Book Reviews

The Gestapo

The Gestapo ( geheime Staatspolizei, Secret government Police) is as surprising as it is illuminating.

The Gestapo has always been portrayed as an organization of fear and terror, functioning mostly on renunciations from the public, and hired informers.

Some people complained to revenge old disagreements or fights; others out of concern of the prevailing political system.

The Nazi (National socialist party) system feared communists, Jehovah Witnesses, the clergy, more than the ordinary citizens opposed their politics.

This fascinating and absorbing book, written by a historian specializing in gestapo history drew heavily from remaining gestapo files, provides a wide rage of vivid and fascinating stories that explore the tragic plight of their victims.

Although Germans knew enough about Nazi politics in 1937, few people opposed to effect meaningful change.

Frank McDonough believes that the gestapo was a relatively small agency with 16,000 employees to control a population of 60 million. It was primarily managed top down from Berlin by a few leading party functionaries.

Officers acted violently in occupied territories than in Germany. In some cases they detained people, but after investigating, suspects were released upon failing to conclusively determine proof of any delinquency.

Surprisingly, the author makes no mention of gypsies (now called Roma) who were pursued relentlessly, and thousands were either exterminated or sent to concentration camps to die.

The narrative focuses mostly on individual stories and briefly mentions the main players who set policy.

Most of the Gestapo employees had university degrees (mostly law), and some were transferred from regular police forces.

The captivating narrative unveils many unexplored individual stories that were in fact revenge acts.

Regardless of the cruel behaviour of some gastapo employees, the organization acted within the then existing law, and on orders from the head office in Berlin.

The GESTAPO should be very interesting to historians, history buffs, and those interested in the aftermath of the Third Reich.

Highly recommended.


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