Prinz Albrecht Strasse

In 1933, Hitler appointed Hermann Goering as president of Prussia. He became the head of Prussia’s police, which had its headquarters in Rote Burg at Alexanderplatz. In the same month, Goering founded a political police officer named Gestapa, Geheime State Police, which was shortened to GPA. Goering’s role model was the Soviet security police GPU, but since this abbreviation was far too similar to the GPU, the Gestapa changed its name to the Gestapo (Gehieme Statpolizei). The Gestapo became Goering’s own secret political police and independent of the interior ministry. To clarify that the Gestapo was independent from both the Prussian police and the interior ministry, Goring moved the Gestapo to a building on Prinz Albrecht Strasse in May 1933. However, some of the Gestapo subdivisions were relocated elsewhere in Berlin. In the spring of 1934, Goering felt threatened by the SA: s increasing desire for power. Goering then allied himself with Himmler and his SS who also grown strong. Goering appointed Himmler deputy chief and inspector of Prussia’s secret police (Gestapo) in April 1934, but in reality he was its chief.

At the outbreak of the war, the Gestapo became a division of the Reichs Central Security Agency. The head of the Gestapo was lawyer Heinrich Müller who before 1933 worked within the state of Bavaria’s political police where he led legal cases against Nazis. After Hitler’s accession to power, he served in SD where his skills and loyalty meant that he was promoted at a rapid pace. His knowledge of the methods of the Soviet security service made him indispensable. Between 1939 and 1945 he was the head of the Gestapo and went by the name of Gestapo-Muller. He was one of the most feared people both inside and outside Germany. As head of the Gestapo, he had a great responsibility to, among other things, arrest and sending Jews and political opponents to concentration camps. He disappeared in May 1945 and has never been officially found or identified and it may well be that his body was never found. The headquarters was heavily bombed at the end of the war.

Current status: Demolished with museum (2010).

Address: Niederkirchnerstrasse 8, 10963 Berlin.

Get there: Metro to Potsdamer Platz Station.

My comment:

In 1956, the ruins were blown up due to the building’s less glorious history and the land stood untouched for a long time, but in the early eighties it began to be cleaned up. The excavations of the site itself lasted for more than twenty years and has therefore been called somewhat viciously the Pompeii of Nazism. Among other things, the prison cells have been released on the basement level. It remains to be seen whether the archaeological excavations are complete. The design of the museum had also been preceded by an equally long and drawn-out history when it was completed in 2010. The gestapo has (rightly indeed) become a concept so strongly associated with Nazism that we often talk about it as if it were a police department over everything else. But this is incorrect, in reality the Gestapo had many times a subordinate role or had neither more nor less power than any other department within Reichs Central Security Agency (RSHA). RSHA was in turn one of several departments within the SS organization. The posterity has given the Gestapo more power and influence than it ever could have wished for when it went.

Follow up in books: Höhne, Heinz: The Order of the Death’s Head: The story of Hitler’s SS (1969).