On the Historiography of the SS
by Charles W. Sydnor, Jr.
Ruth Bettina Birn. Die H5heren SS- und Polizeifiihrer: Himmlers Vertreter im Reich und in den besetzten Gebieten. Dilsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1986. x, 430 pages.
Johannes Tuchel and Reinhold Schattenfroh. Zentrale des Terrors, Prinz- Albrecht-Strasse 8: Das Hauptquartier der Gestapo. Berlin: Siedler Verlag, 1987. 317 pages.
Topographie des Terrors: Gestapo, SS, und Reichssicherheitshauptamt auf dem "Prinz-Albrecht-Geldnde," Eine Dokumentation, edited by Reinhard Rilrup and others. Berlin: Verlag Willmuth Arenh6vel, 1987. 222 pages.
Since the publication in 1965 of the landmark history of the SS by Hans Buchheim, Martin Broszat, Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, and Helmut Krausnick,1 the outpouring of scholarly literature recording and analyzing the personalities, agencies, and institutions of the SS, and the vast range of activities undertaken by this most important phenomenon of the Hitlerian era, has grown in consistency and in quality on both sides of the Atlantic.2 As the Third Reich developed, the SS (Schutzstaffel) grew into an enormous conglomerate of ideological, economic, military, and police agencies that became the dynamic core of the Nazi state.3
Virtually everything of major importance to Adolf Hitler ultimately came under the control of the SS for initiation, implementation, and execution. The fulfillment of Hitler's racial and ideological obsessions, the construction of the dark mosaic in his vision for a Nazi New Order in Europe, the satisfaction of his lust to destroy nations and exterminate entire peoples and cultures, and the ruthless application of Nazi racial theory to demography in the uprooting and enslavement of whole populations-all of these twisted schemes to reorder Europe and the world, and destroy civilization in the modern age through an unending process of conquest, exploitation, and mass murder, were, or were to be, entrusted to the SS.4 The conceptual definition of the SS as Hitler's loyal elite guard, solidified in the months after he came to power and strengthened beyond all doubt as the Nazi dictatorship developed, still remains best expressed in the striking phrase of the Nazi legal expert who justified the limitless range of SS activities outside the law: Throughout the twelve years of the Hitlerian era, the SS served as "the executive instrument of the Fuhrer's will."5
The meaning of the SS, therefore, carries a special weight in historical studies in our time. For the millions throughout the world now absorbed in the growing interest in the experience and literature of the Holocaust, Nazi Germany's systematic extermination of European Jewry, an understanding of what Hitler's victims faced and suffered necessarily involves study in the records left by those who were their murderers. That task, as often disagreeable as it is fascinating, is nonetheless essential to the effort of translating the moral lessons of memory into a useful and, it is hoped, unforgettable guide to the future.
In that sense, it would be difficult to overstate the importance of the growing volume of scholarly literature, both in the Federal Republic of Germany and in the German Democratic Republic, devoted to the major personalities, the principal agencies, and the vast range of criminal activities of the SS.6 The three volumes that form the basis of this essay were written and compiled by a gifted young West German historian, and a group of talented journalists, writers, and archivists. All of them are prototypical of the postwar generation in the courage and maturity of their immersion in the Nazi past; and each, in a different respect, is representative of the developments that have made possible the coming of age in the historiography of the SS.
Of the three titles considered here, the first, by Ruth Bettina Birn, is by far the most important. Both the book and the author are noteworthy examples of the solid, imaginative contributions rapidly becoming the norm in German studies of the SS.7 Her book, a brilliant, pioneering study combining institutional analysis and collective biography, is an excellent illustration of how far the genre has come, and an equally useful volume in its reflection of how much there is left to be done.
Ruth Bettina Birn, who was born in 1952, concentrated her university studies in Oriental history and culture and in ethnology at Munich, Tubingen, and Stuttgart. Between 1976 and 1981, she studied contemporary history at Tubingen, receiving the M.A. in 1977. Her graduate studies also included specialized research, at the advanced seminar level, in late medieval and Reformation history. She received her Ph.D. in 1985, having researched and written an earlier version of the present volume as her thesis, at the suggestion and under the direction of Professor Eberhard Jackel. Her book examines, in a wealth of biographical, organizational, and administrative detail, and through a range of considerations as to function, geography, and executive authority and action, one of the most important single offices created in the vast conglomerate of agencies and institutions that made up the comprehensive system of SS and police in Nazi Germany before 1939, and throughout German-occupied Europe during the war.8
The critical position of Higher SS and Police Leader (Hoherer SS- und Polizeifuhrer, or HSSPF), an important clearing and coordinating office within the structure of the SS and police, was created specifically and expressly by Reichsfilhrer SS Heinrich Himmler. Through the HSSPF, Himmler could insure the transmission and execution of his orders, directives, and policies throughout the entire, enormous institutional structure of the SS and across the immense geographic areas of Europe that came under German control through diplomacy and conquest, thus falling under the aegis of SS responsibility for the conduct of all police and security measures. Himmler conceived, created, and developed the office of HSSPF, and constantly expanded its authority and the number of those who held the office as direct subordinates of his-responsible, loyal, and accountable to him, and to him alone, in his dual capacities as Reichsfiihrer SS and Chief of the German Police.
Himmler's voluminous correspondence with the HSSPF, the office records and reports compiled by the men who served as HSSPF, and the extensive materials combed from individual SS personnel files in the Berlin Document Center-all the evidence which Birn has marshalled through exhaustive archival research clearly demonstrates that the Reichsfiihrer's purpose in creating the position was admirably served through the activities of the HSSPF. One of the most critical and persuasively argued points made by Birn is that any objective analysis of how the Higher SS and Police Leaders responded to Himmler's directives and carried out his orders contradicts significantly the long-held assumptions that administrative anarchy and internal power struggles were the most important features defining the history of the SS empire. What the HSSPF attempted and achieved at Himmler's initiative, Birn contends, reveals clearly the tremendous power the SS commanded and helps to explain administratively how the Reichsfuhrer SS was able to plan and direct a continental program of unprecedented terror, oppression, and mass murder. Whenever problems or difficulties threatened to halt, slow down, or compromise Himmler's genocidal mandate from Hitler, the Reichsfuhrer SS could turn, with confidence and with results, to the Higher SS and Police Leaders.
An important corollary point, which Birn advances and repeats effectively at key intervals, is the argument that the very success achieved by the HSSPF nullifies explicitly the picture contained in the older, memoir literature of Himmler as weak, vacillatory, and ineffective as head of the SS, and easily distracted into activities dealing with his pet theories about plant nutrition, ancient Nordic rituals and symbols, and racial archaeology. On the contrary, as the history of the office of HSSPF clearly shows and as the individual experiences of the Higher SS and Police Leaders demonstrate, Himmler's substantial organizational and administrative abilities, his gargantuan capacity for work, and his unwavering and radical commitment to Hitler's racial and ideological objectives made the Reichsfuhrer SS a powerful and effective leader, firmly in control of the entire SS organization. In addition, with the coming of war and the rapid expansion of Germany's dominion in Europe, the HSSPF also served to buttress Himmler's aggressive and effective strategy of extending SS influence at the expense of the other agencies and ministries of the Nazi Party and the state, to the disadvantage of his peers and colleagues in the Nazi hierarchy.
Thus, as Birn states, the HSSPF allowed Himmler to enlarge his authority outward while at the same time acting as the Reichsfuhrer's surrogate to stabilize internal relationships within the SS and police. In fact, in Himmler's view, the creation of a cadre of HSSPF was essential to his conviction that the SS should serve Hitler as a "state protection corps," thereby performing not only the defensive mission of a totalitarian police providing internal order and security for the Nazi state, but also simultaneously the offensive mission of protecting the expansion of the Germanic race during the Germanization and resettlement of whole populations throughout large areas of Europe. The Higher SS and Police Leaders, therefore, were the main lever by which Himmler sought to integrate the SS and police institutionally while removing any and all of the remaining restraints upon the powers of the police still held by the traditional bureaucracy and ministries of the state. In fact, through the accumulation of practical experience, the HSSPF became a powerful centrifugal force, centralizing Himmler's authority by serving these missions as regional commanders of all SS and police, all territorial formations of the Waffen SS, the personnel of the Race and Resettlement Offices, and the General SS forces stationed in the occupied territories.
The office of Higher SS and Police Leader, as Birn shows, was a rather late development in the history of the SS. The origin of the title is found in a decree of 13 November 1937, signed by Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, then Himmler's titular superior. This decree authorized the creation of HSSPF in each of the military districts of the Reich, but only in the event of mobilization, at which time the HSSPF would serve as deputies to the Chief of the German Police (Himmler) for the purpose of coordinating and integrating all local and regional SS and police formations into the defense organization of the Reich. It was from this restricted and conditional basis that Himmler built and consistently enlarged the scope and functions of the HSSPF. The first HSSPF activated were those appointed in the military districts bordering Austria during the Anschluss crisis in March 1938 and in Czechoslovakia during the long war of nerves Hitler provoked in the summer and autumn of the same year.
Once German armies invaded Poland, the number of HSSPF multiplied rapidly, and the scope of their powers and tasks expanded correspondingly. HSSPF, notably SS General Udo von Woyrsch, commanded SS Einsatzgruppen in Poland with deadly effectiveness, directing large-scale massacres of Polish political leaders, priests, intellectuals, Jews, prisoners of war, and others whose names had been entered on specially prepared death lists compiled by Reinhard Heydrich's Security Police and SID during the spring and summer of 1939. Within weeks of Poland's surrender, Himmler had appointed five HSSPF for the conquered regions that were annexed to Germany or were to be governed as rump colonies. They were the HSSPF Nordost, Siidost, Wartheland, and Danzig-Westpreussen, and the HSSPF assigned to Hans Frank, the Governor General headquartered in Cracow to terrorize and exploit the remainder of German-occupied Poland.
With the invasion of Russia in June 1941, virtually limitless possibilities for the use of HSSPF lay open to Himmler. Armed with Hitler's directive that the SS and police in the conquered Russian territories were to be responsible for all "police and security measures," as well as the "reorganization of political life" and the conduct of necessary executive and ethnographic measures, the Reichsfuhrer SS, ably assisted by his energetic deputy, Reinhard Heydrich, and three new HSSPF for northern, central, and southern Russia, organized and carried out wholesale massacres of Jews, communists, ethnic nationalists, and any Soviet citizens who offered even the slightest resistance to German rule. The killing was done by SS Einsatzgruppen, mobile commandos composed of personnel from virtually every agency and branch of the SS and police, whose organized massacres, resupply and equipping, transport, communications, and personnel replacement requirements were coordinated and expedited by the three HSSPF. Between late June and the end of December 1941, the combined SS and police units operating in the areas of Russia then under German control murdered over half a million Jews. Though technical and psychological problems among the killing commandos and the immense logistical difficulties of murdering large numbers of Jews in local massacres were to force a radical revision, and expansion, in the evolving decision to exterminate all European Jewry, the HSSPF had more than vindicated Himmler's expectations by their role in establishing the policies of genocide.
In the first months of the Russian war, the Higher SS and Police Leaders also demonstrated an unusual degree of pragmatic and ideological effectiveness on Himmler's behalf in organizing and implementing in Russia another of the Reictisfiffirer's long-range objectives: Volkstumspolitik, or ethnographic measures. Hitler intended to Germanize large areas of Eastern Europe by displacing entire populations from the most desirable regions and by wiping out or reducing to a subsistence life in slavery other peoples whom he considered racially inferior, and therefore dangerous. The task was delegated to the SS through Himmler.
The initiation of Volkstumspolitik for Eastern Europe actually antedated the Russian war by two years, both as a Hitlerian mandate given Himmler and as a long-range assignment for the SS, to be included among the important duties given to the Higher SS and Police Leaders. The Fuhrer outlined his objectives for the Reichsfiffirer SS immediately after the Polish campaign and delegated to the latter the full responsibility for carrying them out. Accordingly, in early October 1939, Himmler created a new title for himself to codify the charge: Reichskommissar ffir die Festigung Deutschen Volkstums, or Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germandom. Even before he had established new central headquarters in Berlin for the office, Himmler directed the four recently named HSSPF in the former Polish territories to prepare for the ethnographic measures he would order in his new capacity.
With the Russian war, Volkstumspolitik became even more important for both Hitler and Himmler, and therefore, a much greater priority among the duties of the HSSPF in the East. Himmler informed them that for the pacification and consolidation of all political relationships which Hitler had ordered him to carry out in Russia, the SS in general, and the HSSPF in particular, would have to take special precautions in the struggle against Bolshevism. In his capacity as Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germandom, therefore, Himmler empowered the HSSPF in occupied Russia to promulgate legal regulations, police decrees, administrative regulations, and racial statutes that would be binding upon all German authorities and personnel in the occupied territories.
The delegation of such sweeping powers to the HSSPF brought Himmler into direct conflict with Alfred Rosenberg, Hitler's Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, and Rosenberg's regional deputies, or Reichskommissare. After more than a year of wrangling and feuding between Himmler and Rosenberg, and among their subordinates, the jurisdictional dispute was referred for decision by Hitler, who sided with Himmler and against Rosenberg.
Hitler's intervention decisively strengthened both Himmler's authority and the regional powers of the HSSPF. The Reichsfuhrer SS was given, in effect, a free hand in occupied Russia to authorize the HSSPF to operate as a law unto themselves, without interference from the regional representatives of Rosenberg's ministry. This, as Birn observes, in one of the most important conclusions in her volume, is exactly what Hitler wanted, and shows why the office of HSSPF was so important. For the Fuhrer was far less interested in any kind of orderly German administration in occupied Russia than he was in removing all the obstacles the HSSPF would encounter when deploying the SS and police units to conduct the drastic and brutal racial and population measures Hitler considered of ultimate importance to the future of a racially pure Nazi New Order. As the war lengthened, the growing power and importance of the HSSPF assumed differing, distinctive characteristics, based on local and regional conditions and the particular objectives and demands of the Germans. Thus, as Birn demonstrates, the HSSPF also became regional plenipotentiaries in certain areas for the efforts begun in late 1941 to recruit ethnic Germans into the Waffen SS-Serbia in the occupied Balkans being only the first in a series of such initiatives.
In addition, and throughout the war, the HSSPF constantly accumulated new powers and responsibilities consistent with the evergrowing role of the SS as Hitler's most trusted source of authority in occupied Europe. Some of the tasks Himmler assigned the HSSPF, as the author shows, reveal as much about the range of Himmler's interests as they do about the immense scope of SS activities. In France, the HSSPF was ordered to organize bordellos for the Waffen SS; in Yugoslavia, the HSSPF had to see to the strict enforcement of the prohibition against eating pork by Moslem recruits in the SS; in Germany and in the General Government of Poland, the HSSPF acted as Himmler's inspectors, overseeing the various medical experiments in the concentration camps; the local HSSPF in Bavaria coordinated the measures taken against students of the White Rose Society, who staged the protests at the University of Munich; and as German armies retreated from Russia in the autumn of 1943, the HSSPF received express orders to lay waste to the land and destroy everything, as the executors of Hitler's scorched-earth policy.
As the tide of war reversed inexorably against Germany everywhere, the HSSPF assumed even greater and more drastic powers, especially in the most troubled and rebellious of the remaining occupied regions. The local HSSPF in Greece, Serbia, Croatia, and Albania, for example, combined their authority for Waffen SS recruitment with ruthless directives to conduct antipartisan warfare and reprisals. With the military reverses that caused both Italy and Hungary, German allies, to collapse and to totter, respectively, Hitler ordered Himmler to send HSSPF to Rome and Budapest to take whatever measures were necessary to shore up the political situation and get the waverers back into line. The Reichsfiffirer SS responded by sending his own liaison officer at Hitler's headquarters, SS General Karl Wolff, to Italy, and the fanatical and cunning Otto Winckelmann to Hungary. Both sought to execute Himmler's orders to the letter, but neither succeeded in reversing situations already strategically hopeless.
7 Among all the terrible policies and barbaric orders carried out by the Higher SS and Police Leaders, none surpassed, in the most hideous dimensions of criminality and inhumanity, the mandate to conduct antipartisan operations in occupied Russia, and the directive to facilitate and coordinate the roundup and deportation of the European Jews to the extermination camps in Eastern Europe. In both enterprises, as Birn documents conclusively, the ruthless and energetic participation of the HSSPF involved was indispensable to the successful, uniquely brutal conduct of these policies.
In the first instance, long before Germany suffered the strategic reverses that ignited armed resistance movements in the Balkans, Italy, and Western Europe, Hitler's formations came under fanatical and increasingly effective assault by Soviet partisans, particularly in the forested regions of central Russia around the Pripet Marshes. To deal with the problem, which both Hitler and Himmler cast in racial and ideological terms, the Reichsfiihrer SS turned to the HSSPF for central Russia, SS General Erich von dern Bach-Zelewski, invested him with the additional title of Chief of Antipartisan Operations, and placed additional contingents of Waffen SS and police units at his disposal. Bach-Zelewski's successes were initially conspicuous not only for the ruthlessness with which they were conducted, but also for the administrative cover they provided with the clerical euphemisms they introduced into SS jargon for the murder of additional hundreds of thousands of Jews. In the reports on the operations, the cover code for Jews was "plunderers" or "suspicious elements" ; and the numbers killed, by the end of 1942, approached the earlier totals of Jewish victims murdered by the SS Einsatzgruppen.9
Throughout each stage of the escalating anti-Jewish policies implemented by the Reich, beginning with the transition from judicial discrimination to violent persecution in 1938, the Higher SS and Police Leaders proved themselves critically important at every step along the road that led from broken glass to the gas chambers at Birkenau. During the terrible pogrom of 9-10 November 1938, SS General Friedrich Jeckeln, then HSSPF for central Germany, distinguished himself with especially energetic coordination of the SS and police units that supervised the "spontaneous" violence carried out against individual Jews and the destruction of Jewish homes and businesses. In occupied Poland after September 1939, SS Generals Emil Mazuw and Richard Hildebrandt, the HSSPF Baltic and HSSPF Vistula, respectively, required no prompting from either Himmler or Heydrich in initiating and directing the large-scale massacres of Jews, many conducted in public and recorded in photographs, which now survive as visual records of the Holocaust.
Within weeks of the invasion of Russia, Himmler had sent his three designated HSSPF-Hans-Adolf Priitzmann, Erich von dern BachZelewski, and Friedrich Jeckeln-into the areas behind the advancing German armies to begin the work of terrorizing and exploiting the conquered population. Once the initial wave of killings by the Einsatzgruppen had passed and Himmler directed the creation of Jewish ghettos in the larger cities of western Russia, the HSSPF prepared for the inevitable ghetto liquidations that were but a matter of time. In November 1941 Jeckeln was transferred from southern Russia to Riga as HSSPF for the Baltic states with express orders from Himmler to liquidate the Riga ghetto. During a two-day operation in early December 1941, Jeckeln directed the SS and police units and their Latvian auxiliaries in the local security police in the massacre of more than 15,000 Jews. By this time, Jeckeln was an expert in such enterprises, having coordinated in the previous September the slaughter of more than 30,000 Jews in the killing pits at Babi Yar outside Kiev.
Even more important, in Birn's estimation, was the role of the HSSPF in the process of deportation and extermination in the "final solution to the Jewish question," which overlapped the first phase of mobile killings in the East. From late 1941 until early 1945, the HSSPF deployed throughout Europe participated in the deportations by actively assisting in several critical areas the special Kommando of the Security Police and SD directed by Adolf Eichmann. First, the HSSPF in the occupied countries were responsible for locally enforcing the anti-Jewish measures imported from the Reich as preparatory stages to deportation. The marking of Jews with the yellow Star of David, the compulsory registrations, the confiscations of wealth and property, and the local decrees restricting the activities and movements of Jews-all were the responsibility of the local HSSPF. In addition, the HSSPF prepared and carried out, in major or convenient cities in their regions, the ghettoization of the local Jewish population, and in certain areas-Holland, for example-established special transit camps to move large numbers of Jews from the ghettos for deportation to the extermination centers in Poland and the East.
Moreover, the HSSPF regularly provided SS and police guards and other support personnel for the transports to the death camps, and also negotiated, on Eichmann's behalf, with the agencies and ministries of the Reich for rolling stock, supplies and provisions, rail schedules, and an array of other requirements necessary to keep the roundups going and the death trains moving. And, in the satellite and client states-Italy, France, Norway, Hungary, and Slovakiathe HSSPF assumed even greater authority by negotiating directly with the puppet or collaborationist governments to hand over their Jews for deportation to the East. Finally, the HSSPF were also directly involved in the construction and operation of the extermination camps. The first such facility, built at Chelmno in western Poland in the autumn of 1941, was constructed under the direction of the HSSPF of the Wartheland, SS General Wilhelm Koppe. He organized the SS Sonderkommando Lange, which cleared the site and erected the barracks and gas chambers at Chelmno, and then selected the guard personnel for the camp from local units of the Order Police, the Security Police, and the Waffen SS. During the first phase of its operation, from December 1941 until May 1943, Chelmno effectively was under the operational control of Koppe as Higher SS and Police Leader.
A modified arrangement existed in the General Government of Poland, where Friedrich Wilhelm KrUger served as HSSPF. There, the three extermination centers built to murder all the Jews of Poland in the action code-named "Reinhard"-Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka-were under the direct control of SS General Odilo Globocnik, whose official job was SS and Police Leader for the Lublin District; he was, therefore, a direct subordinate of Krdger. In fact, however, for reasons of secrecy mandated by Himmler, Globocnik could bypass Kriiger and deal directly with the Reichsfuhrer SS in the conduct of his duties during the Polish liquidations. The only other temporary instance involving direct dealings between Himmler and a subordinate of an HSSPF occurred during the suppression of the uprising of the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto during the spring of 1943. Then Himmler detailed the SS and Police Leader of the Warsaw district, SS Brigadier General Jiirgen Stroop, to liquidate the resisters and raze the ghetto quarter of the city to the ground. Stroop's success, which he proudly documented in a bound volume of his reports on the action, complete with photographs, earned him promotion in rank and an assignment as HSSPF in the Balkans from a grateful and impressed Himmler.
Until the publication of this first-rate, extraordinarily valuable study by Ruth Bettina Birn, a pioneering volume that should serve to open an even broader and more detailed examination of the individual Higher SS and Police Leaders, little had been documented generally, and even less specifically, about the role and activities of the HSSPF, extremely important cogs in the vast machinery of the Nazi SS and police. The author has, in every respect, realized a superb achievement in this significant and badly needed book. With respect to research, narrative, analysis, writing, and organization, it is a compelling and detailed sourcebook that no specialist or serious Student in the field should overlook. One hopes that it will be translated into English, thereby reaching a larger and constantly expanding reading public, whose numbers and interest continue to grow in a field that Ruth Bettina Birn has now helped to bring of age.
The other two volumes considered as companion works in this essay also represent valuable and extremely interesting contributions to the history of the SS and police. Both books, Zentrale des Terrors and Topographie des Terrors, are combined narrative and documentary studies of the central building complex in the government quarter of Berlin that housed the administrative offices, interrogation rooms, detention cells, and torture chambers of the Secret State Police Office (Geheimes Staatspolizeiamt), or the Gestapo.
The book by Johannes Tuchel and Reinhold Schattenfroh, both young Germans trained in law and political science, integrates interesting introductory chapters on the history of the buildings as the Kunstgewerbe Museum complex in the Wilhemian and early Weimar period. The same buildings, including the renovated Prinz-Albrecht Hotel during the Weimar period, became unquestionably the most notorious and dreaded street address during the National Socialist period: Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8, the headquarters of the Gestapo.
Zentrale des Terrors, however, is much more than an architectural and artistic background study of the evolution of the main offices of the SS and police. The authors trace the history of the police structure during the Weimar Republic, the weaknesses and peculiarities in its structure that enabled the Nazis to transform a federal and decentralized police force into a centralized national apparatus of lawless terror and oppression. Among the most interesting chapters are those that trace the coordination of the Weimar police into the new National Socialist system and describe in a straightforward and unencumbered narrative the evolution of the SS and police system under Himmler and Heydrich.
The second part of Zentrale des Terrors represents the authors' most original contribution. Through a series of short biographies, Tuchel and Schattenfroh catalog a long list of many of the most distinguished victims of the Gestapo, men and women of the political opposition to National Socialism before 1939, including many of Germany's most prominent intellectuals, writers, artists, and dissidents. In addition, the book details, from the perspective of the interior of the PrinzAlbrecht-Strasse complex, the fate of those who became victims of the Gestapo for their role in wartime: German resistance movements to Nazi tyranny. Zentrale des Terrors is a fascinating book, competently researched, well written, and organized to serve as a useful reference guide for the student who reads German, and as a valuable source for the specialist wishing to review a solid, condensed history of the Gestapo, from inside its headquarters looking out.
Topographie des Terrors, a documentary history in text and photographs, edited by Reinhard Riirup and his associates, was published as a companion guide for the celebrated exhibit that opened on 4 July 1987 in Martin-Gropius Haus to document the history of Berlin. Drawing upon collections of documents, paintings, photographs, sketches, and architectural drawings, the volume gives the reader a compact history of this important area in the heart of the old city of Berlin, from the eighteenth century to the collapse of Hitler's Reich in May 1945. The focus of the book is the history of this area as the headquarters complex of the Gestapo and the Reich Security Main Office, the parent SS and police organization of the Gestapo, between 1933 and 1945. Topographie des Terrors is a splendid reference work, especially because the editor has included a number of rare and compelling photographs from the period. Among the most fascinating are aerial shots taken by the U.S. Air Force during and after major raids on Berlin, including the devastating attack of 3 February 1945, which substantially destroyed or damaged virtually every building and facility within this area, for twelve years the command center for all those organizations that subjugated Germany and terrorized and murdered millions throughout Nazi-dominated Europe.
1. Anatomie des SS-Staates, 2 vols. (dtv ed.; Munich, 1967); my citations are from the English edition: Anatomy of the SS State (New York, 1965).
2. See, for example, Gerald Reitlinger, The SS: Alibi of a Nation, 1922-1945 (New York, 1957); Heinz Hohne, The Order of the Death's Head: The Story of Hitler's SS, trans. from the German (New York, 1972); Robert Lewis Koehl, The Black Corps: The Structure and Power Struggles of the Nazi SS (Madison, WI, 1983); Shlomo Aronson, Reinhard Heydrich und die Friihgeschichte von Gestapo und SD (Stuttgart, 1965); George H. Stein, The Waffen SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War (Ithaca, NY, 1966); Bernd Wegner, Hitters politische Soldaten: Die Waften SS, 1933-1945 (Paderborn, 1982); Charles W. Sydnor, Jr., Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933-1945 (Princeton, 1977); and Peter R. Black, Ernst Kaltenbrunner: Ideological Soldier of the Third Reich (Princeton, 1984). See also Helmut Krausnick and Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm, Die Truppe des Weltanschauungskrieges: Die Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD, 1938-1942 (Stuttgart, 1981). There are at present no solid scholarly biographies of Heinrich Himmler or Reinhard Heydrich.
3. This is a major theme in the essays in the Anatomy of the SS State.
4. See Charles W. Sydnor, Jr., "The Selling of Adolf Hitler: David Irving's Hitler's War," Central European History 12 (1979): 169-99.
5. Anatomy of the SS State, pp. 127-29, 133-35, 162, citing the Nazi constitutional expert Ernst Rudolf Huber, whose Verfassungsrecht des Grossdeutschen Reiches (various eds. 1936-39) was highly regarded by both Himmler and Heydrich.
6. For a recent general treatment of the historiography of the Holocaust, see Michael R. Marrus, The Holocaust in History (Hanover, NH, 1987); for the best history of the SS involvement in the Holocaust, see Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago, 1961; rev. ed. in 3 vols., New York, 1986).
7. See the bibliography of German and English histories of the SS in Birn, Die H6heren SS- und Polizeifahrer, pp. 412-26.
8. For the only previous study of the HSSPF, see Hans Buchheim, "Die H6heren SS- und Polizeifilhrer," Vierteljahrshefte ffir Zeitgeschichte 11 (1963): 362-91.
9. See esp. Nuremberg Doc. NO-1128: summary report on antipartisan operations sent by Himmler to Hitler on 29 Dec. 1942; it contains in its statistical tables of the killings in Russia a separate category listing more than 363,000 Jews killed during antipartisan operations in the Soviet Union.