Kriminalpolizei (Nazi Germany)

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Schutzstaffel Abzeichen.svg
Agency overview
Formedc. 1872
Superseding agency
TypeCriminal Police
JurisdictionGermany Germany
Occupied Europe
HeadquartersRSHA, Prinz-Albrecht-Straße, Berlin
52°30′26″N 13°22′57″E / 52.50722°N 13.38250°E / 52.50722; 13.38250
Employees12,792 c. February 1944[1]
Minister responsible
Agency executives
Parent agencySicherheitspolizei (SiPo)
Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA)
Allgemeine SS

Kriminalpolizei (English: Criminal Police), often abbreviated as Kripo, is the German name for a criminal investigation department. This article deals with the agency during the Nazi era.

In Nazi Germany, the Kripo consisted of the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt (Reich Criminal Police Department; RKPA), which in September 1939 became Department V of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA). The Kripo had directly subordinated criminal investigation centers (Kripo-Leitstellen and Kripo-Stellen), as well as the criminal investigation divisions of the local state (Staatliche Kriminalabteilungen) and municipal police departments (Gemeindekriminalpolizeiabteilungen). In 1943 both the latter became directly subordinated to the criminal investigation centers. The personnel consisted of detectives in the Junior Criminal Investigation Career, the Executive Criminal Investigation Career, and the Female Criminal Investigation Career.


After Adolf Hitler took office in January 1933, the Nazis began a programme of "coordination" of all aspects of German life, in order to consolidate the Nazi Party's hold on power.[2] In July 1936, the Prussian central criminal investigation department (Landeskriminalpolizeiamt) became the central criminal investigation department for Germany, the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt (RKPA). It was combined, along with the secret state police, the Geheime Staatspolizei or Gestapo into two sub-branch departments of the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo), which had a central command office known as the Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei.[3] Reinhard Heydrich was in overall command of the SiPo, including its central command office.[3][4] Arthur Nebe was appointed head of the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt, and reported directly to Heydrich.[5]

In September 1939, the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office; RSHA) was created as the overarching command organization for the various state investigation and security agencies.[6] The Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei was officially abolished and its departments were folded into the Reich Main Security Office. The Reichskriminalpolizeiamt became Amt V (Department 5), the Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police) in the RSHA.[6] It was commanded by Nebe until the summer of 1944, when he was denounced and executed subsequent to the failed 20 July plot to kill Hitler. In the last year of its existence, Amt V was commanded by Friedrich Panzinger who answered directly to Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the head of the Reich Main Security Office after Heydrich's assassination in 1942.[5][7]

The Kriminalpolizei mostly consisted of plainclothes detectives and agents, and worked in conjunction with the Gestapo, the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo; uniformed police) and the Geheime Feldpolizei.[3][8] The policy directives came from the SS-Hauptamt and after 1940, the SS Führungshauptamt. The Kripo was organized in a hierarchical system, with central offices in all towns and smaller cities. These, in turn, answered to headquarters offices in the larger German cities which answered to Amt V in Berlin.[9]

Kripo researchers measure a Sinti boy's head in anthropological studies of criminals, Stuttgart in 1938

The Kriminalpolizei was mainly concerned with serious crimes such as rape, murder and arson. A main area of the group's focus was also on "blackout burglary," considered a serious problem during bombing raids when criminals would raid abandoned homes, shops and factories for any available valuables. The Kripo was also one of the sources of manpower used to fill the ranks of the Einsatzgruppen and several senior Kripo commanders, Arthur Nebe among them, were assigned as Einsatzgruppen commanders. The Einsatzgruppen’s mobile killing units were active in the implementation of the Final Solution, in the territories overrun by the Nazi war machine; which culminated in the Holocaust.[10]

As part of the Nazi doctrines on crime and race, the Rassenhygienische und Bevolkerungsbiologische Forschungsstelle (English: Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit) headed by psychiatrist and medical doctor Robert Ritter, was attached to the Kripo. Its role was to create racial profiles of non-Aryans, in particular, Roma. Both the Gestapo and the Kripo deferred their policies and guidelines to the criminal biology department on how to deal with "Gypsies".[11] The Kripo aided in the round ups of Roma and their deportations to concentration camps and extermination camps.


The official mission of Amt V was to:[12]

  • Standardize criminological methods and equipment
  • Apply scientific research and experience in the investigation and prevention of crime
  • Conduct criminological training
  • Provide data for policy decisions and legislation
  • Nationalize police surveillance
  • Maintain a national criminal register
  • Investigate severe crimes


In 1945 Amt V had the following bureaus:[12]

Bureau Responsibility Tasks
V A Criminal policy and preventions Legal affairs, international cooperation, research, crime prevention, female detectives
V B Operations Serious violent crimes, fraud, sexual crimes
V C Registration and surveillance War surveillance, surveillance technology, canine service
V D Forensics Identification, chemical and biological laboratory examinations, document studies, technical workshops
V Wi Economic crimes Crimes against the war economy, war profiteering, corruption, business crimes

Field Organization[edit]

Field Organization 1939–1943[edit]

Level Agency Organizational Subordination
Regional Kriminalpolizei-Leitstelle
criminal investigation department control center
Amt V
Regional Kriminalpolizei-Stelle
criminal investigation department center
Amt V
Local Staatliche Kriminalabteilung
state criminal investigation division
State Police Commmissioner
Local Gemeindekriminalpolizei-Abteilung
municipal criminal investigation division
Municipal Police Commmissioner

Towns with over 10,000 residents having a municipal police department were obliged to have a municipal criminal investigation division (Gemeindekriminalpolizeiabteilung). It was supervised by the nearest Kripo-Stelle.[12]

Field Organization 1943–1945[edit]

From 1943 all municipal criminal investigation divisions with over ten detectives, i.e. mainly in towns with over 50,000 inhabitants, were transferred to the state criminal police. Local state criminal investigations divisions were henceforth not subordinated to the local state police commissioner.[12]

Level Agency Organizational Subordination
Regional Kriminalpolizei-Leitstelle
criminal investigation department control center
Amt V
Regional Kriminalpolizei-Stelle
criminal investigation department center
Amt V
Local Kriminalpolizei-Aussendiensstelle
criminal investigation department field office
nearest Kripo-Leitstelle or Kripo-Stelle
Local Kriminalpolizei-Aussenposten
criminal investigation department outposts
nearest Kripo-Leitstelle, Kripo-Stelle or Kripo-Aussendienststelle

In 1944 there were 22 Kripo-Leitstellen with 150-250 detectives under an Oberregierungs- und Kriminalrat; 44 Kripo-Stellen with 80-120 detectives under a Regierungs- und Kriminalrat or Kriminaldirektor; and 698 Kripo-Aussendienstellen and Kripo-Aussenpost, of which the latter per definition had less than ten detectives.[12]


There were two separate detective careers: the junior criminal investigation career (einfacher Vollzugsdienst) and the executive criminal investigation career (leitender Vollzugsdienst).[13][14] There were also a female criminal investigation career (weibliche Kriminalpolizei).[15]

Employment and training[edit]

Junior Criminal Investigation Career[edit]

A detective trainee had to be a policeman in the Ordnungspolizei or a soldier in the Waffen-SS with the rank of SS-Unterscharführer or above, having served at least 4 ½ years, and not be older than 24 years. The Kriminalassistentanwärter (detective trainee) began his training as an intern for 12 months, followed by a 12 months course at the Kriminalfachschule (Criminal investigation college) in Berlin-Charlottenburg. After the college came a 12 months period as probationary detective (Kriminalassistent aus Probe). First employment was as apl. Kriminalassistent (supernumerary detective) until a billet was free and he could be appointed to a permanent position as Kriminalassistent.[13]

Executive Criminal Investigation Career[edit]

Externally recruited senior detective trainees (Kriminalkommissaranwärter) must have taken the general university entrance exam (Abitur) and been selected through a special selection procedure (Ausleselager).[13] Internally recruited senior detective trainees came from the lower ranks of the Ordnungspolizei or from the junior criminal investigation career. They were selected through a civil service exam. The training began with a 12 months internship, followed by a 9 months course at the Führerschule der Sicherheitspolizei in Berlin-Charlottenburg. The trainee was then promoted to Hilfskriminalkommissar; normally he was within a few days given a six months probationary appointment as Kriminalkommissar auf Probe, before being promoted to außerplanmäßigen Kriminalkommissar as a supernumerary.[16]

Female Criminal Investigation Career[edit]

According to regulations issued by the Reich Main Security Office in 1940, women that had been trained in social work or having a similar education could be hired as female detectives. Female youth leaders, lawyers, business administrators with experience in social work, female leaders in the Reichsarbeitsdienst and personnel administrators in the Bund Deutscher Mädel were hired as detectives after a one-year course if they had several years professional experience. Later also nurses, kindergarten teachers and trained female commercial employees with an aptitude for police work were hired as female detectives after a two-year course. After two years as Kriminaloberassistentin promotion to Kriminalsekretärin could take place, after another two or three years in that grade the female detective could be promoted to Kriminalobersekretärin. Further promotions to Kriminalkommissarin and Kriminalrätin was also possible.[15]

Grade and pay[edit]

Pay Grade[17] Annual Pay
Reichsmark (RM)[17]
Grade in the einfachen Vollzugsdienst
Grade in the leitenden Vollzugsdienst
Corresponding rank in the SS
A8c2 2,160-2,340 Kriminalassistent SS-Oberscharführer
2,000-3,000 Kriminaloberassistent SS-Hauptscharführer
A7a 2,350-3,500 Kriminalsekretär SS-Untersturmführer
A5b 2,300-4,200 Kriminalobersekretär
A4c2 2,800-5,000 Kriminalinspektor SS-Obersturmführer
A4c1 2,800-5,300 Kriminalkommissar
with more than three years in the grade
A3b 4,800-7,000 Kriminalrat
with more than three years in the grade
A2d 4,800-7,800 Kriminaldirektor
A2c2 4,800-8,400 Regierungs- und Kriminalrat
A2b 7,000-9,700 Oberregierungs- und Kriminalrat SS-Obersturmbannführer
A1b 6,200-10,600 Regierungs- und Kriminaldirektor SS-Standartenführer

Mean annual pay for an industrial worker was 1,459 Reichsmark in 1939, and for a privately employed white-collar worker 2,772 Reichsmark.

Rank insignia[edit]

Male personnel
Sicherheitspolizei Rank insignia Sicherheitsdienst
SS-Obersturmfuehrer collar.jpg
SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer collar.jpg
SS-Sturmbannfuehrer collar.jpg
Regierungs- und Kriminalrat
Oberregierungs- und Kriminalrat
SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer collar.jpg
Regierungs- und Kriminaldirektor
SS-Standartenfuehrer collar.jpg
SS-Oberfuehrer collar.jpg
Female personnel
Insignia [19] [20] Ranks in the Female
Criminal Investigation Career [15]
None.svg Kriminalrätin
None.svg Kriminalkommissarin
None.svg Kriminalobersekretärin
None.svg Kriminalsekretärin
None.svg Kriminaloberassistentin



  1. ^ Robert Gellately. The Gestapo and German Society. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
  2. ^ McNab 2009, p. 14.
  3. ^ a b c Williams 2001, p. 77.
  4. ^ Weale 2010, pp. 134, 135.
  5. ^ a b Friedlander 1995, p. 55.
  6. ^ a b Weale 2012, pp. 140–144.
  7. ^ Weale 2012, p. 149.
  8. ^ Weale 2012, pp. 133, 134, 140–144.
  9. ^ Gerwarth 2011, p. 163.
  10. ^ McNab 2009, pp. 113, 123, 124.
  11. ^ Samuel Totten; William S. Parsons; Israel W. Charny (2006-06-30). Century of genocide.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g The German Police, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force: Evaluation and Dissemination Section (G-2), 1945, pp. 64–78.
  13. ^ a b c Der Reichsführer SS, Dich ruft die SS (Berlin: Hermann Hillger KG, 1942)
  14. ^ Jens Banach, "Polizei im NS-System - Ausbildung und Rekrutierung in der Sicherheitspolizei", Hans Jürgen Lange (ed.), Die Polizei der Gesellschaft: Zur Soziologie der inneren Sicherheit, 2003, p. 64.
  15. ^ a b c Sieglinde Ahlers, "Frauen in der Polizei", Vorlesungsreihe zur Geschichte von Frauen in Duisburg im Rahmen des 7. Duisburger Frauenforums DonnAwetter 1995, p. 34 Retrieved 2015-06-24.
  16. ^ GELZENZENTRUM Die geheime Staatspolizei - Gestapo Retrieved 2015-06-24.
  17. ^ a b c d e Siegfried Beer, "Die Gestapostelle Linz, 1938–1945. Eine dokumentarische Rekonstruktion auf Basis der Recherchen des amerikanischen Militärgeheimdienstes CIC/MIS aus dem Jahre 1946." Klaus Luger/Johann Mayr (ed.), Stadtgesellschaft. Werte und Positionen. Bürgermeister Franz Dobusch zum 60. Geburtstag gewidmet (Linz 2011): 315–356.
  18. ^ Andrew Mollo, Uniforms of the SS, Vol. 5: "Sicherheitsdienst und Sicherheitspolizei 1931–1945", 1971.
  19. ^ Mollo, Andrew (1992). Uniforms of the SS. Vol. 5: Sicherheitsdienst und Sicherheitspolizei 1931-1945. London, p. 40.
  20. ^ "Uniformy SS/SD/Gestapa" (in Czech). Retrieved 29 April 2019.