Nebe, Arthur

Youth and early career



Arthur Nebe (1894-1945) was a police detective in Berlin and started his Nazi career in 1933 as a member of the Gestapo. Ultimately he rose to chief of the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt, the central office of the German criminal investigation police or Kripo. In the first months of the German invasion of Russia, Nebe was in command of Einsatzgruppe B. The mass murder on the Eastern Front he was involved in, was the prelude to the extermination of Jews in the extermination camps. In addition to his role in the extermination of Jews, Nebe also played a part in the persecution and deportation of Gypsys in Germany. Yet, at the same time, he acted as informer for the German military and conservative opposition. An important role was alloted to him during the attempt and coup of July 20, 1944.

This article is a summary of the book entitled "Het masker van de massamoordenaarr" by the same author.

Youth, World War One and the Weimer period

Arthur Nebe was born November 13, 1894 in Berlin, the son of teacher Adolf Nebe and his wife Bertha Lüder. August 7, 1914, he passed his final exam of the Gymnasium. Meanwhile, World War One had erupted and he reported as a volunteer in the Imperial army. He was promoted to Leutnant on February 20, 1915. From February 23, 1915 he fought at the front until the end of the war, being wounded twice due to gas attacks. On his return from the war, he was a highly decorated war veteran with the EK I and 2 (Iron Cross), the Ehrenkreuz der Frontkämpfer (Medal of Honor for front fighters) and the Verwundetenabzeichen in Schwarz (medal for the injured in black). After the war he remained active in the army as an adjutant.

After the German defeat in 1918, Nebe was honorably discharged from the army on March 30, 1920 and promoted to Oberleutnant a.D (retired). It was difficult for him to find a new existence in a Germany, ravaged by economic and political problems. Just like many other jobless veterans he joined a Freikorps, a paramilitary unit which armed itself against a leftist revolution. It was mainly due to the fact he had no university schooling and was unable to find work anywhere else and not out of vocation that he joined the Berlin police. On April 1, 1920, he entered service as Kriminalkommissar-Anwärter or student detective. His appointment as Kriminalkommissar followed July 1, 1923. August 15 the next year he married Elise Schäffer and daughter Gisella was born January 26, 1926.

In order to boost his career, Nebe took some semesters in medicine and economics at the university of Berlin. He made a quick career in the various departments of the criminal investigation department. He rose to leader of the narcotics department. In that capacity he wrote a publication in 1929 about the causes of drug use. In addition, he contributed to the magazine of the department, the Kriminalistischen Monatsheften. On April 1, 1931, Nebe was appointed chief of the department of robbery. In the 20s, he kept a low profile ideologically speaking and he was hardly active in the political sphere although his sympathies lay with rightist nationalism and not with his employer, the democratic Prussian government in which the social democratic party played an influential role.

Regarding his previous membership of a Freikorps and his aversion towards leftist political parties, Nebe felt attracted to the Nazi party and he joined it on July 1, 1931. November 5, 1931 he also enrolled in the SA where he would rise to Sturmhauptführer in 1936. As police personnel was prohibited from joining national socialist organizations, Nebe must have joined in secret. As early as 1933 Nebe and some of his colleagues within the Berlin police were already working towards a seizure of power by the Nazis. In 1932 they founded a trade union for Nazi police personnel. the Nationalsozialistische Beamten-Arbeitsgemeinschaft (N.S.B.A.G). Nebe and other members of the N.S.B.A.G. provided N.S.D.A.P. politician Kurt Daluege with information on the Kriminalpolizei and its leaders who could be useful once the Nazis were in power. Being a member of the Reichstag (German parliament) Daluege occupied himself with police issues and would be in charge of the Ordnungspolizei, the uniformed police, during the period of the Third Reich from 1936 to 1945.


German paramilitary units established directly after the Great War by former front soldiers. These groups were often named after their commander. Freikorps formed the basis of the eventual SA or Sturmabteilung.
Largest Soviet ground formation. It was attached to a certain area which gave its name to the units involved. For instance the Voronezh front.
“Geheime Staatspolizei”. Secret state police, the secret police in the Third Reich.
Armed incursion.
Iron Cross
English translation of the German decoration Eisernes Kreuz.
Middle Eastern people with own religion that lived in Palestine. They distinguished themselves by their strong monotheism and the strict observance of the Law and tradition. During World War 2 the Jewish people were ruthlessly persecuted and annihilated by the German Nazis. . An estimated 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated.
Kriminalpolizei. Criminal investigation agency. Ordinary civilian police of Nazi Germany.
Medal of Honor
United States of America’s highest military honour. Awarded for awarded for personal acts of  valor  above and beyond the call of duty.
The pursuit of a people to become politically independence or securing such independence.
Abbreviation of a national socialist.
Usually sudden and violent reversal of existing (political) the political set-up and situations.

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SS-Obergruppenführer Arthur Nebe, 1942.
(Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101III-Alber-096-34 / Alber, Kurt / CC-BY-SA 3.0)


Translated by:
Arnold Palthe
Article by:
Kevin Prenger
Published on:
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