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.[2] Its first director, Reinhard Heydrich, intended for the SD to bring every single individual within the Third Reich's reach under "continuous supervision".[3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

SS Security Service
Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS
SD sleeve insignia
Agency overview
Preceding agency
  • Ic-Dienst 1931
Dissolved8 May 1945
TypeIntelligence agency
HeadquartersPrinz-Albrecht-Straße, Berlin
Employees6,482 c. February 1944[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executives
Parent agencyFlag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Allgemeine SS
Reich Main Security Office



The SD, one of the oldest security organizations of the SS, first formed in 1931 as the Ic-Dienst (Intelligence Service[a]) operating out of a single apartment and reporting directly to Heinrich Himmler. Himmler appointed a former junior naval officer, Reinhard Heydrich, to organise the small agency.[6] The office was renamed Sicherheitsdienst (SD) in the summer of 1932.[7] The SD became more powerful after the Nazi Party took control of Germany in 1933 and the SS started infiltrating all leading positions of the security apparatus of the Reich. Even before Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933, the SD was a veritable "watchdog" over the SS and over members of the Nazi Party and played a critical role in consolidating political-police powers into the hands of Himmler and Heydrich.[8]

Growth of SD and SS power

Once Hitler was appointed Chancellor by German President Paul von Hindenburg, he quickly made efforts to manipulate the aging president. On 28 February 1933, Hitler convinced Hindenburg to declare a state of emergency which suspended all civil liberties throughout Germany, due at least in part to the Reichstag fire the night before. Hitler assured Hindenburg throughout that he was attempting to stabilize the tumultuous political scene in Germany by taking a "defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state."[9] Wasting no time, Himmler set the SD in motion as they began creating an extensive card-index of the Nazi regime's political opponents, arresting labor organizers, socialists, Jewish leaders, journalists, and communists in the process, sending them to the newly-established prison facility near Munich, Dachau.[10] Himmler's SS and SD made their presence felt at once by helping rid the regime of its known political enemies and its perceived ones, as well. As far as Heydrich and Himmler were concerned, the SD left their mission somewhat vaguely defined so as to "remain an instrument for all eventualities".[11] One such eventuality would soon arise.

For a while, the SS competed with the Sturmabteilung (SA) for influence within Germany. Himmler distrusted the SA and came to deplore the "rabble-rousing" brownshirts (despite once having been a member) and what he saw as indecent sexual deviants amid its leadership.[12] At least one pretext to secure additional influence for Himmler's SS and Heydrich's SD in "protecting" Hitler and securing his absolute trust in their intelligence collection abilities, involved thwarting a plot from Ernst Roehm's SA using subversive means.[13]

On 20 April 1934 Hermann Göring handed over control of the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) to Himmler. Heydrich, named chief of the Gestapo by Himmler on 22 April 1934, also continued as head of the SD.[14] These events further extended Himmler's control of the security mechanism of the Reich, which by proxy also strengthened the surveillance power of Heydrich's SD, as both entities methodically infiltrated every police agency in Germany.[15] Subsequently, the SD was made the sole "Party information service" on 9 June 1934.[16]

Under pressure from the Reichswehr (German armed forces) leadership (whose members viewed the enormous armed forces of the SA as an existential threat) and with the collusion of Göring, Joseph Goebbels, the Gestapo and SD, Hitler was led to believe that Röhm's SA posed a serious conspiratorial threat requiring a drastic and immediate solution.[17] For its part, the SD provided fictitious information that there was an assassination plot on Hitler's life and that an SA putsch to assume power was imminent since the SA were allegedly amassing weapons.[18] Additionally, reports were coming into the SD and Gestapo that the vulgarity of the SA's behavior was damaging the party and was even making antisemitism less palatable.[19] On 30 June 1934 the SS and Gestapo acted in coordinated mass arrests that continued for two days. The SS took one of its most decisive steps in eliminating its competition for command of security within Germany and established itself firmly in the Nazi hierarchy, making the SS and its intelligence organ, the SD, responsible only to the Führer. The purge became known as the Night of the Long Knives, with up to 200 people killed in the action.[20] Moreover, the brutal crushing of the SA and its leadership sent a clear message to everyone that opposition to Hitler's regime could be fatal.[21] It struck fear across the Nazi leadership as to the tangible concern of the reach and influence of Himmler's intelligence collection and policing powers.[22]

The SD and Austria

During the autumn of 1937, Hitler secured Mussolini's support to annex Austria (Mussolini was originally apprehensive of the Nazi takeover of Austria) and informed his generals of his intentions to invade both Austria and Czechoslovakia.[23] Getting Mussolini to approve political intrigue against Austria was a major accomplishment, as the Italian Duce had expressed great concern previously in the wake of an Austrian SS unit's attempt to stage a coup not more than three weeks after the Röhm affair, an episode that embarrassed the SS, enraged Hitler, and ended in the assassination of Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss on 25 July 1934.[24] Nonetheless, to facilitate the incorporation of Austria into the greater Reich, the SD and Gestapo went to work arresting people immediately, using lists compiled by Heydrich.[25] Heydrich's SD and Austrian SS members received financing from Berlin to harass Austrian Chancellor von Schuschnigg's government all throughout 1937. One section of the SD that was nothing more than a front for subversive activities against Austria ironically promoted "German-Austrian peace".[26]

Throughout the events leading to the Anschluß and even after the Nazis marched into Austria on 12 March 1938, Heydrich – convinced that only his SD could pull off a peaceful union between the two German-speaking nations – organized demonstrations, conducted clandestine operations, ordered terror attacks, distributed propaganda materials, encouraged the intimidation of opponents, and had his SS and SD personnel round-up prominent anti-Nazis, most of whom ended up in Mauthausen concentration camp[27] The coordinated efforts of the SiPo and Heydrich's SD during the first days of the Anschluß effectively eliminated all forms of possible political, military and economic resistance within Austria.[28] Once the annexation became official, the Austrian police was immediately subordinated to Heydrich's SD, the SS and Gestapo.[29] Machinations by the SD, the Gestapo, and the SS helped to bring Austria fully into Hitler's grasp and on 13 March 1938, he signed into law the union with Austria as tears streamed down his face.[30]

"Case Green" and the Sudetenland

Concomitant to its machinations against Austria, the SD also became involved in subversive activities throughout Czechoslovakia. Focusing on the Sudetenland with its 3 million ethnic Germans and the disharmony there which the Czech government could not seem to remedy, Hitler set Heydrich's SD in motion there in what came to be known as "Case Green".[31] Passed off as a mission to liberate Sudeten Germans from alleged Czech persecution, Case Green was in fact a contingency plan to outright invade and destroy the country, as Hitler intended to "wipe Czechoslovakia off the map."[32]

This operation was akin to earlier SD efforts in Austria; however, unlike Austria, the Czechs fielded their own Secret Service, against which Heydrich had to contend.[33] Once "Case Green" began, Heydrich's SD spies began covertly gathering intelligence, even going so far as having SD agents use their spouses and children in the cover scheme. The operation covered every conceivable type of intelligence data, using a myriad of cameras and photographic equipment, focusing efforts on important strategic locations like government buildings, police stations, postal services, public utilities, logistical routes, and above all, airfields.[34]

Hitler worked out a sophisticated plan to acquire the Sudetenland, including manipulating Slovak nationalists to vie for independence and the suppression of this movement by the Czech government. Under directions from Heydrich, SD operative Alfred Naujocks was re-activated to engage in sabotage activities designed to incite a response from the Slovaks and the Czechs, a mission that ultimately failed.[35] In June 1938 a directive from the SD head office indicated that Hitler issued an order at Jueterbog to his generals to prepare for the invasion of Czechoslovakia.[36] To hasten a presumed heavy response from the French, British, and Czechs, Hitler then upped the stakes and claimed that the Czechs were slaughtering Sudeten Germans. He demanded the unconditional and prompt cession of the Sudetenland to Germany in order to secure the safety of endangered ethnic Germans.[37] Around this time, early plots by select members of the German General Staff emerged, plans which included ridding themselves of Hitler.[38]

Eventually a diplomatic showdown pitting Hitler against the governments of Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, and France, whose tepid reaction to the Austrian Anschluss had precipitated this crisis to some degree, ensued. The Sudetenland Crisis came to an end when Neville Chamberlain and Hitler signed the Munich Agreement on 29 September 1938, effectively ceding the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany.[39] Involvement in international affairs by the SD certainly did not end there and the agency remained active in foreign operations to such a degree that the head of the Reich Foreign Ministry office, Joachim von Ribbentrop, complained of their meddling, since Hitler would apparently make decisions based on SD reports without consulting him.[40] According to historian Richard Breitman, there was animosity between the SS leadership and Ribbentrop's Foreign Office atop their "jurisdictional disputes".[41][b]

Intrigue against Poland

Aside from its participation in diminishing the power of the SA and its scheme to kill Ernst Roehm, the SD took part in international intrigue, first by activities in Austria, again in Czechoslovakia, and then by helping provoke the "reactive" war against Poland. Code-named "Operation Himmler" and part of Hitler's plan to justify an attack upon Poland, the SD's clandestine activity for this mission included faking a Polish attack against "innocent Germans" at a German radio-station in Gleiwitz.[42] The SD took concentration-camp inmates condemned to die, and fitted them with Polish Army uniforms which Heinz Jost had acquired from Admiral Wilhelm Canaris' Abwehr (military intelligence).[43] Leading this mission and personally selected by Heydrich was SS veteran Alfred Naujocks, who later reported during a War Criminal proceeding that he brought a Polish-speaking German along so he could broadcast a message in Polish from the German radio station "under siege" to the effect that it was time for an all out confrontation between Germans and Poles. To add documented proof of this attack, the SD operatives placed the fictitious Polish troops (killed by lethal injection, then shot for appearance) around the "attacked" radio station with the intention of taking members of the press to the site of the incident.[44] Immediately in the wake of the staged incidents on 1 September 1939, Hitler proclaimed from the Reichstag in a famous radio address that German soldiers had been "returning" fire since 5:45 in the morning, setting the Second World War in Europe into motion.[45]

Tasks and general structure

German passport extended by the SD in Norway, March 1945.
German passport extended by the SD in Norway, March 1945.

The SD was tasked with the detection of actual or potential enemies of the Nazi leadership and the neutralization of this opposition, whether internal or external. To fulfill this task, the SD created an organization of agents and informants throughout the Reich and later throughout the occupied territories, all part of the development of an extensive SS state and a totalitarian regime without parallel.[46] The organization consisted of a few hundred full-time agents and several thousand informants. Historian George C. Browder writes that SD regiments were comparable to SS regiments, in that:

SD districts (Bezirke) emerged covering several Party circuits (Kreis) or an entire district (Gau). Below this level, SD sub-districts (Unterbezirke) slowly developed. They were originally to cover a single Kreis, and, in turn, to be composed of wards (Revier), but such an ambitious network never emerged. Eventually, the SD-sub-districts acquired the simple designation of 'outposts' (Aussenstellen) as the lowest level-office in the field structure.[47]

The SD was mainly an information-gathering agency, while the Gestapo—and to a degree the Criminal Police (Kriminalpolizei or Kripo)—was the executive agency of the political police system. The SD and Gestapo did have integration through SS members holding dual positions in each branch. Nevertheless, there was some jurisdictional overlap and operational conflict between the SD and Gestapo.[48] In addition, the Criminal Police kept a level of independence since its structure had been longer-established.[49]

Part and parcel to intelligence operations, the SD carefully tracked foreign opinion and criticism of Nazi policies, censoring when necessary and likewise publishing hostile political cartoons in the SS weekly magazine, Das Schwarze Korps.[50] An additional task assigned to the SD and the Gestapo was keeping tabs on the morale of the German population at large,[51] which meant they were charged to "carefully supervise the political health of the German ethnic body" and once any symptoms of "disease and germs" appeared, it was their job to "remove them by every appropriate means."[52] Regular reports—ranging from opinion polls, press dispatches, and information bulletins were established. These were monitored and reviewed by then head of the Inland-SD, Otto Ohlendorf (responsible for intelligence and security within Germany) and the former Heidelberg professor and SD member Reinhard Höhn, all designed to control and assess the "life domain" or Lebensgebiet of the German population.[53] Gathered information was then distributed by the SD through secret internal political reports entitled Meldungen aus dem Reich (reports from the Reich) to the upper echelons of the Nazi Party, enabling Hitler's regime to evaluate the general morale and attitude of the German people so it could be timely manipulated by the Nazi propaganda machine.[54] When the Nuremberg Laws were passed in 1935, the SD reported that the measures against the Jews were well received by the German populace.[55]

In 1936, the police were divided into the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo or Order Police) and the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo or Security Police).[56] The Orpo consisted mainly of the Schutzpolizei (Urban police), the Gendarmerie (Rural police) and the Gemeindepolizei (Municipal police). The SiPo was composed of the Kripo and the Gestapo. Heydrich became Chief of the SiPo and continued as Chief of the SD.[57]

Continued escalation of antisemitic policies in the spring of 1937 from the SD organization concerned with Jewish affairs—staffed by members like Adolf Eichmann, Herbert Hagen, and Theodor Dannecker—led to the eventual removal (Entfernung) of Jews from Germany devoid of concerns about where they were headed.[58] Adolf Eichmann's original task in his capacity as deputy for the Jewish Affairs department within the SD, was at first to remove any semblance of "Jewish influence from all sphere of public life" which included the encouragement of wholesale Jewish emigration. Official bureaucratization increased apace with numerous specialized offices formed, aiding towards the overall persecution of the Jews.[59]

Due to the fact that the Gestapo and SD had parallel duties, Heydrich tried to reduce any confusion or related territorial disputes through a decree on 1 July 1937, clearly defining the SD's area of responsibility as those dealing with "learning (Wissenschaft), art, party and state, constitution and administration, foreign lands, Freemasonry and associations" whereas the "Gestapo's jurisdiction was Marxism, treason, and emigrants."[60] Additionally, the SD was responsible for matters related to "churches and sects, pacifism, the Jews, right-wing movements", as well as "the economy, and the Press", but the SD was instructed to "avoid all matters which touched the 'state police executive powers' (staatspolizeiliche Vollzugsmaßnahmen) since these belonged to the Gestapo, as did all individual cases."[61]

In 1938, the SD was made the intelligence organization for the State as well as for the Party,[62] supporting the Gestapo and working with the General and Interior Administration. As such, the SD came into immediate, fierce competition with German military intelligence, the Abwehr, which was headed by Admiral Canaris. The competition stemmed from Heydrich and Himmler's intention to absorb the Abwehr and Admiral Canaris' view of the SD as an amateur upstart. Canaris refused to give up the autonomy that his military intelligence organ was granted. Additional problems also existed, like the racial exemption for members of the Abwehr from the Nazi Aryan screening process, and then there was competition for resources which occurred throughout the Third Reich's existence.[63]

On 27 September 1939, the SiPo became a part of the RSHA under Heydrich.[64] The operational sections of the SD became (department) Amt III and for foreign intelligence, Amt VI; the Gestapo became Amt IV and the Kripo became Amt V. Otto Ohlendorf was named the Chief of Amt III, the SD-Inland (within Germany); Heinrich Müller was named the Chief of Amt IV, the Gestapo; Arthur Nebe was named the Chief of Amt V, the Kripo; and Walter Schellenberg became Chief of Amt VI, the SD-Ausland (outside Germany). In 1944, the sections of the Abwehr were incorporated into Amt VI.[65][2]

SD relationship to the Einsatzgruppen

The SD was the overarching agency under which the Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD, also known as the Einsatzgruppen, was subordinated; this was one of the principal reasons for the later war-crimes indictment against the organization by the Allies.[c] The Einsatzgruppen's part in the Holocaust has been well documented. Its mobile killing units were active in the implementation of the Final Solution in the territories overrun by the Nazi war machine.[66] This SD subsidiary worked closely with the Wehrmacht in persecuting Jews, communists, partisans, and other groups, as well.[d] Starting with the invasion of Poland throughout the campaign in the East, the Einsatzgruppen ruthlessly killed anyone suspected of being an opponent of the regime, either real or imagined.[e] The men of the Einsatzgruppen were recruited from the SD, Gestapo, Kripo, Orpo, and Waffen-SS.[69]

On 31 July 1941, Göring gave written authorisation to SD Chief Heydrich to ensure a government-wide cooperative effort in the implementation of the Endlösung der Judenfrage (Final Solution to the Jewish question) in territories under German control.[70] An SD headquarter's memorandum indicated that the SD was tasked to accompany military invasions and assist in pacification efforts. The memo explicitly stated:

The SD will, where possible, follow up immediately behind the troops as they move in and, as in the Reich, will assume responsibility for the security of political life. Within the Reich, security measures are the responsibility of the Gestapo with SD cooperation. In occupied territory, measures will be under the direction of a senior SD commander; Gestapo officials will be allotted to individual Einsatzstäbe. It will be necessary to make available for special deployment a unit of Verfügungstruppe or Totenkopf [Death Head] formations.[71]

Correspondingly, SD affiliated units, including the Einsatzgruppen followed German troops into Austria, the Sudetenland, Bohemia, Moravia, Poland, Lithuania, as well as Russia.[72][f] Since their task included cooperating with military leadership and vice versa, suppression of opposition in the occupied territories was a joint venture.[73][74] There were territorial disputes and disagreement about how some of these policies were to be implemented.[75] Nonetheless, by June 1941, the SS and the SD task forces were systematically shooting Jewish men of military age, which soon turned to "gunning down" old people, women, and children in the occupied areas.[76]

On 20 January 1942, Heydrich chaired a meeting, now called the Wannsee Conference, to discuss the implementation of the plan.[77] Facilities such as Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz have their origins in the planning actions undertaken by Heydrich.[78] Heydrich remained chief of the Security Police (SiPo) and the SD (through the RSHA) until his assassination in 1942, after which Ernst Kaltenbrunner was named chief by Himmler on 30 January 1943, and remained there until the end of the war.[79] The SD was declared a criminal organization after the war and its members were tried as war criminals at Nuremberg.[g] Whatever their original purpose, the SD and SS were ultimately created to identify and eradicate internal enemies of the State, as well as to pacify, subjugate, and exploit conquered territories and peoples.[81]


The SS Security Service, known as the SS SD-Amt, became the official security organization of the Nazi Party in 1934. Consisting at first of paid agents and a few hundred unpaid informants scattered across Germany, the SD was quickly professionalized under Heydrich, who commissioned National Socialist academics and lawyers to ensure that the SS and its Security Service in particular, operated "within the framework of National Socialist ideology."[82] Heydrich was given the power to select men for the SS Security Service from among any SS subdivisions since Himmler considered the organization of the SD as important.[83] On September 1939, the SD was divided into two departments, the interior department (Inland-SD) and the foreign department (Ausland-SD), and placed under the authority of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA).[84]


The Interior Security Service (Inland-SD), responsible for intelligence and security within Germany, was known earlier as Department II and later, when placed under the Reich Main Security Office, as its Department III. It was originally headed by Hermann Behrends and from September 1939 by Otto Ohlendorf.[85][h] It was within this organization that Adolf Eichmann began working out the details for the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.[87] Department III was divided into the following sections:

  • Section A (Law and Legal Structures)
  • Section B (Race and Ethnic Matters)
  • Section C (Cultural and Religious Matters)
  • Section D (Industry and Commerce)
  • Section E (High Society)[88]


The Foreign Security Service (Ausland-SD), responsible for intelligence activities beyond the boundaries of Germany, was known earlier as Department III and later, after September 1939, as Department VI of the Reich Main Security Office.[89] It was nominally commanded by Heydrich, but run by his chief of staff Heinz Jost.[90] On March 1942 Jost was fired and replaced by Walter Schellenberg, a deputy of Heydrich. After the July 20 Plot in 1944, Department VI took over the functions of the Military Intelligence Service (Abwehr ). Department VI was divided into the following sections:

  • Section A (Organization and Administration)
  • Section B (Espionage in the West)
  • Section C (Espionage in the Soviet Union and Japan)
  • Section D (Espionage in the American sphere)
  • Section E (Espionage in Eastern Europe)
  • Section F (Technical Matters)[91]


Given the nature of the intelligence operations assigned to the SD, there were clear delineations between what constituted a full member (Mitglieder) of the SD and those who were considered "associates" (Mitarbeiter) with a further subset for clerical support personnel (typists, file clerks, etc.) who were connoted as V-persons (Vertrauensleute).[92] All SD personnel, whether simply associates or full members were required to swear an oath of secrecy, had to meet all the requirements for SS membership, were assigned SD code numbers (Chiffre Nummer) and if they were "above the level of V-person" they had to carry "an SD identification card."[93] The vast majority of early SD members were relatively young, but the officers were typically older by comparison; nevertheless, the average age of an SD member was approximately 2 years older than the average Nazi Party member.[94] Much like the Nazi revolution in general, membership in the SS and the SD appealed more to the impressionable youth.[95] Most SD members were Protestant by faith, had served in the military, and generally had a significant amount of education, representing "an educated elite" in the general sense - with about 14 percent of them earning doctorate degrees.[96] Heydrich viewed the SD as spiritual-elite leaders within the SS and the "cream of the cream of the NSDAP."[97]

According to historian George C. Browder, "SD men represented no pathological or psychically susceptible group. Few were wild or extreme Nazi fanatics. In those respects they were 'ordinary men'. Yet in most other respects, they were an extraordinary mix of men, drawn together by a unique mix of missions."[98] Along with members of the Gestapo, SD personnel were "regarded with a mixture of fear and foreboding," and people wanted as little to do with them as possible.[99] Belonging to the security apparatus of the Third Reich obviously had its advantages but it was also fraught with occupationally related social disadvantages as well, and if post-war descriptions of the SD by historians are any indication, membership therein implied being a part of a "ubiquitous secret society" which was "sinister" and a "messenger of terror" not just for the German population, but within the "ranks of the Nazi Party itself."[100][i]

Security forces

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1971-067-07, Sicherheitsdienst in Polen, Razzia
SD personnel during a łapanka (random arrest) in occupied Poland

The SD and the SiPo were the main sources of officers for the security forces in occupied territories. SD-SiPo led battalions were typically placed under the command of the SS and Police Leaders, reporting directly to the RSHA in Berlin. The SD also maintained a presence at all concentration camps and supplied personnel, on an as-needed basis, to such special action troops as the Einsatzgruppen.[101] In fact, all members of the Einsatzgruppen wore the SD sleeve diamond on their uniforms.[102][j]

The SD-SiPo was the primary agency, in conjunction with the Ordnungspolizei, assigned to maintain order and security in the Jewish ghettos established by the Germans throughout occupied Eastern Europe.[104] On 7 December 1941, the same day that the American naval station at Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, the first extermination camp was opened at Chelmno near Lodz by the SD and SiPo commander in occupied Poznań (Posen), then SS-Standartenführer Ernst Damzog. Damzog had personally selected the staff for the killing centre and later supervised the daily operation of the camp, which was under the command of SS-Hauptsturmführer Herbert Lange.[105] Over a span of approximately 15 months, 150,000 people were killed there.[106]


According to the book Piercing the Reich, the SD was infiltrated in 1944 by a former Russian national who was working for the Americans. The agent's parents had fled the Russian Revolution, and he had been raised in Berlin, and then moved to Paris. He was recruited by Albert Jolis of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Seventh Army detachment. The mission was codenamed RUPPERT.[107]

How extensive the SD's knowledge was about the early plots to kill Hitler by key members of the military remains a contested subject and a veritable unknown. According to British historian John Wheeler-Bennett, "in view of the wholesale destruction of Gestapo archives it is improbable that this knowledge will ever be forthcoming. That the authorities were aware of serious 'defeatism' is certain, but it is doubtful whether they suspected anyone of outright treason."[108]


The SD used SS-ranks. When in uniform they wore the grey Waffen-SS uniform with army and Ordnungspolizei rank insignia on the shoulder straps, and SS rank insignia on the left collar patch. The right collar patch was black without the Sig runes.svg runes. The branch color of the SD was toxic green. The SD sleeve diamond (SD Raute) insignia was worn on the lower left sleeve.[109]


SD diamond. Here with white piping, as used by members of the Gestapo when in uniform (if members of the SS).[110]

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-380-0069-37, Polen, Verhaftung von Juden, SD-Männer

SD men in Poland 1939. From left to right in the rear seats: SS-Untersturmführer and SS-Oberscharführer. The SD men are wearing army shoulder straps, akin to the Waffen-SS.[111]


M43 field tunic – SD Unterscharführer with SS rank insignia on the collar patch, and police rank insignia (Wachtmeister) on the shoulder straps and SD diamond on lower part of sleeve

See also


Informational notes

  1. ^ The "Ic" abbreviation in German military staff structures designated "military intelligence"
  2. ^ Following the Sudetenland Crisis, the SD then took part in operations against Poland.
  3. ^ For more on the creation of this organization, see: Browder, George C. Foundations of the Nazi Police State: The Formation of Sipo and SD. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 2004, [1990].
  4. ^ At the end of March 1941, Hitler communicated his intention to 200 senior Wehrmacht officers about his decision to eradicate political criminals in the occupied regions, a task many of them were only too happy to hand-over to Himmler's Einsatzgruppen and SiPo.[67]
  5. ^ Victor Klemperer, one of the few Jews who survived the Nazi regime through his marriage to a German, claims that the real enemy of the Nazis was always the Jew, no matter who or what actually stood before them.[68]
  6. ^ From September 1939, the Einsatzgruppen came under the overall command of the RSHA. See: Nuremberg Trial, Vol. 20, Day 194.
  7. ^ Twenty-four Einsatzgruppen commanders (men with the SD sleeve diamond on their uniforms) were tried after the war, becoming infamous for their brutality.[80]
  8. ^ So severe were the interior policies of the Nazis under the watchful eye of the Department III, that when slave labor was brought into Germany to supplement the workforce during the war, German citizens who showed any kindness to foreign workers by giving them food or clothing were often punished.[86]
  9. ^ The SD also maintained local offices in Germany's cities and larger towns. The small offices were known as SD-Unterabschnitte, and the larger offices were referred to as SD-Abschnitte. All SD offices answered to a local commander known as the Inspektor des Sicherheitspolizei und SD who, in turn, was under the dual command of the RSHA and local SS and Police Leaders.
  10. ^ Many leading men in the SD had broad-ranging responsibilities across the network of interlocking Nazi agencies charged with the Reich's security; Werner Best proves a telling example in this regard, as he was not only an SD functionary, he was also an "Einsatzgruppen-organizer," the head of the military government in France, and "the Reich Plenipotentiary in Denmark."[103]


  1. ^ Gellately 1992, p. 44 fn.
  2. ^ a b Weale 2012, pp. 140–144.
  3. ^ Buchheim 1968, pp. 166–167.
  4. ^ "Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression" (1946).
  5. ^ Weale 2012, pp. 410–411.
  6. ^ Gerwarth 2011, pp. 56, 57.
  7. ^ Longerich 2012, p. 125.
  8. ^ Gellately 1992, p. 65.
  9. ^ Shirer 1990, pp. 191–194.
  10. ^ Distel & Jakusch 1978, p. 46.
  11. ^ Browder 1996, p. 127.
  12. ^ Blandford 2001, pp. 47–51.
  13. ^ Höhne 2001, pp. 93–131.
  14. ^ Williams 2001, p. 61.
  15. ^ Blandford 2001, pp. 60–63.
  16. ^ Williams 2001, p. 129.
  17. ^ Blandford 2001, pp. 67–78.
  18. ^ Delarue 2008, p. 113.
  19. ^ Kulva 1984, pp. 582–600.
  20. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 309–313.
  21. ^ Kershaw 2000, pp. 521–522.
  22. ^ Reitlinger 1989, pp. 65–66.
  23. ^ Beller 2007, p. 228.
  24. ^ Blandford 2001, p. 81.
  25. ^ Dederichs 2006, p. 82.
  26. ^ Blandford 2001, p. 135.
  27. ^ Blandford 2001, pp. 134–140.
  28. ^ Langerbein 2003, p. 22.
  29. ^ Blandford 2001, p. 141.
  30. ^ Fest 2002, p. 548.
  31. ^ Blandford 2001, pp. 141–142.
  32. ^ Childers 2017, p. 403.
  33. ^ Blandford 2001, p. 144.
  34. ^ Blandford 2001, pp. 144–145.
  35. ^ Höhne 2001, pp. 281–282.
  36. ^ Reitlinger 1989, p. 116.
  37. ^ Fest 2002, pp. 554–557.
  38. ^ Shirer 1990, pp. 366–384.
  39. ^ Kershaw 2001, pp. 121–125.
  40. ^ Höhne 2001, p. 283.
  41. ^ Breitman 1991, p. 222.
  42. ^ Weinberg 2005, p. 748.
  43. ^ Williams 2003, p. 9.
  44. ^ Shirer 1990, pp. 518–520.
  45. ^ Benz 2007, p. 170.
  46. ^ Bracher 1970, pp. 350–362.
  47. ^ Browder 1996, p. 109.
  48. ^ Weale 2010, pp. 134, 135.
  49. ^ Buchheim 1968, pp. 166–187.
  50. ^ Koonz 2005, p. 238.
  51. ^ Wall 1997, pp. 183–187.
  52. ^ Frei 1993, p. 103.
  53. ^ Ingrao 2013, pp. 107–108.
  54. ^ Ingrao 2013, pp. 107–116.
  55. ^ Koonz 2005, p. 190.
  56. ^ Williams 2001, p. 77.
  57. ^ Weale 2012, pp. 134, 135.
  58. ^ Longerich 2010, pp. 68–69.
  59. ^ Johnson 1999, pp. 106–107.
  60. ^ Gellately 1992, pp. 66–67.
  61. ^ Gellately 1992, p. 67.
  62. ^ Wall 1997, p. 77.
  63. ^ Blandford 2001, pp. 11–25.
  64. ^ Gerwarth 2011, p. 163.
  65. ^ Buchheim 1968, p. 172–187.
  66. ^ McNab 2009, pp. 113, 123–124.
  67. ^ Höhne 2001, pp. 354–356.
  68. ^ Klemperer 2000, pp. 176–177.
  69. ^ Longerich 2010, p. 185.
  70. ^ Browning 2004, p. 315.
  71. ^ Buchheim 1968, pp. 176–177.
  72. ^ Fritz 2011, pp. 94–98.
  73. ^ Wette 2007, pp. 96–97.
  74. ^ Müller 2012, p. 153.
  75. ^ Buchheim 1968, pp. 178–187.
  76. ^ Frei 2008, p. 155.
  77. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 696–697.
  78. ^ Wright 1968, p. 127.
  79. ^ Weale 2012, p. 149.
  80. ^ Rhodes 2003, p. 274.
  81. ^ Mayer 2012, p. 162.
  82. ^ Weale 2012, p. 130.
  83. ^ Browder 1996, p. 116.
  84. ^ Weale 2012, pp. 134–135.
  85. ^ Weale 2012, pp. 135, 141.
  86. ^ Stephenson 2008, pp. 102–3.
  87. ^ Weale 2012, p. 135.
  88. ^ Delarue 2008, pp. 355–356.
  89. ^ Doerries 2007, pp. 21, 80.
  90. ^ Weale 2012, p. 136.
  91. ^ Delarue 2008, pp. 357–358.
  92. ^ Browder 1996, p. 131.
  93. ^ Browder 1996, pp. 133–134.
  94. ^ Kater 1983, pp. 141, 261.
  95. ^ Ziegler 1989, pp. 59–79.
  96. ^ Browder 1996, pp. 136–138.
  97. ^ Dederichs 2006, p. 53.
  98. ^ Browder 1996, p. 174.
  99. ^ Gellately 1992, p. 143.
  100. ^ Höhne 2001, p. 210.
  101. ^ Reitlinger 1989, pp. 116–117.
  102. ^ Dams & Stolle 2014, pp. 120–121.
  103. ^ Gregor 2008, p. 4.
  104. ^ Spielvogel 2004, p. 278.
  105. ^ Friedlander 1995, pp. 136–140, 286–289.
  106. ^ Dederichs 2006, p. 115.
  107. ^ Persico 1979, pp. 103–107.
  108. ^ Wheeler-Bennett 1954, p. 475.
  109. ^ Mollo 1992, pp. 33–36.
  110. ^ Mollo 1992, pp. 42–43.
  111. ^ Mollo 1992, pp. 37–39.


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Arajs Kommando

The Arajs Kommando (also: Sonderkommando Arajs), led by SS commander and Nazi collaborator Viktors Arājs, was a unit of Latvian Auxiliary Police (German: Lettische Hilfspolizei) subordinated to the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD). It was a notorious killing unit during the Holocaust.

Battle of Groningen

The Battle of Groningen took place during the penultimate month of Second World War in Europe, from April 14 to 18, 1945, in the city of Groningen between a mixture of German soldiers, Dutch and Belgian SS troops numbering 7,000 against the entire 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, though the whole division was never in combat at any given time. There were also substantial amounts of Luftwaffe units manning flak guns in the area. Groningen was also the site of the headquarters for the Sicherheitsdienst in the North of the Netherlands. The German command structure was poor and the defenders had never exercised together.

The Canadian division, consisting of nine infantry battalions, a machine gun battalion, and a reconnaissance battalion, three combat engineer companies (Royal Canadian Engineers), was battle experienced with a proportion of partially trained reinforcements. Armour from the 10th Armoured Regiment (The Fort Garry Horse) and the 9th Armoured Regiment (The British Columbia Dragoons) was used in support.

Eduard Strauch

Eduard Strauch (17 August 1906 – 15 September 1955) was an SS-Obersturmbannführer, commander of Einsatzkommando 2, commander of two Nazi organizations, the Security Police (German: Sicherheitspolizei), or Sipo, and the Security Service (German: Sicherheitsdienst, or SD), first in Belarus – then called White Russia or White Ruthenia – and later in Belgium. In October 1944, he was transferred to the military branch of the SS (Waffen-SS).

Eugen Steimle

Eugen Steimle (8 December 1909 – 9 October 1987) was a German SS commander in the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) during the Nazi era. He commanded Sonderkommando 7a and Einsatzkommando 4a of the Einsatzgruppen, both of which were responsible for mass killings in the Soviet Union. Steimle was found guilty in 1947 in the Einsatzgruppen Trial and sentenced to death in 1948. His sentence was commuted to 20 years in prison.


Fronten (English: The Front) was a Norwegian newspaper.

It was published by national socialist Eugen Nielsen from 1932 to 1940. In the beginning, it was published biweekly, but gradually this became more sporadic. Nielsen's primary interest, which was reflected in the publications, was attacking freemasonry.Nielsen cooperated with the short-lived National Socialist Workers' Party of Norway (Norges Nasjonalsosialistiske Arbeiderparti), and was, therefore, critical to the rivalling national socialist party Nasjonal Samling. With Nasjonal Samling seizing power in Norway in the autumn of 1940, during the German occupation of Norway, Fronten eventually ceased to exist. Nielsen continued as an Anti-Masonry consultant for the Sicherheitsdienst.


Funkspiel (German: radio play) was the name of a counterintelligence operation carried out by Nazi intelligence during Second World War. Captured radio operators in France were to forcibly send false messages to British intelligence.

It allowed Nazi intelligence to intercept Allied military information, convey disinformation to the enemy and actively fight resistance movements. By doing so, Nazi intelligence made the pretense of being the French resistance with a script written for the enemy by the Gestapo or the Abwehr. Operations were conducted at 84 Avenue Foch, the headquarters of the Sicherheitsdienst in Paris.

The last false message exchanged with London in this operation was: "Thank you for your collaboration and for the weapons that you sent us". However, Nazi intelligence was not aware that British intelligence knew about the stratagem for at least two weeks prior to the transmission. If Nazi intelligence was able to gain some benefit from the operation, ultimately the stratagem was used against it. From May 1944 onwards the operation was not a success.

A similar Funkspiel technique called Operation Scherhorn was executed by the Soviet NKVD against Nazi secret services from August 1944 until May 1945.

Funkspiel also referred to a technique used by U-boat radio operators in which the frequency of transmission was changed consecutively to confuse Allied intelligence with the objective of picking up enemy transmission in the original channel.

Germanic SS

The Germanic SS (German: Germanische SS) was the collective name given to Nordic SS groups which arose in occupied Europe between 1939 and 1945. The units were modeled on the Allgemeine SS in Nazi Germany. Such groups existed in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium, whose populations the Nazi ideogues considered to be especially "racially suitable". They typically served as local security police augmenting German units of the Gestapo, Sicherheitsdienst (SD), and other departments of the German Reich Main Security Office.

Group 13

The Group Thirteen network (Polish: Trzynastka, Yiddish: דאָס דרײַצענטל) was a Jewish collaborationist organisation in the Warsaw Ghetto during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. The Thirteen took its informal name from the address of its main office at 13 Leszno Street in Warsaw. The group was founded in December 1940 and led by Abraham Gancwajch, the former head of Hashomer Hatzair in Łódź. Sanctioned by Sicherheitsdienst (SD), and also known as the Jewish Gestapo, the unit reported directly to the German Gestapo office.The group vied for control of the ghetto with the Judenrat, and infiltrated the Jewish opposition within the ghetto. The group's most important branch was the Office to Combat Usury and Profiteering in the Jewish Quarter of Warsaw. Supposed to fight the black market, it actually collected large sums via racketeering, blackmail and extortions. The group also ran its own prison. In total, the group numbered between three and four hundred uniformed Jewish officers, distinguished by caps with green bands. The admittance payment to become a member of the “13” was several thousand zlotys issued by the German-controlled Bank.In July 1941 the Group 13 lost to the Judenrat in the political arena and the Office was incorporated into the Jupo police force.After the Office was closed, the active members of the Group 13 centered on Gancwajch, and concentrated their efforts on setting up their own infirmary and ambulance service (the so-called Emergency Service, or the First Aid Station, which was created in May 1941). However, the company's resources soon became used predominantly for smuggling and contraband. They also ran other operations, for example a brothel at the Britannica hotel. They had near total control over the horse-drawn carriages and all transportation within the ghetto.


Hauptscharführer ([ˈhaʊ̯pt.ʃaːɐ̯.fyːʀɐ] was a Nazi paramilitary rank which was used by the Schutzstaffel (SS) between the years of 1934 and 1945. The rank was the highest enlisted rank of the SS, with the exception of the special Waffen-SS rank of Sturmscharführer.Translated as "head (or chief) squad leader" (the equivalent of a Master sergeant), Hauptscharführer became an SS rank after a reorganization of the SS following the Night of the Long Knives. The first use of Hauptscharführer was in June 1934 when the rank replaced the older SA title of Obertruppführer.Within the Allgemeine-SS (general-SS), a Hauptscharführer was typically the head SS-non-commissioned officer of an SS-Sturm (company) or was a rank used by enlisted staff personnel assigned to an SS headquarters office or security agency (such as the Gestapo and Sicherheitsdienst; SD).

The rank of Hauptscharführer was also commonly used in the concentration camp service and could also be found as a rank of the Einsatzgruppen. The rank of SS-Hauptscharführer was senior to SS-Oberscharführer and junior to SS-Sturmscharführer, except in the General-SS where Hauptscharführer was immediately junior to rank of SS-Untersturmführer.In the Waffen-SS, Hauptscharführer was a rank bestowed upon company and battalion non-commissioned officers and was considered the second highest enlisted rank, below that of Sturmscharführer. Those holding the Waffen-SS rank of Hauptscharführer were typically also granted the title of Stabsscharführer, which was an appointment held by the senior SS non-commissioned officer of a company, battalion, or regiment.

The insignia for Hauptscharführer was two silver pips, with a silver stripe centred on a black collar patch. On field grey uniforms, the rank was worn with silver collar piping and the Wehrmacht shoulder boards of an Oberfeldwebel.

Heinrich Andergassen

Heinrich Andergassen (July 30, 1908 – July 26, 1946) was an Austrian Nazi Party member. He was a member of the SS and Gestapo. He was sentenced by an US military tribunal and executed in 1946 in Pisa, Italy, for his role in the execution of OSS agent Roderick Stephen Hall and six other allied soldiers.Andergassen spent much of the Second World War working for the Sicherheitsdienst from their base at Bolzano. By the end of the war he had achieved the SS rank of Sturmbannführer, serving under Karl Wolff.Arthur Schoster, Commissioner of Criminal Police for the Province of Bolzano, shortly after the war described Andergassen "as the incarnation of sadism and brutality; he was incredibly blood-thirsty, especially when under the influence of strong drink, for which he had a great fondness, and was encouraged in all his excesses by his superior", this being August Schiffer. Schiffer and Andergassen escaped from Bolzano on 30 April 1945, shortly before its liberation by the allies.

Helmut Bischoff

Helmut Bischoff (March 1, 1908 – January 5, 1993) was a German SS-Obersturmbannführer and Nazi security official. During World War II he was the leader of Einsatzkommando 1/IV in Poland and also served as chief of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) for Poznań (Posen) and Magdeburg.

In December 1943 Bischoff was appointed head of security for Germany's V-weapons program and would serve as director of the SD at the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp from February to April 1945. Between 1967 and 1970 Bischoff was a central figure in the Essen-Dora war crimes trial.

Iron Wolf (organization)

Iron Wolf (Geležinis Vilkas, also known as Iron Wolf Association) was a Lithuanian paramilitary organization active in 1927–1934. Initially established as an athletic society (founded by officer Algirdas Sliesoraitis, supported by Catholic chaplain V. Mironas), it recruited its members mainly from army officers (overall numbers were minuscule). Its original raison d'être was perceived as a fight against internal destabilization in light of political crisis, civil unrest and yet another demonstrative threat of military intervention, made by the Polish government. With the exception of glorification of youth and struggle, it featured rather few criteria of fascist ideology.The organization gradually radicalized and became almost completely dependent on a personal will of Augustinas Voldemaras, who used it to target his political opponents. After Voldemaras's Cabinet resignation, the movement was banned in 1930, although it continued as an underground group, and became even more radical. In 1934, its members attempted a failed coup d'état against President Antanas Smetona. Voldemaras was arrested, released in 1938 and soon emigrated. Former members of the organization reorganized later in the 1930s.

Leading Voldemarists fled to Nazi Germany after the Soviet occupation of Lithuania in 1941. They joined the Lithuanian Activist Front led by Kazys Škirpa, but in the spring of 1941 betrayed him to work directly with the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD). After the Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, they led a failed putsch against the Provisional Government of Lithuania. They led the Lithuanian Nationalist Union, which collaborated with the Nazi occupation and which was active in the Holocaust in Lithuania.

The name of the organization comes from the story of Gediminas's dream, first recorded in The Broad Code of Lithuanian Chronicles from the 16th century. During the period of 1928–1929, Iron Wolf published its periodical Tautos kelias twice a month.

Julius Dettmann

Julius Dettmann (January 23, 1894 – July 25, 1945) was a German Schutzstaffel (SS) officer in the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service; SD).

Dettmann was a member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and his Party number was 722,240. Thereafter, he joined the Schutzstaffel (SS); his SS number was 414,783. He was attached to Section IVB4 or the Gestapo, after having served in Poland and Russia. He was stationed in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands and was promoted to SS-Obersturmführer (lieutenant) on November 9, 1942. On August 4, 1944, he received a phone call reporting that there were Jews hidden in the premises of 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. The individuals in question were Anne Frank, her parents, sister, and four others. He immediately dispatched a squad led by SS-Oberscharführer (staff sergeant) Karl Silberbauer, telling Silberbauer that the call had come from "a reliable source". Silberbauer and his contingent of NSB plain-clothes officers raided the building and arrested the eight people in hiding who, after questioning at SD headquarters, were deported to the Westerbork transit camp and from there, to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Dettmann was also in charge of the execution of 15 resistance people, among them Johannes Post, an idol of the Dutch Resistance. The execution took place July 16, 1944, near Overveen.

After the war in Europe ended, Dettmann was arrested in the Netherlands and remained a prisoner of war. However, he took his own life in Amsterdam at the "Havenstraat prison", on July 25, 1945, at 4.00 AM, before being taken to court. He never revealed who betrayed those in the annex, and was probably never questioned about it; the query did not become a point of interest until long after Dettmann's suicide.

He was buried July 31, 1945, at the "Noorder Begraafplaats" cemetery in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. On August 17, 1956, his remains were transferred to Ysselsteyn, the Netherlands.


The Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD, lit. "Reich security service") was an SS security force of Nazi Germany. Originally bodyguards for Adolf Hitler, it later provided men for the protection of other high-ranking leaders of the Nazi regime. The group, although similar in name, was completely separate from the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) which was the formal intelligence service for the SS, the Nazi Party and later Nazi Germany.

Its role also included personal security, investigation of assassination plots, surveillance of locations before the arrival of Nazi dignitaries and vetting buildings as well as guests. The RSD had the power to request assistance from any other SS organisations and take command of all Ordnungspolizei (order police) in its role protecting the Nazi functionaries.

Rudolf Lange

Rudolf Lange (18 April 1910 – 23 February 1945?) was a German SS functionary and police official during the Nazi era. He served as commander in the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and all RSHA personnel in Riga, Latvia. He attended the Wannsee Conference, and was largely responsible for implementing the murder of Latvia's Jewish population. Einsatzgruppe A killed over 250,000 people in less than six months.

SS Personnel Main Office

The SS Personnel Main Office (German: SS Personalhauptamt) was responsible for the administration of personnel matters regarding all leaders and officers of the Schutzstaffel (SS) of Nazi Germany. This included the Allgemeine SS (General SS), Waffen-SS and Sicherheitsdienst (SD; Security Service), specifically those matters regarding admission, promotion and dismissal, but also organisational matters, transfers, and training. It was responsible for processing recommendations for decorations. The office was also responsible for the SS seniority list (Dienstaltersliste), the granting of the SS-Ehrenring (SS Honour Ring) and Degen (SS Honour Sword), and also appointed members within the Allgemeine SS. The chief of the office was SS-Gruppenführer Walter Schmitt until 1942, followed by SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Waffen-SS Maximilian von Herff. The office was supervised closely by the Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler.

Sonderabteilung Lola

Sonderabteilung Lola (in Norway also known as Rinnanbanden (Rinnan gang)) was an independent group under the German Sicherheitsdienst in Trondheim, KDS Drontheim Referat IV. The Sonderabteilung (“Special Unit”) consisted of around known 50-60 Norwegian informants who worked for Henry Rinnan, many of whom were former frontline soldiers in the Waffen SS. This group was not known to the vast majority of Norwegians, including the members of the Nasjonal Samling party, until after the war.

Under cover the group contacted people who were anti-Nazi, through whom they infiltrated the Norwegian resistance movement. After a period of active work in the resistance group, both to gather information and build trust, the network was rolled up and the participants arrested and interrogated. These kinds of infiltration operations were called "provocation business", to expedite action and subsequently arrest the suspects. Rinnan even called this a "game in the negative sector". The group worked towards the entirety of Central Norway, i.e. Trøndelag, Møre and Romsdal, even Nordland. Rinnan wanted to expand operations to Oslo, but this was possibly stopped by the Germans.

The group, which after the war was called the Rinnan gang, was not formally a part of the Sicherheitsdienst until 1943 when Rinnan received a formal position within the occupation. He used these powers to enable interrogation by harsher means. Before this, he had reported resistance people to contact the German officers Gerhard Flesch and Walter Gemmecke, so that they were arrested, tortured and possibly killed, or put in concentration camps.

Rinnan himself used a variety of aliases.

From September 1943 the group had a base at Jonsvannsveien 46 in Trondheim, after the war known as Bande-Klosteret (Gang cloister), which was equipped with cells and torture chambers in the basement, where several were killed under torture. Rinnan drove the group completely by their own rules and on a couple of occasions killed Norwegians without German prior consent. He even executed members of his own group if he believed they were acting suspiciously. Several hundred Norwegians were tortured, and it is believed that the group killed more than 80 people. In spring 1945 part of the group tried to flee to Sweden with hostages, but was stopped and arrested five kilometres from the border.

A legal purge against the group unfolded during 1945 and 1946, and resulted in seven life sentences and 12 death sentences, of which two were later converted to life sentences. Ten men were executed (Rinnan, Bjarne Jenshus, Aksel Mære, Harry Rønning, Harry Hofstad, Olaus Hamrun, Per Bergeen, Kristian Randal, Harald Grøtte and Hans Egeberg). Many female members were sentenced to prison terms of up to life imprisonment.

The Rinnan gang's former base at Jonsvannsveien 46 is as of 2014 still standing and used as an otherwise normal residential house.

Sonderaktion 1005

The Sonderaktion 1005 (English: Special Action 1005), also called Aktion 1005, or Enterdungsaktion (English: Exhumation Action) began in May 1942 during World War II to hide any evidence that people had been murdered by Nazi Germany in Aktion Reinhard in occupied Poland. The operation, which was conducted in strict secrecy from 1942–1944, used prisoners to exhume mass graves and burn the bodies. These work groups were officially called Leichenkommandos ("corpse units") and were all part of Sonderkommando 1005; inmates were often put in chains in order to prevent escape.

In May 1943, the operation moved into occupied territories in Eastern and Central Europe to destroy evidence of the Final Solution. Sonderaktion 1005 was used to conceal the evidence of massacres committed by SS-Einsatzgruppen Nazi death squads that had massacred millions of people including 1.3 million Jews according to Historian Raul Hilberg, as well as Roma and local civilians. The Aktion was overseen by selected squads from the Sicherheitsdienst and Ordnungspolizei.

Walther Bierkamp

Walther Bierkamp also spelled, Walter Bierkamp (17 December 1901, Hamburg – 15 May 1945, Scharbeutz) was a jurist of Nazi Germany who was born in Hamburg. He served as Chief of the Sicherheitspolizei or SiPo (Security Police) and Sicherheitsdienst or SD (Security Service) in Düsseldorf. Later he held the same position for Belgium and Northern France. Bierkamp was involved in war crimes. He took command of Einsatzgruppe D, which was later known as Kampfgruppe Bierkamp, named after him when Bierkamp was its leader. He rose to the rank of SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor of Police. He committed suicide in Scharbeutz on 15 May 1945.

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