* Lew’s review of “The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy 1933-1945” by Robert Gellately

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 25, 2016

gestapo & AFOE


A truly excellent and detailed portrayal of how the Gestapo enforced German anti-Jewish policies and how ordinary Germans played a crucial role by denouncing their friends and neighbors. Some excerpts … 

… Germans have been convincing themselves, in hindsight, that there was an extensive army of Gestapo agents and spies which allowed no opportunity for any real resistance or opposition to have crystallized … Gellately says that story is no longer convincing

… ordinary German citizens played a key role in their own policing and help make possible the murderous deeds of the Nazi regime

… the Gestapo’s reputation for brutality … and the knowledge that anyone could be sent to a concentration camp for an indefinite period … was central to the Gestapo’s effectiveness

… police now had the authority to arrest and detain any suspect deemed a threat to the state … with no judicial procedure or permission … this could amount to unlimited trial, indeed without even charges 

… Gestapo cases were organize into many categories … continuation of political parties … continuation of forbidden religious associations … forbidden youth groups … nonconforming verbal utterances … nonconforming work or leisure activities … acquiring or spreading of forbidden printed matter … listening to foreign radio … political passivity … conventional criminality … improper statements from the pulpit

… Jews were made to feel that they could expect little help from their neighbors … that anti-Jewish policies would increase in number … and enforced down to the smallest detail … any sympathy that might be shown by any other person for their plight or even regarding the efficacy of anti-Semitic policies could be treated by anyone who wished to as cause for a report to the local Gestapo authority

… there was a high incidence of false charges … but the Gestapo could use intimidation,, extortion and blackmail to force victims to sign confessions … Gestapo interrogation was often exhausting for the victims … days and weeks filled with terror and anxiety … some, when released temporarily, attempted suicide to escape the relentless cross examination by the tireless officials

… sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews was declared a crime by the Nuremberg laws of 1935 … even friendly or social relations with Jews constituted an area of potential criminality 

… a life-threatening incident could begin anywhere and at any time … a group was listening to dance music on the radio at a bar … the music was interrupted by a speech by Hitler … somebody turned off the radio … a woman immediately try to ascertain the name of the person who did that … the radio was turned back on but the lady was not satisfied and made a report to the Gestapo 

… an elderly couple, a Jewish merchant and a woman who lived across the street from him, we’re suspected of having a relationship which might be considered raise the file … although the advanced years of both parties suggest that they fear of race defilement through production of a child of next ancestry was out of the question … nevertheless remarkably dogged and sometimes ridiculous efforts were pursued until the man died suddenly of natural causes … or did he commit suicide?

… sometimes there were not enough cases of race defilement … Gestapo officials had to invent more cases … Jews were lured into compromising situations and then denounced … or so called evidence was simply invented … to local Gestapo officers it was a foregone conclusion that every Jewish person brought to their attention could be linked with some infringement of race regulation



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