An Illustrated History of the Gestapo

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9780879388010: An Illustrated History of the Gestapo

This book is one of the most detailed sources for the intricate detailing of Hitler's gestapo. It highlights the dangers of a police state and what can go terribly wrong when the people are no longer in control and the government becomes tyrannical. This is a very explicit, yet tasteful resource with ample photos and actual accounts of individuals who dealt directly with the dreaded Gestapo.

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Review:

As with any book, I was weary at first on how the information was verified, but when I got to the end, I felt as if I took for granted what an expert Butler proved to be in this field. This book is an absolute MUST for people interested in this topic. --David Kirk

The Gestapo started as small department of the Prussian State Police and grew to become a bureaucracy of terror under the leadership of the brutal drug addict Hermann Goring, the self hating Heinrich Himmler(both of whom committed suicide rather than face the consequences of their crimes)and the ruthless Jew-hating Reinhard Heydrich who died after an attempted assassination in Prague in 1942. The elimination of the village of Lidice in the wake of the latter showed the amoral character of the Nazis and their regime. Yet the Gestapo could never have operated without the cooperation of the German people who willingly provided thousands of leads to the men in black (although the trench coat and black uniform was abandoned in the late 1930's) who believed the organisation, though responsible only to its leadership not the law, was acting in the legitmiate interests of the State. To men like Himmler, Heydrich, Klaus Barbie and Adolf Eichman, killing real and imagined enemies (as defined by the Gestapo) was a task to be carried out without emotion for the people who they considered were less human than themselves. The leaders took the easy way out, the rank and file hid behind the claim that they were only obeying orders. The Nazis started out as a revolutionary party, hence its name as a national socialist party, but tensions between Ernst Rhom's Brownshirts, who wanted a form of permanent revolution and Hitler, was fuelled by the ambitions of Himmler, Heydrich and others, who looked towards absolute political control enforced by terror, instituting the Night of The Long Knives in which the Gestapo played an active part. Heydrich presided over the notorious Wannsee meeting which approved plans for the "Final Solution To the Jewish Question" which was later described as "an abyss of barbarity" which "laid bare the inhumanity of which man is capable". That inhumanity was seen in the Nazi People's courts where the notorious Roland Freisler, who had travelled from fervent Bolsheivism to fanatical Nazism, acted as judge and de facto prosecutor until an allied bomb hit the courthouse he was using to satisfy his blood lust. Racially based policies, whatever their origin, whoever the target, are depraved. Reducing other humans to the category of sub human was the inevitable logical outcome of the Darwinist/Spencerian theory of the survival of the fittest. It was not what Darwin had intended but only the intellectually blind could imagine any other outcome than the myth of the Aryan Race. Ironically, Heydrich's father was reputedly of Jewish stock. Superbly illustrated throughout, the book finishes with testimonies from those who survived the Gestapo and its methods. Inhumanity to any human being creates an atmosphere of fear which the rise of civilisation was supposed to counteract. The Gestapo in Nazi Germany proved civilsation is no more than a veneer which can disappear beneath the the release of physical violence into the political arena. A salutary reminder whenever political extremism of any kind (not just state sponsored terror)is encountered. --Larry Petersen

From Library Journal:

Journalist Butler has written a trivia-rich volume on what was possibly the most terrifying secret police bureaucracy the world has ever known: Nazi Germany's Secret State Police, or Gestapo. Butler bases his research on German archives and Gestapo documents. The bibliography, incorporating both primary and secondary sources, is sparse, though well chosen. Butler outlines the history of the Gestapo and its function throughout the war, and he concludes with 11 accounts of the lives of individuals who survived Gestapo interrogation and torture. Detailed portraits of the Gestapo leadership, e.g., Heinrich Himmler, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and Reinhard Heydrich, are accurately, if somewhat sensationally, treated. The book is not scholarly in nature (there are no footnotes), and, true to its title, it is suffused with ample photographs of varying quality. This work will appeal to armchair historians and enthusiastic lay readers with an interest in Nazi Germany. Serious scholars seeking more analytical material would do well to consult Heinz Hohne's The Order of the Death's Head (Secker & Warburg, 1969), Robert L. Koehl's The Black Korps (Wisconsin, 1983), and Gerald Reitlinger's The SS: Alibi of a Nation (Viking, 1957).
- Thomas G. Anton, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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