Theme: The police – dealing with its National Socialist past?

The politics of German police history – an introduction
by Wolf-Dieter Narr
The German police formed an essential part of the Nazi regime and its genocidal machinery. Today, this fact is generally accepted within the police, too. However, it remains without consequence, partly because the continuities in personnel have become obsolete with the death of former Nazi police officers. But also because the history of the police’s role in the National Socialist era is being treated as dead history, which makes the Federal Republic of Germany of today appear in bright light.

The brown roots of the Federal Crime Police Authority
Interview with Dieter Schenk
„The Federal Crime Police Authority (BKA) was set up by former Nazi criminals.“ This is the quintessence of the book by Dieter Schenk who, between 1981-1988, himself was a BKA employee (Blind on the right eye. The brown roots of the BKA, Cologne 2001). Schenk based his narrative on the comprehensive archive created by former BKA president Paul Dickopf, which was filed by the BKA administration in the Federal Archive in 1975, but with a lock-up period until 2000. In this interview, the author describes the resistance he encountered whilst researching this history: the BKA only recently started recognising its own past.

Old Charlottenburgers – a network in West-Germany
by Stephan Linck
Until the late-1960s, personnel politics and ideology of the West German Crime Police had been dominated by a network of officers who, in the late-1930s, graduated from the „Führer’s school of the security police“ in Berlin-Charlottenburg, followed by a career in the central office of the Reich’s Crime Police (Reichskriminalhauptamt). They succeeded, initially after 1945 under British rule in Schleswig-Holstein and then after 1949 within the BKA and in regional states, to climb the career ladder again and to hold leading positions, in which they continued applying National Socialist concepts in crime politics.

Blind spots – the use of „history“ within the police
by Michael Sturm
With their paramilitary training and equipment, riot police forces of the 1960s modelled themselves on the police squads of the Weimar Republic, in which their „patriarchs“ had fostered their careers. At the same time, former police chiefs of the Third Reich were allowed to spread the myth of the „clean public order police“ as an exemplary force that „fought partisans“ during the war. Although the police reforms of the 1970s led to a demilitarisation of riot police forces, they only recently started dealing with their Nazi past. This recognition, however, has not led to relevant reforms and demands for democratisation
The police as historian
by Martin Schauerhammer, Norbert Pütter and Jan Wörlein
Silencing, playing down and obscuring – until recently these methods were applied to the police’s own history writing with regard to its role during National Socialism. Celebratory texts written for decennial anniversaries as well as police officers‘ autobiographical contributions paint a shocking picture of ignorance.

Continuity and forgetting – Spain’s police after Franco
by Mikel Aramendi
After the death of the Caudillo, the reformers of Franco’s regime rejected all demands to dissolve the repressive apparatus and bring those responsible to justice. Moreover, important representatives of the „political-social brigades“, the political police of the regime, continued their careers after the „transición“. Their knowledge and methods, including torture, were now applied in the fight against terrorism. The politics of the PSOE-government – since 1982 under Felipe Gonzales – buried all hopes for a fundamental reform of the police apparatus. The marriage of convenience with Franco’s police force found its height in the para-police terrorism of the „grupos antiterroristas de liberación“ (GAL).

Non-theme contributions

The fruits of torture – on the trial against the DHKP-C
by Christina Clemm and Ulrich von Klinggräff
Since March 2008, five alleged members of the banned Turkish organisation DHKP-C are facing trial in the regional high court of Stuttgart. The prosecution accuses them of having supported terrorist activities in Turkey as members of a foreign terrorist association under Article 129b of the German Criminal code (§ 129b StGB). The trial centres around a dubious arms transport, which was allegedly carried out by a double agent. The public prosecution’s indictment is based on statements of witnesses and suspects that were made to the Turkish police, of which there is a high probability they were extracted with the use of torture.

European Football Championship 2008 in Austria
by Andrea Kretschmann
At the European Football Championship in Austria 2008, the advance creation of possible security risk scenarios served to introduce a series of restrictive legal measures and legitimated old and new forms of intervention during the games. Security concerns were not only used to extend European cooperation, but also to protect neo-liberal profit interests.

Oury Jalloh: a structural murder
by Wolf-Dieter Narr
On 7 January 2005, Oury Jalloh, an asylum seeker from Sierra Leone, burnt to death in a detention cell of the Dessau police whilst he was shackled to a mattress. In December 2008, the regional Dessau court cleared two police officers of the charge of negligence resulting in death. The serious criticisms that the judge made whilst presenting the reason for the judgement with regard to witnesses (almost all of who were police officers) lying throughout the trial, have now disappeared from the written judgement.