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The Nazi secret police or Geheime Staatspolizei. In 1933 Hermann Goering reorganized the Prussian plain-clothes political police as the Gestapo. In 1934 control of the force passed to Himmler, who had restructured the police in the other German states, and headed the SS or Schutzstaffel. The Gestapo was effectively absorbed into the SS and in 1939 was merged with the SD or Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service), the intelligence branch of the SS, in a Reich Security Central Office under Reinhard Heydrich. The powers of these organizations were vast: any person suspected of disloyalty to the regime could be summarily executed. The SS and the Gestapo controlled the concentration camps and set up similar agencies in every occupied country.

Subjects: World History.

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