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The Gestapo, abbreviation of Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police), was the secret police of National Socialist Germany, concerned with tasks such as suppressing internal dissent and counterintelligence.
The organization was formed in 1933 by Hermann Göring from the Prussian Secret Police, an organization of the Weimar Republic. In 1934, it came under the control of the SS and Heinrich Himmler. From 1934, it was one part of the Sicherheitspolizei (security police) together with the Kriminalpolizei (criminal police). From 1939, it was one part of the RSHA. The Ordnungspolizei (order police, the uniformed police) was not part of these organizations.
Various aspoects of the politically correct views on the Gestapo have been criticized. For example, a 2016 review of a book on the Gestapo stated that "the Gestapo was an efficient police force, small in number, not the omnipresent terror arm of a terror state; scrupulous at all levels with facts and the accuracy of records, focusing on the recruitment of university graduates, particularly to doctoral standard, while retaining the services of mostly non-Nazi, Weimar-regime, career policemen; quick to arrive at conclusions based on objective investigation, and promptly dismissing most accusations brought to their attention without undue delay."
"McDonough alludes to the testimony of Dr. Werner Best, head of Gestapo administration and personnel in Berlin during 1936 to 1940. “It was Werner Best who originally shattered the myths surrounding the Gestapo, many years before historians ever dealt with the subject in detail.” In what McDonough calls a “revisionist interpretation” of the Gestapo, he states that Best’s testimony was clearly laid out. He stated that the Gestapo were the most poorly paid of the police, that they were understaffed, and half of those were in administration, that the impression of the Gestapo as a vast organization spying on the mass of Germans is incorrect. Gestapo agents were continually in contact with the families of inmates, who were kept informed about release dates. Gestapo officers advised families on welfare benefit entitlements while relatives were in custody. “Advanced interrogation techniques” were only used in serious cases of treason, under strict guidelines, and confessions were not extorted under questioning.
Karl-Heinz Hoffmann, a senior manager of the Gestapo, stated that protective custody was kept brief, internment to a concentration camp was recommended only for the most incorrigible, dangerous cases. Brutal treatment and torture were strictly prohibited. Cases of brutality went to criminal court. Hoffmann cited cases of two Gestapo officers in Düsseldorf who were sent to prison by a criminal court for mistreating prisoners. In Denmark, where Hoffmann later served with Werner Best, who was governor, Hoffmann stated that “enhanced interrogations” were used more frequently against the resistance, but even here were not extensive."
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