Seminar: The Role of the Police in Nazi Germany

Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial, Centre for Historical Studies


Two-day seminar (6-7 hours each day)


In this two-day seminar, we discuss the function and self-image of the police in Nazi Germany and look at their participation in persecution and killings. Participants become familiar with the site of the former Neuengamme concentration camp and reflect on the role of the police in the Nazi camp system. We concentrate on the different types of people who were persecuted and talk about the mechanisms of persecution by looking at the biographies of police officers who took part in crimes or were arrested due to their resistance activities. Participants do independent research to find out who was responsible for what, how much room for manoeuvre individuals had, and what connections existed between the SS and the police. Other topics include how the judiciary and political system came to terms with the Nazi regime after the war and what were the reactions in international law. We not only look at the post-war Allied trials against perpetrators and the denazification (or lack thereof) of the public service; we also discuss how the international community reacted to the Nazi crimes with the ratification of the Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention in 1948. Working with selected themes, we look at human rights issues affecting police work today from a historical point of view. Possible topics include the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, preventive detention, and/or the treatment of Sinti and Roma and other social minorities. Police conduct under the Nazis is compared with police conduct today, and possible reasons for current human rights violations are discussed.



Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial, Centre for Historical Studies

Jean-Dolidier-Weg 75

21039 Hamburg

Phone: +49 40 – 4 28 13 522