Structures of the German security police and security service in Nowy Sącz

Dawid Golik

The first police forces coming to the area of the occupied Nowy Sącz district in September 1939, were the Einsatzkommando I/3 units, part of Einsatzgruppe I of SS-Oberführer Bruno Streckenbach. They secured the front infrastructure of the German 14th Army, and they were also responsible for the first arrests and executions. Later, their role was taken over by the Einsatzkommando I/2 headquartered in Krakow. Its personnel was used as a foundation for the police structures formed later in the entire district. However, a decision to establish a permanent security police station in the Sącz region was made only after the General Government was created. It was the so-called border police commissariat – Grenzpolizeikommissariat Neu-Sandez, called in short Greko Neu-Sandez – under the office of the Commandant of Security Police and Security Service (Kommandeur der Sipo und SD, abbreviated as KdS) in Kraków which was located in Nowy Sącz.[1] It is worth noting here that the border police, often confused in witness accounts with the German border and customs guard (Zollgrenzschutz), was a separated part of Sipo and SD, designated to operate in border areas. The counterparts of the border police commissariats in the central districts of GG were security police outposts (Sipo Außendienststelle).

In the initial period of the occupation, the tasks of the German security police in the GG were carried out by the following departments of the KdS: Department I – administrative, legal and economic; Department II – Security Service (SD); Department III – Secret State Police (Gestapo) and Department IV – Criminal Police (Kripo). In 1942, a new numbering was introduced, which reflected the structure of the departments of the Reich Main Security Office to a large extent: Department I was an administrative department, Department II – legal and economic, Department III included SD, Department IV – Gestapo, and Department V – Kripo. The most important from the point of view of fighting the Polish underground resistance were the III, IV and V departments. The Security Service (SD) was the most elite and, from the perspective of RSHA, the most important part of Sipo, it was also derived directly from the NSDAP structures, in which it appeared already in 1931. It was responsible for intelligence and counterintelligence, but also for controlling the activities of German officials and the direct implementation of the Nazi party guidelines. Gestapo, on the other hand, was charged with fighting the resistance, fighting the partisans and underground organizations. This department was responsible for the extermination of Jewish people, it had its own counter-intelligence apparatus, an extensive network of agents and meticulously gathered records – both on its collaborators and on the wanted members of the underground. Kripo was a typical criminal police, intended primarily to fight against common crime, but also used for repressive, anti-partisan and anti-Jewish operations.

The station of the Nowy Sącz police was located at Czarnieckiego 13 Str. It was directed in succession by: SS-Untersturmführer August Schulze or SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinz Schultze (for a very short time, until December 1939)[2], SS-Obersturmführer (later promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer) Heinrich Hamann (1939 – August 1943), SS-Hauptsturmführer Wilhelm Raschwitz (August 1943 – October 1944), SS-Obersturmführer Peter Leideritz (from October 1944), and finally, most probably, SS-Sturmbannführer Jakob Seinsche (break of years 1944/1945).[3] The Nowy Sącz commissariat also had its branch in Krynica and outposts (Grenzpolizeiposten, abbreviated as Grepo) in Muszyna and Piwniczna.[4] The Greko in Nowy Sącz employed about 35 people, most of whom worked in the city of Nowy Sącz and lived near the commissariat (e.g. Heinrich Hamann lived at Czarnieckiego-boczna 9 Str.). The personnel of the commissariat frequently changed, and it can be estimated that more than one hundred officers went through the structures of the German security police and security service in the Sącz region over the five years of occupation.

The Gestapo and SD divisions, formally did not employ Polish people, and most policemen were native Germans or Austrians. However, Volksdeutsche or Ukrainians were employed as interpreters, drivers or prison guards; some of them, thanks to their eagerness and devoutness to the Germans, could count on promotion and assignment to the criminal police. It was the interpreters, with perfect knowledge of the Polish language and often coming from local communities, as well as other Volksdeutsche employed as members of the so-called auxiliary police (Hilfspolizei), who were, along with the Silesians or German people from Silesia, the most dangerous members of the Gestapo. They were able to set up provocations, act under cover, and easily recruit agents and informers. No wonder that next to the name of the Executioner of the Sącz region, Heinrich Hamann, the most famous and recognizable officers of the Gestapo in the Nowy Sącz district were Georg Wiesner, from Upper Silesia, who was controling a huge network of informers, and Johann Gorka (Jan Górka), interpreter for the chief of the commissariat (who lived in a private apartment at Jagiellońska 7 Str.). His work for the Gestapo was mentioned in the underground resistance reports already in 1941: […] From Poznań or Pomerania – he speaks excellent Polish, a Gepo spy, he arrested a large number of young people in N[owy] S[ącz] (round-up), he lives at Wałowa 1 Str. [it was most likely Górka’s pre-war place of residence] – currently an uniformed Gestapo officer.[5]

As a matter of fact, the role of informants and agents was mentioned by Hamann himself in a famous interview given to Michael Foedrowitz: […] the informants […] were recruited in various ways. It was relatively easy for us. I was always saying to my subordinates: “I judge my own strength by the number of informants I can recruit; this is a measure for me.” Nowhere is it so easy to obtain informants as in our field. The captured, when accused feel such crazy fear that everything can happen to them… even execution… when someone is guilty, the only thing one needs to say is: “listen, if you just tell us what you know, you will walk free, or…”; one could make promises that naturally had to be kept. Thanks to that, in Nowy Sącz I had 150–200 informants, of the highest, but also of worse quality, and so I can say that at any given moment I had the best available information. But no one was forced. Some people, such as the Volksdeutsche, came of their own volition; we did not count those as informants at all.[6] He also added: They most often met with translators, Wiesner and Górka, sometimes I took care of them myself myself. They met in private apartments, they did not come to the station of course, and if they did it was only after dark.[7]

The primary duties of the border police commissariats included: securing the border zone and the actual border between the GG and Slovakia and the Reich; coordinating the Sipo and SD protection of the border areas, as well as police forces (Gendarmerie and Schupo) and customs and border guards; controlling border traffic (pedestrians, vehicles, trains) and fighting attempts to cross the border by unauthorized persons. Also important was fighting smuggling and courier traffic and the emerging political and armed underground – but this was already part of the tasks of all Sipo and SD cells in occupied Poland, not characteristic just to the so-called border police.[8] Of course, from the perspective of the conquered Polish population, the brutality and ruthlessness of German policemen, as well as shameful methods of forcing people to testify, were something noticed first and foremost.

At the very end of the occupation, at the turn of 1944 and 1945, there were further changes in the structure of the security police and security service operating in the Sącz region, which involved changing the Sipo units subordinate to Zollgrenzschutz to match police models. The new Sipo outpost (Sicherheitspolizei Außendienststellen) was set up to replace the Zollgrenzschutz command operating in Nowy Sącz, and all existing customs district commissariats were transformed into border police commissariats.[9]

Around May 1940, a crime police commissariat (Kriminalkommissariat) was also established in Nowy Sącz, localized at Czarnieckiego 10 Str., with outposts in Limanowa, Grybów, Mszana Dolna and probably in Piwniczna and a branch in Krynica.[10] According to the data collected by the Home Army in 1941, the Kripo commissariat in Nowy Sącz consisted of 2 German officers and 17 Poles.[11]

The German criminal police structures included the so-called “Polish Criminal Police” (Polnische Kripo), separated from the “blue” police – it was made up of pre-war officers of the police criminal investigation department and volunteers who enlisted for the service after the war started.[12] One of its characteristic features was, among others, the fact that its officers did not have uniforms and performed their duties only in plain clothes. Similar to the “blue” police, some officers of the Polish Kripo also worked for the Polish Underground State[13]. Some of them, however, were very negatively remembered by the Polish people, also in the Sącz region. These officers were responsible for provocations, pretended to be connected with the underground, infiltrated the independence organizations or tried to penetrate the ranks of partisan units. In this activities they cooperated with the German gendarmerie and with the Gestapo department. The so-called “Polish Kripo” did not have higher command structures apart from district commissariats (which were part of the German Kripo commissariats) and the Directorates of the Criminal Police (which were part of the German Directorate of Kripo) in district capitals. These directorates were headed by Polish officers, who were simultaneously acting as liaison officers and coordinators of the operations of Polnische Kripo in the district.[14]

In Nowy Sącz, SS-Untersturmführer Edmund Mertens was initially to serve as the district commandant of Kripo, and after him, in the years 1942–1944, SS-Sturmscharführer (later promoted to SS-Untersturmführer) Karl Neinzling (vel Neuzling).[15] Around November 1944, the former head of Kripo in Nowy Targ SS-Untersturmführer Walter Männich began working in Nowy Sącz as a criminal police commandant, which he was until January 1945, when he was incorporated into the front units of the field gendarmerie. A lot points to the fact that from November 1944 to January 1945 he combined the function of the Kripo commandant in both Nowy Targ and Nowy Sącz districts.[16] It is worth mentioning that the criminal police commissariats were officially subordinate to the respective police commissariats – that is why the head of the Greko in Nowy Sącz was de facto simultaneously the head of the district Kripo structures in the Sącz region.

In Nowy Sącz there was also an outpost of the German security service (SD Außenkommando).[17] It was commanded by SS-Hauptscharführer Josef Glunz, and it employed Irmgard Wellermann as a stenotypist. The outpost was located at Jagiellońska 36 Str. (the building also housed other German institutions).

Most of the people detained by the German police were held in provisional detention facilities, and then were sent to the prison at Pijarska 1 Str. In 1941, a group of underground activists connected with the Union of Military Action, which was destroyed by the Germans, was imprisoned in Nowy Sącz prison. In one of the reports the staroste prepared for the district authorities in Kraków he noted that a total of 60 people got in the hands of police officers from the Border Police Commissioner in Nowy Sącz. Among them there was Capt. Leon Leśniowski, the commander of the “blue” police commissariat in Nowy Sącz, and two policemen – Jeżyk and Łaznowski. It was additionally noted: The detainee, who was the leader of the organization in Nowy Sącz, committed suicide in prison, cutting open his artery and with his own blood he wrote on the wall of the cell: Long live Poland![18] In this case, the Germans referred to the commander of the Mountain Sub-Circuit of ZCZ Antoni Gryzina-Lasek “Dr. Świder”, who on 19 January 1941 in such a heroic way escaped his torturers who could not get make him give up any information. Because of that, the German authorities ordered the strengthening of the prison guards carrying firearms with “trustworthy Ukrainians”.[19] The Nowy Sącz prison fulfilled its purpose until the end of the German occupation.


[1] See: S. Zabierowski, Organizacja hitlerowskiej policji bezpieczeństwa we wschodnich powiatach dystryktu krakowskiego w latach 1939–1945, “Biuletyn Głównej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce”, vol. XXV, Warszawa 1973, pp. 158–159; W. Curilla, Der Judenmord in Polen und die deutsche Ordnungspolizei 1939–1945, Paderborn 2011, p. 53. The supreme power over the police units in the GG was held by the Higher SS and Police Leader of the GG (Höhere SS- und Polizeiführer, abbreviated as HSSSPF), whose subordinates were all SS and Police Leaders (SS- und Polizeiführer) of the particular districts, and who was directly supervised from Berlin by the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, abbreviuated as RSHA). At the same time, the RSHA issued an order to create the office of the Commander (Order-giver) of the Security Police and Security Service (Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei u. SD, abbreviated as BdS) in the GG, whose task was to coordinate the work of all Sipo and SD agencies in the GG. It also had territorial structures of lower level in each district, which functioned as the offices of the Commandant of the Security Police and Security Service.

[2] The question of the identity of the first director of the border police commissariat in Nowy Sącz is still not answered. Two very similar names appear in this context – SS-Untersturmführer August Schulze and SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinz Schultze. The former is associated with the later personnel of the Greko branch in Krynica and the Grepo outpost in Muszyna. On the other hand, the fact that SS-Hauptsturmführer Schultze headed the border police commissariat in Jasło from May 1940 to January 1941 points to him. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that he was the first to temporarily be in charge of the formation of police structures in the Nowy Sącz district.

[3]Archiwum Głównej Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej w Warszawie [later as: IPN GK], 678/158, Akta osobowe funkcjonariuszy KdS Krakau, Teczka personalna Wilhelma Raschwitza; J. Bratko, Gestapowcy, Kraków 1990, pp. 336–337; A. Krawczyk, Hitlerowski aparat okupacyjny na Sądecczyźnie [in:] Okupacja w Sądecczyźnie, ed. by J. Bergauzen, Warszawa 1979, pp. 72–75. In the last period of the occupation Jakob Seinsche most likely combined the office of the chief of the border police commissariat in Nowy Sącz with heading the Kripo structures of KdS in Kraków. Archiwum Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej w Krakowie [later as: IPN Kr], Kr 075/1, Wywiad i kontrwywiad niemiecki [later as: IPN KR 075/1], vol. 10, Analiza działalności hitlerowskiego wywiadu i kontrwywiadu na terenie województwa krakowskiego przed 1939 rokiem i w okresie okupacji, p. 67; ibidem, vol. 17, Książka mundurowa funkcjonariuszy zamiejscowych placówek KdS w Krakowie zdobyta przez Armię Krajową, pp. 85–107

[4] Bundesarchiv Berlin-Lichterfelde [later as: BArch], R 58/415, Reichssicherheitshauptamt [later as: R 58/415], Zestawienia posterunków Sipo w Rzeszy i GG; Amtliches Fernsprechbuch für den Distrikt Krakau, Krakau 1942, p. 47; A. Krawczyk, op. cit., p. 77; Piwniczna-Zdrój. Studia i szkice z dziejów miasta 1772–1998, ed. by J. Długosz, Piwniczna-Zdrój 1998, p. 317.

[5] Archiwum Akt Nowych w Warszawie, AAN, Armia Krajowa, 203/XI-9, Agenci i szpicle Gepo i GPU, Akta ZWZ z roku przypuszczalnie 1941, odnalezione i przepisane jesienią 1943 r., “Niedźwiedź”, p. 11.

[6] S. Dąbrowa-Kostka, Hamann i Foedrowitz, “Zeszyty Historyczne” 1996, pp. 65–66.

[7] Ibidem, p. 67.

[8] IPN Kr 075/1, vol. 22, Zeznania Kurta Heinemayera, p. 56 – 63

[9] BArch, R 110/7, BSt Neu-Sandez, Zollgrenzschutz, Besetzung der Bef.-Stelle, BZKom G und GAST’en [Besetzung der ADSt, Greko’s und Grepo’s]; Nachweisung über die Starke des ehemaligen Zollgrenzschutzes nach dem Stände vom 31. Dezember 1944, Neu-Sandez, 1.01.1945, Cf. BArch R 110/16, Befehlstelle ZGS Neu-Sandez.

[10] BArch, R 58/415, Zestawienia posterunków Sipo w całym GG i Rzeszy; G. Mazur, W. Rojek, M. Zgórniak, Wojna i okupacja na Podkarpaciu i Podhalu na obszarze inspektoratu ZWZ-AK Nowy Sącz 1939–1945, Kraków 1998, pp. 56–57, 62.

[11] IPN Kr 075/1, vol. 47, Policja Polityczna stan na 1.02.1941 [underground analysis; photocopy of a typewritten document]; Policja Kryminalna na terenie dystryktu krakowskiego [underground analysis; photocopy of a typewritten document; period 1940–1941]; Policja Ukraińska w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie stan na 20.09.1940 [underground analysis; photocopy of a typewritten document]; IPN Kr 075/131, Sprawa “Targowica” w pow. Nowy Targ [later as: IPN KR 075/131], vol. 2, Opracowanie na temat Policji Państwowej autorstwa Adama Latawca z 22.11.1950, p. 20 – 23

[12] G. Mazur, W. Rojek, M. Zgórniak, op. cit., p. 60; W. Borodziej, Terror i polityka. Policja niemiecka a polski ruch oporu w GG 1939–1944, Warszawa 1985, pp. 42–43; J. Bratko, op. cit., pp. 59–63.

[13] A. Hempel, Pogrobowcy klęski. Rzecz o policji „granatowej” w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie 1939–1945, Warszawa 1990, pp. 124–137.

[14] Ibidem, pp. 124–125.

[15] IPN Kr 075/1, vol. 6, Struktura organizacyjna policji bezpieczeństwa i służby bezpieczeństwa w woj. krakowskim, Kraków 20.06.1967, p. 27; ibidem, vol. 47, Policja Kryminalna na terenie dystryktu krakowskiego [underground analysis; photocopy of a typewritten document; period 1940–1941]; ibidem, vol. 17, Książka mundurowa funkcjonariuszy zamiejscowych placówek KdS w Krakowie zdobyta przez Armię Krajową, pp. 85–107; IPN GK 678/135, Akta osobowe funkcjonariuszy KdS Krakau, Teczka personalna Edmunda Mertensa.

[16] IPN Kr 502/3044, Akta sprawy przeciwko Walterowi Männichowi, Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Waltera Männicha z dnia 17.12.1945, p. 25; Przesłuchanie oskarżonego Waltera Männicha z 13.12.1945, p. 26; Protokół przesłuchania podejrzanego Waltera Männicha z dnia 17.05.1946, p. 31–32; Protokół przesłuchania świadka Edwarda Onyszko z dnia 7.06.1946, p. 35. IPN KR 075/131, vol. 2, Opracowanie na temat Policji Państwowej autorstwa Adama Latawca z 22.11.1950, p. 18–23

[17] See: BArch, R 58/415, Zestawienia posterunków Sipo w całym GG i Rzeszy; R 70-POLEN/117, BdS Krakau: 2 Enthält u.a.: SD-Angehörige der Dienststellen der Sipo und des SD in Krakau (Aufstellung, Stand: 1. Sept. 1944) Entschädigung als Kommandierte der Waffen-SS bzw. Notdienstverpflichtete für die Zeit vom 1. – 31. Aug. 1944 (Liste), p. 2, 13, 36, 38.

[18] IPN GK 196/269, Auszug aus den Lageberichten der Kreis- und Stadthauptleute für den Monat Januar 1941, Krakau, 28.02.1941, p. 303.

[19] Ibidem.