This book is an examination of the everyday operations of the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police. How were the Gestapo able to detect the smallest signs of non-compliance with Nazi doctrines, especially "crimes" pertaining to the private spheres of social, family and sexual life? How could the police enforce policies such as those designed to isolate the Jews, or the foreign workers brought to Germany after 1939, with such scrupulousness and apparent ease? A dictatorship can draw up new policies, formulate and issue decrees, and demand compliance, but how can it turn these schemes into reality? Robert Gellately argues that there was a three-way interaction between the police, the German people and the enforcement of policy; and that the key factor in the "successful" enforcement of Nazi racial policy was the willingness of German citizens to provide the authorities with information about suspected "criminality".
He does not charge the nation with collective guilt, but demonstrates that, without some degree of popular participation in the operations of institutions such as the Gestapo, the regime would have been seriously hampered in the realization of the unthinkable, not only inside Germany, but also in many of the occupied countries. Professor Gellately has mined German archives to produce case-studies of the city of Wuerzburg and the sorrounding district of Lower Franconia, in northern Bavaria, where rare Gestapo documents have survived. He also surveys the experiences of similar and different areas across Germany, drawing out national, as well as local and regional implications.
`Gellately's observations are valuable and disturbing.' Times Literary Supplement `well-written and scholarly ... This book deserves a wide readership because it helps redress the balance of much current research.' History Today `well-written and scholarly ... This book deserves a wide readership because it helps redress the balance of much current research.' History Today