The Role of the Police in Nazi Germany

The police are a body of civil servants who enforce the law and maintain stability amongst the people. That is their main purpose, but for the police in Germany, their roles extended further into maintaining the racial cohesiveness of the German people, for a biological threat surrounded Germany in a heightened period of possible war:

“We are a people located at the center of Europe, and the people surrounding us are not our friends. They would like to destroy Germany, which for us, and for the world, is the heart and mind of Europe. We are a little more than a mere name on a map [1].”

The reasons that Heinrich Himmler gave the police provided them with more liberties to carry out their roles of serving the state, for criminal law was no longer just about the act that someone commits as a crime, rather also their own biology. This change of law represented a great shift in the duties of the police. Should these biological criminals be encountered – such as Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other undesirables – it then fell under the duty of the police to protect the people by removing them. For the Germans of whom the police served, they were thorough in demanding that the police be limited to public life and not private life, which was none of their business. In essence, the private individual was free to go about his own business, so long as he did not break public order:

“Citizens expected the police to preserve public peace and safety so that they would be free to go about their economic and social occupations. Beyond that was the private sphere, which was not the business of the police [2].”

But this breaking of the public order depended on what the police deemed it to be. Thanks to the changes by Hermann Göring, in which he enacted a ministerial order on 3 March 1933, the police were able to have more jurisdictive and interventional powers, most notably for the Gestapo, who were the secret police force of Nazi Germany, acting more outside of the law on their own initiative [3]. For the intentions of the growth of the party, it was a blessing. By making these changes to allow police to do more, they were able to stomp out more threats, whether that may be political or criminal [4], as it is described that “the Wehrmacht” was “fighting the enemy abroad, and the Gestapo” was “fighting the enemy at home [5].”

Upon the impending duties of the police also came the duties of the German people to support the police, making reports of behaviour of individuals deemed to be undesirable. This included the employment of Block Leaders (Blockwärte) who gathered information on the activity of Germans for the police [6]. In uncertain times, in which one would not know that the enemy was standing next to him, the Nazis cracked down on attempting to ensure that the enemy was rooted out from within with the use of the police forces.


[1] The Law of Blood: Thinking and Acting as a Nazi, Page 206.
[2] Ibid, Page 207.
[3] Ibid, Page 209.
[4] Sicherheitsdienst – Wikipedia. Section: Growth of SD and SS Power.
[5] The Law of Blood: Thinking and Acting as a Nazi, Page 213.
[6] From Nurturing the Nation to Purifying the Volk, Page 53.