Module P: Police Officers as Perpetrators and Victims in the Concentration Camp System
Police officers in training or further education and information disseminators from police academies
Themes and goals
This module is part of the seminar The Role of the Police under the Nazis. By taking a closer look at the police officers who were perpetrators or victims of the concentration camp system, participants learn about how police officers were not only active participants in the apparatus of Nazi persecution; some of them were also opponents of the regime.
On the one hand, police officers served as guards – for instance, in the satellite camps of Neuengamme concentration camp – starting in 1944. The Fuhlsbüttel prison and the Wilhelmsburg labour re-education camp (Arbeitserziehungslager) were also under police control. This means that police officers were involved in persecution at many levels: they performed arrests, they acted as guards, and they worked in the administration of the camps. Officers of the Gestapo (the secret state police) in particular were responsible for combatting alleged political opponents, homosexuals, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses and/or foreign forced labourers and were also deployed at the Neuengamme concentration camp.
On the other hand, police officers were also victims of Nazi persecution. German police officers who were regarded as politically unreliable, who were Democrats or had left-leaning political views were dismissed and arrested. Foreign police officers who were members of resistance groups (or were merely accused of this), who supported Jews, or who were regarded as a threat to German occupation could also be arrested and imprisoned in German concentration camps.
The goal of this module (which can serve as an addendum to module B) is to portray a more nuanced portrait of the police under the Nazis.