Artur Nebe

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Artur Nebe (1894-1945) was a professional German police officer before the rise of Adolf Hitler, initially a Nazi supporter, but, by 1938, joined anti-Nazi conspiracies. Simultaneously, he headed the KRIPO criminal police when it went into the RSHA, and eventually commanded Einsatzgruppe B when it performed field killings in 1941-1942. He was reported, however, to have falsified field reports to reduce the number of killings.[1]

He was eventually executed in March 1945 for anti-Nazi activities.


Nebe was recognized as the best detective of the Third Reich. When a complex investigative issue arose, such as analyzing the early bomb plot against Hitler, the government motto was Wo ist Nebe? (Where is Nebe?)[2] He had hesitated to follow the KRIPO into the SS RSHA, but was persuaded by Hans Bernd Gisevius to stay and document the crimes of the SS.

He and Dr. Carl Sack (Judge Advocate-General of the German Army)joined, in 1938, to block the plot to discredit the Chief of the Army, General Werner von Fritsch. General Hans Oster recruited him for a planned September 1938 coup, for which he provided logistics and intelligence.


He commanded Einsatzgruppe B, which was attached to Army Group Centre, under the command of Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, from June to November 1941. It began operations in Warsaw, and moved across Byelorussia toward Smolensk and Minsk, massacring Jews in Grodno, Minsk, Brest-Litovsk, Slonim, Gomel, and Mogilev, among other places. [3] When he received the assignment, he tried instead to go to the International Police Commission, but Ludwig Beck and Hans Oster persuaded him to go to the Einsatzgruppen to gather information. While in the area of operations, he worked with Henning von Tresckow and Fabian von Schlabrendorff to reduce harm, but he clearly was involved in atrocitie, "being a notorious example of one who did evil to prevent worse."[2]

After the Einsatzgruppe assignment, he returned to the KRIPO.

In late 1942, he secretly informed the resistance of details of the Final Solution.

After Erich von Bach-Zelewski had witnessed an execution with Himmler, he said to him

Look at the eyes of the men in this Kommando, how deeply shaken they are! These men are finished [fertig] for the rest of their lives. What kind of followers are training here? Either neurotics or savages![4]

Also in 1942, recognizing the psychological strain of shooting on the killing squads, he co-developed the gas vans.[5]


When the 20th of July assassination attempt on Hitler took place, he was with Berlin garrison commander Paul von Hase, planning to assist the Army when the coup command was given. Had he received the order, he would have led a team to kill Heinrich Himmler. [2]It was never sent. He was denounced and went into hiding.[1]

Eventually, he was caught in February 1945, sentenced, and hanged on 2 March 1945.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Artur Nebe, Jewish Virtual Library
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Michael Leonard Graham Balfour (1988), Withstanding Hitler in Germany, 1933-45, Psychology Press, pp. 163-164
  3. Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads), U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  4. Raul Hilberg, Destruction of the European Jews, Quadrangle, 1967, p. 646, quoted in Lifton, p. 159
  5. Gas Wagons: The Holocaust's mobile gas chambers, Nizkor Project