, or Reichssicherheitshauptamt
(Reich Security Head Office), was a subordinate organization of the SS
. The RSHA was created by Heinrich Himmler
on September 22 1939
through the merger of the Sicherheitsdienst
(SD, or Security Agency), the Geheime Staatspolizei
, Secret State Police), and the Kriminalpolizei
(Criminal Police). The organization's stated duty was to fight all "enemies of the Reich" within and outside the borders of Nazi Germany
. Included within the rubric of "enemies" were Jews
and other "racially undesirables" as well as Communists
and other secret organization members such as Freemasons
; thus the RSHA coordinated activities among a number of different agencies with wide-ranging responsibilities.
The first director of the RSHA was SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, who led the organization until his assassination on June 4, 1942. SS-Obergruppenführer Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner replaced him for the remainder of World War II. The director of the RSHA oversaw the Einsatzgruppen death squads that followed the invasion forces of the German army into the eastern territories.
The actual RSHA acronym for its director was 'CSSD': Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD (Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service).
The organization was divided into seven offices (or Ämter):
- Amt I, Personnel and Organization, headed by SS-Brigadeführer Bruno Streckenbach
- Amt II, Administration, Law, and Finance, headed by SS-Standartenführer Dr. Hans Nockemann.
- Amt III, Inland-SD, headed by SS-Gruppenführer Otto Ohlendorf, which dealt with ethnic Germans outside of Germany's prewar borders, and matters of culture.
- Amt IV, Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo), headed by SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller. SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann, one of the main architects of the Holocaust, was head of the Amt IV section called Referat IV B4.
- Amt V, Kriminalpolizei (Kripo), under SS-Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe. This was the Criminal Police, which dealt with non-political serious crimes, such as rape, murder, and arson.
- Amt VI, Ausland-SD, led first by SS-Brigadeführer Heinz Jost, and later by SS-Brigadeführer Walter Schellenberg. This was the foreign intelligence service of the SS.
- Amt VII, Written Records, overseen by SS-Brigadeführer Professor Dr. Franz Six. This was responsible for "ideological" tasks, the creation of anti-semitic and anti-masonic propaganda.
Amt IV, the Gestapo, and Amt V, the Kripo, together constituted the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei — Sipo). It was the Sipo that did most of the work in rounding up Jews, Gypsies and other people 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.
- Hoehne, Heinrich: possibly the best single account: comprehensive & authoritative, yet still readable to the layperson:
- Der Orden unter dem Totenkopf: Die Geschichte der SS. (original).
- The Order of the Death's Head: The Story of Hitler's SS. (Engl. edition of the above).
- Wildt, Michael. Generation of the Unbound: The Leadership Corps of the Reich Security Main Office. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2002 (Engl., in original German, Hamburg: 2002). ISBN 9653081624.
- Hilberg, Raul. The destruction of the European Jews, Third Edition, (Yale Univ. Press, 2003, c1961).