The Security Service (SD) of the SS

Reinhard Heydrich had been head of the Security Service (SD) of the SS since 1931. The SD’s role was to conduct surveillance of internal and external opponents of the Nazi Party. In 1934 the SD became the Nazi Party’s sole intelligence service with its headquarters in the Prinz-Albrecht-Palais at Wilhelmstraße 102. The (top-level) SD sectors and SD external branches of the respective SS Senior Sectors were answerable to the SD Main Office, set up in 1935. A network of trusted V-Männer (secret agents) provided a flow of information to the central office which compiled regular “current status reports.”

In 1937 an exact division of tasks between the Gestapo and SD was drawn up, with the secret police executive functions reserved for the Gestapo. Heydrich, who headed the Gestapo as well as the SD, provided the guarantee for close cooperation between both institutions.

The intelligence activities were reflected, for example, in the “Reports from the Reich,” which reported to the Party leadership on the domestic political situation, particularly on the mood of the population. The SD also wrote reports on subjects such as the extent of corruption in German public bodies, particularly in the occupied territories.

Another major focus was the work of intelligence services abroad. One of the SD’s well-known operations, staged in cooperation with the Gestapo, was the fake attack on the radio station in Gleiwitz that gave Hitler the desired pretext to invade Poland.

The SD produced a series of SS leaders who played an “ideologically uncompromising” and especially radical leading role in the “final solution to the Jewish question,” primarily in the Einsatzgruppen (special mobile units) of the Security Police and SD in the occupied Soviet territories. Adolf Eichmann, the organizer of the deportations of the Jews throughout Europe to the extermination camps, was initially also a member of the SD.