The Gestapo was the most feared instrument of political terror in the Third Reich, brutally hunting down and destroying anyone it regarded as an enemy of the Nazi regime: socialists, Communists, Jews, homosexuals, and anyone else deemed to be an 'anti-social element'. Its prisons soon became infamous - many of those who disappeared into them were never seen again - and it has been remembered ever since as the sinister epitome of Nazi terror and persecution.
But how accurate is it to view the Gestapo as an all-pervasive, all-powerful, all-knowing instrument of terror? How much did it depend upon the cooperation and help of ordinary Germans? And did its networks extend further into the everyday life of German society than most Germans after 1945 ever wanted to admit?
Answering all these questions and more, this book uses the very latest research to tell the true story behind this secretive and fearsome institution. Tracing the history of the organization from its origins in the Weimar Republic, through the crimes of the Nazi period, to the fate of former Gestapo officers after World War II, Carsten Dams and Michael Stolle investigate how the Gestapo really worked - and question many of the myths that have long surrounded it.