Awards and Decorations of Nazi Germany were military, political and civilian decorations that were bestowed between and , first by the Nazi Party and later the state of Nazi Germany. The first awards began in the s, before the Nazis had come to national power in Germany , with the political decorations worn on Party uniforms, along with any awards they may have earned during the First World War or before. After , the state began issuing a variety of civilian decorations, which could be bestowed upon any citizen of Germany. Thus, some awards such as Sports Badges were bestowed on Nazi Party members, members of the German military, and regular civilians. Many standard awards of the German state, such as life-saving medals, were redesigned to incorporate the Nazi symbol, the swastika. A number of military awards were established pre-war, including Wehrmacht long service decorations, followed by awards for participation in the Spanish Civil War and for the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland , with the greatest number established after the start of World War II in
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These units were used to carry out plain-clothed security work in the field such as counter-espionage, counter-sabotage, detection of treasonable activities, counter-propaganda, protecting military installations and the provision of assistance to the German Army in courts-martial investigations. GFP personnel, who were also classed as Abwehrpolizei , operated as an executive branch of German military intelligence detecting resistance activity in Germany and occupied France.
They were also known to carry out torture and executions of prisoners. The need for a secret military police developed after the annexations of the Sudetenland in and Czechoslovakia in Although SS Einsatzgruppen units originally under the command of the Sicherheitspolizei Security Police; SiPo had been used during these operations,  the German High Command felt it needed a specialist intelligence agency with police functions. One that could operate with the military, but act like a security service to arrest potential opponents and eliminate any resistance.
The GFP was created on 21 July Although officially part of the Wehrmacht, its personnel were mainly recruited from the criminal branch of police officers who had been assigned to the armed forces. They were assigned the legal status of Wehrmachtsbeamte auf Kriegsdauer military officials for the duration of the war and retained the authority of other police agencies as well as the Sicherheitsdienst SD.
GFP agents could wear either civilian clothes or uniforms in the course of their duties. A GFP official was also entitled to pass through any military roadblocks or enter military buildings. They could also use military signals and communications equipment, commandeer military vehicles, procure military supplies and accommodation wherever necessary in execution of their duty. In occupied areas, the GFP also provided personal escort to military VIPs, assistance to state security agencies in counter espionage, interrogation of suspects, prevention of sabotage and the detection of enemy agents.
In practice, GFP activity depended on the region in which it was operating. Work in occupied northern and western Europe was markedly different from operations conducted on the Eastern Front. In the Netherlands , Denmark and Norway , GFP agents were mainly confined to the secret police protection of senior Wehrmacht officers. In Belgium and France , the GFP became an executive part of the civilian police service, working alongside the military authorities to combat acts of resistance, the British Special Operations Executive and sabotage using terror tactics such as detentions, deportations and the execution of hostages.
Despite their small numbers, the GFP constituted the "root" of the German police organ which terrorized the French people for four years of occupation. It ran the infamous Balard shooting range at Issy-les-Moulineaux in the 15e arrondissement which was used to torture and execute prisoners though at the hands of the SS rather than the GFP.
These units, which were part of the French police's intelligence service , specialised in tracking down so-called "internal enemies" e. The Special Brigades were based in room 35 of the Paris police headquarters. The Geheime Feldpolizei first began their pacification and security duties in following the Blitzkrieg into Poland , oftentimes directed by SS personnel since they were integrated into the administrative fold of the other police organizations under Heinrich Himmler's control.
Logistical support for these police units was frequently supplied by the local military commanders, which helped the GFP facilitate the process of transporting civilian prisoners "to places where they could be murdered. Throughout Eastern Europe and the Balkans , the GFP used constantly escalating terror against partisans , Jews and arbitrary "suspects". After some delay, since Groscurth wanted the decision to kill the children to come from his superiors in the Sixth Army, they were shot.
Joint pacification programs were carried-out in the Zhytomyr region of the Ukraine during the summer and fall of by combined units of SS and Wehrmacht Security Divisions. Participating in this campaign were Geheime Feldpolizei units , , and ; their mission included pacification of areas behind the front, protecting military installations as well as transportation routes.
Officers in the Red Army and commissars were handed over to the SD, while known Communist party members and Jews were used by the Wehrmacht to clear minefields. Anyone caught walking around and not promptly vouched-for by local authorities met a certain death as a result. Segments of doctrine about combating potential partisans, guidelines which directed the actions of both the SD and the Geheime Feldpolizei stated that, "The enemy must be completely annihilated…The constant decision between life and death for partisans and suspicious persons is difficult even for the hardest soldier.
It must be done. He acts correctly who fights ruthlessly and mercilessly with complete disregard for any personal surge of emotion. With the help of collaborators, the GFP also mounted operations to systematically burn down homes and entire villages.
The GFP was also responsible for summarily executing prisoners before they could be liberated by the advancing Red Army. From mid onwards, the GFP was ordered to track down and capture all deserters after some Wehrmacht soldiers in France and the Soviet Union had begun joining partisan groups. By , desertion rates rapidly rose following the major retreats of Operation Bagration and the Falaise pocket. But many troops were victims of increasingly confused rear areas where competing, often overlapping responsibilities of many military departments meant soldiers did not have the correct papers or were in the wrong locations.
Convicted soldiers were either shot or sent to Strafbattalione. The GFP also investigated any claims of defeatism talk in ordinary infantry. Another specialist unit called Gruppe was created to interrogate all Wehrmacht soldiers who had managed to escape from Soviet captivity. The general fear was that the NKVD may have "re-educated" these former captives to spread defeatism and anti-fascist propaganda see Wehrkraftzersetzung.
By , the camp held prisoners. The Geheime Feldpolizei was commanded by the Heerespolizeichef Chief of Army Police , who initially had the equivalent military rank of major. Subordinate to the Heerespolizeichef , but equivalent to the rank of major, was the Feldpolizeidirektor who was in charge of a GFP unit or Gruppe. On 24 July , the title of Heerespolizeichef was upgraded to the military rank of Oberst. All groups were fully motorized.
Their armaments were limited to light infantry weapons. In , the Luftwaffe was given its own version of GFP. This resulted in another reorganisation of the ranks structure. Although the GFP was a distinct military organisation, from its inception it generally carried out the same duties as the Gestapo and Kripo. Operations directed against populations in occupied countries employed methods similar to the SD and SS. This earned it the nickname " Gestapo der Wehrmacht ". Ironically at the end of the war, Heinrich Himmler , head of the SS , posed as a member of the GFP named Heinrich Hitzinger in an attempt to avoid capture, but unbeknownst to him, the GFP was on the Allied list of criminal organizations so he was detained at a checkpoint and later committed suicide while in British custody.
After the war, the police organizations of Nazi Germany like the Gestapo and the Order Police battalions were classified as criminal in their general disposition for the wide array of crimes they committed. Despite the fact that the GFP dealt with security matters within the occupied territory for the army, during which they committed war crimes and even crimes against humanity to a wide degree, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg could not prove it was part of the notorious Gestapo.
This meant the organization while under suspicion did not come "within the charge of criminality contained in the Indictment, except such members as may have been transferred to Amt IV of the RSHA or were members of organisations declared criminal by this Judgment. For a number of years, many former members of the GFP were able to return to a normal life, but this changed for some, as in April , a trial was conducted in Vitebsk against four former Soviet POWs who had previously been assigned to a Geheime Feldpolizei ; they had apparently taken part in the execution of "Soviet citizens" from through in Nevel, Polotsk, Smolensk, and Shumilino Vitebsk oblast.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with the Feldgendarmerie , the ordinary military police, or with the Geheime Staatspolizei Gestapo , the secret state police. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. See also: Carlingue and Milice. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.
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Orders, decorations, and medals of Nazi Germany