Schutzstaffel

Schutzstaffel

Overview
The Schutzstaffel (ˈʃʊtsʃtafəl, translated to Protection Squadron or defence corps, abbreviated SS—or with stylized "Armanen
Armanen runes
The Armanen runes, or Armanen 'Futharkh' as Guido von List referred to them, are a row of 18 runes that are closely based in shape on the Younger Futhark...

" Sig runes) was a major paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 organization under Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 ideology, the SS under 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...

's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 (1939–1945). After 1945, the SS was banned in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, along with the Nazi Party, as a criminal organization.

The SS was formed in 1925 under the then name "Saal-Schutz" (Assembly-Hall-Protection), intended for providing security for Nazi party meetings and as a personal protection squad for Adolf Hitler.
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The Schutzstaffel (ˈʃʊtsʃtafəl, translated to Protection Squadron or defence corps, abbreviated SS—or
with stylized "Armanen
Armanen runes
The Armanen runes, or Armanen 'Futharkh' as Guido von List referred to them, are a row of 18 runes that are closely based in shape on the Younger Futhark...

" Sig runes) was a major paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 organization under Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 ideology, the SS under 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...

's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 (1939–1945). After 1945, the SS was banned in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, along with the Nazi Party, as a criminal organization.

The SS was formed in 1925 under the then name "Saal-Schutz" (Assembly-Hall-Protection), intended for providing security for Nazi party meetings and as a personal protection squad for Adolf Hitler. Under the leadership of 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...

 between 1929 and 1945, the SS was renamed to "Schutz-Staffel" and grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the largest and most powerful organizations in 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...

.

Background


The SS grew from a small paramilitary unit to a powerful force that served as the Führer
Führer
Führer , alternatively spelled Fuehrer in both English and German when the umlaut is not available, is a German title meaning leader or guide now most associated with Adolf Hitler, who modelled it on Benito Mussolini's title il Duce, as well as with Georg von Schönerer, whose followers also...

's "Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...

", the Nazi Party's "Protection Squadron" and a force that, fielding almost a million men (both on the front lines and as political police), managed to exert as much political influence in the Third Reich as the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 (Germany's regular armed forces).

According to the Nuremberg Trials
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....

, as well as many war crimes investigations and trials conducted since then, the SS was responsible for the vast majority of war crimes perpetrated under the Nazi regime. In particular, it was the primary organization which carried out 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 a part of its race-centric functions, the SS oversaw the isolation and displacement of Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 from the populations of the conquered territories, seizing their assets and transporting them to 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...

 and ghettos where they would be used as slave labor (pending extermination) or immediately killed.

Initially a small branch of the Sturmabteilung
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...

 (the "Brownshirts" or Stormtrooper
Stormtrooper
Stormtroopers were specialist soldiers of the German Army in World War I. In the last years of the war, Stoßtruppen were trained to fight with "infiltration tactics", part of the Germans' new method of attack on enemy trenches...

s, abbreviated in German as SA), the SS grew in size and power due to its exclusive loyalty to Adolf Hitler, as opposed to the SA, which was seen as semi-independent and a threat to Adolf Hitler's hegemony over the party. Under Himmler, the SS selected its members according to the Nazi ideology
Master race
Master race was a phrase and concept originating in the slave-holding Southern US. The later phrase Herrenvolk , interpreted as 'master race', was a concept in Nazi ideology in which the Nordic peoples, one of the branches of what in the late-19th and early-20th century was called the Aryan race,...

. Creating elite police and military units such as 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...

, Adolf Hitler used the SS to form an order of men claimed to be superior in racial purity and ability to other Germans and national groups, a model for the Nazi vision of a master race
Master race
Master race was a phrase and concept originating in the slave-holding Southern US. The later phrase Herrenvolk , interpreted as 'master race', was a concept in Nazi ideology in which the Nordic peoples, one of the branches of what in the late-19th and early-20th century was called the Aryan race,...

. During World War II, SS units operated alongside the regular Heer (German Army). However, by the final stages of the war, the SS came to dominate the Wehrmacht in order to eliminate perceived threats to Adolf Hitler's power while implementing his strategies, despite the increasingly futile German war effort.

Chosen to implement the Nazi "Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

" for the Jews and other groups deemed inferior (and/or enemies of the state), the SS was the lead branch in carrying out the killing, torture, and enslavement of approximately twelve million people. Most victims were Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 or of Polish
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 or other Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 extraction. However, other racial/ethnic groups such as the Roma made up a significant number of victims, as well. Furthermore, the SS purge was extended to those viewed as threats to "race hygiene"
Nazi eugenics
Nazi eugenics were Nazi Germany's racially-based social policies that placed the improvement of the Aryan race through eugenics at the center of their concerns...

 or Nazi ideology—including the mentally or physically handicapped, homosexuals
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

, or political dissidents. Members of labor organizations and those perceived to be affiliated with groups (religious, political, social and otherwise) that opposed the regime, or were seen to have views contradictory to the goals of the Nazi government, were rounded up in large numbers; these included clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 of all faiths, Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

, Freemasons
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, Communists
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, and Rotary Club
Rotary International
Rotary International is an organization of service clubs known as Rotary Clubs located all over the world. The stated purpose of the organization is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help...

 members.

Foreseeing Nazi defeat in the war, a significant number of SS personnel organized their escape to South American nations. These escapes are said to have been assisted by an organization known as ODESSA
ODESSA
The ODESSA, from the German Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, meaning “Organization of Former SS Members,” is believed to have been an international Nazi network set up toward the end of World War II by a group of SS officers...

, an acronym of the German phrase Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, which translates as the Organization of Former Members of the SS. Many others were captured and prosecuted by Allied
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...

 authorities at the Nuremberg Trials
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....

 for war crimes, and absconding SS criminals were the targets of police forces in various Allied nations, post-war West and East Germany, Austria, and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.

The Nazis regarded the SS as an elite unit, the party's "Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...

", with all SS personnel (originally) selected on the principles of racial purity and loyalty to the Nazi Party. In the early days of the SS, officer candidates had to prove German ancestry to 1750. They also were required to prove that they had no Jewish ancestors. Later, when the requirements of the war made it impossible to confirm the ancestry of officer candidates, the proof of ancestry regulation was dropped.

In contrast to the black-uniformed 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...

 (the political wing of the SS), 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 military wing) evolved into a second German army aside the Wehrmacht (the regular national armed forces) and operating in tandem with them; especially with the Heer (German Army).

Special ranks and uniforms



The SS was distinguished from other branches of the German military, the National Socialist Party, and German state officials by its own rank structure, unit insignia, and uniforms. The all-black SS uniform was designed by SS-Oberführer Prof. Karl Diebitsch
Karl Diebitsch
Professor Karl Diebitsch was an artist and soldier responsible for much of the Third Reich SS regalia, including the Chained SS Officer's dagger scabbard. Diebitsch worked with graphic designer Walter Heck to design the all-black SS uniform...

 and graphic designer SS-Sturmhauptführer
Sturmhauptführer
Sturmhauptführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank used by both the Sturmabteilung and the SS. It was the equivalent of a Hauptmann in the German Army. This is the equivalent of Captain in western militaries....

 Walter Heck. These uniforms were rarely worn after the war began, however, as Himmler ordered that the all-black uniforms be turned in for use by others. They were sent east where they were used by auxiliary police units and west to be used by Germanic-SS units such as the ones in Holland and Denmark. In place of the black uniform, SS men wore uniforms of dove-grey or Army field-grey with distinctive insignia. The uniforms were made by hundreds of clothing factories licensed by the RZM
Reichszeugmeisterei
The Reichszeugmeisterei , formally located in Munich, was the first and eventually the primary Zeugmeisterei , as well as the national material control office of Nazi Germany...

, including Hugo Boss
Hugo Boss
Hugo Ferdinand Boss was the founder of clothing company Hugo Boss.-Early life:Boss was born in Metzingen, Germany. After completing his apprenticeship and one year of employment, he founded his own company in Metzingen in 1923.-Support of Nazism:Boss joined the Nazi Party in 1931, two years before...

, with some workers being prisoners of war forced into labor work. Many were made in concentration camps. The SS also developed its own field uniforms. Initially these were similar to standard Wehrmacht wool uniforms but they also included reversible smocks and helmet covers printed with camouflage patterns with a brown/green "spring" side and a brown/brown "autumn" side. In 1944, the Waffen SS began using a universal camouflage uniform intended to replace the wool field uniform.

SS ideology



In contrast to the Imperial military tradition, the nature of the SS was based on an ideology where commitment, effectiveness and political reliability, not class or education, would determine how far they succeeded in the organization. The SS also stressed total loyalty and obedience to orders unto death. It became a powerful tool used by Hitler and the Nazi state for political ends. The SS ideology and values of the organization were one of the main reasons why the SS was entrusted with the execution of many Nazi atrocities and war crimes of the Nazi state.

Merger with police forces



As the Nazi party monopolized political power in Germany, key government functions such as law enforcement were absorbed by the SS, while many SS organizations became de facto government agencies. To maintain the political power and security of the Nazi party (and later the nation), the SS established and ran 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...

 (Security service) and took over the administration of 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...

 (Secret state police), Kripo
Kriminalpolizei
is the standard term for the criminal investigation agency within the police forces of Germany, Austria and the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. In Nazi Germany during 1936, the Kripo became the Criminal Police Department for the entire Reich...

 (criminal investigative police), and the Orpo
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...

 (regular uniformed police).
Moreover, legal jurisdiction over the SS and its members was taken away from the civilian courts and given to courts run by the SS itself. These actions effectively put the SS above the law.

Personal control by Himmler



Himmler, the leader of the SS, was a chief architect of the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

. The SS Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

 death squad
Death squad
A death squad is an armed military, police, insurgent, or terrorist squad that conducts extrajudicial killings, assassinations, and forced disappearances of persons as part of a war, insurgency or terror campaign...

s, formed by his deputy, Heydrich, murdered many civilian non-combatants, mostly Jews, in the countries occupied by Germany during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Himmler was responsible for establishing and operating 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...

 and extermination camps in which millions of inmates died of systematic mass gassing, shooting, hanging, inhumane treatment, overwork, malnutrition, or medical experiments
Nazi human experimentation
Nazi human experimentation was a series of medical experiments on large numbers of prisoners by the Nazi German regime in its concentration camps mainly in the early 1940s, during World War II and the Holocaust. Prisoners were coerced into participating: they did not willingly volunteer and there...

. After the war, the judges of the Nuremberg Trials
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....

 declared the SS and its sub-parts criminal organizations responsible for the implementation of racial policies of genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 and committing war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s and crimes against humanity
Crime against humanity
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

.

History


The History of the SS may be grouped into several key periods of the organization's existence. The first group associated with SS (but not known as such) existed briefly in 1923, before being disbanded and re-founded in 1925. This second version of the SS, sometimes known as the "Pre-Himmler SS", existed from 1925 to 1929; the more recognizable SS under Heinrich Himmler then came into being. Himmler's SS existed from 1929 to 1945, and may itself be divided into a peacetime SS until 1939, replaced by a wartime SS lasting until the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The group was formally disbanded upon the defeat of Nazi Germany
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...

.

Origins


The group was first formed in 1923, as a company of the SA who were given the task of protecting senior leaders of the Nazi Party at rallies, speeches, and other public events. Commanded by Emil Maurice
Emil Maurice
Emil Maurice was an early member of the Nazi Party and is regarded by historians as the founder of the SS. A watchmaker by trade, Maurice was a close associate of Adolf Hitler with a personal friendship dating back to at least 1919...

, and known as the Stabswache (Staff Guard), the original group consisted of eight men and was modeled after the Erhardt Naval Brigade, a violent Freikorps
Freikorps
Freikorps are German volunteer military or paramilitary units. The term was originally applied to voluntary armies formed in German lands from the middle of the 18th century onwards. Between World War I and World War II the term was also used for the paramilitary organizations that arose during...

 of the time.

After the failed 1923 Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

 by the Nazi Party, the SA and the Stabswache were abolished, yet they returned in 1925. At that time, the Stabswache was reestablished as the 30-man "Stosstrupp Adolf Hitler", given the task of providing personal protection for Hitler at Nazi Party functions and events. That same year, the Stosstrupp was expanded to a national level, and renamed successively the Sturmstaffel (storm squadron), then the Schutzkommando (protection command), and finally the Schutzstaffel (SS). The new SS was delegated to be a protection company of various Nazi Party leaders throughout Germany. Hitler's personal SS protection unit was later enlarged to include combat units and after April 13, 1934, was known as the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH). After Germany mobilized in 1939, the combat units in the LSSAH were mobilized as well, leaving behind an honour guard battalion to protect Hitler. It is these SS troops that are seen at the Reich Chancellery
Reich Chancellery
The Reich Chancellery was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany in the period of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945...

 and Hitler's Obersalzberg estate in his personal 8 mm movies.

Development



Between 1925 and 1929, the SS was considered merely a small Gruppe 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 numbered no more than 1000 personnel; by 1929 that number was down to 280. On January 6, 1929, Hitler appointed Himmler as the leader of the SS, and by the end of 1932, the SS had 52,000 members. By the end of the next year, it had over 209,000 members. Himmler's expansion of the SS was based on models from other groups, such as the Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

 and the Italian Blackshirts
Blackshirts
The Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitary groups in Italy during the period immediately following World War I and until the end of World War II...

. According to 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...

 and General 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...

, Karl Wolff
Karl Wolff
Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff was a high-ranking member of the Nazi Schutzstaffel , ultimately holding the rank of SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Waffen-SS. He became Chief of Personal Staff to the Reichsführer and SS Liaison Officer to Hitler until his replacement in 1943...

, it was also based on the model from the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 of absolute obedience to the Pope. A motto of the SS was "Treu, Tapfer, Gehorsam" ("Loyalty, Valiance, Obedience").

Before 1929, the SS wore the same brown uniform as the SA, with the exception of a black tie and a black cap
Cap
A cap is a form of headgear. Caps have crowns that fit very close to the head and have no brim or only a visor. They are typically designed for warmth and, when including a visor, blocking sunlight from the eyes...

 with a 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") skull and bones symbol on it. In that year Himmler extended the black colour to include breeches, boots, belts, and armband edges; and in 1932 they adopted the all-black uniform, designed by Prof. Diebitsch and Walter Heck. In 1936 an "earth-grey" uniform was issued. The Waffen ("armed") SS wore a field-grey (feldgrau) uniform similar to the regular army, or Heer. During the war, Waffen-SS units wore a wide range of items printed with camouflage
Camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

 patterns (such as Platanenmuster, Erbsenmuster, captured Italian Telo Mimetico, etc.), while their feldgrau uniforms became largely indistinguishable from those of the Heer, save for the insignia. In 1945, the SS adopted the Leibermuster
Leibermuster
Leibermuster was a six-color military camouflage pattern developed by the Third Reich in February 1945. Known in German as "Buntfarbenaufdruck 45" for its year of introduction, Leibermuster was issued on a very limited basis to combat units before the war ended. It was the first pattern issued...

 disruptive pattern that inspired many forms of modern battle dress
Battle Dress
Battle Dress was the specific title of a military uniform adopted by the British Army in the late 1930s and worn until the 1960s. Several other nations also introduced variants of Battle Dress during the Second World War, including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and the...

, although it was not widely issued before the end of the war.

Their official motto was "Meine Ehre heißt Treue" ("My Honour is Loyalty"). The SS rank system was unique in that it did not copy the terms and ranks used by the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

's branches (Heer
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

 ("army"), Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 ("air force"), and Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 ("navy")), but instead used the ranks established by the post-World War I Freikorps and taken over by the SA. This was mainly done to establish the SS as being independent from the Wehrmacht, although SS ranks did generally have equivalents in the other services.

Heinrich Himmler, together with his right-hand man, 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...

, consolidated the power of the organization. In 1931, Himmler gave Heydrich the assignment to build an intelligence and security service inside the SS, which became the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). By the time the war began, the number of members rose to 250,000, and the Waffen-SS was formed in August 1940, expanding the earlier armed SS troops who had fought in Poland and France in 1939–40, to serve alongside the Wehrmacht, Germany's regular armed forces. Himmler also received control of the Gestapo in 1934, and, that same year, Hitler had given the SS jurisdiction over all concentration camps. In the wake of the plot against Hitler's life by a group of regular military generals in July 1944, the Führer came to distrust his regular military, putting ever more trust in the SS, particularly Himmler, who had acted against the plotters and their families. This attitude of Hitler's was further shown at the very end of the war, when he refused to station himself in the OKW bunker in Berlin, claiming that he did not 'trust the strength of army concrete', however the true reason was probably that he feared another generals' plot and so chose to stay in his own headquarters, surrounded by an apparently more loyal SS retinue.

Early SS disunity


Far from the united instrument of oppression that the SS would eventually become, in its first years of existence, the SS was in fact significantly divided into several factions both geographically within Germany as well as within the structure of the SS as a whole. In addition, prior to April 1934, the Gestapo was a civilian state police agency outside the control of SS leadership. In some cases, it came into direct conflict with the SS and even attempted to arrest some of its members.

The first major division in the early SS was between SS units in Northern Germany, situated around Berlin, and SS units in southern Germany headquartered around Munich. The "Northern-SS" was under the command of Kurt Daluege
Kurt Daluege
Kurt Daluege was a German Nazi SS-Oberstgruppenführer and Generaloberst der Polizei as chief of the Ordnungspolizei and ruled the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia as Deputy Protector after Reinhard Heydrich's assassination.-Early life and career:Kurt Daluege, a son of a Prussian state official,...

 who had close ties to Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 and enjoyed his position in Berlin where most of the Nazi government offices were located. This in contrast to the SS in southern Germany, commanded unquestionably by Heinrich Himmler and located mostly in Munich which was the location of the major Nazi political offices.

Within the SS, early divisions also developed between the "General SS" and the SS under the command of Sepp 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...

 which would eventually become the Waffen-SS. The early military SS was kept quite separate from the regular SS and Dietrich introduced early regulations that the military SS answered directly to Hitler, and not Himmler, and for several months even ordered his troops to wear the black SS uniform without a swastika armband to separate the soldiers from other SS units once the black uniform had become common throughout Germany.

The division between the military and general SS never entirely disappeared even in the last days of World War II. Senior Waffen-SS commanders had little respect for Himmler and he was scornfully nicknamed "Reichsheini" by the Waffen-SS rank and file. Himmler worsened his own position when he attempted to hold a military command during the last months of the war and proved totally incompetent as a field commander.

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...

, which would eventually become a semi-integrated part of the SS security forces, was at first a large "thorn in the side" to Himmler as the group was originally the Prussian state political police under the control of Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 and commanded by his protege Rudolf Diels
Rudolf Diels
Rudolf Diels was a German politician and SS-Oberführer. A protégé of Hermann Göring, Diels was in charge of the Gestapo from 1933 to 1934....

. Early Gestapo activities came into direct conflict with the SS and it was not until the SA became a common enemy that Göring turned over control of the Gestapo to Himmler and Heydrich (the three then worked together to destroy the greater threat of the SA leadership). Even so, Göring was reported to have disliked Himmler to the last days of the war and even turned down honorary SS rank since he did not want to any way be subordinated to Himmler.

1925–1928


In early 1925, the future SS was a single, thirty-man company that was Hitler's personal bodyguard. In September, all local NSDAP offices were ordered to create body guard units of no more than ten men apiece. By 1926, six SS-Gaus were established, supervising all such units in Germany. In turn, the SS-Gaus answered to the SS-Oberleitung, the headquarters unit. The SS-Oberleitung answered to the office of the Supreme SA Leader (Oberste SA-Führer), Franz Pfeffer von Salomon
Franz Pfeffer von Salomon
Franz Pfeffer von Salomon was the first commander of the SA after its 1925 restoration, which followed its temporary abolition in 1923 after the abortive Beer Hall Putsch....

, clearly establishing the SS as a subordinate unit of the Sturmabteilung.

Between 1926 and 1928, the SS command Gaus were as follows:
  • SS-Gau Berlin Brandenburg
  • SS-Gau Franken
  • SS-Gau Niederbayern
  • SS-Gau Rheinland-Süd
  • SS-Gau Sachsen

1929–1931


In 1929, the SS-Oberleitung was expanded and reorganized into the SS-Oberstab with five main offices, as listed below:
  • Abteilung I: Administration
  • Abteilung II: Personnel
  • Abteilung III: Finance
  • Abteilung IV: Security
  • Abteilung V: Race


At the same time, the SS-Gaus were expanded into three SS-Oberführerbereiche as listed below
  • SS-Oberführerbereiche Ost
  • SS-Oberführerbereiche West
  • SS-Oberführerbereiche Süd


Each SS-Oberführerbereiche contained several SS-Brigaden, which in turn were divided into regiment-sized SS-Standarten.

1931–1933


In 1931, as the SS began to increase its membership to over 100,000, the organization was again restructured beginning with the SS-Oberleitung, which was replaced by the SS-Amt, divided into five sections as follows:
  • Section I: Headquarters Staff
  • Section II: Personnel Office
  • Section III: Administration Office
  • Section IV: SS Reserves
  • Section V: SS Medical Corps


In addition to the SS-Amt, the SS-Rasseamt (Race Office) and Sicherheitsdienst Amt (Office of the SD) were established as two separate offices on an equal footing with the Headquarters Office.

At the same time that the SS Headquarters was being reorganized, the SS-Oberführerbereichen were replaced with five SS-Gruppen, listed as follows:
  • SS-Gruppe Nord
  • SS-Gruppe Ost
  • SS-Gruppe Süd
  • SS-Gruppe Südost
  • SS-Gruppe West


The lower levels of the SS remained unchanged between 1931 and 1933. However, it was during this time that the SS began to establish its independence from the Sturmabteilung
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...

 (SA), although officially the SS was still considered a sub-organization of the SA and answerable to the SA Chief of Staff.

The SS after the Nazi seizure of power


After the Nazi seizure of power, the mission of the SS expanded from the protection of the person of Adolf Hitler to the internal security of the Nazi regime. In 1936, Himmler described the new mission of the SS, protecting the internal security of the regime, in his pamphlet, "The SS as an Anti-bolshevist Fighting Organization."


Following Hitler's assumption of power in Germany, the SS became regarded as a state organization and a branch of the established government. The Headquarters Staff, SD, and Race Office became full-time paid employees, as did the leaders of the SS-Gruppen and some of their command staffs. The rest of the SS were considered part-time volunteers, and in this concept the Allgemeine-SS came into being.

By the autumn of 1933, Hitler's personal bodyguard (previously the 1st SS Standarte located in Munich) had been called to Berlin to replace the Army Chancellery Guard as protectors of the Chancellor of Germany. In November 1933, the SS guard in Berlin became known as the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. In April 1934, Himmler modified the name to Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH). The LSSAH would later become the first division in the Order of Battle of the Waffen-SS.

1934–1936


On April 20, 1934, (as a prelude to the Night of the Long Knives), Göring transferred the Gestapo to Himmler, who was also named chief of all German police forces outside Prussia; two days later Himmler named Heydrich the head of the Gestapo.

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...

, the SS again underwent a massive reorganization. The SS-Gruppen were renamed as SS-Oberabschnitt
SS-Oberabschnitt
Units and commands of the Schutzstaffel were organizational titles used by the SS to describe the many groups, forces, and formations that existed within the SS from its inception in 1923 to the eventual fall of Nazi Germany in 1945....

, and the former SS Headquarters and command offices were reorganized into three and then eight SS-Hauptämter. The SS-Hauptamt offices would eventually grow in number to twelve main offices by 1944. These offices remained unchanged in their names until the end of World War II and the fall of the SS.

By mid-1934, the SS had taken control of all concentration camps from the SA, and a new organization, the SS-Totenkopfverbände
SS-Totenkopfverbände
SS-Totenkopfverbände , meaning "Death's-Head Units", was the SS organization responsible for administering the Nazi concentration camps for the Third Reich....

 (SS-TV) had been established as the SS Concentration Camp Service. The original SS-TV was organized into six Wachtruppen at each of Germany's major concentration camps. The Wachtruppen were expanded in 1935 into Wachsturmbanne and again in 1937 into three main SS-Totenkopfstandarten. This structure would remain unchanged until 1941, when a massive labor and death camp system in the occupied territories necessitated the concentration camps to be placed under the Wirtschafts und Verwaltungshauptamt (SS-WVHA)
SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt
The SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt was responsible for managing the finances, supply systems and business projects for the Allgemeine-SS...

 in 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.

The early Waffen-SS can trace its origins to 1934 in the SS-Verfügungstruppe: two Standarten (regiments) under retired general Paul 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...

 armed and trained to Army standards, and held ready at the personal disposal of the Führer in peace or war. Hausser also established two Junkerschule for the training of SS officers.

1936–1939



Himmler was named the chief of all German police (nominally in that role subordinate to Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick was a prominent German Nazi official serving as Minister of the Interior of the Third Reich. After the end of World War II, he was tried for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials and executed...

) on June 17, 1936. He thereby assumed control of all of the German states' regular police forces and, nationalizing them, formed the Ordnungspolizei
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...

 and the Kriminalpolizei
Kriminalpolizei
is the standard term for the criminal investigation agency within the police forces of Germany, Austria and the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. In Nazi Germany during 1936, the Kripo became the Criminal Police Department for the entire Reich...

. The Orpo, uniformed police, were placed under the command of SS Obergruppenführer Kurt Daluege
Kurt Daluege
Kurt Daluege was a German Nazi SS-Oberstgruppenführer and Generaloberst der Polizei as chief of the Ordnungspolizei and ruled the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia as Deputy Protector after Reinhard Heydrich's assassination.-Early life and career:Kurt Daluege, a son of a Prussian state official,...

. Further, the Gestapo and the Kripo or Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police) were incorporated into the SiPo or 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...

 (Security Police) and considered a complementary organisation to the SD or Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service). Reinhard Heydrich was head of the SiPo (made up of the Gestapo and Kripo) and SD. Heinrich Müller, was chief of operations of the Gestapo. These events effectively placed all German police under the control of SS commanders. In September 1939, the security and police agencies of Nazi Germany (with the exception of the Orpo) were consolidated into the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), headed by Heydrich.

In 1939, from the existing Totenkopfverbände was formed the SS Division Totenkopf composed of members of the Concentration Camp service together with support units transferred from the Army. The Totenkopf or "Death's Head" division would later become a division of the Waffen-SS.


The SS during World War II


By the outbreak of World War II, the SS had solidified into its final form. By this point, the term "SS" could be applied to two completely separate organizations, mainly the Allgemeine-SS and 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 Allgemeine-SS also had control over a third SS branch, known as the Germanic-SS
Germanic-SS
The Germanic SS was the collective name given to SS groups which arose in Occupied Europe between 1939 and 1945.The units were modeled on the Allgemeine-SS in Nazi Germany...

, which was composed of SS groups formed in occupied territories and allied countries. In the last months of World War II, a fourth branch of the SS known as the "Auxiliary-SS" was formed from non-SS members conscripted to serve in Germany's concentration camps.

SS and police leaders


During the Second World War, the most powerful men in the SS were the SS and Police Leader
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:...

s, divided into three levels: Regular Leaders, Higher Leaders, and Supreme Leaders. Such persons normally held the rank of SS-Gruppenführer or above and answered directly to Himmler in all matters pertaining to the SS in their area of responsibility. Thus, SS and Police Leaders bypassed all other chains of command. In Himmler's grand dream of the SS, the SS and Police Leaders were eventually to become SS-Governors of the Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

 which would be ruled by SS-Lords, protected by SS-Legions, and worked and lived in by SS-Yeoman Warriors overseeing Slavic serfs.

SS offices


By 1942, all activities of the SS were managed through twelve main offices of the Allgemeine-SS.
  • Hauptamt Persönlicher Stab Reichsführer-SS
    Persönlicher Stab Reichsführer-SS
    The Personal Staff of the Reich Leader of the SS was a main office of the SS which was established in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler to serve as a personal office coordinating various activities and projects subordinate to the Reichsführer-SS.-Operations:...

    , Personal Staff of the Reich Leader SS (i.e., Himmler)
  • SS-Hauptamt
    SS-Hauptamt
    The SS-Hauptamt was the central command office of the German Schutzstaffel in Nazi Germany until 1940.-Formation:...

    , SS-HA, Main Administrative Office
  • SS Führungshauptamt
    SS Führungshauptamt
    The SS-Führungshauptamt was the operational headquarters of the SS.It was responsible for the administration of Officer Schools , Medical services, logistics, and rates of pay...

    , SS-FHA, SS Main Operational Office (military command for the Waffen-SS)
  • Hauptamt SS-Gericht
    Hauptamt SS-Gericht
    The Hauptamt SS-Gericht was the legal department of the SS during the Third Reich. It was responsible for formulating the laws and codes that the SS and various other groups of the secret police and Wehrmacht were to adhere to, as well as administering the SS and Police Courts and penal...

    , Main Office of SS Legal Matters
  • SS-Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt, RuSHA, SS Office of Race and Settlement
  • SS Personalhauptamt
    SS Personalhauptamt
    The SS Personalhauptamt was the central recording office for all officers and potential officers for the SS in Nazi Germany.-Formation:The Personalhauptamt was responsible maintaining the service records for all commissioned Waffen-SS and Allgemeine-SS personnel. However it did not keep extensive...

    , SS Personnel Main Office
  • SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt, RSHA, Reich Main Security Office
  • Hauptamt Ordnungspolizei
    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...

    , Main Office of the Order Police
  • 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...

    , SS-WVHA, Economic and Administration Main Office (which administered the concentration camp system
    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...

    )
  • Hauptamt Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle
    Hauptamt Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle
    The Hauptamt Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle was an NSDAP agency founded to manage the interests of the Volksdeutsche who lived outside the borders of Nazi Germany....

    , VOMI, Racial German Assistance Main Office
  • Hauptamt Dienststelle Heissmeyer, SS Education Office
  • Hauptamt Reichskommissar für die Festigung Deutschen Volkstums, RKFVD, Main Office of the Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood

Allgemeine-SS



The Allgemeine-SS (the "General SS") refers to a non-combat branch of the SS. The Allgemeine-SS formations were divided into Standarten, organized into larger formations known as Abschnitte and Oberabschnitte. Many personnel served in other branches of the state government, Nazi Party, and certain departments within the RSHA (e.g., the SD, Gestapo and Kripo). Members of the Allgemeine-SS were considered more or less reservists with many serving the German military, or the Waffen-SS. For those who served in the Waffen-SS, it was a standard practice to hold separate SS ranks for both the Allgemeine-SS and the Waffen-SS.

Waffen-SS



The Waffen-SS were frontline combat troops trained to fight in Germany's battles during World War II. During the early campaigns against Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, military SS units were of regiment size and drawn from existing armed SS formations:
  • The Leibstandarte, Hitler's personal bodyguard.
  • The Death's-Head Battalions (German: Totenkopfverbände
    SS-Totenkopfverbände
    SS-Totenkopfverbände , meaning "Death's-Head Units", was the SS organization responsible for administering the Nazi concentration camps for the Third Reich....

    ), which administered the concentration camps.
  • The Dispositional Troops, (German: 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....

    ).


For the invasion of France and the Low Countries in 1940 (Fall Gelb) the three SS-VT and three of the SS-TV regiments were each organized into divisions (the future 2nd "Das Reich" and 3rd "Totenkopf"), and another division was raised from the Ordnungspolizei (later the 4th "Polizei"). Following the campaign, these units together with the Leibstandarte and additional SS-TV Standarten were amalgamated into the newly-formed Kommandoamt der Waffen-SS within the SS Führungshauptamt
SS Führungshauptamt
The SS-Führungshauptamt was the operational headquarters of the SS.It was responsible for the administration of Officer Schools , Medical services, logistics, and rates of pay...

.

In 1941 Himmler announced that additional Waffen-SS Freiwilligen units would be raised from non-German foreign nationals. His goal was to acquire additional manpower from occupied nations. These foreign legions eventually included volunteers from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.

While the Waffen-SS remained officially outside the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

) and under Himmler's authority, they were placed under the operational command of the Armed Forces High Command (OKW) or Army High Command (OKH), and were largely funded by the Wehrmacht. During the war, the Waffen-SS grew to 38 divisions. The most famous are the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was Adolf Hitler's personal bodyguard. Initially the size of a regiment, the LSSAH eventually grew into a divisional-sized unit...

 (LSSAH), 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, 3rd 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...

, 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking
5th SS Panzer Division Wiking
The 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking was one of the elite Panzer divisions of the thirty eight Waffen SS divisions. It was recruited from foreign volunteers, from Scandinavia, Finland, Estonia, The Netherlands, and Belgium under the command of German officers...

 and the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend
12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend
The 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend was a German Waffen SS armoured division during World War II. The Hitlerjugend was unique because the majority of its junior enlisted men were drawn from members of the Hitler Youth, while the senior NCOs and officers were generally veterans of the Eastern...

.

The Waffen-SS maintained several "Foreign Legion
Europäische Freiwillige
Europäische Freiwillige is a German term meaning 'European Volunteers', derived from the German 'Freiwillige' , and is used to describe volunteers from an occupied country who join the army of the occupier.-Background:...

s" of personnel from conquered territories and countries allied to Germany. The majority wore a distinctive national collar patch and preceded their SS rank titles with the prefix Waffen instead of SS. Volunteers from Scandinavian countries filled the ranks of two divisions, the 5th "Wiking"
5th SS Panzer Division Wiking
The 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking was one of the elite Panzer divisions of the thirty eight Waffen SS divisions. It was recruited from foreign volunteers, from Scandinavia, Finland, Estonia, The Netherlands, and Belgium under the command of German officers...

 and 11th "Nordland."
11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland
The 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, also known as Kampfverband Waräger, Germanische-Freiwilligen-Division, SS-Panzergrenadier-Division 11 or 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland, was a Waffen SS, Panzergrenadier division recruited from foreign volunteers...

 Belgian Flemings joined Dutchmen to form the "Nederland" Legion,their Walloon compatriots joined the Sturmbrigade "Wallonien". There was also a French volunteer division,(33rd Franzosiche Division), "Charlemagne".

Racial restrictions were relaxed to the extent that Ukrainian
Ukrainians
Ukrainians are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Ukraine, which is the sixth-largest nation in Europe. The Constitution of Ukraine applies the term 'Ukrainians' to all its citizens...

 Slav
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

s, Albanians
Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

 from Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

, Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 Tatars
Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

, and even Asians from Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

 (Indonesia) units were recruited. The Ukrainians and the Tatars had both suffered persecution under Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 and their motive was a hatred of communism rather than sympathy for National Socialism. The exiled Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, used hatred of Serbs and Jews to recruit an entire Waffen-SS division of Bosnian Muslims, the 13th SS Division "Handschar" (Scimitar)
13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian)
The 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar was one of the thirty-eight divisions fielded as part of the Waffen-SS during World War II. Its recruits were composed of Muslim Bosniaks. The Handschar division was a mountain infantry formation, the equivalent of the German "Gebirgsjäger" ...

. The year long Soviet occupation of the Baltic states at the beginning of World War II produced volunteers for Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

n and Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

n Waffen-SS units, though the majority of those units still was formed by forced draft. However, some other occupied countries such as Greece, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Poland never formed formal Waffen-SS legions. With that said, there were some countrymen that were in the service of the Waffen-SS. In Greece, the fascist organisation ESPO tried to create a Greek SS division, but the attempt was abandoned after its leader was assassinated.
The Indische Freiwilligen Infanterie Regiment 950 (also known at various stages as the Indische Freiwilligen-Legion der Waffen-SS, the Legion Freies Indien, and Azad Hind Fauj) was created in August 1942, chiefly from disaffected Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army
British Indian Army
The British Indian Army, officially simply the Indian Army, was the principal army of the British Raj in India before the partition of India in 1947...

, captured by the Axis in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

. Many, if not most, of the Indian volunteers who switched sides to fight with the German Army and against the British were strongly nationalistic supporters of the exiled, anti-British, former president of the Indian National Congress
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the two major political parties in India, the other being the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the largest and one of the oldest democratic political parties in the world. The party's modern liberal platform is largely considered center-left in the Indian...

, Netaji (the Leader) Subhash Chandra Bose
Subhash Chandra Bose
Subhas Chandra Bose known by name Netaji was an Indian revolutionary who led an Indian national political and military force against Britain and the Western powers during World War II. Bose was one of the most prominent leaders in the Indian independence movement and is a legendary figure in...

. See also the Tiger Legion and the Indian National Army
Indian National Army
The Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauj was an armed force formed by Indian nationalists in 1942 in Southeast Asia during World War II. The aim of the army was to overthrow the British Raj in colonial India, with Japanese assistance...

.

Germanic-SS



The Germanic-SS
Germanic-SS
The Germanic SS was the collective name given to SS groups which arose in Occupied Europe between 1939 and 1945.The units were modeled on the Allgemeine-SS in Nazi Germany...

 was an SS-modeled structure formed in occupied territories and allied countries. The main purpose of the Germanic-SS was enforcement of Nazi racial doctrine and anti-semitic policies. Denmark and Belgium were the two largest participants in the Germanic-SS program. Germanic-SS members wore the all-black SS uniforms favored by the pre-war German SS. After the war began, Himmler ordered the uniforms to be turned in and many were then sent west to be used by Germanic-SS units such as the ones in Holland and Denmark. These groups had their own uniforms with a modification of SS rank titles and insignia. All Germanic-SS units answered to the SS headquarters in Germany.

Auxiliary-SS



The Auxiliary-SS (SS mannschaft) was an organization that arose in 1945 as a last-ditch effort to keep concentration camps running. 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.

Auxiliary SS members had the distinct disadvantage of being the "last ones in the camp" as the major concentration camps were liberated by allied forces. As a result, many auxiliary SS members, in particular those captured by Russian forces, faced swift and fierce retaliation and were often held personally responsible for the carnage of the camps to which some had only been assigned for a few weeks or even days.

There also exist very few records of the Auxiliary SS since, at the time of this group's creation, it was a foregone conclusion that Germany had lost the Second World War and the entire purpose of the Auxiliary SS was to serve in support roles while members of the SS proper escaped from allied forces. Thus, there was never a serious effort to properly train, equip, or maintain records on the Auxiliary SS.

SS units and branches


Within the two main branches of the Allgemeine-SS and Waffen-SS, there further existed several branches and sub-branches some with overlapping duties while other SS commands had little to no contact with each other. In addition, by 1939 the SS had complete control over the German Police, with many police member serving as dual SS members. Most of these branches committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, and many individuals were tried for these offences after the war.

Concentration camps



The SS is closely associated with Nazi Germany's concentration camp system. After 1934, the running of Germany's 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...

 was placed under the total authority of the SS and an SS formation known as the SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV), under the command of 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...

. Known as the "Death's Head Units", the SS-TV was first organized as several battalions, each based at one of Germany's major concentration camps, the oldest of which was at Dachau. In 1939, the Totenkopfverbände expanded into a military division with the establishment of the Totenkopf division, which in 1940 would become a full division within 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...

.

With the start of World War II, the Totenkopfverbände began a large expansion that eventually would develop into three branches covering each type of concentration camp the SS operated. By 1944, there existed three divisions of the SS-TV, those being the staffs of the concentration camps proper in Germany and Austria, the labor camp system in occupied territories, and the guards and staffs of the extermination camps in Poland that were involved in 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 1942, for administrative reasons, the guard and administrative staff of all the concentration camps became full members of the Waffen-SS. In addition, to oversee the large administrative burden of an extensive labor camp system, the concentration camps were placed under the command of the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt (WVHA)
SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt
The SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt was responsible for managing the finances, supply systems and business projects for the Allgemeine-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:...

 commanded the WVHA, while 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...

 served as the Inspector of Concentration Camps.

By 1944, with the concentration camps fully integrated with the Waffen-SS and under the control of the WVHA, a standard practice developed to rotate SS members in and out of the camps, based on manpower needs and also to give assignments to wounded Waffen-SS officers and soldiers who could no longer serve in front-line combat duties. This rotation of personnel is the main argument that nearly the entire SS knew of the concentration camps, and what actions were committed within, making the entire organization liable for war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s and crimes against humanity
Crime against humanity
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

.

Security services



In addition to running Germany's concentration camps, the SS is well known for establishing the police state of Nazi Germany and suppressing all resistance to Adolf Hitler through the use of security forces, such as, 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...

.

The 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...

 was the main office in charge of SS security services and had under its command the 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), Kriminalpolizei
Kriminalpolizei
is the standard term for the criminal investigation agency within the police forces of Germany, Austria and the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. In Nazi Germany during 1936, the Kripo became the Criminal Police Department for the entire Reich...

 (Kripo), and 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...

 as well as several additional offices to handle finance, administration, and supply. The term 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...

 referred to the combined forces of the Kriminalpolizei
Kriminalpolizei
is the standard term for the criminal investigation agency within the police forces of Germany, Austria and the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland. In Nazi Germany during 1936, the Kripo became the Criminal Police Department for the entire Reich...

, and 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...

, police and security offices.

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...

 is viewed as the mastermind behind the SS security forces and held the title of Chef des Sicherheitspolizei und SD until 27 September 1939 when he became the overall supreme commander of the Reich Main Security Office. Heinrich Müller became Gestapo Chief, Arthur Nebe
Arthur Nebe
SS-Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe was a member of the NSDAP party with card number 574,307. In July 1931, he joined the SS and his membership number was 280,152. His early career included the Berlin position of Police Commissioner in the 1920s...

, chief of the Criminal Police (Kripo), and the two branches of SD were commanded by various SS officers such as Otto Ohlendorf
Otto Ohlendorf
Otto Ohlendorf was a German SS-Gruppenführer and head of the Inland-SD , a section of the SD. Ohlendorf was the commanding officer of Einsatzgruppe D, which conducted mass murder in Moldova, south Ukraine, the Crimea, and, during 1942, the north Caucasus...

 and Walter Schellenberg
Walter Schellenberg
Walther Friedrich Schellenberg was a German SS-Brigadeführer who rose through the ranks of the SS to become the head of foreign intelligence following the abolition of the Abwehr in 1944.-Biography:...

. Heydrich was assassinated in 1942. His positions were taken over by Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner was an Austrian-born senior official of Nazi Germany during World War II. Between January 1943 and May 1945, he held the offices of Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt , President of Interpol and, as a Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS, he was the...

 in January 1943, following a few short months of Heinrich Himmler personally running the RSHA while searching for Heydrich's replacement.

Death squads



The Einsatzgruppen were special units of the SS that were formed on an 'as-needed' basis under the authority of the Sicherheitspolizei and later the 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...

, whose commander was Heydrich. The first Einsatzgruppen were created in 1938 for use during the Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

 of Austria and again in 1939 for the annexation of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

. The original purpose of the Einsatzgruppen was to 'enter occupied areas, seize vital records, and neutralize potential threats'. In Austria and Czechoslovakia, the activities of the Einsatzgruppen were mainly limited to Nazification of local governments and assistance with the establishment of new concentration camps.

In 1939 the Einsatzgruppen were reactivated and sent into Poland to exterminate the Polish elite (Operation Tannenberg
Operation Tannenberg
Operation Tannenberg was the codename for one of the extermination actions directed at the Polish people during World War II, part of the Generalplan Ost...

, AB-Aktion), so that there would be no leadership to form a resistance to German occupation. In 1941, the Einsatzgruppen reached their height when they were sent into Russia to begin large-scale extermination and genocide of "undesirables" such as Jews, Gypsies, and communists. The Einsatzgruppen were responsible for the murders of over 1,000,000 people. The most notorious massacre of Jews in the Soviet Union was at a ravine called Babi Yar
Babi Yar
Babi Yar is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and a site of a series of massacres carried out by the Nazis during their campaign against the Soviet Union. The most notorious and the best documented of these massacres took place on September 29–30, 1941, wherein 33,771 Jews were killed in a...

 outside Kiev
Kiev
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300. However, higher numbers have been cited in the press....

, where 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation on September 29–30, 1941.

The last Einsatzgruppen were disbanded in mid 1944 (although on paper some continued to exist until 1945) due to the retreating German forces on both fronts and the inability to carry on with further "in-the-field" extermination activities. Former Einsatzgruppen members were either folded into the Waffen-SS or took up roles in the more established Concentration Camps such as Auschwitz.

Special action units


Beginning in 1938, the SS enacted a procedure where offices and units of the SS could form smaller sub-units, known as Sonderkommandos, to carry out special tasks and actions which might involve sending agents or troops into the field. The use of Sonderkommandos was very widespread, and according to former SS Sturmbannführer (Major) Wilhelm Höttl
Wilhelm Höttl
Wilhelm Höttl or Hoettl was an Austrian Nazi Party member, SS officer, secret agent, author and doctor of history....

, not even the SS leadership knew how many Sonderkommandos were constantly being formed, disbanded, and reformed for various tasks.

The best-known Sonderkommandos were formed from the SS Economic-Administrative Head Office, the SS Head Office, and also Department VII of the Reich Main Security Office (Science and Research) whose duties were to confiscate valuable items from Jewish libraries.

The Eichmann Sonderkommando was attached to the Security Police and the SD in terms of provisioning and manpower, but maintained a special position in the SS due to its direct role in the deportation of Jews to the death camps as part of the Final Solution.
The term "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...

" was ironically also used to describe the teams of Jewish prisoners who were forced to work in gas chambers and crematoria, receiving special privileges and above-average treatment, before then being gassed themselves. The obvious distinction was that these Jewish "special-action units" were not SS Sonderkommandos; the term was simply applied to these obviously non-SS personnel due to the nature of the tasks which they performed.

SS and police courts



SS and police courts were special tribunals which were the only authority authorized to try SS personnel for crimes. The different SS and Police Courts were as follows:
  • SS- und Polizeigericht: Standard SS and Police Court for trial of SS officers and enlisted men accused of minor and somewhat serious crimes
  • Feldgerichte: Waffen-SS Court for court martial of Waffen-SS military personnel accused of violating the military penal code of the German Armed Forces.
  • Oberstes SS- und Polizeigericht: The Supreme SS and Police Court for trial of serious crimes and also any infraction committed by SS Generals.
  • SS- und Polizeigericht z.b. V.: The Extraordinary SS and Police Court was a secret tribunal that was assembled to deal with highly sensitive issues which were desired to be kept secret even from the SS itself.


The one exception to the SS and Police Courts jurisdiction involved members of the Allgemeine-SS who were serving on active duty in the regular Wehrmacht. In such cases, the SS member in question was subject to regular Wehrmacht military law and could face charges before a standard military tribunal.

Special protection units


The original purpose of the SS, that of safeguarding the leadership of the Nazi Party (Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

) continued until the very end of the group's existence. Hitler had used bodyguards for protection since the 1920s, and as the SS grew in size and importance, so too did Hitler's personnel protection unit. In all, there were two main SS groups most closely associated with protecting the life of Adolf Hitler.
  • Leibstandarte
    1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
    The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was Adolf Hitler's personal bodyguard. Initially the size of a regiment, the LSSAH eventually grew into a divisional-sized unit...

    : The Leibstandarate was the end product of several previous groups which had protected Hitler while he was living in Munich
    Munich
    Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

    , before he became Chancellor of Germany
    Chancellor of Germany
    The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

    . By the start of World War II, the Leibstandarte itself had become four distinct entities mainly the Waffen-SS division (unconnected to Hitler's personal protection but a key formation of the Waffen-SS), the Berlin Chancellory Guard, the SS security regiment assigned to the Obersalzberg
    Obersalzberg
    Obersalzberg is a mountainside retreat situated above the market town of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, Germany, located about southeast of Munich, close to the border with Austria...

     in Berchtesgaden
    Berchtesgaden
    Berchtesgaden is a municipality in the German Bavarian Alps. It is located in the south district of Berchtesgadener Land in Bavaria, near the border with Austria, some 30 km south of Salzburg and 180 km southeast of Munich...

    , and an original remnant of the Munich based bodyguard unit which protected Hitler when he visited his personal apartment and the Brown House
    Brown House, Munich, Germany
    The Brown House was the national headquarters of the Nazi Party in Germany.A large impressive stone structure, it was located at 45 Brienner Straße in Munich, Bavaria...

     Nazi Party headquarters in Munich.
  • RSD
    Reichssicherheitsdienst
    The Reichssicherheitsdienst was an SS security force of Nazi Germany. Originally the personal bodyguards of Adolf Hitler, it later provided men for the protection of other high-ranking leaders of the Nazi regime...

    : The RSD, or Reichssicherheitsdienst was a special corps of personal bodyguards who protected Hitler from physical attack. While the Leibstandarte was concerned with security in and around Hitler, the RSD was trained to protect Hitler's actual person and to give their lives in order to prevent harm or death to the Führer
    Führer
    Führer , alternatively spelled Fuehrer in both English and German when the umlaut is not available, is a German title meaning leader or guide now most associated with Adolf Hitler, who modelled it on Benito Mussolini's title il Duce, as well as with Georg von Schönerer, whose followers also...

    .


Hitler also made use of regular military protection, especially when travelling into the field or to operational headquarters (such as the Wolf's Lair). Hitler always maintained an SS escort, however, and his security was mainly handled by the Leibstandarte and the RSD.

SS special purpose corps


Another section of the SS consisted of special purpose units which assisted the main SS with a variety of tasks. The first such units were SS cavalry formations formed in the 1930s as part of the Allgemeine-SS (these units were entirely separate from the later Waffen-SS cavalry commands).

One of the more infamous SS special purpose corps were the SS medical units, composed mostly of doctors who became involved in both euthanasia
Euthanasia
Euthanasia refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering....

 and human experimentation. The SS also formed a special corps for women, since full SS membership was available only for men, as well as a scientific corps to conduct historical research into Nordic-Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 origins.

SS Cavalry Corps


The SS Cavalry Corps (German: Reiter-SS) comprised several Reiterstandarten and Reiterabschnitte, which were really equestrian
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

 clubs to attract the German upper class and nobility into the SS. In the 1930s, the Reiter-SS was considered as a nucleus for a military branch of the SS, but this idea was phased out with the rise of 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....

 (later the Waffen-SS).

By 1941, the Reiter-SS was little more than a social club. Most of the serious cavalry officers transferred to combat units in the Waffen-SS and the SS Cavalry 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...

. Between 1942 and 1945, the Reiter-SS effectively ceased to exist except on paper, with only a handful of members. During the Nuremberg Trials, when the Tribunal declared the SS to be a criminal organization, the Reiter-SS was expressly excluded, due to its insignificant involvement in other SS activities.

SS Medical Corps



The SS Medical Corps first appeared in the 1930s as small companies of SS personnel known as the Sanitätsstaffel. After 1931, the SS formed a headquarters office known as Amt V, which was the central office for SS medical units.

In 1945, after the surrender of Germany, the SS was declared an illegal criminal organization by the Allies. SS doctors, in particular, were marked as war criminals due to the wide range of human medical experimentation which had been conducted during World War II as well as the role SS doctors had played in the gas chamber selections 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...

. The most infamous member, Doctor Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele
Josef Rudolf Mengele , also known as the Angel of Death was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University...

, served as Head Medical Officer of Auschwitz and was responsible for the daily gas chamber selections of people as well as experiments at the camp.

SS Womens Corps


The SS-Helferinnenkorps, translated literally as 'Women Helper Corps', comprised women volunteers who joined the SS as auxiliary personnel. Such personnel were not considered actual SS members, since SS membership was closed to women.

The Helferin Corps maintained a simple system of ranks, mainly SS-Helfer, SS-Oberhelfer, and SS-Haupthelfer. Members of the Helferin Corps were assigned to a wide variety of activities such as administrative staff, supply support personnel, and female guards at concentration camps.

SS Scientific Corps



The Scientific Branch of the SS that was used to provide scientific and archeological proof of Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

 supremacy. Formed in 1935 by Himmler and Herman Wirth, the society did not become part of the SS until 1939.

Austrian-SS




The term "Austrian-SS" was never a recognized branch of the SS, but is often used to describe that portion of the SS membership from 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...

. Both Germany and Austria contributed to a single SS and Austrian SS members were seen as regular SS personnel, in contrast to SS members from other countries which were grouped into either the Germanic-SS or the Foreign Legions of the Waffen-SS.

The Austrian branch of the SS first developed in 1932 and, by 1934, was acting as a covert force to influence the Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

 with Germany which would eventually occur in 1938. The early Austrian SS was led by Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner was an Austrian-born senior official of Nazi Germany during World War II. Between January 1943 and May 1945, he held the offices of Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt , President of Interpol and, as a Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS, he was the...

 and Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Arthur Seyss-Inquart was a Chancellor of Austria, lawyer and later Nazi official in pre-Anschluss Austria, the Third Reich and for wartime Germany in Poland and the Netherlands...

 and was technically under the command of the SS in Germany, but often acted independently concerning Austrian affairs. In 1936, the Austrian-SS was declared illegal by the Austrian government.

After 1938, when Austria was annexed by Germany, the Austrian SS was folded into SS-Oberabschnitt Donau
SS-Oberabschnitt Donau
SS-Oberabschnitt Donau was the primary division command of the Allgemeine-SS in the country of Austria. The Oberabschnitt was formed in 1934 under Alfred Rodenbücher as an early attempt to influence the Anschluss with Nazi Germany...

 with the 3rd regiment of the SS-Verfugungstruppe, Der Führer, and the fourth Totenkopf regiment, Ostmark, recruited in Austria shortly thereafter. A new concentration camp at 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...

 also opened under the authority of the SS Death's Head units.

Austrian SS members served in every branch of the SS, including Concentration Camps, Einsatzgruppen, and the Security Services. One notable Austrian-SS member was Amon Göth
Amon Göth
Amon Leopold Göth was an Austrian Nazi and the commandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Płaszów, General Government...

, immortalized in the film Schindler's List
Schindler's List
Schindler's List is a 1993 American film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, and based on the novel Schindler's Ark...

. The fictional character of Hans Landa
Hans Landa
Colonel Hans Landa is the primary antagonist of the 2009 Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds. He is portrayed by Austrian actor Christoph Waltz.- Character :...

, seen in the film Inglorious Basterds was also depicted as a member of the Austrian-SS.

According to political science academic David Art:

Contract workers


To conduct upkeep, house-keeping, and the general maintenance of its many headquarters buildings both in Germany and in other occupied countries, the SS frequently hired civilian contract workers to perform such duties as maid
Maid
A maidservant or in current usage housemaid or maid is a female employed in domestic service.-Description:Once part of an elaborate hierarchy in great houses, today a single maid may be the only domestic worker that upper and even middle-income households can afford, as was historically the case...

s, maintenance workers
Mechanic
A mechanic is a craftsman or technician who uses tools to build or repair machinery.Many mechanics are specialized in a particular field such as auto mechanics, bicycle mechanics, motorcycle mechanics, boiler mechanics, general mechanics, industrial maintenance mechanics , air conditioning and...

, and general laborer
Laborer
A Laborer or labourer - see variation in english spelling - is one of the construction trades, traditionally considered unskilled manual labor, as opposed to skilled labor. In the division of labor, laborers have all blasting, hand tools, power tools, air tools, and small heavy equipment, and act...

s. The SS also occasionally employed civilian secretaries
Secretary
A secretary, or administrative assistant, is a person whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication & organizational skills. These functions may be entirely carried out to assist one other employee or may be for the benefit...

, but more often used the female SS corps for these duties.

Within the concentration camps, the SS used a different method to gain such work skills, mainly through the use of slave labor by "assigning" concentration camp inmates to work in certain jobs. This included doctors, such as Miklós Nyiszli
Miklos Nyiszli
Miklós Nyiszli was a Jewish prisoner at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Nyiszli, along with his wife and young daughter, were transported to Auschwitz in June 1944...

 who, while a Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz, served as Chief Pathologist
Pathology
Pathology is the precise study and diagnosis of disease. The word pathology is from Ancient Greek , pathos, "feeling, suffering"; and , -logia, "the study of". Pathologization, to pathologize, refers to the process of defining a condition or behavior as pathological, e.g. pathological gambling....

 and personal assistant to Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele
Josef Rudolf Mengele , also known as the Angel of Death was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University...

.

In occupied countries, especially France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, various resistance groups made use of the SS need for low level workers by planting resistance members in certain jobs within SS headquarters buildings. This allowed for intelligence gathering which assisted resistance attacks against German forces; resistance groups in the conquered eastern lands also used this method, with less success, although groups in Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 conducted several assassinations of SS officers through the use of intelligence plants within SS offices.. The SS was often aware of such "moles" and actively attempted to locate such persons and, on occasion, even used the resistance plants to German advantage by supplying bad information in an attempt to bring resistance groups out into the open and destroy them.

The French Resistance
French Resistance
The French Resistance is the name used to denote the collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during World War II...

 was by far the most successful in using SS contracted civilian workers to achieve intelligence gathering and conduct partisan
Partisan (military)
A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent activity...

 operations. At the end of World War II, resistance groups also rounded up local civilians who had worked for the SS, usually subjecting them to humiliating ordeals such as the shaving of heads in public squares or carving swastikas into their foreheads with bowie knives
Bowie knife
A Bowie knife is a pattern of fixed-blade fighting knife first popularized by Colonel James "Jim" Bowie in the early 19th Century. Since the first incarnation was created by James Black, the Bowie knife has come to incorporate several recognizable and characteristic design features, although its...

.

Several motion pictures have been the subject of local civilians working for the SS, such as A Woman at War, starring Martha Plimpton
Martha Plimpton
Martha Campbell Plimpton is an American actress and singer and former model. Plimpton is a screen, stage and television actress. She first appeared as Jonsy in the feature film River Rats before rising to prominence in the Richard Donner film The Goonies portraying the character Stef...

, and Black Book, starring Christian Berkel
Christian Berkel
Christian Berkel is a German actor.Berkel was born in Berlin, Germany. His father was a military doctor.From the age of 14 he lived in Paris where he took drama lessons with Jean-Louis Barrault and Pierre Berlin...

.

Postwar activity and ODESSA


According to Simon Wiesenthal
Simon Wiesenthal
Simon Wiesenthal KBE was an Austrian Holocaust survivor who became famous after World War II for his work as a Nazi hunter....

, toward the end of World War II, a group of former SS officers went to Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and set up a Nazi fugitive network code-named ODESSA
ODESSA
The ODESSA, from the German Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, meaning “Organization of Former SS Members,” is believed to have been an international Nazi network set up toward the end of World War II by a group of SS officers...

, (an acronym for Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen, "Organization of the former SS members"), with ties in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, operating out of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

. ODESSA allegedly helped Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Otto Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust...

, Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele
Josef Rudolf Mengele , also known as the Angel of Death was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University...

, Erich Priebke
Erich Priebke
Erich Priebke is a former Hauptsturmführer in the Waffen SS. In 1996 he was convicted of war crimes in Italy, for participating in the massacre at the Ardeatine caves in Rome, on March 24, 1944...

, and many other war criminals find postwar refuge in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

.

It is estimated that out of roughly 70,000 members of the SS involved in crimes in German concentration camps, only between 1650 and 1700 were tried after the war.

However, SS members who escaped judicial punishment were often subject to summary execution, torture and beatings at the hands of freed prisoners, displaced persons or allied soldiers. Waffen SS soldiers were executed by U.S soldiers during the liberation of Dachau concentration camp
Dachau massacre
The Dachau massacre occurred in the area of the Dachau concentration camp, near Dachau, Germany, on April 29, 1945, during World War II. During the camp's liberation, American soldiers from 45th Infantry Division of the U.S. Seventh Army allegedly wounded and killed German prisoners of war...

, and SS officer Oskar Dirlewanger
Oskar Dirlewanger
Oskar Paul Dirlewanger was a World War II officer of the SS who commanded the SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger, a penal battalion composed of German criminals...

 was beaten and tortured to death at the end of the war. In addition at least some members of the U.S Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) delivered captured SS camp guards to displaced person camps with the intention of them being extra-judicially executed.

Argentinian citizen and water company worker Ricardo Klement was discovered to be Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Otto Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust...

 in the 1950s, by former Jewish Dachau worker Lothar Hermann, whose daughter, Sylvia, became romantically involved with Klaus Klement (born Klaus Eichmann in 1936 in Berlin). He was captured by the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

, in a suburb of Buenos Aires on May 11, 1960, and tried in Jerusalem on April 11, 1961, where he explicitly declared that he had abdicated his conscience in order to follow the Führerprinzip (the 'leader principle' or superior orders).

Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele
Josef Rudolf Mengele , also known as the Angel of Death was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University...

, disguised as a member of the regular German infantry, was captured and released by the Allies, oblivious of who he was. He was able to go and work in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1949 and to Altos, Paraguay, in 1959 where he was discovered by Nazi hunters. From the late 1960s on, he exercised his medical practice in Embu, a small city near São Paulo, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, under the identity of Wolfgang Gerhard, where in 1979, he suffered a stroke while swimming and drowned.

The British writer Gitta Sereny
Gitta Sereny
Gitta Sereny is an Austrian-born biographer, historian and investigative journalist whose writing focuses mainly on the Holocaust and child abuse. She is the stepdaughter of the economist Ludwig von Mises....

 (born in 1921 in Hungary), who conducted interviews with SS men, considers the story about ODESSA untrue and attributes the escape of notorious SS members to postwar chaos, an individual bishop in the Vatican, and the Vatican's inability to investigate the stories of those people who came requesting help.

More recent research, however, notably by the Argentine author and journalist Uki Goñi in his book The Real Odessa
Uki Goñi
Uki Goñi is an Argentine author who is principally known for his work documenting the escape of Nazi war criminals from Europe.Goñi's research studies the role of the Vatican, Swiss authorities and the government of Argentina in organizing 'ratline', escape routes for fugitive criminals and...

, has shown that such a network in fact existed, and in Argentina was largely run by Argentine President Juan Domingo Perón
Juan Perón
Juan Domingo Perón was an Argentine military officer, and politician. Perón was three times elected as President of Argentina though he only managed to serve one full term, after serving in several government positions, including the Secretary of Labor and the Vice Presidency...

, a Nazi sympathiser who had been impressed by Mussolini's reign in Italy during a military tour of duty in that country which also took him to Nazi Germany.

In the modern age, several neo-Nazi groups claim to be successor organizations to the SS. There is no single group, however, that is recognized as a continuation of the SS, and most such present-day organizations are loosely organized with separate agendas.

See also

  • Das Schwarze Korps
    Das Schwarze Korps
    Das Schwarze Korps was the official newspaper of the Schutzstaffel . This newspaper was published on Wednesdays and distributed free of charge. Each SS member was supposed to read the publication and urge others to do so as well...

  • Glossary of Nazi Germany
  • List of SS personnel
  • Units and Commands of the Schutzstaffel
  • Uniforms and insignia of the Schutzstaffel
    Uniforms 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....

  • Sig (rune)
  • SS marschiert
    SS marschiert
    SS marschiert was a marching song of the Nazi German elite military force, the Waffen SS.The lyrics imply the elite status which SS men saw themselves possessing. They are based on patriotic heroism and the mentality of "fighting till death", which was a popular philosophy in Germany during the...

  • Wenn alle untreu werden
    Wenn alle untreu werden
    "Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu" is the opening line of a famous patriotic German popular song written by Max von Schenkendorf in 1814...

  • War crimes
  • SS State of Burgundy
    SS State of Burgundy
    The SS state of Burgundy or Order-State of Burgundy was a proposed state which the leadership of Nazi Germany hoped to create in certain areas of Western Europe during World War II.-History:The name "Burgundy" itself The SS state of Burgundy (German: SS-Staat Burgund) or Order-State of Burgundy...

  • 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...


Further reading


  • Arenhövel, Verlag. Topography of Terror. Berlin: Berliner Festspiele GmbH. (1989). ISBN 3-922912-25-7
  • Browder, George C. Foundations of the Nazi Police State—The Formation of Sipo and SD, University of Kentucky, Lexington, (1990). ISBN 0-8131-1697-X
  • Cook, Stan & Bender, Roger James. Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler: Uniforms, Organization, & History, San Jose, CA: R. James Bender Publishing (1994). ISBN 978-0-912138-55-8
  • Höhne, Heinz. Der Orden unter dem Totenkopf, Verlag der Spiegel (Hamburg 1966); English translation by Richard Barry entitled The Order of the Death's Head, The Story of Hitler's SS. London: Pan Books Ltd. (1969). ISBN 0 330 02963 0.
  • Infield, Glenn. The Secrets of the SS. ISBN 978-0515102468
  • International Military Tribunal (referred to as IMT), (1947–1949). Record of the Nuremberg Trials November 14, 1945 – October 1, 1946. 42 Vols. London: HMSO.
  • Koehl, Robert Lewis. The Black Corps University of Wisconsin Press
    University of Wisconsin Press
    The University of Wisconsin Press is a non-profit university press publishing peer-reviewed books and journals. It primarily publishes work by scholars from the global academic community but also serves the citizens of Wisconsin by publishing important books about Wisconsin, the Upper Midwest, and...

    , (1983).
  • Koehl, Robert Lewis. 1989, The SS: A History 1919–1945, Tempus Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7524-2559-5
  • Krausnick, Helmut (editor). Anatomy of the SS State with contributions by Hans Buchheim; Martin Broszat
    Martin Broszat
    Martin Broszat was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of the Third Reich. Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig and...

     & Hans-Adolf Jacobsen, translated from the German by Richard Barry, Marian Jackson, Dorothy Long, New York : Walker, (1968).
  • Lasik Aleksander. Sztafety Ochronne w systemie niemieckich obozów koncentracyjnych. Rozwój organizacyjny, ewolucja zadań i struktur oraz socjologiczny obraz obozowych załóg SS, wyd. Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau, Oświęcim 2007. ISBN 978-83-60210-32-1.
  • Library of Congress Military Legal Resources: Office of the United States Chief of Counsel For Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volumes I though VIII
  • Lumsden, Robin. A Collector's Guide To: The Allgemeine – SS, Ian Allan Publishing, Inc. (2001). ISBN 0-7110-2905-9
  • Merkel, Reiner: Hans Kammler – Manager des Todes, 2010 August von Goethe Literaturverlag, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 978-3-8372-0817-7.
  • Mollo, Andrew. Pictorial History of the SS (1923–1945). ISBN 0-7128-2174-0
  • Reitlinger, Gerald
    Gerald Reitlinger
    Gerald Roberts Reitlinger was a scholar of the economics of art and of history, particularly the Holocaust...

    . The SS: Alibi of a Nation 1922–1945. Viking (Da Capo reprint), New York (1957). ISBN 0-306-80351-8
  • Schultz, Sigrid. Germany Will Try It Again Reynal & Hitchcock, New York, (1944).
  • Shirer, William L.
    William L. Shirer
    William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist, war correspondent, and historian, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany read and cited in scholarly works for more than 50 years...

    . The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
    The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
    The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a 1960 non-fiction book by William L. Shirer chronicling the general history of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945...

    , Gramercy (1960). ISBN 0-517-10294-3
  • Speer, Albert
    Albert Speer
    Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

    . Inside the Third Reich
    Inside the Third Reich
    Inside the Third Reich is a memoir written by Albert Speer, the Nazi Minister of Armaments from 1942 to 1945, serving as Hitler's main architect before this period...

    , pages 45, 94, 95, 144, 268–69 (Russian POWs), 369–371 (concentration camp labor), 372–374 (business enterprises and labor camps), Macmillan, New York (1970). ISBN 0-517-38579-1 (1982 Bonanza reprint).
  • SS Officer Personnel Files, National Archives and Records Administration
    National Archives and Records Administration
    The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives...

    , College Park, Maryland
    College Park, Maryland
    College Park is a city in Prince George's County, Maryland, USA. The population was 30,413 at the 2010 census. It is best known as the home of the University of Maryland, College Park, and since 1994 the city has also been home to the "Archives II" facility of the U.S...

  • Tetens, T.H. The New Germany and the Old Nazis (LCN 61-7240)
  • Wechsbert, Joseph: The Murderers Among Us (LCN 67-13204)
  • Williams, Max. Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography: Volumes 1, Ulric Publishing (2001), ISBN 0-9537577-5-7.
  • Yerger, Mark C. Allgemeine-SS: The Commands, Units, and Leaders of the General SS, Schiffer Publishing (1997). ISBN 0-7643-0145-4
  • Discussion and detailed verdict of the International Military Tribunal finding the SS to have been a criminal organization, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Vol. II. USGPO, Washington, 1946, pages 173-237
  • Indonesian volunteers in the Waffen-SS


External links