Via NC Renegade
Gellately had already published a book on German anti-semitism before the First World War and was doing research in a German archive when a librarian alerted him to a collection of Gestapo files—19,000 of them—that Nazi officers had not had to time to burn before the Allies arrived.
"I started to read these files about all the victims in just one region of Germany that the Gestapo had processed," Gellately says. "It would have taken a large force of secret police to collect information on so many people. I needed to know just how many secret police there really were. So I asked an elderly gentleman who would've lived through those times, and he replied, 'They were everywhere!'"
That was the prevailing myth.
"But I had evidence right there in my hands that supported a different story," Gellately explains. "There were relatively few secret police, and most were just processing the information coming in. I had found a shocking fact. It wasn't the secret police who were doing this wide-scale surveillance and hiding on every street corner. It was the ordinary German people who were informing on their neighbors."