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Rudolf Diels

December 1933 Rudolf Diels addressing inmates at KZ Esterwegen which was under control of the Prussian Interior Ministry

Rudolf Diels (December 16, 1900 - November 18, 1957)[1] was a German politician and head of the Gestapo in 1933-34.[2] [3] He is also referred to as SS Oberfurer.[1][2] He was a prot g of Hermann G ring.[2]

He was born in Berghaus in Taunus[1], the son of a farmer[2]. He served in the army during World War I and afterwards went to study law at the University of Marburg from 1919. When Adolf Hitler came to power, Diels was head of the Prussian political police in Berlin. He joined the Prussian interior ministry in 1930 and was promoted to an advisory position in the Prussian police in 1932, targeting political radicals, both Communists and Nazis. He was head of the Prussian Political Police in early 1933 when the Reichstag fire occurred.[4]

When G ring was made minister for Prussia in 1933, replacing Karl Severing, he was impressed with Diels' work and new commitment to the Nazi party. In April 1933 G ring appointed him as chief of the new Prussian state police department 1A, concerned with political crimes.[2] Department 1A was soon renamed the Geheime Staatspolizei, or Gestapo. Diels was the main interrogator of Marinus van der Lubbe following the Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933.[1]

Diels soon attracted the attention of political rivals including Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich.[2] Himmler was head of the SS at the time.[5] Effectively smeared, but with Goring's aid, he narrowly avoided execution during the Night of the Long Knives[2], fleeing his post for five weeks. When control of the Gestapo was given to Himmler, Diels was dismissed on April 1, 1934. He was briefly Deputy Police President of Berlin before being appointed to the local government of Cologne as a Regierungspr sident[2].

He maintained his association with G ring, marrying a cousin of his protector.[1] G ring saved him from prison on a number of occasions, notably once in 1940 when he declined to order the arrest of Jews and more vitally in 1944 after the July 20 Plot to assassinate Hitler.[1]

He presented an affidavit for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials[2] but was also summoned to testify by G ring's defense lawyer[1]. He later served in the post-war government of Lower Saxony from 1950[1] and then in the Ministry of the Interior until his retirement in 1953[2]. He died when his rifle accidentally discharged while he was hunting.[2][6]

Diels' memoirs, Lucifer Ante Portas: Von Severing bis Heydrich, were published in 1950.[2] A less cautious work was published after his retirement, Der Fall Otto Johns (1954).

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