How important were spies during World War II

Observation and surveillance during National Socialism The SD security service of the SS

Heinrich Himmler, as "Reichsführer SS" one of the most powerful men in the NSDAP, had the idea of ​​establishing a party intelligence service. Even before the National Socialists came to power in 1931, the "SD", the security service within the Schutzstaffel (SS), was founded. Just a year later, Reinhard Heydrich took over the leadership of the SD and, after taking power, made it an important pillar of National Socialist terror.

Tasks of the SD

One of the most important tasks of the SD was to monitor political opponents, parties and currents - but also to monitor and combat opposition movements within the NSDAP. As soon as the opponents were exposed, the Secret State Police (Gestapo) began to fight them with all possible means. Heydrich, who quickly also became head of the Gestapo, ensured that this division of labor, clearly defined by Himmler, worked across the Reich under the two state terrorist instruments.

Reinhard Heydrich quickly realized how important a nationwide network of informants (informants) was for the new rulers - especially in rural regions where there were no Gestapo offices. The informants were the "eyes and ears" of the persecution apparatus and penetrated the empire into the smallest villages. The observations they recorded in writing went straight to the headquarters in Berlin; they were the basis for the "reports from the Reich", which kept the Nazi leadership informed about the current domestic political situation. It was particularly important to closely observe the mood in the population.

Original V-Mann index in the Dresden archive

Who were the men who spied on neighbors and friends, colleagues and acquaintances and whose reports were so significant for Himmler, Goebbels and Co.? Where did they come from Answers to these questions can be found in Dresden, in the Saxon Main State Archives. A unique card index consisting of 2,746 person cards is stored there. It is the surviving original V-Mann file of the security service for Saxony. It provides information about who was watching whom and when. The card index, which is maintained with meticulous thoroughness, names the informants' names, occupations and places of residence, and contains reports and assessments from superiors. And it shows that the SD and its informants penetrated all social classes.

Security service as an elite

Carsten Schreiber, who wrote a book about this unique source, knows how the SD recruited more and more informants:

The security service has always seen itself as a kind of elite, and especially in Saxony it has been advertising it very strongly. 'Come to us. The NSDAP is corrupt, depraved, proletarian. We are the real National Socialists. Those who keep the real core. ' But the real core was - you can see that very clearly, that was racism and anti-Semitism. "

Carsten Schreiber

For the Saxon city of Stollberg, for example, a teacher, a bank director, a judge at the district court or a shoe factory owner are named as informants. In Crimmitschau, the journalist Heinz Ulrich wrote not only for newspapers, but also for the SD. He was 22 years old when in 1934 he began to diligently compile reports on his fellow citizens - voluntarily, of course. An assessment of these reports by his superiors reads:

Ulrich was also the one who convinced the police and the judiciary in 1935 that the Jewish doctor Dr. Boaz racial disgrace etc. Based on the material submitted by Ulrich, Boas was immediately taken into protective custody.

Heinz Ulrich