To this day, Arthur Nebe remains a controversial figure in the history of the German conspiracy against Hitler.
Having been a major figure in Heinrich Himmler’s SS empire as Head of the Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police) and later having belonged to Einsatzgruppen – B (attached to Army Group Center), Nebe has been posthumously accused of all manners of war crimes. But a careful study of his life reveals the very opposite.
Nebe begins his career in the Criminal Police long before Hitler’s accession to power earning an impeccable record in the fight against crime.
Though initially fond of Adolf Hitler and his vows to restore Germany to great power status, Nebe soon develops serious doubts about the Nazi regime following the Ernst Julius Röhm massacre. As his doubts accumulate, he eventually confides to his close friend and colleague, Hans-Bernd Gisevius, his intention to resign from the force, especially after the Criminal Police is absorbed into the SS empire. Gisevius persuades him to stay on arguing that the conspirators desperately need someone within Himmler’s empire to carefully document all the crimes that were being perpetrated by the Nazi regime – evidence the conspirators hope one day to use to bring Hitler, Herman Goering, Himmler, and the rest to justice before Germany and the world.
In 1938, Nebe joins forces with future co-conspirator Dr. Carl Sack (Judge Advocate-General of the German Army) to torpedo Himmler’s plot against General Werner von Fritsch . Dr Carl Sack a resistance man was executed 09-04-1945, age 48, in Flossenbürg concentration camp.
General Hans Oster recruits Nebe into the conspiracy for the September 1938 coup attempt. Nebe supplies his colleagues in the know with vital information regarding SS strength, logistics, and safehouses throughout the Berlin area.
During 1941-42, Nebe is assigned to Einsatzgruppen-B in occupied Russia. He manages to save thousands of Russian civilians from execution by falsifying figures and claiming credit for slaughters that have never been carried out. Nebe is soon suspected by fellow SS-Einsatzgruppen colleagues of being “soft.” Mass executions undertaken by SS Sonderkommandos in his absence.
In late 1942, using a special code-language, Nebe informs co-conspirators of secret conferences he has attended chaired by Himmler to develop a clandestine extermination program referred to repeatedly as The Final Solution. The program involves the extermination of European Jewry and all other categories of people deemed by the Führer as unfit to exist. Measures such as transportation by rail in sealed wagons and gas chambers are discussed.
On July 20, 1944, he is on hand in Berlin at the side of co-conspirator General Paul von Hase to support Stauffenberg’s July 20th uprising. Nebe organizes police raiding parties awaiting orders to arrest key Reich ministers. The orders never arrive.
After successfully evading the Gestapo for half a year using a variety of disguises, Nebe is finally caught in February 1945. Nebe was sentenced to death by the People’s Court under jurist Roland Freisler
on 2 March and, according to official records, was executed in Berlin at Plötzensee Prison on 21 March 1945, age 50, by being hanged with piano wire from a meat hook, in accordance with Hitler’s order that the bomb plotters were to be “hanged like cattle”.