Who needs to read a Stephen King horror novel when you can curl up in bed and read this book? The horrible things committed by the Gestapo as described by M. Delarue will make any decent person’s skin crawl.
I purchased this book because of its extensive coverage of the Gestapo in Paris during the Occupation. As you will find out in my new book Where Did They Put the Gestapo Headquarters? that by mid-1942, the Gestapo ruled Paris through terror, intimidation, and executions. They took over virtually the entire street called Avenue Foch in the sixteenth arrondissement (district). Additional sub-stations and offices were scattered throughout the city. A knock on one’s door during the evening was cause for concern. If you were Jewish or one of the “undesirables,” you were likely facing the Gestapo (or one of their representatives such as the French police) and deportation to Auschwitz (and certain death) was inevitable.
The author manages to outline the history of the Gestapo beginning with the origins of its predecessors such as the Sturmabteilung (S.A. or Brown Shirts) in 1921 to the collapse of the Third Reich in May 1945. In between, M. Delarue weaves the history of the Gestapo with facts and stories that aren’t for the faint of heart.
The author attempts to psychoanalyze some of the higher echelon Gestapo criminals but on a very basic level. One is left trying to figure out how human beings can perpetrate such heinous acts or give the orders for others to carry them out.
Despite the original edition of this book being written and printed in 1962 (less than twenty years after the end of World War II), it is clear that M. Delarue had researched his subject very well. I suspect (but cannot substantiate) this book was written as a result of the public’s newfound interest in the Nazis because Adolph Eichmann was captured in May 1960. Eichmann was in charge of the “Final Solution” or the plan for the extermination of all Jews in the occupied countries. After Ernst Kaltenbrunner (tried at Nuremberg and executed), Eichmann was the highest Gestapo official brought to trial. He was found guilty and hanged in June 1962.
The New York Times in its quotation about the book states M. Delarue has described “a horrible subject.” They are absolutely correct.
Author: Jacques Delarue Translation: Mervyn Savill
Date Published: 2008 (original date of publication: 1962)
Publisher: Frontline Books; London