The Info List - Reich Main Security Office

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The Reich Main Security Office[notes 1] (German: Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA) was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei (Chief of German Police) and Reichsführer-SS, the head of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel
(SS). The organization's stated duty was to fight all "enemies of the Reich" inside and outside the borders of Nazi Germany.


1 Formation 2 Organization 3 Role in the Holocaust 4 See also 5 Explanatory notes 6 References

6.1 Citations 6.2 Bibliography

7 Further reading 8 External links

Formation[edit] The RSHA was created by Himmler on 27 September 1939. Himmler's assumption of total control over all security and police forces in Germany was the "crucial precondition" for the establishment and growth of the SS state.[2] He combined the Nazi Party's Sicherheitsdienst
(SD; SS intelligence service) with the Sicherheitspolizei
(SiPo; "Security Police"), which was nominally under the Interior Ministry. The SiPo was composed of two sub-departments, the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo; "Secret State Police") and the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo; "Criminal Police").[3] The RSHA was often abbreviated to "RSi-H"[4] in correspondence to avoid confusion with the SS-Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt
SS-Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt
(RuSHA; "SS Race and Settlement Office"). The creation of the RSHA represented the formalization, at the top level, of the relationship under which the SD served as the intelligence agency for the security police. A similar coordination existed in the local offices. Within Germany and areas which were incorporated within the Reich for the purpose of civil administration, local offices of the Gestapo, criminal police, and SD were formally separate. They were subject to coordination by inspectors of the security police and SD on the staffs of the local higher SS and police leaders, however, and one of the principal functions of the local SD units was to serve as the intelligence agency for the local Gestapo units. In the occupied territories, the formal relationship between local units of the Gestapo, criminal police, and SD was slightly closer.[5] Throughout the course of wartime expansion, the RSHA continued to grow at an enormous rate and was "repeatedly reorganized".[6] Routine reorganization did not change the tendency for centralization within the Third Reich nor did it change the general trend for organizations like the RHSA to develop direct relationships to Hitler, adhering to a familiar National Socialist pattern of the leader-follower construct.[7] For the RSHA, its centrality within Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
was pronounced since departments like the Gestapo
(within the RSHA) were controlled by Himmler and his immediate subordinate SS- Obergruppenführer
and General of Police Reinhard Heydrich; they held the power of life and death for nearly every German and were essentially above the law.[8]

Reinhard Heydrich, the original chief of the RSHA, as an SS- Gruppenführer
in August 1940

Heydrich remained the RSHA chief until he was assassinated in 1942. In January 1943, Himmler delegated the office to SS-Obergruppenführer and General of Police Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who headed the RSHA until the end of World War II
World War II
in Europe.[9] The head of the RSHA was also known as the CSSD or Chef der Sicherheitspolizei
und des SD (Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service).[10][11] Organization[edit] According to British author Gerald Reitlinger, the RSHA 'became a typical overblown bureaucracy... The complexity of RSHA was unequalled... with at least a hundred sub-sections'.[12] The organization at its simplest was divided into seven offices (German: Ämter):[13][14]

Amt I, "Administration and Legal", originally headed by SS- Gruppenführer
Dr. Werner Best.[11] In 1940, he was succeeded by SS- Brigadeführer
Bruno Streckenbach. In April 1944, Erich Ehrlinger took over as department chief. Amt II, "Ideological Investigation", headed by SS-Brigadeführer Professor Franz Six.[11] Amt III, "Spheres of German Life" or the Inland-SD, headed by SS- Gruppenführer
Otto Ohlendorf, was the SS information gathering service for inside Germany.[11] It also dealt with ethnic Germans outside of Germany's prewar borders, and matters of culture. Amt IV, "Suppression of Opposition", formed from Abteilung II and III of the Gestapa (better-known by the "sobriquet" Gestapo),[15] headed by SS- Gruppenführer
Heinrich Müller.[16] SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann, one of the main architects of the Holocaust, was head of the Amt IV sub-department called Referat IV B4.[17] Amt V, "Suppression of Crime" Kriminalpolizei (Kripo), originally led by SS- Gruppenführer
Arthur Nebe[18] and later by SS-Oberführer Friedrich Panzinger.[19] This was the Criminal Police, which dealt with non-political serious crimes, such as rape, murder, and arson. Amt V was also known as the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt (Reich Criminal Police Department or RKPA). Amt VI, "Foreign Intelligence Service" or Ausland-SD, originally led by SS- Brigadeführer
Heinz Jost[18] and later by SS-Brigadeführer Walter Schellenberg. Amt VII, "Ideological Research and Evaluation" was a reconstitution of Amt II overseen by SS- Brigadeführer
Professor Dr. Franz Six.[20] Later it was headed by SS- Obersturmbannführer
Paul Dittel. It was responsible for "ideological" tasks. These included the creation of anti-semitic, anti-masonic propaganda, the sounding of public opinion and monitoring of Nazi indoctrination by the public.

The Gestapo
(Amt IV) and Kripo (Amt V), together constituted the Sicherheitspolizei
("Security Police") or SiPo. It was the SiPo that did most of the work of rounding up Jews, Romani people and others deemed to be enemies of the Reich, and deporting them to the concentration and extermination camps in German Occupied Poland and Ukraine. The RSHA also supplied security forces on an "as needed" basis to local SS and Police Leaders. After the escape of prisoners from Stalag Luft III in March 1944, for example, it was RSHA personnel who facilitated the " Stalag Luft III
Stalag Luft III
murders". During the earlier part of the fighting in the Soviet Union, the RSHA also had operational control of certain Waffen-SS
units which Himmler had withheld from the Army High Command (OKH); these units, the 1st and 2nd SS Infantry Brigades and the SS Cavalry Brigade, were formed from former Standarten of the Totenkopfverbände
or concentration camp service. Their role was not to serve in combat, except in emergencies, but to carry out "police and security operations" in occupied territories like the Einsatzgruppen. Role in the Holocaust[edit] The RSHA controlled the security services of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
and the Nazi Party (NSDAP). Its activities included intelligence-gathering, criminal investigation, overseeing foreigners, monitoring public opinion, and Nazi indoctrination. The RSHA was also "the central office for the extra-judicial NS (National Socialist) measures of terror and repression from the beginning of the war until 1945."[21] The list of "enemies" included Jews, Communists, Freemasons, pacifists, and Christian activists.[22] In addition to dealing with identified enemies, the RSHA advocated expansionist policies for the Reich and the Germanization of additional territory through settlement.[23] Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost
(General Plan East), which was the secret Nazi plan to colonize Central and Eastern Europe exclusively with Germans, displacing inhabitants in the process through genocide and ethnic cleansing in order to obtain sufficient Lebensraum, stemmed from officials in the RSHA, among other Nazi organizations.[24] According to German historian, Klaus Hildebrand, the RSHA was "particularly concerned with racial matters."[25] An order issued by the RSHA on 20 May 1941 overtly demonstrates its utter complicity for the systematic extermination of Jews, namely since the order included instructions to block emigration of any and all Jews
attempting to leave Belgium or France as part of the "imminent Final Solution
Final Solution
of the Jewish question."[26] Besides blocking emigration, the RSHA, working with Adolf Eichmann's Reich Association of Jews
in Germany, deliberately deceived Jews
still living in Germany and those of other countries by promising them good living quarters, medical care, and food in Theresienstadt (a concentration camp which was a way station to extermination facilities like Auschwitz) if they turned over their assets to the RSHA through a 'phony' home-purchase plan.[27] The RSHA oversaw the Einsatzgruppen, death squads that were formed under the direction of Heydrich and operated by the SS. Originally part of the SiPo, in September 1939 the operational control of the Einsatzgruppen
was taken over by the RSHA. When the units were re-formed prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the men of the Einsatzgruppen
were recruited from the SD, Gestapo, Kripo, Orpo, and Waffen-SS.[28] The units followed the invasion forces of the German Army into Eastern Europe. In its role as the national and NSDAP security service, the RSHA coordinated activities among a number of different agencies that had wide-ranging responsibilities within the Reich.[29] Not infrequently, commanders of Einsatzgruppen
and Einsatzkommando
sub-units were also desk officers from the main office of the RSHA.[30] Historian Raul Hilberg estimates that between 1941 and 1945 the Einsatzgruppen
and related auxiliary troops killed more than two million people, including 1.3 million Jews.[31] Part of the RSHA's efforts to encourage other nations (many of whom were occupied by the Germans) to hand over their Jews
or entice them into the arms of the Nazis, included coercing them by assigning Jewish advisory officials, all of which was part and parcel to Eichmann's goal of rounding up and transporting " Jews
from Slovakia and Hungary, Croatia and Romania."[32] Entry into the Second World War afforded the RSHA the power to act as an intermediary in the areas extended far beyond the Reich, which according to Hans Mommsen, lent itself to solving "emergency situations" and the RHSA's radicalized destructive goals like the Final Solution, were implemented thereupon with bureaucratic methodical cruelty as its power expanded.[33]

SS guards overseeing Jews
being rounded up in March 1943 during the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto.

Display on bus stop at the former site of Adolf Eichmann's office in Berlin
on Kurfurstenstrasse 115 (now occupied by a hotel building). After the foundation of the RSHA in September 1939, Eichmann became director of RSHA sub-section (Referat) IV D 4 (Clearing Activities, or Räumungsangelegenheiten) (1940), and, after March 1941, IV B 4 (Jewish Affairs, or Judenreferat). Both offices organized the deportation of Jews. From this position, Eichmann played a central role in the deportation of over 1.5 million Jews
from all over Europe to Nazi killing centers.[34]

See also[edit]

Glossary of Nazi Germany List of SS personnel OVRA – Fascist Italy's secret police, similar to the Gestapo SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt
(WVHA, the economic & administrative department of the SS) Red Orchestra – RSHA operations against a wartime Soviet espionage ring.

Explanatory notes[edit]

^ Reichssicherheitshauptamt is variously translated as "Reich Main Security Office", "Reich Security Main Office", "Reich Central Security Main Office", "Reich Security Central Office", "Reich Head Security Office", or "Reich Security Head Office".

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ Gellately, Robert (1991). The Gestapo
and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy, 1933-1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-820297-0. Retrieved June 20, 2009.  ^ Broszat 1981, p. 270. ^ Longerich 2012, pp. 201, 469, 470. ^ McNab 2013, p. 41. ^ Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (Washington, DC: U.S. G.P.O., 1946), p. 92. Also see Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Gestapo
and SD in AVALON Project, Yale University (retrieved 9 September 2014). ^ Bracher 1970, p. 353. ^ Williamson 2002, pp. 34, 35. ^ Shirer 1988, pp. 373, 374. ^ Rich 1992, p. 49. ^ Buchheim 1968, p. 173. ^ a b c d Höhne 2001, p. 256. ^ Reitlinger 1989, p. 138. ^ Buchheim 1968, pp. 172–187. ^ Weale 2012, pp. 140–144. ^ Weale 2012, p. 85. ^ Höhne 2001, pp. 256–257. ^ "Adolf Eichmann: Timeline". US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 23 December 2015.  ^ a b Höhne 2001, p. 257. ^ Friedlander 1997, p. 55. ^ Buchheim 1968, p. 174. ^ Zentner & Bedürftig 1991, p. 783. ^ Longerich 2012, p. 470. ^ Mazower (2009). Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe, pp. 204–211. ^ Dülffer (2009). Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
1933-1945: Faith and Annihilation, p. 157. ^ Hildebrand (1986). The Third Reich, p. 61. ^ Nürnberger Dokumente, NG-3104, as found in Bracher 1970, p. 426. ^ Bracher 1970, p. 427. ^ Longerich 2010, p. 185. ^ Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, "The Structure of Nazi Foreign Policy," in The Third Reich: The Essential Readings by Christian Leitz (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999), p. 86. ^ Burleigh (2001). The Third Reich: A New History, p. 599. ^ Rhodes (2002). Masters of Death: The SS- Einsatzgruppen
and the Invention of the Holocaust, p. 257. ^ Bracher 1970, p. 428. ^ Hans Mommsen, "Cumulative Radicalization and Self-Destruction of the Nazi Regime", in Gregor, ed. Nazism (Oxford Readers), p. 193. ^ "Holocaust Encyclopedia: Adolf Eichmann". US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 


Benz, Wolfgang. A Concise History of the Third Reich. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007. Bracher, Karl Dietrich (1970). The German Dictatorship: The Origins, Structure, and Effects of National Socialism. New York: Praeger.  Broszat, Martin (1981). The Hitler State: The Foundation and Development of the Internal Structure of the Third Reich. Harlow: Longmans. ISBN 978-0582489974.  Buchheim, Hans (1968). "The SS – Instrument of Domination". In Krausnik, Helmut; Buchheim, Hans; Broszat, Martin; Jacobsen, Hans-Adolf. Anatomy of the SS State. New York: Walker and Company. ISBN 978-0-00211-026-6.  Burleigh, Michael. The Third Reich: A New History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001. Dülffer, Jost. Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
1933-1945: Faith and Annihilation. London: Bloomsbury, 2009. Fischer, Klaus. Nazi Germany: A New History. New York: Continuum, 1995. Friedlander, Henry (1997). The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution. Univ of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0807846759.  Gregor, Neil, ed. Nazism. (Oxford Readers). New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Hildebrand, Klaus. The Third Reich. London & New York: Routledge, 1986. Hilberg, Raul (2003). The Destruction of the European Jews, Third Edition, Yale Univ. Press, 1961. Höhne, Heinz (2001). The Order of the Death’s Head: The Story of Hitler’s SS. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 978-0-14139-012-3.  Leitz, Christian, ed. The Third Reich: The Essential Readings. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1999. Longerich, Peter (2010). Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280436-5.  Longerich, Peter (2012). Heinrich Himmler: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-959232-6.  Mazower, Mark. Hitler’s Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe. New York: Penguin, 2009. McNab, Chris (2013). Hitler's Elite: The SS 1939–45. Osprey. ISBN 978-1-78200-088-4.  Office of US Chief of Counsel For Prosecution of Axis Criminality, ed. (1946). Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.  Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Reitlinger, Gerald (1989). The SS: Alibi of a Nation, 1922-1945. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0306803512.  Rhodes, Richard (2002). Masters of Death: The SS- Einsatzgruppen
and the Invention of the Holocaust. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-375-70822-7.  Rich, Norman (1992). Hitler's War Aims: Ideology, the Nazi State, and the Course of Expansion. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 978-0393008029.  Shirer, William L. (1988) [1961]. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Ballantine Books.  Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. Weale, Adrian (2012). Army of Evil: A History of the SS. New York: Caliber Printing. ISBN 978-0451237910.  Williamson, David G. (2002). The Third Reich (3rd ed.). London: Longman. ISBN 978-0582368835.  Zentner, Christian; Bedürftig, Friedemann (1991). The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. (2 vols.) New York: MacMillan Publishing. ISBN 0-02-897500-6. 

Further reading[edit]

Evans, Richard J. The Coming of the Third Reich. New York: Penguin, 2005. Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich in Power. New York: Penguin, 2006. Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich at War. New York: Penguin, 2009 [2008]. Wildt, Michael (2002). Generation of the Unbound: The Leadership Corps of the Reich Security Main Office, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem. ISBN 965-308-162-4. Wildt, Michael (2010). An Uncompromising Generation: The Nazi Leadership of the Reich Security Main Office. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. Williams, Max (2001). Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography. Vol. 1 Road To War. Church Stretton: Ulric Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9537577-5-6.  Williams, Max (2003). Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography. Vol. 2 Enigma. Church Stretton: Ulric Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9537577-6-3. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to RSHA.

Wiesenthal Centre – Reichssicherheitshauptamt

v t e



Allgemeine SS Totenkopfverbände
(SS-TV) Waffen-SS


Reichsführer-SS SS and police leader SS personnel SS commands


Julius Schreck Joseph Berchtold Erhard Heiden Heinrich Himmler Karl Hanke

Main departments

Personal Staff Reichsführer-SS SS Main Office Head Operational Office Reich Main Security Office
Reich Main Security Office
(RSHA) Economics and Administration Office Office of Race and Settlement (RuSHA) Main Office for Ethnic Germans (VOMI) Office of the Reich Commissioner for Germanic Resettlement (RKFDV) Courts Office Personnel Office Education Office

Ideological institutions

Ahnenerbe Das Schwarze Korps SS-Junkerschule Bad Tölz Lebensborn

Police and security services

Regular uniform police (Orpo) Schutzpolizei (Schupo) Criminal police (Kripo) Secret State police (Gestapo) State Security police (SiPo) SS Security Service (SD)

Führer protection

SS-Begleitkommando des Führers Reichssicherheitsdienst

Paramilitary units

Einsatzgruppen Schutzmannschaft Belarusian Auxiliary Police Latvian Police Battalions Ypatingasis būrys Lithuanian Security Police Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalions Rollkommando Hamann Arajs Kommando Ukrainian Auxiliary Police Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz Trawnikis Estonian Auxiliary Police Police Regiment Centre


Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT) Leibstandarte (LSSAH) SS Division Das Reich SS Division Totenkopf SS Polizei Division SS Division Wiking

Foreign SS units

Germanic-SS Germaansche SS in Nederland Germaansche SS in Vlaanderen Germanske SS Norge Schalburg Corps Britisches Freikorps S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A. Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS

SS-controlled enterprises

Ostindustrie Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke DEST Allach porcelain Apollinaris Mattoni Sudetenquell Anton Loibl

SS awards

SS Sword of Honour SS Honour Ring SS Honor Dagger

Ranks, uniforms and insignia

Uniforms and insignia of the SS Ranks and insignia of the Waffen-SS Ranks and insignia of the Orpo Corps colours of the Waffen-SS

v t e

and Einsatzkommandos



Reinhard Heydrich Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Commanders of Einsatzgruppen

Humbert Achamer-Pifrader Walther Bierkamp Horst Böhme Erich Ehrlinger Wilhelm Fuchs Heinz Jost Erich Naumann Arthur Nebe Otto Ohlendorf Friedrich Panzinger Otto Rasch Heinrich Seetzen Franz Walter Stahlecker Bruno Streckenbach

Commanders of Einsatzkommandos, Sonderkommandos

Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski Rudolf Batz Ernst Biberstein Wolfgang Birkner Helmut Bischoff Paul Blobel Walter Blume Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock Otto Bradfisch Werner Braune Friedrich Buchardt Fritz Dietrich Karl Jäger Friedrich Jeckeln Waldemar Klingelhöfer Wolfgang Kügler Walter Kutschmann Rudolf Lange Gustav Adolf Nosske Hans-Adolf Prützmann Walter Rauff Martin Sandberger Hermann Schaper Karl Eberhard Schöngarth Erwin Schulz Franz Six Eugen Steimle Eduard Strauch Martin Weiss Udo von Woyrsch

Other members

August Becker Lothar Fendler Joachim Hamann Emil Haussmann Felix Landau Albert Widmann


Viktors Arājs Herberts Cukurs Antanas Impulevičius Konrāds Kalējs Algirdas Klimaitis



SS RSHA SD Orpo 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz Sonderdienst


(Belarusian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian) Arajs Kommando Lithuanian Security Police Rollkommando Hamann TDA Ypatingasis būrys



Łachwa Ghetto Minsk Ghetto Slutsk Affair




Burning of the Riga synagogues Dünamünde Action Jelgava Pogulianski Rumbula Liepāja (Šķēde)


Ninth Fort Kaunas June 1941 Kaunas 29 October 1941 Ninth Fort
Ninth Fort
November 1941 Ponary


Operation Tannenberg Intelligenzaktion AB-Aktion Operation Reinhard


Gully of Petrushino Zmievskaya Balka Lokot Autonomy


Babi Yar Drobytsky Yar Drohobycz Kamianets-Podilskyi Lviv pogroms Mizocz Ghetto Odessa


The Black Book Commissar Order Einsatzgruppen
trial Generalplan Ost Jäger Report Korherr Report Special
Prosecution Book-Poland (Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen) Einsatzgruppen

Authority control