The Geheime Staatspolizei, known by its more infamous abbreviated name The Gestapo, was the official Secret State Police sanctioned and used by Nazi Germany throughout German-occupied Europe.
It was created by Hermann Goring in 1933 when the executive and judicial branches of government were combined into one. Officially launched on 20 April 1934, the force was led and administered by SS national leader Heinrich Himmler who was later appointed Chief of German Police in 1936 by Hitler.
Many historians have debunked the “popular” image of the Gestapo with spies everywhere terrorizing German society as a myth cooked up after the war as a mask for the German populace’s widespread complicity in allowing the Gestapo to commit its atrocities.
Ruthless in their work, the Gestapo’s normal methods of investigation included various forms of blackmail, threats, and extortion to secure “confessions”. Techniques such as sleep deprivation and various forms of harassment were also used as investigative methods. If all else failed torture and planted evidence were common methods used to resolve cases, especially if the accused were Jewish.
Throughout France, the Gestapo worked in conjunction with and were assisted by the Milice Francaise (French Militia), more commonly referred to as the Milice.
The Milice was a paramilitary force created on January 30, 1943, by the Vichy regime (with German aid) to fight the French Resistance during WWII. Participating and sanctioning executions and assassinations, the Milice helped round up Jews and resistants throughout France for deportation.
Like the Gestapo, the Milice frequently employed torture techniques to extract information and confessions from suspects and persons of interest. The French Resistance considered the Milice much more dangerous than the Gestapo and SS however because they were native Frenchmen who understood local French dialects fluently and knew the towns and countryside just as intimately and maintained a large network of local people and informants to conduct its work.
These chambers reveal the horrors that took place beneath the Eiffel Tower.