Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2021
The Battle of Stalingrad had far-reaching effects on political policing. A string of military disasters over 1943 raised the spectre of the stab-in-the-back. The Gestapo also feared that news of German defeats would embolden a slave revolt. The economy relied on forced labour by 1943 and disruptions could seriously threaten the war effort. Faced with criticism and revolt, the Gestapo focused on the greater of two evils. But the lessons of history dictated that morale could not be ignored. The Party stepped into the breach. Local political officials gained authority to investigate criticism and warn minor offenders. The Reich Security Main Office acknowledged this new division of labour by early 1944. Barriers between Marxists and organized opposition blurred under these conditions. Torture and surveillance were cleared against any organized group. Selective enforcement continued nonetheless. The Party singled out subversive Germans with “doubtful attitudes” and warned “grumblers.” The Gestapo were free to handle offences that filtered up with greater severity and focus on keeping foreign workers under control. Selective enforcement moved deeper into German society.