With movies made about the Second World War as popular as ever, the name ‘Gestapo’ is familiar to almost everyone. Exactly what it was and its functions are not necessarily made clear in every movie however.
The official name of the Nazis’ secret police was the Geheime Staatspolizei. Its origin was the Prussian plain-clothed political police, much feared in Prussia, but not as feared as it became when re-organised by, of all people, the pompous, loud-mouthed Hermann Goering. Cinema- goers have become too accustomed to associating evil, mean-looking personalities like Himmler with the foundation of the Gestapo, but in reality it was started as a purely Prussian arm of the secret service, probably by Bismarck. (more…)