Sicherheitsdienst – The Intelligence Agency of the Nazi Party
The Protection Squadron (SS) of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi) was established in 1925 as Adolf Hitler’s personal protective agency. The SS was under the command of Heinrich Himmler, one of the most powerful men of the Third Reich, appointed by Hitler himself. The entire Nazi party was made up of five sections:
- The Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) which consisted of only full time members and officers.
- The RSHA part-time members and officers.
- The SS organizations of the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) and the Sicherhertsdienst (SD); the German secret state police organizations and the intelligence sectors.
- The Concentration camp staffs.
- The reserve members, honorary members and inactive members of the SS.
The SD, the intelligence agency of the SS was considered a sister organization to the Gestapo which were the secret state police. The main objective of the SD was to detect actual and potential enemies of the Nazi party for neutralization. The SD, under the command of Himmler’s right-hand man Reinhard Heydrich, went through many re-structuring processes:
- 1931 was called IC-Dienst and reported to Reinhard Heydrich.
- 1932 renamed Sicherhertsdienst (SD).
- 1934 was the sole information service for the party.
- 1936 the Police organizations of ORPO (Order Police) and SiPO (Security Police) were formed.
- 1938 became the service for the entire state as well, and became a fierce competitor with the Abwehr (German Army Military Intelligence Agency) headed by Wilhelm Canaris.
- 1939 The KRIPO (executive branch), Gestapo, and ORPO (order police) sections of the SD were all combined under the auspices of the RSHA, and SiPO titles and Heydrich’s command. After Heydrich’s assassination in 1942, Ernst Kaltenbrunner took over.
· The department (AMT) numbers of the new structure:
- AMT III – SD-Inland Germany
- AMT IV – Gestapo
- AMT V – KRIPO
- AMT VI – Abluehr(Military) and SD-Outside Germany
- The SD foreign intelligence and the Abwehr were headed by Walter Schellenberg.
- The SD domestic intelligence was headed by Otto Ohlendorf.
- The Gestapo was under Heinrich Muller’s command.
- KRIPO was commanded by Arthur Nebe, until his death in 1944 when Kaltenbrunner took charge.
In 1944, just before the fall of Germany and the end of World War II, the SD was infiltrated by a Russian who was working for the United States of America. The mission was called Ruppert. After the war, all those still alive who were affiliated with the SS and SD and RSHA were tried for war crimes at Nuremberg.
Reinhard Heydrich had been assassinated in 1942 by Czech commandos. Artur Nebe had been executed by his fellow countrymen in 1944 following a failed attempt on Adolf Hitler’s life.
Himmler committed suicide in 1945, at the war’s end shortly after being taken into British custody. Walter Schellenberg and Otto Ohlendorf both stood trial for war crimes and Ohlendorf freely admitted to murdering over 90,000 Jews. He was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging at Landsberg prison in 1951. Schellenberg testified against other Nazis and was sentenced to six years in prison, but died of cancer in 1952 a free man.
The highest ranking member of the Nazi party to be tried at Nuremberg was Ernst Kaltenbrunner. As the Chief of RSHA, president of Interpol and a general in the Waffen-SS, he was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and executed. The most prominent Nazi figure to have never been captured or confirmed dead was Heinrich Muller, Chief of the Gestapo at the war’s end.