To this day, Arthur Nebe remains a controversial figure
in the history of the German conspiracy against Hitler.
Having been a major figure in Himmler's SS empire as Head of the Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police) and later having belonged to Einsatzgruppen - B
(attached to Army Group Center), Nebe has been posthumously accused
of all manners of war crimes. But a careful study of his life reveals
the very opposite.
Nebe begins his career in the Criminal Police long
before Hitler's accession to power earning an impeccable record in the
fight against crime.
Though initially fond of Hitler and his vows to restore
Germany to great power status, Nebe soon develops serious doubts about
the Nazi regime following the Roehm massacre. As his doubts accumulate,
he eventually confides to his close friend and colleague, Hans-Bernd
Gisevius, his intention to resign from the force, especially after the
Criminal Police is absorbed into the SS empire. Gisevius persuades him
to stay on arguing that the conspirators desperately need someone within
Himmler's empire to carefully document all the crimes that were being
perpertrated by the Nazi regime - evidence the conspirators hope one
day to use to bring Hitler, Goering, Himmler,
and the rest to justice before Germany and the world.
In 1938, Nebe joins forces with future co-conspirator
Dr. Carl Sack (Judge Advocate-General of the German Army) to torpedo
Himmler's plot against General Werner von Fritsch.
General Hans Oster recruits Nebe into the conspiracy
for the September 1938 coup attempt. Nebe supplies his colleagues in
the know with vital information regarding SS strength, logistics, and
safehouses throughout the Berlin area.
During 1941-42, Nebe is assigned to Einsatzgruppen-B
in occupied Russia. He manages to save thousands of Russian civilians
from execution by falsifying figures and claiming credit for slaughters
that have never been carried out. Nebe is soon suspected by fellow SS-Einsatzgruppen
colleagues of being "soft." Mass executions undertaken by
SS Sonderkommandos in his absence.
In late 1942, using a special code-language, Nebe informs
co-conspirators of secret conferences he has attended chaired by Himmler
to develop a clandestine extermination program referred to repeatedly
as The Final Solution. The
program involves the extermination of European Jewry and all other categories
of people deemed by the fuehrer as unfit to exist. Measures such as
transportation by rail in sealed wagons and gas chambers are discussed.
On July 20, 1944, he is on hand in Berlin at the side of co-conspirator General Paul von Hase to support Stauffenberg's
July 20th uprising. Nebe organizes police raiding parties awaiting orders
to arrest key Reich ministers. The orders never arrive.
After successfully evading the Gestapo for half a
year using a variety of disguises, Nebe is finally caught in February
On March 2, 1945, Nebe is sentenced to death by the
People's Court and hanged.