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Reichssicherheitshauptamt - this page is a stub

During World War II (WWII), Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Main Office), abbreviated RSHA, was an intelligence and security organisation subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacity as Chef der Deutschen Polizei (Chief of German Police) and Reichsführer-SS, head of the Schutzstaffel (SS) of the Nazi party. The organisation was established on 27 September 1939 and had the task to fight all 'enemies of the Reich', inside and outside the borders of Nazi Germany.

Following the defeat of Germany in 1945, the tribunal at the Nuremberg trials officially declared the RSHA a criminal organisation. This included the SD, the Gestapo and branches of the SS [2].

Spy radio sets used by the RSHA/SD
Suitcase spy radio set (dubbed RSHA/SD radio, as the official name is unknown)
 Other German spy radio sets

When the RSHA was founded in 1939, it absorbed the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) – the Nazi Party's security service – and the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) – the state's security service. The latter con­sisted of the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) – the Secret State Police – and the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo) – the Criminal Police. It brought the entire security aparatus under control of Himmler and his subordinate SS-Obergruppenführer and Police General Reinhard Heydrich [1]. The RSHA was essentially 'above the law' and held the power of life and death for nearly every German citizen.

In February 1944, following the Frau Solf Tea Party 1 incident [3], the military intelligence service — the Abwehr — was dissolved by Adolf Hitler. Its activities were taken over by the RSHA were, in July 1944, it was absorbed by Amt VI – Sicherheitsdienst SD-Ausland.

 More about the Abwehr

  1. Also known as the Solf-Kreis (Solf Circle).  Wikipedia

Offices   Ämter
  1. Administration and legal
  2. Ideological investigation
  3. Sicherheitsdienst SD-Inland
  4. Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo)
  5. Kriminalpolizei (Kripo)
  6. Sicherheitsdienst SD-Ausland — Foreign Intelligence Service
  7. Ideological Research and Evaluation
Sicherheitsdienst   SD
The Sicherheidsdienst (SD), officially known as the Sicherheitsdienst des Reischsführers-SS, 1 was the intelligence and security organisation of the SS and of Hitler's political party, the NSDAP (Nazi Party). Established in 1931 2 it was considered a sister organisation of the Gestapo (1933).

In 1939, the SD was transferred to the RSHA, under control of Reinhard Heydrich, and was split into two operational units. The homeland security branch became RSHA Amt III and was called SD-Inland. The foreign intelligence branch became RSHA Amt VI and was called SD-Ausland.

Following the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the tribunal at the Nuremberg trials officially declared the SD a criminal organisation, along with the rest of the RSHA (including the Gestapo).

  1. Security Service of the Commander of the Schutzstaffel (SS).
  2. Originally known as Ic-Dienst (Intelligence Service), it was renamed SD in the summer of 1932.

Havelinstitut (Havel Institute) was the cover name of the secret RSHA/SD signals centre at Berlin-Wannsee. [4]

At the end of WWII, Germany became an occupied country under control of the Allied Forces, in particular of the United States. In 1946, the first post-war Germany intelligence service was established under the name Organisation Gehlen (OG). Headed by former Wehrmacht General Major Reinhard Gehlen, the organisation drew heavily on former personnel of the Abwehr, the RSHA and the military intelligence service Fremde Heere Ost (FHO) — Foreign Armies East.

The diagram above shows the history of the RSHA in a wider context. The organisation was established in 1939 at the start of WWII, and eventually absorbed the Abwehr. Together with the FHO it was dissolved into the new established Organisation Gehlen (OG) at the end of the war. In 1956, the OG became the current Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

  1. Wikipedia, Reich Security Main Office
    Visited 12 March 2022.

  2. Wikipedia, Sicherheitsdienst
    Visited 12 March 2022.

  3. Wikipedia, Solf Circle
    Visited 5 May 2022.

  4. Havelinstitut - Die Funkzentrale des Auslandsnachrichtendienstes des RSHA (SD Amt VI)
    Rudolf Staritz et al., January 1997. Personal notes (German).
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