Reich Main Security Office

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The Reich Main Security Office (German: Reichssicherheitshauptamt, RSHA), was a subordinate organization of the SS.

History

The RSHA was created by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on 22 September 1939 through the merger of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD, or Security Service/Agency), the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo, Secret State Police), and the Kriminalpolizei (Police Crime Departement). The organization's stated duty was to fight all "enemies of the Reich" within and outside the borders of the German Empire.

Included within the rubric of "enemies" were Jews, Gypsies and other "racially undesirables" as well as Communists and other secret organization members such as Freemasons; thus the RSHA coordinated activities among a number of different agencies with wide-ranging responsibilities.

The first director of the RSHA was SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, who led the organization until his assassination on 4 June 1942 in Prague. SS-Obergruppenführer Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner replaced him for the remainder of World War II. The director of the RSHA oversaw the Einsatzgruppen squads that followed the campaign forces of the German army into the eastern territories.