chapter  5
OMNISCIENT, OMNIPOTENT, OMNIPRESENT? GESTAPO, SOCIETY AND RESISTANCE
ByKlaus-Michael Mallmann, Gerhard Paul
Pages 31

Ever since 1933, the Gestapo has been the ultimate symbol of that typically twentieth-century nightmare, the totalitarian police state. In the following article, Mallmann and Paul show, however, that the popular image of the Gestapo is a “myth” originally propagated by the Gestapo leaders themselves. After the war, historians perpetuated this myth of the “omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent” Gestapo by taking the Gestapo leaders’ statements of aims and ambitions as accurate reflections of everyday Gestapo practices. The “myth” of the Gestapo also gave the mass of ordinary Germans a convenient alibi; their failure to engage in serious resistance to the Nazi dictatorship could simply be seen as the inevitable consequence of the Gestapo’s awesome power.