When the Nazis Ran Interpol


The International Criminal Police Organization, or INTERPOL, helps police departments around the world communicate with each other. It was established in 1923 at a meeting of the International Police Congress.

And, during World War II, it was a part of the Nazi war machine.

During the Anschluss of 1938, when Germany effectively conquered Austria, all Austrian police and military forces were absorbed by the Nazi party–and Interpol, which was headquartered in Vienna, came right along. The United States, encouraged by J. Edgar Hoover (who was in charge of the FBI at that time), joined Interpol in 1938–two weeks after the Nazis installed Otto Steinhäusl, an SS officer, as Interpol’s president .

Although Hitler promised to maintain the “strictly nonpolitical character” of Interpol’s mission statement, it was effectively absorbed as an arm of the Nazi regime–with Nazi leaders, Nazi money, and Nazi priorities. In fact, its list of presidents during that era includes prominent Nazis such as Otto Steinhäusl, Arthur Nebe, and the infamous Reinhard Heydrich–the latter of whom was one of the architects of the Holocaust.

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