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The secret police and informer became the major enemies of the local resistance movement. The importance of their co-operation gained on importance with every low number of members of each office of the secret police. In Pardubice and Hradec Králové there was a dangerous informing organisation called Aryan work front which was a threat to the Silver A group.

Shortly after the German troops entered the constricted Czechoslovak Republic in March 1939, in the territory of Bohemia eleven field offices of the secret police emerged (4). The role of the Protectorate Gestapo in crimes of National Socialism exceeded by far the forms of repression in neighbouring countries. During direct military operations on the Eastern and Western Fronts between the years 1939-1945, approximately twelve thousand Czechoslovak soldiers died, while eight thousand civilians died in the liberation fights during the Allied aerial bombardment. The Gestapo and SD security service as a pillar of the occupation regime was behind the death of estimated two hundred and fifty thousand victims from Czechoslovakia who were killed during interrogations, in jails or concentration camps or were executed. The Pardubice office of secret police resided in the building of    “Oberlandrat” of Pardubice. Estimated number of victims varies between 5 - 14 thousand. The lower the number of secret police officers the more the repressive body had to rely on local informers.

The main opponent of successful activities of Silver A was the German Secret Police (Gestapo). The closest Gestapo office was in Pardubice and in June 1942 it had twenty officers to control about 450,000 people. The number of employees vs. the number of controlled citizens clearly indicates that without the help of local people the occupying power could not control such a large number of citizens. Members of the Secret Police from near and distant surroundings came to Pardubice to get their food supplies and to inspect.

In the districts of the Pardubice and Hradec Králové Gestapo, in 1939 a Czech collaborationist organisation called Aryan Work Front (APF) began to operate. The organisation base had estimated 500 members. With its programme and a deep conviction about the rightness of the Nazi world view the organisation was one of the five most dangerous Czech organisations. It had never built trust and support with the German occupation power, but the Germans managed to take advantage of their willingness to malicious informing. The head of this informing group was unqualified mechanical engineer Bedřich Opletal, who, with his behaviour in the very beginning of the occupation, certainly did not gain much popularity among his fellow citizens of Sezemice u Pardubic (Commander of Silver A  Alfréd Bartoš came from the same village), but not even among the Nazi occupiers(5).

Chief of the Gestapo office in Pardubice in the years 1939-1943 was Gerhard Clages. Leading officials of individual departments (right-wing resistance, communist resistance, “Jews“) were Reich Germans, but leading positions were also occupied by former Czechoslovak Germans from the Sudetenland. For the local resistance fighters names such as Walter Lehne (deputy to G. Clages), Walter Kröger, Ernst Linsel and Josef Kuchler became synonyms to extremely dangerous brutes. The Gestapo was often described as an organisation of anonymous officials who stood beyond the law and are to some extent a disparate element of the local resistance community. Quite the opposite is true because the Gestapo integrated into the society very quickly. Members of the Pardubice Secret Police lived in the city centre in U stadionu street, near the Pardubice Manor House. They were only a few minutes away from the main conspiracy house of the Krupkas in Pernerova street, where in the spring of 1942 the paratrooper members of Silver A were active.  Being a member of the elite Nazi system had many material and social advantages. If we look at everyday life from the perspective of a member of the Gestapo, his main motivation was to provide for his own future, whether by acquiring assets, career or elimination of opponents.

The illustrated tableau titled “Julfest 1941, Adst. Pardubitz“ (Aussendienststelle Pardubice) was created by an unknown member of the Pardubice Gestapo as a reminder of the winter solstice festival (6). The Reich SS leader and Police General Heinrich Himmler from the beginning of the Nazi movement enjoyed the pagan mysticism. New celebrated holidays which the Nazis saw ideological support in included the cult of the old Germanic ancestors and traditions. The longest night of the year was entangled with mystery and fairy tale motifs. For the Nazis it became the metaphysical connection with mythical ancestors of the glamorized Middle Ages whose ideals were to be realized in the near future.

The preserved tableau, which consists of a collage of portraits and illustrations, reveals the inner, often informal life of a closed community. Good spirits from military success of Nazi armies at the end of 1941 showed the unflagging optimism and growing power of individual members of the Secret Police. The recessive tableau stands in a clear contrast with the official “group photo”. In contrast to the stark photographs of uniformed men in “solid formation” the tableau portrays relaxed atmosphere.  A sharp contrast of external presentation of unlimited Nazis with the internal life of the group is presented here. A hyperbole presents Clages as a passionate driver, while Lehne is pampering his car. Glosses complement the visual appearance with comments – Josef Krebs is calling to Clages: “Yes, certainly, Commissioner”, Gottfried Escherlohr worn out at the bar “forgot his money” or Rudolf Keller knocking on the Commander’s door saying “I know something…“.

The illustrated tableau could carry the attribute of “carefree”, “innocent” or “genuine”. However, only after putting it in the historical context, it reveals a surprising punch. As the post-war years showed, it was very difficult to identify individual members of the Gestapo in specific crimes. A major problem for the Czechoslovak investigators was the lack of portraits that would help a handful of survivors to identify the perpetrators. Until the late 80s of the last century, the funds of the Berlin Documentation Centre, where the US army collected and preserved almost 11 million cards of the members of the NSDAP (90%) and 600,000 of personal files of the SS members remained closed.   

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