Kriminalpolizei (help·info) (English: Criminal Police) is
the standard term for the criminal investigation agency within the
police forces of Germany,
Austria and the German-speaking cantons of
Switzerland. In Nazi Germany, the Kripo was the criminal police
department for the entire Reich. Today, in the Federal Republic of
Germany, the state police (Landespolizei) perform the majority of
Criminal Investigation Department
Criminal Investigation Department is known as the
Kriminalpolizei or more colloquially, the Kripo.
The equivalent division of the Norwegian
Police is known as Kripos,
derived from a similar acronym in Norwegian.
2 Nazi Germany
3 Post World War II
4 Present day
6 See also
In 1799, six police officers were assigned to the Prussian
Kammergericht (superior court of justice) in
Berlin to investigate
more prominent crimes. They were given permission to work in
plainclothes, when necessary. Their number increased in the following
In 1811, their rules of service were written into the Berliner
Police Regulations) and in 1820 the rank of
Kriminalkommissar was introduced for criminal investigators. In 1872
Kriminalpolizei was made a separate branch of police service
distinguishing it from the uniformed police called Schutzpolizei.
Based on the experience with this new kind of police force, other
German states—such as
Bremen in 1852—reformed their police forces
and by the end of the nineteenth century the
Kriminalpolizei had been
During the early part of the 20th century and post-World War I, the
Kripo continued to serve as the German state's investigative agency
for all criminal activity.
Kriminalpolizei (Nazi Germany)
Adolf Hitler assumed national power in January 1933, the
Kriminalpolizei came to be under the control of members of the
Schutzstaffel (SS). The Nazis began a programme of "coordination"
of all aspects of German life, in order to consolidate their hold on
power. In July 1936, the Prussian central criminal investigation
department (Landeskriminalpolizeiamt) became the central criminal
investigation department for Germany, the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt. It
was combined, along with the secret state police, the Geheime
Gestapo into two sub-branch departments of the
Reinhard Heydrich was in overall command
of the SiPo.
Arthur Nebe was appointed head of the
Reichskriminalpolizeiamt, and reported to Heydrich.
In September 1939, the
Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security
Office; RSHA) was created as the overarching command organization for
the various state investigation and security agencies. The SiPo was
officially abolished and its departments were folded into the RSHA.
Reichskriminalpolizeiamt became Amt V (Department 5), the
Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police) in the RSHA. Nebe was replaced as
commander of the Kripo in August 1944 by Friedrich Panzinger.
Kriminalpolizei were mostly plainclothes detectives and agents,
and worked in conjunction with the Gestapo, the
uniformed police) and the Geheime Feldpolizei. The Kripo was
organized in a hierarchical system, with central offices in all towns
and smaller cities. These, in turn, answered to headquarters offices
in the larger German cities, which answered to Amt V of the RSHA in
Berlin. The Kripo was mainly concerned with serious crimes such as
rape, murder and arson. A main area of the group's focus was also on
"blackout burglary," considered a serious problem during bombing raids
when criminals would raid abandoned homes, shops and factories for
valuables. The Kripo was one of the sources of manpower used to fill
the ranks of the
Einsatzgruppen and several senior Kripo commanders,
Arthur Nebe among them, were assigned as
The Einsatzgruppen’s mobile killing units were active in the
implementation of the Final Solution, in the territories overrun by
the Nazi war machine; which culminated in the Holocaust.
Post World War II
In 1945, the occupying Allied Powers began their own programme of
de-Nazification. It was understood that, in a totalitarian state, few
people could participate in public service without being
simultaneously members of the Nazi Party. Party membership alone was
not viewed as sufficient grounds for dismissal, but allegations of
involvement or complicity in
Nazi war crimes
Nazi war crimes or crimes against
humanity were investigated and any police official convicted was
sentenced in the usual way.
However, the Allied Powers felt the rule of law would be jeopardised
by the mass-sacking of police officials who had served the Nazi state
and that maintaining the continuity of a civilian and indigenous
police force from the outset, together with all its accumulated
practical skills and experience, was the most efficient way of
restoring democracy to the German people. Thus the Kriminalpolizei
adapted once more to the changes in oversight and accountability and,
as with other public servants, took the political and economic change
of the post-war years in its stride.
The Federal Republic of
Germany divides police responsibilities
between federal and state authorities. The state police or
Landespolizei of the federal states perform the majority of
investigations in Germany.
Within the Landespolizei, the
Criminal Investigation Department
Criminal Investigation Department is
known as the
Kriminalpolizei or Kripo. The various Kriminalpolizei
departments are organized according to state law and report,
ultimately, to the Interior Ministry of their state. As the vast
majority of police work is performed at state level, the
Kriminalpolizei conducts most criminal investigations in Germany.
Kriminalpolizei detectives investigate crimes and incidents and work
in plainclothes. They collect evidence, interview victims and
witnesses and question suspects. Detectives are also involved in the
location of missing persons and the recovery of stolen property.
Investigators may be assigned to precinct detective squads or one of
dozens of specialized investigative units that have borough, citywide
or regional jurisdiction.
Kripo candidates are mostly regular state police officers who have
done well in police school and in their first years of street duty.
After rigorous screening and examination, a small number are chosen to
receive a technical education in criminology at a police college.
Those completing the course then serve a three-year apprenticeship
before attaining full status as an investigator.
Joint investigation teams are often formed with German Federal Police
and customs investigators to combat drug smuggling or organised crime
activities. Each state also has a state investigation bureau or
Landeskriminalamt, generally located in the state capital, to assist
the Kripo in cases that require specialist forensic or investigative
German police departments have separate Staatsschutz departments
within the Kripo to investigate politically motivated crime. German
intelligence agencies have no executive police powers. Their
operatives are not authorized to carry out arrests, searches of
premises, interrogations or confiscations. If they establish that
judicial or police measures are required, they hand the matter over to
the courts, public prosecutors or Kripo state security (Staatsschutz)
officers who decide independently what action is justified.
The Bundeskriminalamt, the German Federal Investigation Bureau, and
the federal police, Bundespolizei, have their own investigators but
these are not referred to as Kriminalpolizei. It is technically
possible to transfer from the federal police to the Kripo, but in
practice there is little demand for this.
The responsibility for law and order in
Switzerland basically lies
with the cantons where the cantonal police (Kantonspolizei) are
responsible for investigations. The Swiss federal structure is
reflected in a number of cantonal police services which are organized
in different ways, but in the German-speaking cantons, the criminal
investigation departments are generally known as Kriminalpolizei.
Sicherheitspolizei (Weimar Republic)
^ a b c d Williams 2001, p. 77.
^ McNab 2009, p. 14.
^ Weale 2010, pp. 134, 135.
^ Friedlander 1995, p. 55.
^ a b Weale 2012, pp. 140–144.
^ Weale 2012, p. 149.
^ Weale 2012, pp. 133, 134, 140–144.
^ Gerwarth 2011, p. 163.
^ McNab 2009, pp. 113, 123, 124.
Archived 2014-03-13 at the Wayback Machine.
Friedlander, Henry (1995). The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From
Euthanasia to the Final Solution. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0807822081.
Gerwarth, Robert (2011). Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich. New
Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11575-8.
McNab, Chris (2009). The Third Reich. Amber Books Ltd.
Weale, Adrian (2010). The SS: A New History. London: Little, Brown.
Weale, Adrian (2012). Army of Evil: A History of the SS. New York:
Caliber Printing. ISBN 978-0-451-23791-0.
Williams, Max (2001). Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography, Volume
1—Road To War. Church Stretton: Ulric Publishing.
Law enforcement in Germany
Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz
ASSIK and GSG 9)
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State police forces
Special units or branches
Arrest unit (incl. BFE+)
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Das Schwarze Korps
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