Organising the extermination: the ‘Reich Main Security Office’
In 1936 Himmler became chief of the German police, which then merged with the SS. The Kriminalpolizei [Criminal Police] and the Geheime Staatspolizei [Gestapo] were amalgamated into the ‘Sicherheitspolizei’ [‘Security Police’].
In September 1939 the ‘Reichssicherheitshauptamt’ (RSHA) [‘Reich Main Security Office’] was established by merging the ‘Sicherheitspolizei’ with the ‘Sicherheitsdiens’t (SD) [‘Security Service’] of the Nazi Party. This centre of power at the heart of the SS state under Reinhard Heydrich was responsible for the persecution and extermination of millions of people. The main office responsible for bureaucratically organising the genocide of the Sinti and Roma was Amt V (Reichskriminalpolizeiamt) [Department V (Reich Criminal Police Department)]. Answerable to the RSHA were the commanders of the ‘Einsatzgruppen’ [‘death squads’] that operated behind the eastern front and carried out systematic mass executions of Jews, Roma, Communist functionaries and other groups identified as ‘enemies of the Reich’.
01 | Organizational chart of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office)
02 | The top echelon of the ‘Reich Main Security Office’ at a meeting on 9 November 1939 (from left: Franz Josef Huber/Chief of the Vienna Gestapo; Arthur Nebe/Chief of Department V; Heinrich Himmler/Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police; Reinhard Heydrich/Chief of the RSHA; Heinrich Müller/Chief of Department IV) ullstein bild – ullstein bild, […]
03 | Staff at the ‘Reich Central Office for Combating the Gypsy Nuisance’, 28 May 1942 Berlin State Archives, F Rep 290/0410224
04 | As Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police, Heinrich Himmler (1900–1945) was one of the main people responsible for the genocide of the Sinti and Roma. Federal Archives, photo 102-15282 (detail), photographer: Georg Pahl
05 | As Chief of the ‘Reich Main Security Office’ and in his capacity as Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich (1904–1942) was centrally involved in the policy of extermination directed against the Sinti and Roma. Federal Archives, photo 146-1969-054-16, photographer: Heinrich Hoffmann
06 | As head of the sub-department Referat IV B 4, Adolf Eichmann (1906–1962) organised the deportation of the Jews. He was also responsible for the deportation of Sinti and Roma to the Łódź ghetto. Federal Archives
07 | Arthur Nebe (1894–1945) was Chief of Department V of the ‘Reich Main Security Office’, which played a pivotal role in the registration of the Sinti and Roma and their deportation to concentration and extermination camps. As commander of ‘Einsatzgruppe B’ [‘Death Squad B’], Nebe was also responsible for the murder of Roma in […]
08 | Werner Best (1903–1989) was a leading theoretician and organiser of the SS and police apparatus. He was head of Department I at the ‘Reich Main Security Office’ (Administration and Law, later renamed Department II). Federal Archives, RuSHA, W. Best
09 | Otto Ohlendorf (1907–1951) was head of Department III at the ‘Reich Main Security Office’; from June 1941 to June 1942 he was commander of ‘Einsatzgruppe D’ [‘Death Squad D’], which murdered thousands of Sinti and Roma in Ukraine and the Crimea. Federal Archives, RuSHA, O. Ohlendorf
10 | Adolf Eichmann during his trial in Jerusalem in 1961. His complicity in organising the genocide of the Sinti and Roma constituted a separate charge. Photo No.: 10009864 bpk
11 | From the sentence passed against Adolf Eichmann