After Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party took control of the German government in January 1933, Nazi authorities began filling the leadership posts of the German police with politically reliable appointees. Like other German civil servants, however, the vast majority of rank-and-file German police officers remained in their posts even as the regime changed.
Although most German police were willing to serve the Nazi regime as faithfully as they had served the Weimar Republic (1918–1933), many Nazis viewed police from the Weimar era with deep suspicion. The Nazis despised the democratic Weimar Republic and hated what they saw as its weak and “degenerate” culture. Nazi ideology falsely claimed that the Weimar Republic had been illegitimately founded by Socialists, Communists, and Jews who had betrayed Germany during World War I. Because of this hostility, many members of the Nazi Party believed that German police who had served the Weimar Republic could not be trusted to help carry out Nazi policies.1
Nazi propaganda attempted to ease these tensions and link the German police symbolically to the new regime. In publications and elaborate public events, the police were depicted as an important pillar of the Nazi regime and the protectors of the so-called “German racial community” (Volksgemeinschaft). These events included dedication ceremonies, commemorations, and festivities such as the “Day of the German Police,” which built on Weimar-era traditions of festivals meant to improve public opinions of police.
The featured propaganda film shows a dedication ceremony for a large bronze memorial to two Berlin police officers who were killed by Communists during the years of the Weimar Republic.2 Created in September 1934 as a newsreel by the large German film company, UFA (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft), this was likely shown at movie theaters before the feature film.3 Large swastika flags decorate the square, which Nazi authorities had renamed after a member of the Nazi SA (Sturmabteilung, or “Stormtroopers”) killed by Communists in 1930.4 Honoring both the SA and the police at this site helped Nazi propagandists build the impression that these two organizations had a shared history and a common enemy. This film shows one of several such attempts to commemorate Nazis and German police together.5
Many individual officers and police departments were eager to display their reliability to the new regime. German police sought to establish their place among the military and security forces of Nazi Germany, which were routinely celebrated in Nazi propaganda.6 Many young German men preferred to join the German military or the SS, leaving German uniformed police forces struggling to find recruits. Local police precincts organized many of their own events and festivals in order to improve public relations and attract new trainees.7