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Who Were The Gestapo?

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The Gestapo was the official secret police of Hitler's Nazi Germany. Its name is a contraction of Geheime Staatspolizei which means Secret State Police in English. It was a part of the Schutzstaffel or the SS.

The Gestapo was an offshoot of the almost obsolete Prussian Secret Police Force. However, it remained a rather obscure department until 1934 when the notorious Hermann Goring took over as its commander. It was he who extended its jurisdiction to encompass the whole of Germany and transformed it into one of the foremost pillars of the Nazi regime. At its peak the Gestapo boasted of over 45,000 members. Its brutality and mercenary disregard for humanity ensured that the Gestapo was one of the most feared branches of Hitler's regime.

The Gestapo played a pivotal role in preserving Hitler's position in Germany, unleashing merciless brutality on any opposition, like for instance, the peaceful student protestors of the White Rose Group. Arbitrary arrests and swift executions became the order of the day under the Gestapo.

Many members of the Gestapo were tried and convicted by the Nuremberg Trials. Amongst these were Hermann Goring and Arthur Seyss-Inquart. After this the Gestapo officially ceased to exist.

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