Group Centre Rear Area due to reports of alleged Soviet guerrilla activity. Birkner arrived in Białystok from the General Government on 30 June 1941, sent in by the SS Police commander Eberhard Schöngarth on orders from the Reich Main Security Office. As veteran of Einsatzgruppe IV from the Polish Campaign of 1939, Birkner was a specialist in rear security operations.Zollgrenzschutz
Zollgrenzschutz (ZGS) (German: Customs Border Guards) was an organization under the German Finance Ministry from 1937 to 1945. It was charged with guarding Germany's borders, acting as a combination Border Patrol and Customs & Immigration service.
|Police and security services|
|Foreign SS units|