The Kripo (Kriminalpolizei), the police service of the Third Reich

ID: 227
The Kriminalpolizei apart from regular investigations, controlled the Nazi "law and order" — it also investigated cases of Jews hiding outside the ghetto and those who were helping them.

This story elaborates on the theme Collaboration, that was prepared as a part of the program The Complicated Pages of Common History: Telling About World War II in Lviv.

The police structures created in Lviv during the Nazi occupation with the involvement of the local population, in addition to the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police, also included the Jewish Order Service and the so-called Kripo — the criminal police.

The question of the Jewish police powers, the possibility or impossibility of choice, and even more so the connection of the Jewish police to the term "cooperation" or "collaboration" are hotly debated in many circles and, at this time, have a heavy emotional load. It is worth noting that the topic of the Jewish police often appears in discussions concerning Ukrainian or Polish collaboration as an "argument" or an attempt at justification, such as "everyone did it." Since the creation of the Jewish Order Service is considered in scientific discourse as one of the means of the Holocaust, one can read more about the activities of this structure in the section "Holocaust Topography."

Unlike Jewish and Ukrainian structures, the name of the criminal police lacks a national component. In Lviv, however, the Kripo was called the "Polish police" on a daily basis, as this police body of the Third Reich and the Occupied Territories, which conducted investigations and operations in criminal cases, consisted mainly of Poles. The Criminal Police Directorate was located on pl. Halytska 15. In the General Government territory, criminal police departments were formed of the pre-war police personnel, but due to the fact that, in the case of Lviv, World War II began with the Soviet occupation and almost all pre-war Lviv police personnel were shot, the city’s Kripo was manned chiefly by Poles who arrived in Lviv from other regions of pre-war Poland.

In addition to investigating a wide range of criminal offenses, the Kripo's responsibilities included investigating the illegal, under Nazi law, stay of Jews outside the ghetto. It was the criminal police that almost all the Jews, who were detained (as well as the non-Jews who hid them and helped them), went through; after being processed in the Kripo department they were sent either to the prison on ul. Łąckiego or to the Yanivsky concentration camp. As this activity of the criminal police matched the occupier’s ideological goals, it has all the signs of collaboration.

More information about the criminal police in Lviv can be found here.

Among other police formations in Lviv, there was also the Auxiliary Police (Hilfspolizei) and the Special Service (Sonderdienst), where mostly people of German descent, the Volksdeutsche, served. The special service in Lviv was not numerous, in fact did not exceed the numbers of an ordinary unit.

Another police service was the Railway Police (Bahnschutzpolizei). By the end of 1942, the city had six departments of the Railway Police, its command was located in a building at ul. Focha 3 (now vul. Chernivetska). The Railway Police was staffed mainly by Germans and Ukrainians, there were also some Poles, but they were a minority. Its main task was to protect the railway property, to guarantee security and to prevent espionage and sabotage.

Thus, in the formation of law enforcement bodies with the involvement of the local population in Lviv, the Nazis used the same principles as in the General Government in general: they involved the local population, taking into account the ethnic composition. That is why both Ukrainian and Polish law enforcement bodies operated in Lviv. Such a "parity" indicates that, in addition to national aspects, other motives should also be studied, and collaboration and cooperation should not be "dressed" in the clothes of one nationality (mostly not one's own) only.

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Prosp. Shevchenka, 01 – former cinema "Europa", "Ukraine"

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1. Grzegorz Hryciuk, Polacy we Lwowie 1939–1944. Życie codzienne (Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza, 2000), 432.
2. Тарас Мартиненко, Поведінка мешканців Львова під час Голокосту (1941–1944), video lecture, 2018, 3 жовтня.

Cover photo: Building where the criminal police (Kripo) was located, 2012. Photo by Andriy Boyarov. Source: Interactive Lviv, Center for Urban History.
Inna Zolotar
Translated by Andriy Malsiukh