"Factory cells" belonging to the Nazi mass organization "German Labor Front" (DAF) had an important role in the surveillance of the population. (Photo: DÖW)
The better part of the Gestapo's bureaucratic routine consisted in tracking down mass offenses that came as a result of oppositional behavior displayed by, in most cases, politically unaffiliated citizens. These offenses ranged from anti-Nazi utterances (railing against Nazi politicians, spreading of rumors and jokes critical of the regime), nonconformist demeanor displayed by young people and prohibited listening to foreign radio stations all the way to friendly or helpful behavior toward people who stood outside the "German Volksgemeinschaft" (lit.: people's community), e.g.: Jews or "foreign workers".
A tight surveillance network - "Block Leader," "Factory Cells," Hitler Youth, etc. - became increasingly important as did private denunciations by family members, neighbors, and colleagues. Envy, viciousness, craving for recognition, private quarrels, and the belief to have to fulfill one's "duty as citizen," were motivating factors.
Informers and denunciators made it possible for the Gestapo to act as an instrument of surveillance over the most private areas of society and to rigorously persecute the smallest violation of the Nazi system's rules.
In a complaint to the Gestapo of December 1, 1939, the personnel department of the City of Vienna requested detention in a concentration camp of retired civil servant Christian Eichinger. Based on this complaint, Eichinger was sentenced to ten months imprisonment for "misdemeanor pursuant to the Treachery Act."
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Nazi Party offices and functionaries were the source of numerous denunciations. Thus, in the wake of a derogatory remark, the radio dealer Oskar Beck, in Nazi terminology a (Jewish) "Mischling" (crossbreed), was informed against by a Nazi Party Blockleiter (block leader) to the local party group Rembrandtstraße, which reported him on April 5, 1943. Oskar Beck was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court) for "undermining military morale" and executed on October 18, 1943.
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