Hitler's Nazi Storm Troopers (SA), the SS, and the Gestapo
In Hitler's Nazi Germany a sharp rap at the door was the most terrifying sound to be heard. Such a visit from police might come at any time, day or night.
If there was no immediate response to their knocks, Hitler's henchmen kicked the door in and stormed into the home. They acted with sudden force, lots of noise, and violence. The well-armed police were ready to shoot anyone, male or female, of any age. No one could run or hide. There was no escape from the Storm Troopers.
The Nazi Police State
In Hitler's Germany, many thought if they said nothing and did nothing to draw attention to themselves, they operated under the Nazi Secret Police radar, and they would not be noticed. But it didn't quite work that way. The police had the power to arrest any citizen merely on grounds of suspicion that he/she was an enemy of the state. No evidence or proof was required. Once named an enemy of the state, there was no protection for any citizen or their family. In Nazi custody, beatings, torture and death were the usual tools for maintaining order.
The prisoners were hauled away from their homes, and no one knew to which concentration camp or prison they were taken. Many of them became slaves, laboring in various building projects or underground in the mines. No one escaped, and very few lived to tell the tale.
The Nazi authorities determined who was an enemy of the state according to what their informants reported to them. The Nazi police state was a self-policing organization in that it encouraged the citizenry to report any anti-Nazi remarks or activities to the police. The informants could be co-workers, neighbors, friends, children, family or anyone with an axe to grind against another citizen.
The Nazi police state used paranoia as an effective tool. Everyone watched everyone else. But no individual knew who might be watching him with an eye for revenge for some past slights or possibly eliminating him as possible competition for a raise or promotion.
Those arrested by the police had only a few minutes to gather clothes and say goodbye to their families if they were lucky. Many times the police simply snatched them immediately out of their homes and took them to the station. There they were ordered to sign Form D-11, the Order For Protective Custody, which stated that the prisoner agreed to go to prison. A refusal meant a brutal beating until they either agreed or the police forged their signature. From here they went to a concentration camp for an indefinite period of time.
Storm Troopers (SA)
Hitler's private army, formed in 1921, was called Sturm Abteilung (SA) and was also known as the brown shirts. The army served to disrupt any meetings of political opponents and to act as body guards for Hitler. Heinrich Himmler was the leader of the SA until Hitler assigned CaptainErnst Roehm the job.
Hitler was a master of manipulation. He used it within the ranks of his own inner circle as his minions jockeyed and elbowed each other aside to gain more favorable positions. This happened when Himmler wanted to get rid of Roehm. He asked Reinhard Heydrich to gather damaging information on Roehm. Heydrich couldn't find anything so he manufactured evidence that the French Resistance paid Roehm 12 million marks to eliminate the Fuhrer. When Hitler received this information, he decided to get rid of Roehm and purge the scheming leadership of the SA.
July 13, 1934 was the infamous "Night of the Ling Knives." When most of the SA leadership showed up for a typical meeting, Hitler's SS troops moved in and quickly killed 90 people according to some sources. Some references reported 400 killed. Hitler claimed 61 dead with three committing suicide. The Gestapo barged in quickly, and it happened so fast that many of them were still saluting Hitler when they were shot. They never knew what was happening or why.
The secret state police were called the Geheime Staatspolizei, commonly abbreviated to Gestapo. This group was formed when the political and intelligence sections of the Nazi Party merged. The Gestapo functioned with the SS, both under Himmler's direction, to establish concentration camps for the incarceration of the "undesirable" members of the German citizenry. This included Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Communists, unemployed, elderly, as well as the physically disabled and the mentally retarded.
The Schutz Staffeinel (SS)
The SS was composed of the elite German youth who could trace their Aryan heritage back 150 years. Most of them were graduates of the Hitler Youth groups who performed extremely well. They wore black shirts for identification and worked under Himmler's direction. Their most important functions involved serving as Hitler's personal body guards. Often they administered the concentration and death camps. Soon they replaced the SA as they joined the Gestapo as a dominant force in the German police force.
At the end of the war, some SS members complained that they felt that their talents had been wasted while they worked as keepers in the German concentration camps, doing the maintenance chores, burying the dead and doing the dirty work of the Third Reich