The SD, the SS’ Security Service, was one of the most menacing organs of the National Socialist dictatorship. This study by Wolfgang Dierker, using previously unknown sources, represents the
first detailed examination of the SD intelligence service’s internal affairs and activities in the area of religious policies.
The SD was built up expressly for surveillance and suppression of groups who were believed to oppose National Socialism for reasons of »world view,« including the Christian churches. Its employees
included numerous former clergy, first and foremost Albert Hartl, who rose to become SS-Sturmbannführer (SS major) and the SD’s leading expert on churches. These men persecuted the churches
with unflagging hatred and aimed to extinguish completely the Christian religion in Germany.
In researching these activities, Dierker has been the first to utilize systematically the expansive SD Main Office records, which for decades lay behind the Iron Curtain,
off-limits to Western scholars. He thereby succeeds in reconstructing and analyzing the SD’s role in surveillance and suppression of the Catholic and Protestant Churches, as well as smaller
religious communities, with hitherto unachieved precision. The results of this lucid, highly readable book transcend the study of National Socialist rule and can be situated within the broader
history of dictatorship in the 20th century.