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Bernard Weiss, a German Jewish war hero and government official who helped to lead the Berlin police force (Kripo) in the late 1920s and used his power to arrest more than 500 Nazis in 1927, was born in Berlin on this date in 1880. Weiss was an ardent defender of the Weimar Republic against both the Nazis and the Communists. He investigated the assassination of the Jewish industrialist and diplomat Walter Rathenau, and brought his ultra-nationalist murderers to justice. Weiss confiscated weapons caches from both the right and the left. When Joseph Goebbels made him a leading target of Nazi anti-Semitism, Weiss brought him to court for libel sixty times and won every time. Weiss also applied scientific advances to crime-solving and created the first mobile crime lab in the world, colloquially known as the “Weiss wagon.” He was deprived of his citizenship and fled to Great Britain when the Nazis rose to power, and lived out his life, which lasted until 1951, as a printer and stationer.
“Berlin’s Kripo soon rivaled Scotland Yard as one of the premier police agencies in Europe. In 1925 Weiss was promoted to head Kripo and 1927 advanced again to Deputy President of the Berlin police. He became the highest ranking Jew ever in German law enforcement and one of the best known official figures in Weimar era Berlin.” —Paul Grossman, Criminal Element