The RSHA was the central SS-department; all official and secret police and security organs of the Third Reich were led by the RSHA. There was a multitude of departments, offices, groups and sub-divisions and for this reason the department was not transparent for outsiders. One of the powers of the RSHA was the impositionl of "Protective Custody", which meant the deportation into a concentration camp without trial or the possibility of appelleal for the victims. The SS-leaders within the RSHA were provided with almost unlimited power.

In 1940, the RSHA was divided into seven departments:

Department I
(Human Resources)

  • Had to fullfil administrative tasks and was responsible for agents in and out of the country as well as for the training of collaborators who should not be threatened by any illegal act

Department II
(organisation, administration, law)

  • Had to expatriate "Enemies of the State" and Jews and expropriate the possessions of the deprived persons.

  • This department was also responsible for the construction of those vehicles, in which Jews were killed by exhaust gas

Department III
(domestic news service)

  • Collected and used reports of the various "Leitstellen" (subordinated offices) from all parts of the Reich about the effects of administrative measures on the population.

  • The department also delivered opinions about the political reliability of particular citizens which were used for nominations and promotions in the administration, economy and science.

Department IV

  • Was responsible for the persecution of real or supposed NS-(Gestapo) opponents. The department had the power to impose "Protective Custody" against everybody at any time.

  • Politicians of all political movements, priests of all confessions, Jews and "unpleasant citizens" were sent to concentration camps without justification, if they, according to the RSHA-opinion, had received too little punishment

  • Part of that department was the "Referat IV B 4", where Adolf Eichmann planned the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question", the systematic murder of German and European Jews. The deportations into the extermination camps were organized here.

Department V
(Criminal Police)

  • Was in charge of the persecution of non-political crimes.

  • A further task was the persecution of Gypsies, procedures to kill insane people were also developed.

Department VI
(Foreign news service)

  • was responsible for espionage and counter-espionage abroad.

Department VII
("Weltanschauliche Forschung")

  • Administered book stocks and archive materials of political and (Ideological research) religious content, which had been confiscated from Jews, Freemasons and politicians, in churches and libraries and assessed their value.


In 1944, also the intelligence services of the Wehrmacht, e.g. the departments of the military secret service, were subordinated under the RSHA.