Hitler did not defund the police
CLAIM: Hitler also defunded the police and installed his own enforcers.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Hitler did not defund the police.
THE FACTS: As protesters around the nation call for defunding the police in response to police brutality, social media users are sharing posts saying that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler also wanted to defund the police.
Historians say the posts, which have garnered thousands of likes online, are false. The Nazis expanded funding for police, the number officers and their powers, said Christopher Browning, a Holocaust scholar and retired University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor.
“Hitler did not disband or defund the police,” he said in an email. “The Fire Decrees of February 1933 gave the Nazis the power to take over all state governments, which meant also the power to take over each state police.”
With the protective custody decree of 1933, police had the power to arrest and place anyone in concentration camps they viewed as being against the regime, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. By 1936, police forces centralized under Heinrich Himmler as head of the SS, a group first designed to protect Hitler that would later become the private army for the Nazi party. Himmler, who, as head of the SS, was also chief of German police, oversaw the Gestapo and the SD, the intelligence branch of the SS. Heinrich Muller, who was appointed to lead the Gestapo under Himmler, was a career Munich policeman. The SS, SD and police would go on to become the primary leading forces behind the Holocaust, where six million Jews and millions of others including gay people were murdered.
Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, a historian and history professor at Fairfield University, said in an email that the Nazis made the police one of the chief recipients of state financial support aside from military spending.
“Let’s just say the Nazis did everything BUT defund the police,” he said.
The false claim comes after protesters around the nation have called to defund the police following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against his neck for minutes as he struggled to breathe. One post with the false claim suggesting that Hitler defunded police was liked more than 32,000 times on Twitter.
This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.
Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536