Three days after issuing the Firearms Decree, Hermann Goering, Prussian Minister of the Interior, tells Prussian police officials that he cannot expect policemen to act against the Communists if they are afraid of disciplinary procedures for their actions
'The responsibility lies with me alone … if you shoot, I have shot'
Goering is spearheading a drive to eradicate the Nazi’s political opponents. A flurry of decrees are used to legitimise his actions & those of his colleagues.
On the 2nd February Goering bans all demonstrations throughout Prussia by Communists, having had their offices searched the night before & 'incriminating evidence' found. On the 4th February the Decree for the Protection of German People is issued - allowing for detention of up to 3 months for those engaged in armed breaches of the peace, or acts of treason. Police powers are extended in order to intimidate political opponents. On the 6th February Goering issues a decree giving him virtually unlimited emergency powers in Prussia
On the 11th Goering creates the post of Superior Police Leader West in Prussia, as a start in his campaign to bring the police under control. A purge of the police starts. On the 17th Goring orders Prussian police to cease surveillance of Nazis & associated organisations; he also gives policemen the right to use firearms freely.
Two days after his speech to Prussian police officials Goering sets up an auxiliary Prussian police force of fifty thousand men, recruited from the SA, the SS & Stahlhelm. The police are purged of Social Democratic party members & are set to attack the Communists; breaking into party & trade union offices. Within 2 days the police have raided the Communist Party HQ & claim to have found large amounts treasonable material
Already Goering is in conflict with Franz von Papen, the conservative Minister-President of Prussia & Hitler’s vice-Chancellor. This will not continue for long.
The Life & Death of Hermann Goering, Ewan Butler & Gordon & Young, David & Charles 1989The Coming of the Third Reich – Richard J Evans, Penguin 2004
Nazi Aggression & Violence, Volume 4, International Military Tribunal, United States Government Printing Office 1946
Himmler Reichsfuhrer SS – Peter Padfield, Cassell 2001
The Devil’s Disciples – Anthony Read, Pimlico 2004