Reich Main Security Office
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The Reich Security Main Office (german: Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA) was an organization subordinate to
Heinrich Himmler Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (; 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was of the (Protection Squadron; SS), and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Nazi Germany, Germany. Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and a ...
in his dual capacity as ''Chef der Deutschen Polizei'' (Chief of German Police) and ''
Reichsführer-SS (, ) was a special title and rank that existed between the years of 1925 and 1945 for the commander of the (SS). ''Reichsführer-SS'' was a title from 1925 to 1933, and from 1934 to 1945 it was the highest Uniforms and insignia of the Schutz ...
'', the head of the Nazi Party's ''
Schutzstaffel The ''Schutzstaffel'' (SS; also stylized as ''ᛋᛋ'' with Armanen runes The Armanen runes (or ''Armanen Futharkh'') are a series of 18 runes, closely based on the historical Younger Futhark, introduced by Austrian mysticist and Germa ...
'' (SS). The organization's stated duty was to fight all "enemies of the Reich" inside and outside the borders of
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was t ...

Nazi Germany
.


Formation

Himmler established the RSHA on 27 September 1939. Himmler's assumption of total control over all security and police forces in Germany was the "crucial precondition" for the establishment and growth of the Nazi state. He combined the Nazi Party's ''
Sicherheitsdienst ' (, ''Security Service''), full title ' (Security Service of the ''Reichsführer-SS''), or SD, was the intelligence agency of the Schutzstaffel, SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. Originating in 1931, the organization was the first Nazi int ...

Sicherheitsdienst
'' (SD; SS intelligence service) with the ''
Sicherheitspolizei The ''Sicherheitspolizei'' ( en, Security Police), often abbreviated as ''SiPo'', was a term used in Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , langua ...
'' (SiPo; "Security Police"), which was nominally under the Interior Ministry. The SiPo was composed of two sub-departments, the ''
Geheime Staatspolizei The ''Geheime Staatspolizei'' (Secret State Police), abbreviated Gestapo (; ), was the official secret police Secret police (or political police) are intelligence, security or police agencies that engage in covert operations against a go ...

Geheime Staatspolizei
'' (Gestapo; "Secret State Police") and the ''
Kriminalpolizei ''Kriminalpolizei'' (, "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 ...
'' (Kripo; "Criminal Police"). The RSHA was often abbreviated to ''RSi-H'' in correspondence to avoid confusion with the ''
SS-Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt The SS Race and Settlement Main Office, (''Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt der SS'', RuSHA), was the organization responsible for "safeguarding the racial 'purity' of the SS" within Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State" ...
'' (RuSHA; "SS Race and Settlement Office"). The creation of the RSHA represented the formalization, at the top level, of the relationship under which the SD served as the intelligence agency for the security police. A similar coordination existed in the local offices. Within Germany and areas which were incorporated within the Reich for the purpose of civil administration, local offices of the Gestapo, criminal police, and SD were formally separate. They were subject to coordination by inspectors of the security police and SD on the staffs of the local higher SS and police leaders, however, and one of the principal functions of the local SD units was to serve as the intelligence agency for the local Gestapo units. In the occupied territories, the formal relationship between local units of the Gestapo, criminal police, and SD was slightly closer. Throughout the course of wartime expansion, the RSHA continued to grow at an enormous rate and was "repeatedly reorganized". Routine reorganization did not change the tendency for centralization within the Third Reich nor did it change the general trend for organizations like the RSHA to develop direct relationships to Hitler, adhering to a familiar National Socialist pattern of the leader-follower construct. For the RSHA, its centrality within Nazi Germany was pronounced since departments like the Gestapo (within the RSHA) were controlled by Himmler and his immediate subordinate SS-''
Obergruppenführer / french: officier / german: Offizier / russian: офицер"''. , history = ' (, "senior group leader") was one of the Third Reich's paramilitary ranks that was first created in 1932 as a rank of the ''Sturmabteilung'' (SA) and adopt ...
'' and General of Police
Reinhard Heydrich Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich (; ; 7 March 1904 – 4 June 1942) was a high-ranking German SS and police official during the Nazi era Nazism (), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus; ), is the ideology and ...
; they held the power of life and death for nearly every German and were essentially above the law. Heydrich remained the RSHA chief until his assassination in 1942. In January 1943 Himmler delegated the office to SS-''Obergruppenführer'' and General of Police
Ernst Kaltenbrunner Ernst Kaltenbrunner (4 October 190316 October 1946) was a high-ranking Austrian SS official during the Nazi era and a major perpetrator of the Holocaust. He was the subsequent Chief of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), which included the of ...

Ernst Kaltenbrunner
, who headed the RSHA until the end of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
in Europe. The head of the RSHA was also known as the CSSD or ''Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD'' (Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service).


Organization

According to British author
Gerald Reitlinger Gerald Roberts Reitlinger (born 1900 in London, United Kingdom – died 1978 in St Leonards-on-Sea St Leonards-on-Sea (commonly known as St Leonards) is a town and seaside resort A seaside resort is a resort town or resort village, or resort ...
, the RSHA "became a typical overblown bureaucracy... The complexity of RSHA was unequalled... with at least a hundred... sub-sub-sections, a modest camouflage of the fact that it handled the progressive extermination which Hitler planned for the ten million Jews of Europe".


Structure

The organization at its simplest was divided into seven offices (''Ämter''): * Amt I, "Administration and Legal", originally headed by SS-''
Gruppenführer__NOTOC__ ''Gruppenführer'' (, ) was an early paramilitary Paramilitary forces usually tend to wear similar but different uniforms to the military, for instance gray "urban camouflage". A paramilitary organization (also listed as quasi mil ...
'' Dr.
Werner BestWerner may refer to: People * Werner (name), origin of the name and people with this name as surname and given name Fictional characters * Werner (comics), a German comic book character * Werner Von Croy, a fictional character in the ''Tomb Raide ...
. In 1940, he was succeeded by SS-''
Brigadeführer ''Brigadeführer'' (, ) was a paramilitary Military rank, rank of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) that was used between the years of 1932 to 1945. It was mainly known for its use as an SS rank. As an SA rank, it was used after briefly being known as ''Unt ...
''
Bruno Streckenbach Bruno Streckenbach (7 February 1902 – 28 October 1977) was a German SS functionary during the Nazi era. He was the head of Administration and Personnel Department of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA). Streckenbach was responsible for many ...
. In April 1944,
Erich Ehrlinger Erich Ehrlinger (14 October 1910 in Giengen an der Brenz, Kingdom of Württemberg The Kingdom of Württemberg (german: Königreich Württemberg ) was a German state that existed from 1805 to 1918, located within the area that is now Baden-Wü ...
took over as department chief. * Amt II, "Ideological Investigation", headed by SS-''Brigadeführer'' Professor
Franz Six Franz Alfred Six (12 August 1909 – 9 July 1975) was a Nazi Nazism (), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus; ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group ...

Franz Six
. * Amt III, "Spheres of German Life" or the '' Inland-SD'', headed by SS-''Gruppenführer''
Otto Ohlendorf Otto Ohlendorf (; 4 February 1907 – 7 June 1951) was a German SS functionary and Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide of European Jews during World War II World War II or the Second World W ...

Otto Ohlendorf
, was the SS information gathering service for inside Germany. It also dealt with
ethnic Germans The Germans (german: Deutsche) are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes also considered parts of Western Europe, S ...
outside of Germany's prewar borders, and matters of
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in ...
. * Amt IV, "Suppression of Opposition", formed from ''Abteilung'' II and III of the ''Gestapa''. Better-known by the "sobriquet"
Gestapo The (), abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for e ...

Gestapo
. It was headed by SS-''Gruppenführer'' Heinrich Müller. SS-''
Obersturmbannführer__NOTOC__ ''Obersturmbannführer'' (short: ''Ostubaf''; , ) was a paramilitary Paramilitary forces usually tend to wear similar but different uniforms to the military, for instance gray "urban camouflage". A paramilitary organization (als ...
''
Adolf Eichmann Otto Adolf Eichmann ( ,"Eichmann"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ; 19 March 1906 – 1 Jun ...

Adolf Eichmann
, one of the main architects of
the Holocaust The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide Genocide is the intentional action to destroy a people—usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural syste ...
, was head of the Amt IV sub-department called ''
Referat IV B4 Reich Security Head Office Referat IV B4, known as RSHA IV B4, was a sub-department of Germany's Reich Security Head Office (''Reichssicherheitshauptamt'' or RSHA) and the Gestapo during the Holocaust. Led by SS-''Obersturmbannführer'' Adolf Eichma ...
''. * Amt V, "Suppression of Crime" ''Kriminalpolizei#Nazi Germany, Kriminalpolizei'' (Kripo), originally led by SS-''Gruppenführer'' Arthur Nebe and later by SS-''Oberführer'' Friedrich Panzinger. This was the Criminal Police, which dealt with non-political serious crimes, such as rape, murder, and arson. Amt V was also known as the ''Reichskriminalpolizeiamt'' (Reich Criminal Police Department or RKPA). * Amt VI, "Foreign Intelligence Service" or ''Sicherheitsdienst#Ausland-SD, Ausland-SD'', originally led by SS-''Brigadeführer'' Heinz Jost and later by SS-''Brigadeführer'' Walter Schellenberg. * Amt VII, "Ideological Research and Evaluation" was a reconstitution of Amt II overseen by SS-''Brigadeführer'' Professor Dr.
Franz Six Franz Alfred Six (12 August 1909 – 9 July 1975) was a Nazi Nazism (), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus; ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to a person or group ...

Franz Six
. Later it was headed by SS-''Obersturmbannführer'' Paul Dittel. It was responsible for "ideological" tasks. These included the creation of antisemitism, anti-semitic, Anti-masonry, anti-masonic propaganda, the sounding of public opinion and monitoring of Nazi indoctrination by the public.


Leadership


Role in the Holocaust

The RSHA controlled the security services of Nazi Germany and the Nazi Party (NSDAP). Its activities included intelligence-gathering, criminal investigation, overseeing foreigners, monitoring public opinion, and Nazi indoctrination. The RSHA was also "the central office for the extra-judicial NS (National Socialist) measures of terror and repression from the beginning of the war until 1945". The list of "enemies" included Jews, Communists, Freemasonry, Freemasons, pacifists, and Christian activists. In addition to dealing with identified enemies, the RSHA advocated expansionist policies for the Reich and the Germanization of additional territory through settlement. ''Generalplan Ost'' (General Plan East), which was the secret Nazi plan to colonize Central and Eastern Europe exclusively with Germans, displacing inhabitants in the process through genocide and ethnic cleansing in order to obtain sufficient ''Lebensraum'', stemmed from officials in the RSHA, among other Nazi organizations . According to German historian, Klaus Hildebrand, the RSHA was "particularly concerned with racial matters".
Adolf Eichmann Otto Adolf Eichmann ( ,"Eichmann"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ; 19 March 1906 – 1 Jun ...

Adolf Eichmann
stated in 1937 that "the anger of the people expressed in riots [was] the most effective means to rob the Jews of a sense of security". An order issued by the RSHA on 20 May 1941 overtly demonstrates its utter complicity for the systematic extermination of Jews, namely since the order included instructions to block emigration of any and all Jews attempting to leave Belgium or France as part of the "imminent Final Solution of the Jewish question". Besides blocking emigration, the RSHA, working with Eichmann's Reich Association of Jews in Germany, deliberately deceived Jews still living in Germany and those of other countries by promising them good living quarters, medical care, and food in Theresienstadt (a concentration camp which was a way station to extermination facilities like Auschwitz) if they turned over their assets to the RSHA through a 'phony' home-purchase plan. The RSHA oversaw the ''Einsatzgruppen'', death squads that were formed under the direction of Heydrich and operated by the SS. Originally part of the SiPo, in September 1939 the operational control of the ''Einsatzgruppen'' was taken over by the RSHA. When the units were re-formed prior to the Operation Barbarossa, invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the men of the ''Einsatzgruppen'' were recruited from the SD, Gestapo, Kriminalpolizei (Nazi Germany), Kripo, Ordnungspolizei, Orpo, and Waffen-SS. The units followed the invasion forces of the German Army (Wehrmacht), German Army into Eastern Europe. In its role as the national and NSDAP security service, the RSHA coordinated activities among a number of different agencies that had wide-ranging responsibilities within the Reich. Not infrequently, commanders of ''Einsatzgruppen'' and ''Einsatzkommando'' sub-units were also desk officers from the main office of the RSHA. Historian Raul Hilberg estimates that between 1941 and 1945 the ''Einsatzgruppen'', related agencies, and foreign auxiliary troops co-opted by the Nazis, killed more than two million people, including 1.3 million Jews. Part of the RSHA's efforts to encourage other nations (many of whom were occupied by the Germans) to hand over their Jews or entice them into the arms of the Nazis, included coercing them by assigning Jewish advisory officials, all of which was part and parcel to Eichmann's goal of rounding up and transporting "Jews from Slovakia and Hungary, Croatia and Romania". Entry into the Second World War afforded the RSHA the power to act as an intermediary in the areas extended far beyond the Reich, which according to Hans Mommsen, lent itself to solving "emergency situations" and the RSHA's radicalized destructive goals like the Final Solution, were implemented thereupon with bureaucratic methodical cruelty as its power expanded.


Rosenstrasse protest and RSHA involvement

As early as 1941, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels began to complain that large numbers of Jews had not been "evacuated" because of their work in the armaments industry. By late 1942, Hitler and the RSHA were ready to rid Berlin of the German Jews still residing there. Many were married to Aryan Germans and protected by their jobs in armament factories, as the firms deemed these Jewish employees irreplaceable laborers. These Jews believed that these factors ensured their safety. In September 1942, Hitler decided that the protection of Jews working in armament companies within Germany must end and that they were to be evacuated elsewhere. Auschwitz administrators were pushing the government to send more laborers as they struck a deal with the arms producer IG Farben to construct a camp specifically for arms development using slave labor, further supporting Hitler's decision. As a result, the RSHA decreed the ''Fabrik-Aktion'', an initiative which expressed their intent to "register" all Jews working in these firms; it also stated that the primary targets of this action were those Jews "living in mixed marriages." The RSHA planned to remove all German Jews from Berlin in early 1943 (the deadline to deport these Jews was 28 February 1943, according to a diary entry Goebbels wrote in early February). On 27 February 1943, the RSHA sent plainclothes Gestapo officials to work, arresting intermarried Jews and charging them with various crimes; anywhere the Gestapo could find Berlin's Jews, they were detained. Around 2,000 intermarried Jewish men were taken to Rosenstrasse 2–4, where they were held. Goebbels complained that many of the arrests had been "thwarted" by industrialists since some 4,000 Jews were expected to be detained. Angry wives began appearing in front of the building on Rosenstrasse to protest—as "Women of German blood" on behalf of their husbands—against this action. On 6 March, all but 25 of the intermarried Jews were released; the 25 still held were sent to Auschwitz. The RSHA had failed at quietly rounding up and deporting Jewish men married to German women. On 8 March, RSHA head Ernst Kaltenbrunner told Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick that the deportations had been limited to Jews who were not intermarried. File:Krakow Ghetto 06694.jpg, SS guards overseeing Jews being rounded up in March 1943 during the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto. File:Eichmann's office IVB4.JPG, Display on bus stop at the site of
Adolf Eichmann Otto Adolf Eichmann ( ,"Eichmann"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ; 19 March 1906 – 1 Jun ...

Adolf Eichmann
's former office in Berlin at Kurfurstenstrasse 115 (now occupied by a hotel building). After the founding of the RSHA in 1939, Eichmann became director of RSHA sub-section (Referat) IV D 4 (Clearing Activities, or ''Räumungsangelegenheiten'') (1940), and, after March 1941, IV B 4 (Jewish Affairs, or ''Judenreferat''). Both offices organized the deportation of Jews. From this position, Eichmann played a central role in transporting over 1.5 million Jews from all over Europe to Nazi killing centers.


See also

* Glossary of Nazi Germany * List of SS personnel * OVRA – Fascist Italy (1922–1943), Fascist Italy's secret police, similar to the
Gestapo The (), abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for e ...

Gestapo
* SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt (WVHA, the economic & administrative department of the SS) * Red Orchestra (espionage), Red Orchestra – RSHA operations against a wartime Soviet espionage ring.


References

Informational notes Citations Bibliography * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ::Online * * * Further reading * Evans, Richard J. ''The Coming of the Third Reich''. New York: Penguin, 2005. * Evans, Richard J. ''The Third Reich in Power''. New York: Penguin, 2006. * Evans, Richard J. ''The Third Reich at War''. New York: Penguin, 2009 [2008]. *
Vol. 1
an
Vol. 2
* Wildt, Michael (2002). ''Generation of the Unbound: The Leadership Corps of the Reich Security Main Office'', Jerusalem: Yad Vashem. . * Wildt, Michael (2010). ''An Uncompromising Generation: The Nazi Leadership of the Reich Security Main Office''. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Rsha Reich Security Main Office, Government of Nazi Germany Police forces of Nazi Germany Allgemeine SS Reinhard Heydrich