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SS-Totenkopfverbände

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SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV), meaning "Death's-Head Units", was the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 organization responsible for administering the Nazi concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

 for the Third Reich
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

.

The SS-TV was an independent unit within the SS with its own ranks
Ranks and insignia of the Schutzstaffel
The uniforms and insignia of the Schutzstaffel were paramilitary ranks and uniforms used by the SS between 1925 and 1945 to differentiate that organization from the regular German armed forces, the German state, and the Nazi Party....

 and command structure. It ran the camps throughout Germany, such as Dachau and Buchenwald; in Nazi-occupied Europe, it ran Auschwitz in German occupied Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and Mauthausen
Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
Mauthausen Concentration Camp grew to become a large group of Nazi concentration camps that was built around the villages of Mauthausen and Gusen in Upper Austria, roughly east of the city of Linz.Initially a single camp at Mauthausen, it expanded over time and by the summer of 1940, the...

 in Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 as well as numerous other concentration and death camps. The death camps' primary function was genocide and included Treblinka, Bełżec extermination camp and Sobibor
Sobibór
Sobibór is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Włodawa, within Włodawa County, Lublin Voivodeship, in eastern Poland. It lies close to the Bug River, which forms the border with Belarus and Ukraine. Sobibór is approximately south-east of Włodawa and east of the regional capital...

. It was responsible for facilitating the Final Solution
The Final Solution
The Final Solution is a 2004 novel by Michael Chabon. It is a detective story that in many ways pays homage to the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and other writers of the genre...

, known since as the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

, in collaboration with the Reich Main Security Office
RSHA
The RSHA, or Reichssicherheitshauptamt was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei and Reichsführer-SS...

 and the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office
SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt
The SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt was responsible for managing the finances, supply systems and business projects for the Allgemeine-SS...

 or WVHA.

At the outbreak of WWII one of the first combat units of the Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

, the SS Division Totenkopf
3rd SS Division Totenkopf
The SS Division Totenkopf , also known as 3. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Totenkopf and 3. SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf, was one of the 38 divisions fielded by the Waffen-SS during World War II. Prior to achieving division status, the formation was known as Kampfgruppe Eicke...

, was formed from SS-TV personnel. It soon developed a reputation for ferocity and fanaticism, participating in several war crimes such as the Le Paradis massacre
Le Paradis massacre
The Le Paradis massacre was a war crime committed by members of the 14th Company, SS Division Totenkopf, under the command of Hauptsturmführer Fritz Knöchlein...

 in 1940 during the Fall of France and the murder of Russian civilians in Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

.

While the Totenkopf
Totenkopf
The Totenkopf is the German word for the death's head and an old symbol for death or the dead. It consists usually of the skull and the mandible of the human skeleton...

 (Death's Head) was the universal cap badge of the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

, the SS-TV also wore the insignia on the right collar to distinguish itself from other SS units.

Formation


On 26 June 1933, Reichsführer
Reichsführer-SS
was a special SS rank that existed between the years of 1925 and 1945. Reichsführer-SS was a title from 1925 to 1933 and, after 1934, the highest rank of the German Schutzstaffel .-Definition:...

 Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 appointed Oberführer
Oberführer
Oberführer was an early paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party dating back to 1921. Translated as “Senior Leader”, an Oberführer was typically a Nazi Party member in charge of a group of paramilitary units in a particular geographical region...

 Theodor Eicke
Theodor Eicke
Theodor Eicke was a SS Obergruppenführer , commander of the SS-Division Totenkopf of the Waffen-SS and one of the key figures in the establishment of concentration camps in Nazi Germany. His Nazi Party number was 114,901 and his SS number was 2,921...

 the Kommandant of the first Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. Eicke requested a permanent unit that would be subordinate only to him and Himmler granted the request: the SS-Wachverband (Guard Unit) was formed. Promoted on 30 January 1934 to SS-Brigadeführer
Brigadeführer
SS-Brigadeführer was an SS rank that was used in Nazi Germany between the years of 1932 and 1945. Brigadeführer was also an SA rank....

 (equivalent to Major-general
General (Germany)
General is presently the highest rank of the German Army and Luftwaffe . It is the equivalent to the rank of Admiral in the German Navy .-Early history:...

 in the Army), Eicke as commander of Dachau began new reforms. He reorganized the SS camp, establishing new guarding provisions
Postenpflicht
The Postenpflicht was part of a written order for SS guards in Nazi concentration camps regarding the use of firearms. It required SS guards to shoot prisoners who tried to escape or engage in resistance and to do so without verbal warning or a warning shot. The order stated that failure to shoot...

, which included blind obedience to orders, and tightening disciplinary and punishment regulations
Lagerordnung
The Lagerordnung was the "Disciplinary and Penal Code", first written for Dachau concentration camp, which became the uniform code at all SS concentration camps in the Third Reich on January 1, 1934. Also known as the Strafkatalog , it detailed the regulations for prisoners...

 for detainees, which were adopted by all concentration camps of the Third Reich on 1 January 1934. Following the Night of the Long Knives
Night of the Long Knives
The Night of the Long Knives , sometimes called "Operation Hummingbird " or in Germany the "Röhm-Putsch," was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders...

 (at the end June 1934), Eicke, who had played a major role in the affair, was again promoted to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer and appointed Inspector of Concentration Camps
Concentration Camps Inspectorate
The Concentration Camps Inspectorate was the central SS administrative and managerial authority for the concentration camps of the Third Reich. Created by Theodor Eicke, it was originally known as the "General Inspection of the Enhanced SS-Totenkopfstandarten, after Eicke's position in the SS...

 and Commander of SS guard formations.

Personnel from Dachau then went on to work at Sachsenhausen and Oranienburg
Oranienburg
Oranienburg is a town in Brandenburg, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Oberhavel.- Geography :Oranienburg is a town located on the banks of the Havel river, 35 km north of the centre of Berlin.- Division of the town :...

, where Eicke established his central office. In 1935 Dachau became the training center for the concentration camps service. Many of the early recruits came from the ranks of the SA
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 and Allgemeine SS
Allgemeine SS
The Allgemeine SS was the most numerous branch of the Schutzstaffel paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany. It was managed by the SS-Hauptamt...

. Senior roles were filled by personnel from the German police service
Ordnungspolizei
The Ordnungspolizei or Orpo were the uniformed regular police force in Nazi Germany between 1936 and 1945. It was increasingly absorbed into the Nazi police system. Owing to their green uniforms, they were also referred to as Grüne Polizei...

. On 29 March 1936, concentration camp guards and administration units were officially designated as the SS-Totenkopfverbände.

By April 1938, the SS-TV had four regiments of three storm battalions with three infantry companies, one machine gun company and medical, communication and transportation units.

Development


When the SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV) was formally established in 1936, the group was organized into six Wachtruppen situated at each of Germany's major concentration camps. Theodor Eicke, at this stage, was technically only the commander of the Dachau concentration camp, although it was without question that he was the effective head of the entire SS-TV.

In 1935, as the concentration camp system within Germany expanded, groups of camps were organized into Wachsturmbanne (battalions) under the office of the Inspector of Concentration Camps who answered directly to the SS headquarters office and Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

. In 1937, the Wachsturmbanne were in turn organized into three main SS-Totenkopfstandarten (regiments).

By 1936, Eicke had also begun to establish military formations of concentration camp personnel which eventually became the Totenkopf Division
3rd SS Division Totenkopf
The SS Division Totenkopf , also known as 3. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Totenkopf and 3. SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf, was one of the 38 divisions fielded by the Waffen-SS during World War II. Prior to achieving division status, the formation was known as Kampfgruppe Eicke...

 and other units of the Waffen-SS. In the early days of the military camp service formation, the group's exact chain of command was contested since Eicke as Führer der Totenkopfverbände exercised personal control of the group but also, being a military SS formation, authority over the armed units was claimed by the SS-Verfügungstruppe
SS-Verfügungstruppe
The SS-Verfügungstruppe was formed in 1934 as combat troops for the NSDAP. By 1940 these military SS units had become the nucleus of the Waffen-SS....

 (who would get it in August 1940). But at this time Eicke and Himmler envisioned the armed SS-TV not as combat soldiers, but as troops for carrying out what were euphemistically described as "police and security operations" behind the front lines. Thus Eicke's men were trained by a cadre of camp personnel without outside intervention; the first major training exercise in 1935 resulted in the clearing of the entire Dachau camp for several weeks while the Totenkopf military formation was organized.

On 17 August 1938 Hitler decreed, at Himmler's request, the SS-TV to be the reserve for the SS-Verfügungstruppe; this would over the course of the war lead to a constant flux of men between the Waffen-SS and the concentration camps. Himmler's intention, however, was simply to expand his private army by using the SS-TV (as well as the police, which he also controlled) as a manpower pool. Himmler sought and obtained a further decree, issued on 18 May 1939, which authorized the expansion of the SS-TV to 50,000 men, and directed the Army to provide it with military equipment, something the Army had resisted.

By the outbreak of war on 1 September 1939 Eicke's SS-TV field forces numbered four infantry regiments and a cavalry regiment, plus two battalions clandestinely placed in independent Danzig. However, their role in the invasion of Poland was not military; unlike the Leibstandarte and the SS-VT they were not under Army High Command (OKH) control, but Himmler's. "Their military capabilities were employed instead in terrorizing the civilian population through acts that included hunting down straggling Polish soldiers, confiscating agricultural produce and livestock, and torturing and murdering large numbers of Polish political leaders, aristocrats, businessmen, priests, intellectuals, and Jews." The behavior of these Standarten in Poland elicited disgust and protests from officers of the Army, including 8th Army commander Johannes Blaskowitz
Johannes Blaskowitz
Johannes Albrecht Blaskowitz was a German general during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

 who wrote a lengthy memorandum to von Brauchitsch detailing SS-TV atrocities (to no avail).

In the wake of the Polish conquest the three senior Totenkopf-Standarten were combined with the SS Heimwehr Danzig
SS Heimwehr Danzig
SS Heimwehr "Danzig" was an SS unit established in the Free City of Danzig before the Second World War. It fought with the German army against the Polish Army during the invasion of Poland...

 and some support units transferred from the Army to create the Totenkopf-Division, with Eicke in command. From fall 1939 to spring 1940 a massive recruitment effort raised no fewer than twelve new TK-Standarten (four times the size of the SS-VT) in anticipation of the coming attack on France. By now, however, Eicke's ambition had aroused Himmler's suspicion, and Hausser
Paul Hausser
Paul "Papa" Hausser was an officer in the German Army, achieving the high rank of lieutenant-general in the inter-war Reichswehr. After retirement from the regular Army he became the "father" of the Waffen-SS and one of its most eminent leaders...

's and Dietrich
Sepp Dietrich
Josef "Sepp" Dietrich was a German SS General. He was one of Nazi Germany's most decorated soldiers and commanded formations up to Army level during World War II. Prior to 1929 he was Adolf Hitler's chauffeur and bodyguard but received rapid promotion after his participation in the murder of...

's resentment, especially his designation of TK-Standarten as reserves for his Totenkopf-Division alone, and his appropriation of Verfügungstruppe military supplies which were stored at Eicke's concentration camps. After the TK-Division, and Eicke personally, performed poorly during Fall Gelb Himmler resolved to curb his subordinate. Cynically using as justification several well-publicized atrocities committed by the Division in France, on 15 August 1940 he dissolved Eicke's Inspectorate of SS-Totenkopfstandarten and transferred the Totenkopf-Division, the independent TK-Standarten, and their reserve and replacement system to the newly-formed Waffen-SS high command. In February 1941 the Totenkopf designation was removed from the names of all units other than the TK-Division and the camp Totenkopfwachsturmbanne, and their personnel exchanged the Death's-Head collar insignia for the Waffen-SS Sig-runes.

The Totenkopf Division still had close ties to the camp service and its members continued to wear the Death's-Head as their unit insignia. They were known for brutal tactics, a result of the original doctrine of "no pity" which Eicke had instilled in his camp personnel as far back as 1934, together with the fact that the original Totenkopfstandarte had "trained" themselves. The Division's ineffectiveness in France, as well as its war crimes, can in part be explained by its personnel who were more thugs than soldiers. However, over the course of the savage fighting in the East (during which the Division was twice effectively destroyed and recreated), the Totenkopf became one of the crack combat units of the German military. Very few of the men who were part of the 1939 Standarten in Poland were still in the Division by 1945.

Camp organization


In 1941, the concentration camps themselves were part of a massive system both in Germany and the occupied territories. By this time, special death camps had also come into operation while an extensive labor camp system was providing forced labor to the SS. As a result, the entire concentration camp system was placed under the authority of the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt
SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt
The SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt was responsible for managing the finances, supply systems and business projects for the Allgemeine-SS...

 (WVHA) with the Inspector of Concentration Camps now a subordinate to the Chief of the WVHA. The camps themselves were then administratively separated into three main divisions of Labor Camps
Labor camp
A labor camp is a simplified detention facility where inmates are forced to engage in penal labor. Labor camps have many common aspects with slavery and with prisons...

, Concentration Camps, and Death Camps.

As a final measure, in 1942 all camp personnel were folded into the Waffen-SS to allow for easier rotation of wounded Waffen-SS personnel into camp positions and for camp personnel to be easily transferred into combat units should the need arise. This last measure was frequently used for SS personnel who were deemed "too soft" for duty in a concentration camp or for those who showed compassion to prisoners or refused to obey illegal orders such as the gassing of prisoners or the shooting of women and children. This policy of quick transfer into a combat unit was a large incentive for SS personnel to participate in atrocities, as the alternative was almost certain death on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

. On the reverse, the SS procedures for camp personnel who refused to engage in war crimes proved that there were never any cases where SS soldiers were under threat of death unless they carried out atrocities (a common defense claim of captured SS personnel at the end of the war). At the trial of Treblinka camp personnel, it was in fact proven that there had never been a single case in the SS where someone was killed for refusing to carry out an illegal order and that such persons were simply transferred into combat with the Waffen-SS.

Within the camps themselves, there existed a hierarchy of camp titles and positions which were unique only to the camp service. Each camp was commanded by a Kommandant
Commandant
Commandant is a senior title often given to the officer in charge of a large training establishment or academy. This usage is common in anglophone nations...

, sometimes referred to as Lagerkommandant, who was assisted by a camp adjutant and command staff. The prison barracks within the camp were supervised by a Rapportführer who was responsible for daily roll call and the camp daily schedule. The individual prisoner barracks were overseen by junior SS-NCOs called Blockführer who, in turn had one to two squads of SS soldiers responsible for overseeing the prisoners. Within extermination camps, the Blockführer was in charge of the Sonderkommando
Sonderkommando
Sonderkommandos were work units of Nazi death camp prisoners, composed almost entirely of Jews, who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during The Holocaust...

 and was also the person who would physically gas victims in the camp gas chambers.
The camp perimeter and watch towers were overseen by a separate formation called the Guard Battalion, or the Wachbattalion. The guard battalion commander was responsible for providing watch bills to man guard towers and oversaw security patrols outside the camp. The battalion was organized on typical military lines with companies, platoons, and squads. The battalion commander was subordinate directly to the camp commander.

Concentration camps also had supply and medical personnel, attached to the headquarters office under the camp commander, as well as a security office with Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 and Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

 (SD) personnel attached temporarily to the camp. These security personnel, while answering to the camp commander, were also under direct command of Sicherheitspolizei
Sicherheitspolizei
The Sicherheitspolizei , often abbreviated as SiPo, was a term used in Nazi Germany to describe the state political and criminal investigation security agencies. It was made up by the combined forces of the Gestapo and the Kripo between 1936 and 1939...

 (SiPo) and RSHA
RSHA
The RSHA, or Reichssicherheitshauptamt was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei and Reichsführer-SS...

 commanders independent of the camps. As a result, SD and Gestapo personnel within the concentration camps were seen as "outsiders" by the full time camp personnel and frequently looked down upon with distrust by the regular SS-TV members.

In addition to the regular SS personnel assigned to the Concentration Camp, there also existed a prisoner system of trustees known as Kapo
Kapo (concentration camp)
A kapo was a prisoner who worked inside German Nazi concentration camps during World War II in any of certain lower administrative positions. The official Nazi word was Funktionshäftling, or "prisoner functionary", but the Nazis commonly referred to them as kapos.- Etymology :The origin of "kapo"...

s who performed a wide variety of duties from administration to overseeing other groups of prisoners. The Sonderkommando were special groups of Jewish prisoner who assisted in the extermination camps with the disposal of bodies and other tasks. The duty of actually gassing prisoners was, however, always carried out by the SS.

Operations



Eicke, in his role as the commander of the SS-TV, continued to reorganize the camp system by dismantling smaller camps. By August 1937 only Dachau, Sachsenhausen
Sachsenhausen
Sachsenhausen may refer to:* Sachsenhausen , a quarter of Oranienburg, Germany* Sachsenhausen concentration camp, a detention and extermination facility established there in 1936...

, Buchenwald and Ravensbrück remained in Germany. In 1938 Eicke oversaw the building of new camps in Austria following the Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

, such as Mauthausen
Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp
Mauthausen Concentration Camp grew to become a large group of Nazi concentration camps that was built around the villages of Mauthausen and Gusen in Upper Austria, roughly east of the city of Linz.Initially a single camp at Mauthausen, it expanded over time and by the summer of 1940, the...

.

Eicke's reorganization and the introduction of forced labor made the camps one of the SS's most powerful tools, but it earned him the enmity of RSHA
RSHA
The RSHA, or Reichssicherheitshauptamt was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei and Reichsführer-SS...

 director, Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

, who was attempting to take over control of Dachau. However, Himmler wanted to keep a separation of power so Eicke remained in command of the SS-TV and camp operations. This kept control of the camps out of the hands of the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 or the SD
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

.

In September 1939, Eicke became the commander of the SS Totenkopf Division. In 1940, the Concentration Camps Inspectorate
Concentration Camps Inspectorate
The Concentration Camps Inspectorate was the central SS administrative and managerial authority for the concentration camps of the Third Reich. Created by Theodor Eicke, it was originally known as the "General Inspection of the Enhanced SS-Totenkopfstandarten, after Eicke's position in the SS...

 became part of the Amt D of the Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt
SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt
The SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt was responsible for managing the finances, supply systems and business projects for the Allgemeine-SS...

 under SS-Obergruppenführer
Obergruppenführer
Obergruppenführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was first created in 1932 as a rank of the SA and until 1942 it was the highest SS rank inferior only to Reichsführer-SS...

 Oswald Pohl
Oswald Pohl
Oswald Pohl was a Nazi official and member of the SS , involved in the mass murders of Jews in concentration camps, the so-called Final Solution.-Early years:...

. Eicke was replaced by his Head of Staff, SS-Gruppenführer
Gruppenführer
Gruppenführer was an early paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party, first created in 1925 as a senior rank of the SA.-SS rank:...

 Richard Glücks
Richard Glücks
Richard Glücks was a high-ranking Nazi official. He attained the rank of a SS-Gruppenführer and a Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS and from 1939 until the end of World War II was the head of Amt D: Konzentrationslagerwesen of the WVHA; the highest-ranking Concentration Camps Inspector in Nazi...

 who continued to manage the camp administration until the end of the war.

In 1942 Glücks was increasingly involved in the administration of the Endlösung, supplying personnel to assist in Aktion Reinhardt (although the death camps of Belzec
Belzec extermination camp
Belzec, Polish spelling Bełżec , was the first of the Nazi German extermination camps created for implementing Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust...

, Treblinka and Sobibor
Sobibór extermination camp
Sobibor was a Nazi German extermination camp located on the outskirts of the town of Sobibór, Lublin Voivodeship of occupied Poland as part of Operation Reinhard; the official German name was SS-Sonderkommando Sobibor...

 were administered by SS-und Polizei-führer
SS and Police Leader
SS and Police Leader was a title for senior Nazi officials that commanded large units of the SS, of Gestapo and of the regular German police during and prior to World War II.Three levels of subordination were established for bearers of this title:...

 Odilo Globocnik
Odilo Globocnik
Odilo Lotario Globocnik was a prominent Austrian Nazi and later an SS leader. He was an acquaintance of Adolf Eichmann, who played a major role in the extermination of Jews and others during the Holocaust...

 of the General Government
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

).

In July 1942, Glücks met Himmler to discuss medical experiments on concentration camp inmates. All extermination orders were issued from Glücks' office to SS-TV commands throughout Nazi Germany and occupied Europe. He specifically authorized the purchase of Zyklon B
Zyklon B
Zyklon B was the trade name of a cyanide-based pesticide infamous for its use by Nazi Germany to kill human beings in gas chambers of extermination camps during the Holocaust. The "B" designation indicates one of two types of Zyklon...

 for use at Auschwitz
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

.
But as the tide of war changed in Europe, conditions became increasingly harsh for surviving camp inmates. In 1945 SS-TV units began to receive orders to conceal as much of the evidence of The Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 as possible. Camps were destroyed, sick prisoners were shot and others were marched on death marches
Death marches (Holocaust)
The death marches refer to the forcible movement between Autumn 1944 and late April 1945 by Nazi Germany of thousands of prisoners from German concentration camps near the war front to camps inside Germany.-General:...

 away from the advancing Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

. The SS-TV were also instrumental in the execution of hundreds of political prisoners to prevent their liberation.

By April 1945 many SS-TV had left their posts. Due to their notoriety, some removed their death head insignia to hide their identities. Camp duties were increasingly turned over to so-called "Auxiliary-SS", soldiers and civilians conscripted as camp guards so that the Totenkopf men could escape. However, many were caught by Allied war crime investigators only to be tried at Nuremberg
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 between 1946 and 1949.

SS KZ personnel




From its inception, Eicke fostered an attitude of "inflexible harshness" in the SS-TV. This core belief continued to influence guards in all concentration camps even after Eicke had taken over command of the SS Totenkopf Division. Recruits were taught to hate their enemies through tough training regimes and Nazi indoctrination.

SS-TV personnel lost any compassion for camp inmates. Within camps, guards created an atmosphere of controlled, disciplined cruelty that subjugated prisoners. This brutal ethos influenced some of the SS-TV's most infamous members including Rudolf Höß
Rudolf Höß
Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss was an SS-Obersturmbannführer , and from 4 May 1940 to November 1943, the first commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, where it is estimated that more than a million people were murdered...

, Franz Ziereis
Franz Ziereis
Franz Xaver Ziereis was the commandant of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp from 1939 until the camp was captured by the Allied powers in 1945.-Early life :...

, Karl Otto Koch
Karl Otto Koch
Karl-Otto Koch , a Standartenführer in the German Schutzstaffel , was the first commandant of the Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen, and later also served as a commander at the Majdanek concentration camp.-Early life:Koch was born in Darmstadt, Grand Duchy of Hesse on...

 and Max Kögel
Max Kögel
Otto Max Koegel was a Nazi officer who served as a commander at Lichtenburg, Ravensbrück, Majdanek and Flossenbürg concentration camps.-Early life:...

.

In the last days of World War II, a special group called the "Auxiliary-SS" (SS-Mannschaft) was formed as a last ditch effort to keep concentration camps running and allow regular SS personnel to escape. Auxiliary-SS members were not considered regular SS personnel, but were conscripted members from other branches of the German military, the Nazi Party, and the Volkssturm
Volkssturm
The Volkssturm was a German national militia of the last months of World War II. It was founded on Adolf Hitler's orders on October 18, 1944 and conscripted males between the ages of 16 to 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit as part of a German Home Guard.-Origins and...

. Such personnel wore a distinctive twin swastika collar patch and served as camp guard and administrative personnel until the surrender of Germany.

Combat formations

  • 1st TK-Standarte Oberbayern. Formed 1937 at Dachau. During the Polish invasion conducted "security operations" behind the lines. Redesignated 1. SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment and assigned to the Totenkopf Division 10/39.
  • 2nd TK-Standarte Brandenburg. Formed 1937 at Oranienburg. During the Polish invasion conducted "security operations" behind the lines. Redesignated 2. SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment and assigned to the Totenkopf Division 10/39.
  • 3rd TK-Standarte Thüringen. Formed 1937 at Buchenwald. During the Polish invasion conducted "security operations" behind the lines. Redesignated 3. SS-Totenkopf-Infanterie-Regiment and assigned to the Totenkopf Division, with some men forming the cadre of the 10. TK-Standarte, 11/39.
  • 4th TK-Standarte Ostmark. Formed 1938 at Vienna and Berlin. III Sturmbann Götze detached to form the core of SS Heimwehr Danzig
    SS Heimwehr Danzig
    SS Heimwehr "Danzig" was an SS unit established in the Free City of Danzig before the Second World War. It fought with the German army against the Polish Army during the invasion of Poland...

     7/39. Garrison duty at Prague 10/39 and in Holland 6/40. Designated 4. SS-Infanterie-Regiment 2/41, assigned to 2. SS-Infanterie-Brigade
    2 SS Infantry Brigade
    The 2 SS Infantry Brigade was formed on the 15 May 1941, under the command of Karl Fischer von Treuenfeld with the 4th and 5th SS Infantry Regiments and began its operational service in September in the rear area of Army Group North, under which command it would spend its entire existence...

     5/41.
  • SS-Wachsturmbann Eimann. Formed 1939 at Danzig. During the Polish invasion conducted "security operations" behind the lines. Dissolved 1940.
  • TK-Reiter-Standarte. Formed 9/39 in Poland to conduct "security operations" behind the lines. Expanded and divided into 1. and 2. TK-Reiter-Standarten 5/40. Redesignated 1. and 2. SS-Kavallerie-Regimenter 2/41, combined into SS-Kavallerie-Brigade
    SS Cavalry Brigade
    The SS Cavalry Brigade was a unit of the Waffen SS formed in 1940, from cavalry regiments created for occupation duties in German-occupied Poland. Later, while serving in German-occupied areas of the Soviet Union, the brigade was involved in the genocide of the Jewish population and anti-partisan...

     (later SS-Kavallerie-Division Florian Geyer) 9/41.
  • 5th TK-Standarte Dietrich Eckart. Formed 1939 at Berlin and Oranienburg. Designated 5. SS-Infanterie-Regiment 2/41, assigned to 2. SS-Infanterie-Brigade 5/41.
  • 6th TK-Standarte. Formed 1939 at Prague. Garrison duty in Norway 5/40. Designated 6. SS-Infanterie-Regiment 2/41, assigned to Kampfgruppe Nord (later 6. SS-Gebirgs-Division Nord) spring 41.
  • 7th TK-Standarte. Formed 1939 at Brno. Garrison duty in Norway 5/40. Designated 7. SS-Infanterie-Regiment 2/41, assigned to Kampfgruppe Nord (later 6. SS-Gebirgs-Division Nord) spring 41.
  • 8th TK-Standarte. Formed 1939 at Crakow. Designated 8. SS-Infanterie-Regiment 2/41, assigned to 1. SS-Infanterie-Brigade
    1 SS Infantry Brigade
    The 1 SS Infantry Brigade was a unit of the German Waffen SS formed from former concentration camp guards for service in the Soviet Union behind the main front line during the Second World War. They conducted anti-partisan operations in the rear of the advancing German army and were involved in...

     4/41.
  • 9th TK-Standarte. Formed 1939 at Danzig. Reorganized (with elements of St. 12) into Standarte "K" (Kirkenes, Norway) 8-11/40, redesignated 9. SS-Infanterie-Regiment 2/41, assigned to Kampfgruppe Nord spring 41. Incorporated into SS-Regiment Thule 8/42.
  • 10th TK-Standarte. Formed 1939 at Buchenwald. Garrison duties in Poland 1940. Designated 10. SS-Infanterie-Regiment 2/41, assigned to 1. SS-Infanterie-Brigade 4/41.
  • 11th TK-Standarte. Formed 1939 at Radom. Garrison duty in Holland 5/40. Assigned to SS-Infanterie-Division (mot) Reich to replace the 2. SS-Infanterie-Regiment Germania 12/40 and redesignated 11. SS-Infanterie-Regiment.
  • TK-Standarten 12-16 were raised in the winter of 1939-40, but disbanded the following summer, their personnel used to fill out other units.

See also

  • Glossary of Nazi Germany
  • The Holocaust
    The Holocaust
    The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

  • List of SS personnel
  • Nazi concentration camps
    Nazi concentration camps
    Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

  • Theodor Eicke
    Theodor Eicke
    Theodor Eicke was a SS Obergruppenführer , commander of the SS-Division Totenkopf of the Waffen-SS and one of the key figures in the establishment of concentration camps in Nazi Germany. His Nazi Party number was 114,901 and his SS number was 2,921...

  • Photographs of SS-TV personnel
  • Nazi gold
    Nazi gold
    Nazi gold is the gold transferred by Nazi Germany to overseas banks during the Second World War. The regime executed a policy of looting the assets of its victims to finance the war, collecting the looted assets in central depositories. The occasional transfer of gold in return for currency took...


External links