Introduction to Gestapo Articles
by Vincent Reynouard
Translated by C.W. Porter
The Actions of the German Police in Occupied France
This article is mainly based on four trials of “Gestapo Auxiliaries” held between 1944 and 1947 in France. The stenotyped records of these trials are available for consultation in their entirety at the Bibliothèque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine (BDIC), located at Nanterre (“fonds de reserve, côte generale”: F Res 334/…). For greater convenience, we will refer to them as follows:
Trial of the “Bonny-Lafon Gang”: PBL [procès Bony-Lafont].
Trial of the “Neuilly Gestapo”: PGN procès Gestapo de Neuilly].
Trial of the “French Gestapo Auxiliaries”: PAFG [procès des auxiliaries français du Gestapo].
Trial of the “Georgia Gestapo”: PGG [procès du Gestapo de Georgia].
In the first part of my study, I showed that, until 1939, far from being an instrument of terror, the Gestapo was a simple tool to protect the State against minority agitation. It didn’t need to create a national spy network; it didn’t need to send hundreds of thousands of people to concentration camps; and it didn’t need to institute a reign of terror -- for the good and simple reason that, starting in 1933, the immense majority of the German people followed Hitler voluntarily.
This is why the judges at Nuremberg declared the Gestapo a “criminal organization” starting in 1939 only. It was impossible to do otherwise, because there was so much evidence against any such proposition.
Of course, I can already hear the reply:
“Agreed, the Nuremburg Tribunal didn’t claim the Gestapo was a “criminal organization” before September 1939. Of course, it didn’t need to commit crimes because the German people accepted the Nazi dictatorship, of course. However, the German secret police revealed its true face during the war, when it spread terror in all the occupied countries, arresting and torturing people, shooting them, etc. At such times, it acted in conformity with the racist Hitlerian doctrine that everything which not purely German did not deserve to be considered human, and could therefore be degraded, humiliated, killed, with impunity… It was this Gestapo which was condemned during the trials. But the real culprit was Nazism, of which the Gestapo was only an instrument."
As the French prosecutor at Nuremberg, François de Menthon, put it:
"This doctrine necessarily brought Germany to a war of aggression and to the systematic use of criminality in the waging of war" [IMT V, 378]; or
“These crimes flow directly, like the war itself, from the National Socialist doctrine. This doctrine is indifferent to the moral choice of means to attain a final success, and for this doctrine the aim of war is pillage, destruction, and extermination [IMT V, 390].
“For this reason, all your hair-splitting about the starting point, the exact date, of Gestapo “illegality” – after which date the Gestapo was indeed “criminal” are pointless. We aren’t interested in hearing that Hitler treated his own people well. Hitlerism must be judged by the way it treated foreigners, that is, after 1 September 1939"…
As this objection is a very powerful one, I shall respond to it in several stages.
Excerpt from Vincent Reynouard Gestapo Articles
Summary of Gestapo Cases
Post-War French Gestapo Trials