GHDI logo

Decree from the Head of the Security Police to the Heads of all State Police Offices (September 3, 1939)

The outbreak of war in September 1939 gave Himmler and Heydrich unprecedented opportunities to deploy and expand their apparatus of terror. By that time, the SS consisted of four main divisions: the general SS, the security service for internal surveillance, the SS Special Purpose Troops [Verfügungstruppen], and the Death’s Head Units [Totenkopfverbände], which oversaw the growing network of concentration camps. Additionally, Himmler and Heydrich also commanded all other police institutions, most notably the political police [Geheime Staatspolizei or Gestapo] and the criminal police, which allowed them to spy on and control the home front under the pretense of exceptional wartime circumstances. On September 3, 1939, Heydrich, head of the Security Police and the Security Service, announced the following measures for preserving internal security during the war.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 2


[Re: Basic Principles for Maintaining Internal Security during the War]

In order to secure the commitment of all the resources of the nation against any disturbance and sedition, which is essential for the realization of the Führer's aims, the following principles are laid down for the security organs of the Reich to ensure the internal security of the state.

1. Any attempt to undermine the unity of the German people and its determination to fight must be ruthlessly suppressed. In particular, any person who doubts the victory of the German nation or questions the justification of the war is to be arrested.

2. Those compatriots, however, who are guilty of mistakes of some kind through personal distress or in moments of weakness, must be treated with psychological understanding and efforts must be made to strengthen their will by educative means.

3. Particular attention must be paid to all attempts to influence other people in public in a hostile direction towards nation and Reich—in bars, on public transport, etc. In the same way, drastic measures must be taken against any attempt to form groups and rings with the aim of spreading such views and information. If instances occur of public activity or the formation of rings, the suspected persons must in every case be arrested.

4. After the arrest of the suspected person all inquiries necessary to clear up the case must be made without delay. In the course of this it must be established as thoroughly as possible through files available at the State Police offices and at subsections of the SD and by interviewing witnesses, and through enquiring at local Party offices, what general attitude and what particular motives were behind the actions of the persons concerned. The Chief of the Security Police must then be informed without delay and a decision requested on the further treatment of the arrested persons, since the ruthless liquidation of such elements may be ordered at a high level.

first page < previous   |   next > last page