Organisations of the totalitarian state
National flag (1933-1945) of the Third Reich
Hitler used a number of organisations to uphold and extend his control of Germany.
- The SS (Hitler's personal body guard). This organisation was made up of fanatical supporters of Hitler. Hitler used them as his execution squad to eliminate his opponents.
- The SD (Security Service) and Gestapo (Secret State Police). The SD had an army of informants and hunted down, and also often eliminated, opponents.
- The Police force and law courts. Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was also in charge of the police. This meant no-one investigated the crimes committed by the Nazis. Special 'people's courts' made sure that opponents of the Nazis charged with treason were found guilty, even if there was little or no evidence.
- Concentration camps. Established in 1933. Opponents of the Nazis and undesirable members of the population, such as Jews, Communists and gypsies, were sent to the camps without trial. The SS, Hitler's most loyal organisation, ran the camps.
- The army. After the murder of Rohm, the army pledged their loyalty to Hitler. His plans to rearm the forces and his expansionist foreign policy were popular with them.
The visible evidence of control, seen in flags, symbols and uniforms on the streets, together with the use of informants, made people very cautious. However, the system was not as efficient as it appeared, with security forces often reporting "grumbling" among workers but unable to do much about it.