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The Gestapo: Power and Terror in the Third Reich

The Gestapo: Power and Terror in the Third Reich [Kindle Edition]

Carsten Dams , Michael Stolle
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Darms and Stolle offer their readers a succinct introduction to the subject while also managing to deconstruct a great number of myths still surrounding the Gestapo in public memory. (Irish Times)

A welcome introduction (Military History Monthly)

draws on all the latest scholarship to offer readers a compelling overview of what the organization was, what it did, and how it changed over time. Like many other penetrating explorations of the Nazi killing machine, it raises some very disturbing and ultimately unanswerable questions about the nature evil and cruelty in the world. A fine book all around, but not a book for the faint of heart. (The Daily Beast)

Deeply researched and informative. (David Cesarani, Literary Review)

An excellent short introduction to one of the most complex issues in the history of the Third Reich. (Richard Overy, author of The Third Reich: A Chronicle)

Product Description

The Gestapo was the most feared instrument of political terror in the Third Reich, brutally hunting down and destroying anyone it regarded as an enemy of the Nazi regime: socialists, Communists, Jews, homosexuals, and anyone else deemed to be an 'anti-social element'. Its prisons soon became infamous - many of those who disappeared into them were never seen again - and it has been remembered ever since as the sinister epitome of Nazi terror and persecution.

But how accurate is it to view the Gestapo as an all-pervasive, all-powerful, all-knowing instrument of terror? How much did it depend upon the cooperation and help of ordinary Germans? And did its networks extend further into the everyday life of German society than most Germans after 1945 ever wanted to admit?

Answering all these questions and more, this book uses the very latest research to tell the true story behind this secretive and fearsome institution. Tracing the history of the organization from its origins in the Weimar Republic, through the crimes of the Nazi period, to the fate of former Gestapo officers after World War II, Carsten Dams and Michael Stolle investigate how the Gestapo really worked - and question many of the myths that have long surrounded it.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2111 KB
  • Print Length: 251 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 019966921X
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (5 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I7TR8ME
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #442,457 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doubt It Will Ever Be Filmed 21 May 2014
By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWER
THE GESTAPO: POWER AND TERROR IN THE THIRD REICH, appears as an imprint of the highly-thought of Oxford University Press. This book about one of the most feared Nazi agencies before, during and after World War II is the product of two German academics. Carsten Dams is Professor of Police Sciences at the School of Public Management of North-Rhine Westphalia. His main research interests are the history of policing in the twentieth century, and the relationship between policing and violence. Michael Stolle is an Executive Director of the House of Competence at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. He is responsible for the institute's training and career development programs. He is a specialist in the history of the Gestapo in the Third Reich and has published widely in the field.

The Gestapo was the most feared instrument of political terror in the Germany’s short-lived Third Reich, as it brutally hunted down and illegally destroyed anyone it regarded as an enemy of the Nazi regime. That would include socialists, Communists, Jews, homosexuals, the uncomfortably religious, ‘work shirkers’ and anyone else deemed to be an 'anti-social element'. The organization also, of course, paid improper attention to gypsies, the physically and mentally disabled. And, above all, members of partisan resistance groups in territories Germany occupied during World War II, and the hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals forcibly relocated to the German homeland to work as slaves in its essential industries. And the elites of any country Germany occupied; and its prisoners of war. And the entire populations of any country it declared to be of ‘inferior’ stock, principally Poland and the Soviet.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 8 Dec 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've heard it is a brilliant book, so have bought it as a Xmas present.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 19 Sep 2014
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star 18 Aug 2014
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A New Study of the Gestapo 17 April 2014
By Robin Friedman - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Published in Germany in 2011, "The Gestapo: Power and Terror in the Third Reich" by Carsten Dams and Michael Stolle has been translated into English by Charlotte Ryland and is about to be published by Oxford University Press. The authors bring an informed, scholarly perspective to the book. Dams is Professor of Police Science at the School of Public Management, North-Rhine, Westphalia. Stolle Executive Director of the "House of Competence", Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, has written extensively on the Gestapo. The book makes use of extensive research on the Gestapo, much of which, as shown in the extensive bibliography, is in German and thus not readily available to non-specialist American readers.

This book is short but dense and difficult. The translation is good on the whole with some stylistic and grammatical eccentricities in English. The book is dry and academic. The advantage of the book's tone is that it avoids the temptation to sensationalism and stereotyping. Most readers likely know of the Gestapo primarily through broader studies of Nazi Germany or through representations in the media. This book presents a detailed, focused approach. The disadvantage of the academic writing on this work is that it may become dull and perhaps overly detached in tone for many readers. Thus, while the book is valuable, it is written for a reader with a serious interest in the subject.

The authors begin with the observation that the Gestapo, or the German Secret State Police, has become emblematic of the Third Reich for many people. It has an almost mythological character as an omnipotent terrorist organization which the leaders of the Gestapo themselves carefully cultivated. Dams and Stolle are far from minimizing the evil, terror, murder and lawlessness that followed in the Gestapo's wake. Their goal is to show how the Gestapo changed (they unhappily use the term "evolved") over the life of the Third Reich. They also want to show that the Gestapo formed part of a broad range of organizations and people that led to the Holocaust and to other terrors. They point to other parts of the German police establishment, to the Army, to collaborators and informants both within Germany and in places that came under the dominion of the Reich. They find a broad guilt in the crimes of the Reich not only in Gestapo leadership but in the Gestapo officers as well, who worked with a great deal of discretion, and with other components of German and European society. They conclude that many Gestapo participants essentially escaped without proper punishment in the years following WW II.

Drawing of the work of earlier scholars, Dams and Stolle distinguish between a "Normative" and a "Prerogative" state, both of which existed in the Third Reich. The "normative" state involves the laws and rules that apply to the non-persecuted portions of a society. The "prerogative" state is one which takes actions against outsiders -- those whom the state defines as "enemies". The Gestapo was empowered to take preemptive action against those defined as enemies and to do so "without legal obligation, in wholly arbitrary ways, and by means of brutal terror." The Gestapo was "the core institution of the National Socialist Prerogative State".

Readers looking for detailed accounts of the innumerable murders, tortures, and acts of sadism will not find it in this book. Dams and Stolle fully acknowledge the scope and enormity of the crimes but their focus lies in trying to identify the institutional structure that allowed the perpetuation of the crimes rather than in their description. Thus, the early chapters of the book describe the development of the Gestapo from the police forces that existed during the Weimar Republic, particularly as these forces combatted communism and the rising NSDAP itself. The book describes the recruitment of personnel and discusses the difficulty of attributing any one specific motivation to the many individuals that worked for the Gestapo. Many were committed to the NSDAP programme, while others were careerists seeking advancement, while still others were attracted by the possibilities of sadism and brutality. The authors then briefly examine the top leadership of the Gestapo, including figures such as Himmler, Heydrich, Muller, and the lawyer, Werner Best. The book examines the shifting relationships between the Gestapo leadership in Berlin (the Gestapa) and the field offices elsewhere in Germany and, eventually, in Europe.

The authors then describe the Gestapo's way of operating in Germany and the manner in which all the police organizations of the state worked together, even though they frequently were rivals. They discuss political persecutions, the persecutions of religious groups, foreign nationals, and others, leading to the beginnings of the implementation of the policy against Jews.

Then, Dams and Stolle discuss the expansion of the Gestapo's reach with the prosecution of the war, including the many enormities of the Holocaust. The discussions are brief, but focused as the book describes the Gestapo's differing role and the different types of collaborations in the many countries which the Third Reich controlled, for a time.

The final sections of the book offer an overview of attempts to prosecute members of the Gestapo following WW II. These efforts met with mixed success but had overall the effect of increasing knowledge of the Gestapo and the ways in which it operated. Finally, the authors try briefly to consider what lessons might be drawn from the structure of the Gestapo for contemporary issues. The authors are broadly skeptical of the proper scope of "preemptive" police work aimed at a group or a perceived enemy before a crime has been committed. They are reluctant to draw any specific conclusions because the enormities of the Third Reich have no easy analogies.

Dams and Stolle have written a scholarly and valuable history of the Gestapo and of the ways in which it operated. The book will be of interest to serious students of Nazi Germany and to readers with an interest in the organizational structure and functions of police forces.

Robin Friedman
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly Examination 17 April 2014
By Lita Perna - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Gestapo: Power and Terror in the Third Reich, written by Carsten Dams and Michael Stolle was published by Oxford University Press and translated from German 2014. The book is complicated, meticulously detailed and dry, more for scholars than the causally interested reader.

The authors maintain that the Gestapo could only function because of the cooperation of numerous people who made it possible. ‘In the early years they relied more on reports of the local population than on their own surveillance…’ It was the ‘German next door’ who posed a problem for the persecuted, not specifically recruited informants. According to the authors, much of the population was prepared to support persecution through denunciation. Werner Best, chief ideologue of the security police and SD, declared that The Gestapo was to be ‘the doctor to the German national body.’

The book explores the evolution, and expansion beginning in the early years; details the complicated organizational development; leadership, and practice of persecution in the Reich and beyond.

The chapter about the leadership of the Gestapo and its employees was detailed and interesting.

At first the Gestapo was focused on political opposition, mainly communists and Social democrats. The Gestapo then turned toward persecuting The Jews but also other religious communities, homosexuals, the ‘work-shy’ asocials and foreign nationals.

There’s an especially chilling chapter about informants and role of denunciations, and the Gestapo’s cooperation with the police, SS and Nazi Party.

There’s a helpful glossary of terms and 27 pages of notes with an extensive bibliography.

This is not book for everyone.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing much to comment on: solid, informative and well-documented but doesn't provide insight 28 April 2014
By Peter G. Keen - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't often find myself unable to make much comment about a book but this one somehow just lacks any real center and flair. It is a sombre and responsible description of the Gestapo as an organization within the bureaucratic, policing and administrative regime of the Third Reich. There is no effort to overmoralize or add melodrama and personality sketches. It focuses on the mechanisms of the Gestapo and how its culture emerged. It makes clear how the system ensured a docile conformity in the general population. It addresses the central processes of what the authors capture in a summary towards the end of the book: "despite all the mythmaking, in its bureaucratic setup the Gestapo was a police authority like many others... in terms of its criminal investigation techniques it was unsurpassed in its time.... Most of those who served in the Gestapo were ordinary police officers. In one sense this is not surprising as persecution was a craft that became normal practice for a policeman."

This is somewhat aloof and dispassionate. Perhaps that is all one should expect from a book on such a topic that aims to inform not titillate, but it left me with a "So?" feeling. I found few surprises or observations that went beyond the information. It is rather pedestrian. I wish I had more to say and don't want to knock the work -- it's solid -- but it doesn't resonate at any level. Is this all the Gestapo amounted to? A bureaucracy of cops with too much power and too little conscience?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Gestapo 27 May 2014
By M. Tanenbaum - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is very much a scholarly book, not written for laypeople. I don't recommend it if you are looking for a good narrative nonfiction book about the topic, it is more a book I would expect to use if I were writing a research paper. I'm sure it is excellent from that perspective but it's not an easy read for most people and is written in a very dry fashion, although that may be the translation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat scholarly take on the subject 23 May 2014
By J. D. Mason - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This text outlines the formation and legal role of the Gestapo from the mid 1930's until the end of the Nazi government in 1945. It does a good job illuminating a key understanding of how the Nazi government functioned. The Gestapo was one of several different organizations within the Hitler government that had overlapping and often indistinct roles in supporting the Nazi state. This text goes into detail outlining how the secret police operated to further the aims of the Nazi's as well as maintain order.

This book is good for readers who are looking for some kind of overview of how the Gestapo was organized and how it operated in a legal sense. However it does not offer stories of Gestapo operations that might be of interest to the casual reader. It's not really "entertaining" in that sense, to put it crudely.
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