protection Squad

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Today anti-constitutional propaganda tool : the “SS badge”, consisting of two so-called Siegrunes (design by Walter Heck , 1929).

The Schutzstaffel ( SS ) was a National Socialist organization in the Weimar Republic and the National Socialist era , which served the NSDAP and Adolf Hitler as an instrument of rule and oppression. From 1934 , she was responsible for the operation and administration of concentration camps , and from 1941 also of extermination camps , and she was primarily involved in both planning and carrying out the Holocaust and other genocides .

The SS was founded by Hitler on April 4, 1925 as a personal "body and beating guard" in Munich . Its last seat was in the SS main office, Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse (today: Niederkirchnerstrasse ), in Berlin . From the 1926 Nazi Party Congress, it was subordinate to the Sturmabteilung (SA), but from 1930 also carried out the party's internal “police service”. It was decisively shaped and shaped by Heinrich Himmler .

On June 30, 1934, the SS liquidated the leadership of the SA as part of the so-called Röhm Putsch . In the following months it was elevated to an independent organization of the NSDAP, which gained control of the police system during the National Socialist era and, through the establishment of the Waffen-SS, assumed a military function alongside the Wehrmacht . The interlocking of state functions and institutions with party structures was characteristic of the SS. The SS was the most important organ of terror and repression in the Nazi state . The SS was instrumental in the planning and implementation of war crimes and crimes against humanity such as the Holocaust and was banned as a criminal organization after 1945 .


Staff guard and raiding party Adolf Hitler

In May 1923, Adolf Hitler had a hall protection called the staff guard set up for the NSDAP. A few weeks later, after Hermann Ehrhardt had fallen out with Ernst Röhm and Hitler, this hall protection was dissolved and the Adolf Hitler raiding party was formed. After the unsuccessful Hitler-Ludendorff putsch in November 1923, this troop and the NSDAP were banned.

Establishment of the SS and later takeover of the leadership by Heinrich Himmler

On April 1, 1925, the SA functionary Julius Schreck received the order from Hitler to form a new troop to take over the protection of the hall (protection of the event rooms) of the NSDAP events. On April 4, a new unit was formed from eight members of the former Adolf Hitler raid. Among them were Ulrich Graf , Christian Weber , Emil Maurice , Julius Schaub and Erhard Heiden , a former member of the Freikorps Marine Brigade Ehrhardt . The new troop was initially called the "staff guard".

Two weeks later, on April 16, she appeared in public for the first time during the funeral of Ernst Pöhner , the former Munich police chief and a participant in the Hitler-Ludendorff putsch . Anticipating later ceremonial functions of the SS, the unit acted as a torchbearer during the funeral procession. Four men flanked the deceased's coffin to the right and left.

The troop was then quickly expanded and expanded to other places in the German Empire. In 1925, the name Schutzstaffel was officially introduced through different name levels such as hall protection , protection command and assault squadron , which the former SA leader Hermann Göring had suggested based on Manfred von Richthofen's flier escort squadron. Schreck now became the SS commander as Oberleiter . However, he did not succeed in establishing the SS. Competitive struggles with self-appointed other SS units and a lack of support from the SA led to his dismissal by Hitler in 1926 and the appointment of Joseph Berchtold .

He succeeded in noticeably enlarging and upgrading the SS: by the 1926 Nazi Party Congress, he had managed to set up 75 squadrons with a total of around 1,000 members. In recognition of this, Hitler entrusted the SS with looking after the so-called " blood flag " on November 9, 1926 .

Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer SS and Chief of the German Police (1942)

The SA, which until then had been subordinate to the respective Gauleiter, was subordinated to Franz von Pfeffer as Supreme SA Leader in September 1926 , who in return for the abandonment of his previous position as Gauleiter, the subordination of all Nazi combat units, including the Hitler Youth and the SS, asked for and got.

Dissatisfied with his reduced room for maneuver, Joseph Berchtold resigned as Reichsführer SS in 1927 . Berchtold's successor was Erhard Heiden, who appointed a 27-year-old member of the Federal Reich War Flag as his deputy: Heinrich Himmler . Heiden, under whom the SS stagnated - even considering its abolition - resigned as Reichsführer SS on January 5, 1929 for reasons that had not yet been clarified . On January 22, 1929, Heiden wished that he would be completely deleted from all SS member and organization lists and turned back to the SA. His successor was the previous deputy Heinrich Himmler, who at the time still held this subordinate office in addition to his role as deputy head of the Reich Propaganda. Himmler designed and led the SS to the end and decisively shaped it structurally and personally.

In an order from November 7, 1930 , Hitler described the organization's tasks as follows: "The task of the SS is first of all to carry out the police service within the party."

The symbol of the Schutzstaffel was formed in 1930 from two adjacent, lightning-like white sig runes in a black field.

Proximity and beginning competition with the SA

Up until the Röhm Putsch in 1934, the SS was very close to the SA in terms of organization and personnel. Contrary to what its later elitist habitus suggested, for a long time it differed from the SA in appearance and brutal street violence only insofar as its members were even more violent and proportionally more often came into conflict with the law.

The SA itself served as the SS's most important recruiting reservoir and, after Heinrich Himmler was appointed Reichsführer of the SS in 1929, initially promoted their advancement. The Supreme SA leader Franz von Pfeffer ordered that the newly established SS squadrons should be filled with five to ten transferred SA men. After a short time, the SS existed throughout Germany. In 1931, Ernst Röhm limited the required strength of the SS to ten percent of the Sturmabteilung . Since the strength of the SS at that time was about 4,000 men (the SA, on the other hand, had 88,000 members), this restriction was in reality an ambitious "growth plan". In order to meet this requirement, Röhm ordered that each newly established SS squadron be replenished with 50% of its target number from the SA. Further voluntary transfers from the SA to the SS beyond this target remained possible. The pressure of the top SA leadership and Heinrich Himmler on units of the SA to massively expand the SS led to the first quarrels and conflicts between the SS and SA, which competed for the best men.

Although the NSDAP was publicly shaped primarily by the SA, to which the SS was still subordinate, the mutual relationship between the SA and SS did not remain untroubled. In Berlin and East Germany in particular, parts of the SA around Walther Stennes showed an independence with the party leadership around Adolf Hitler and the Gauleiter of Berlin, Joseph Goebbels , that bordered on rebellion and repeatedly led to sometimes violent and sometimes only with difficulty peacefully disputes . In the so-called Stennes Putsch by parts of the Berlin SA, even the party headquarters of the NSDAP was forcibly occupied by SA men and the SS guards who were raised there at Goebbels' request were beaten up.

In contrast, the SS was loyal to Adolf Hitler, who noted this positively. Due to Hitler's “special relationship” with the Schutzstaffel established in this way, it became a “serious power factor” within the Nazi movement. In a letter of thanks to Kurt Daluege, who was significantly involved in the conflict on the part of the Berlin SS, Hitler used the words: “SS man, your honor means loyalty!” - words which, after Himmler learned about them, were modified to become the motto of the SS and as early as 1931 (my honor means loyalty) were recorded on the belt locks of the SS uniforms.

Achievement of a central position of power

Foundation of the SD

SS Fliegersturm Hamburg during an "honor guard", 1933

In 1931 Heinrich Himmler began to set up the SS's own intelligence service, the Security Service of the Reichsführer SS (abbreviation SD), which was supposed to support the SS's task as a kind of police within the NSDAP.

His closest colleague Reinhard Heydrich , who also headed the SD from 1932, was in charge.

After Hitler came to power in 1933, the SD was given a central office and a special organizational structure. The German Reich territory was divided into sections to be monitored and upper sections. At this point in time, the SD, like the General SS, represented an independently organized sub-structure within the overall SS . The budget of the SD was fed from the budget of the Reich Treasurer of the NSDAP.

Merger with the police in Bavaria

After the seizure of power, the SS under Heinrich Himmler and his closest colleague Reinhard Heydrich seized police powers. In Bavaria, the Bavarian Political Police (BPP) established by the two of them connected institutional state police forces with the SS intelligence service, the SD; this model was later extended to the entire empire and formed the basis of the SS's position of power.

With the SA, which provided various police presidents after the seizure of power, the SS now also competed for police power across the empire. Likewise, many concentration camps were in the hands of the SA, which managed them at their own discretion and in some cases chaotically, while the SS operated the Dachau concentration camp it had founded, certainly not more humane, but more regularly and had an interest in gaining control of other concentration camps.

Disempowerment of the SA as the basis of the rise of the SS

Decisive for the further rise of the SS under Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich was the disempowerment of the SA, which the SS carried out under the pretext of an alleged "Röhm Putsch". Already on April 20, 1934, Himmler had been appointed inspector of the Prussian Gestapo (and thus its de facto head) with a view to a coming conflict with the SA. From June 30th to July 2nd, 1934, parts of the armed SS units, namely the first and second rifle companies of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and the Dachau SS guard "Oberbayern" , under the direction of SD officers , murdered the leadership of the competing SA. The pretext was a supposedly planned coup by the SA. Conservatives, other political opponents and bystanders were also among the fatalities.

For the SS their actions paid off institutionally. On July 20, 1934, Hitler decoupled the SS from the SA: "In view of the great merits of the SS, especially in connection with the events of June 20, 1934, I raise it to an independent organization within the NSDAP." On August 23, 1934, Himmler was personally subordinated to Hitler when he was awarded the position of " Reichsleiter SS ". The SS was only bound by instructions to Hitler.

Expansion of the position of power gained - police, concentration camps and own military associations

With the appointment of Theodor Eicke , who became the first Reich-wide inspector of the concentration camps after the SA was overthrown , the SS rounded off their control over the concentration camps.

From 1934 the SS turned to the SS-Verfügungstruppe and the SS Death's Head units own military training organizations, with which the SS undermined the military monopoly of the army.

In 1936, Himmler was elevated to the rank of State Secretary by the decree on the appointment of a chief of the German police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior and thus put on an equal footing with the commanders of the armed forces of the Wehrmacht. Nominally, he was subordinate to the Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick , in fact the SS led the German police independently. The special position of the SS under National Socialism was consolidated with the establishment of the Security Police and the later Reich Security Main Office and the subordination of the Ordnungspolizei as well as the expansion of the SS-owned military units .

From now on, the merging of party structures with the structures of the state, which is a central element of the Nazi system, had a decisive influence on the Third Reich. The SS was an element of centralization within the diverging Nazi polycracy , which was shaped by the disintegration of state power in favor of party structures and individuals personally responsible for Hitler, such as Reich Commissioners or Gauleiters, which could compete directly with party and state. Although a subdivision of the NSDAP, it actually faced a certain competition with the party, since under Himmler's leadership it consciously saw itself as the leading elite of the NS.

When Heinrich Himmler also succeeded Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick in 1943, it became officially clear that the state Interior Ministry was more likely to be integrated into the SS than the SS into the normal executive branch of the state.

Acts of war and the beginning of a war of extermination

Union of Austria and occupation of Czechoslovakia

On March 12, 1938, units of the SS disposable troops also took part in the invasion of the Wehrmacht in Austria . The SS standard Der Führer was formed in Vienna .

In October 1938 the SS disposable troops also took part in the occupation of the Sudetenland , which Czechoslovakia had to cede to the German Reich after the Munich Agreement that was imposed on it at the end of September . In March 1939 the so-called “rest of Czech Republic ” was occupied and organized as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia . The SS was charged with crushing the resistance. The head of the Reich Security Main Office , Reinhard Heydrich , later became Deputy Reich Protector of the occupied area. In 1942 he was assassinated, whereupon the Nazi leadership had the residents of Lidice killed as "retaliation" .

Summary of the Waffen-SS

Members of the SS Totenkopf Division, inclusion of a Wehrmacht propaganda company, Russia 1941

In the autumn of 1939 the Leibstandarte, the disposal force and the death's head associations were slowly merged into the Waffen-SS. As Reichsführer SS, Heinrich Himmler wanted to expand his Schutzstaffel into a comprehensive state protection corps that was supposed to fight the internal and external enemies of the Nazi state on all fronts. Despite all the differences within the ramified SS organizational structure, the SS remained aligned with a unified ideological goal. Accordingly, there was uniform training for managers in the two SS Junker schools in Bad Tölz and Braunschweig . The military and ideological training made no distinction as to whether the executives were to be deployed in the SS administration, on the military front, in the SD or in the concentration camps .

The first combat deployment of the SS took place during the attack on Poland in 1939. The Wehrmacht feared increasing competition from the SS disposable troops, but could not prevent the amalgamation of the previous regiments Germania , Der Führer , Totenkopf and the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler to form the SS disposable division . The fighting SS units of this SS-VT division were still under the command of the Wehrmacht and were now distributed to different parts of the army ; d. That is, the SS-VT-Division did not fight as a single unit.

During the attack on France, the Waffen SS , which had now been established, already had three divisions ( Das Reich , Totenkopf and the SS Police Division ) and the motorized LAH regiment . The SS divisions suffered heavy losses at the front. Highly motivated as a volunteer force, with equipment that was usually superior to that of the Wehrmacht, these elite units were often used in the most dangerous locations. As in Poland, numerous war crimes were committed by SS units during the French campaign . Massacres of hundreds of surrendering soldiers and a large number of prisoners of war are documented, as well as “retaliatory measures” for actions of the “ Resistance ”. On June 10, 1944, shortly after the Allies landed in Normandy (see Operation Overlord ), members of the SS division “Das Reich” committed the Oradour massacre near Limoges before they perished in northern France.

In the German-Soviet War , the SS units took part in the fight in the east, for example the Totenkopfdivision in the Kessel Battle of Demyansk , which was costly for them, or their tank units in the Orel-Kursk Battle as part of the Citadel operation .

The combat value of the Waffen-SS cannot be assessed uniformly. While Wehrmacht commanders were not enthusiastic about their units in the French campaign, because poor training and daring combat style had led to heavy losses, they later proved themselves better, albeit not uniformly, as the units of the Waffen SS were too different for this. Elite associations stood next to associations that were quickly established and poorly equipped. The Waffen-SS was ideologically more highly ideological than the Wehrmacht, so it was instructed in Nazi ideology by the SS Training Office . The involvement of the SS in crimes also played a not insignificant role - their soldiers knew that they could expect revenge and worse treatment in captivity, and they fought accordingly, especially in the final phase of the war.

From 1943 onwards, conscripted Germans and men from north-western Europe were drafted into the SS-VT division to fight alongside the Wehrmacht soldiers at the front. Later on, SS units from other countries such as B. Albania set up. As a result, around half of the total of around 900,000 soldiers in the Waffen-SS did not come from the Reich: "The Waffen-SS had become a multi-ethnic army in stark contradiction to its own ideology". Non-German SS units, however, had a mixed value. The Albanian SS division “Skanderbeg” disintegrated before its first combat mission, while members of the SS division Charlemagne in 1945 were among the last defenders of Berlin.

operational groups

During the attack on Poland and in the war against the Soviet Union, other SS units were deployed as so-called Einsatzgruppen behind the front for "cleansing operations" and began the systematic persecution and murder of Jews and members of the Polish and Russian intelligentsia. In accordance with the guidelines for cooperation between the army and the Einsatzgruppen , the SS units moved into the conquered towns immediately after the Wehrmacht. Numerous executions and massacres followed, and Wehrmacht soldiers often witnessed these executions. German police battalions (which were subordinate to the SS) and units of the Wehrmacht also carried out mass executions. In the Wehrmacht, the field gendarmerie and the secret field police (which were heavily interspersed with security police ) cooperated with the SS and their task forces .

The mobile task forces played a very important role in the extermination of the Jews of Eastern Europe. In addition to the Einsatzgruppen of the RSHA, there were also SS units (such as the SS Cavalry Brigade ) operating in the hinterland , which were directly subordinate to the Reichsführer SS command staff and which promoted the extermination of the Jews in certain competition with the Einsatzgruppen. With about 19,000 men, they were numerically stronger than the roughly 3,000 members of the Einsatzgruppen, and battalions of the police were also available. Himmler himself was in close contact with the units involved through direct orders, inspection trips and his HSSPF and urged Einsatzgruppen and his other units to proceed more and more radically.

War crimes, holocaust and genocide

The concentration camp doctor Fritz Klein in a mass grave in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after its liberation in April 1945
SS crew building and garages, Mauthausen concentration camp (photo June 2014)

In the further course of the Second World War , the Einsatzgruppen set up and led by the Reich Security Main Office , including units of the Waffen-SS and the Ordnungspolizei and also in cooperation with the Wehrmacht and local auxiliary forces, committed countless war crimes such as mass executions of civilians in the war of extermination and the Holocaust , torture and murder of Prisoners of war and the displacement of large numbers of people from occupied territories in the wake of ethnic cleansing. The approach of the SS was so barbaric that at first it even appeared to the Wehrmacht as unacceptable. However, the prosecution of such crimes by SS members was stopped as early as 1939 on the orders of Adolf Hitler.

The SS was both a driving factor and a tool in the Holocaust and other crimes such as B. the Porajmos , which should prepare an ethnically clean Eastern Europe for the time after the final victory of the NS.

By appointing Higher SS and Police Leaders (HSSPF) with their own staff, emergency services and, if necessary, further access to SS means of power in their area, the SS consolidated its position behind the front and in the civilly administered occupied territories. As “envoy” of Himmler, the HSSPF and SSPF supervised, executed and intensified the occupation and extermination policy pursued by the SS.

In addition to mobile mass murder through mass shootings, to which Jews in particular fell victim on the territory of the USSR, the SS also operated extermination camps such as Auschwitz , to which they deported people over long distances and in which the majority of the victims of the Holocaust perished . The administration of the extermination camps was carried out by the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt with the inspection of the concentration camps (IKL), or by the SSPF . The difference can be derived from the fact that the SS experimentally radicalized the methods of extermination in stages and regional and personal ambition played a role. The SSPF of Lublin, Odilo Globocnik , founded three extermination camps ( Belzec , Sobibor , Treblinka ) in which he experimented with mass murder in gas chambers, which was then taken over by other camps such as Auschwitz as part of Aktion Reinhardt . The guarding and the exercise of the internal police force and the extermination practice were carried out by the SS-Totenkopf-Wach units directly and with the help of so-called Trawniki . The SS was thus responsible for the industrial murder of millions of people.


Organizational development

Initially subordinate to the SA, the SS developed into an organization with "police functions" within the NSDAP . With Heinrich Himmler's appointment as Reichsführer SS in 1929, a fundamental change in the organization began. Before that, a small group of a few hundred men within the SA, according to Himmler, was to be expanded to become a combat force of the NSDAP, "a National Socialist, soldierly order of men determined by the north, each of whom unconditionally obeyed every order that comes from the Führer." The SS became at the same time expanded by him into an “elite” - and a mass organization.

The elitist character was evident in the racial and ideological criteria that had to be met in order to belong to the SS. As a “clan community”, the SS was to represent the embodiment of the National Socialist master human ideology and, as the “keeper of blood purity”, it was to become the nucleus of Nordic racial dominance. The selection criteria are therefore not limited to the applicants themselves; The wives of SS members were also checked for their “racial purity”. In reality, the required large Aryan certificate could usually not be obtained with realizable effort, let alone verified; as a rule, from 1936 onwards one was content with the small certificate of parentage. Nevertheless, this made the SS the only Nazi organization that attempted to completely rule out even traces of Jewish origins among its members. The ideology of the SS as a leadership order also manifested itself in the reference to the ideas of medieval knight communities, with the help of which they themselves - for example through rituals in sanctuaries or symbols such as the SS skull ring and the use of various rune symbols (now known colloquially as "SS runes" ) or the honor dagger - tried to give a quasi-religious dimension.

After the National Socialists came to power, the SS, like the SA and Stahlhelm , received police privileges to pursue political opponents. In April 1933, over 25,000 opponents of the regime were in " protective custody ". The SA and SS began setting up the first concentration camps in Dachau and Oranienburg .

In 1934 the “Prinz Albrecht” hotel becomes the seat of the Reichsführer SS

After the Röhm putsch, there was a permanent shift in power to the SS. The SS now assumed sole responsibility for all early concentration camps in the Reich, some of which had been controlled by the SA until then. The SS-Totenkopfverbände were now solely charged with guarding the camps. The early, improvised places of detention and concentration camps - with the exception of the Dachau concentration camp - were gradually closed. The systematic development of the Nazi camp system began, Hitler had camps built based on the Dachau prototype.

In November 1934, the Prinz-Albrecht-Palais at Wilhelmstrasse 102 in Berlin was incorporated into the complex of buildings at Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8 and became the headquarters of the Reichsführer SS security service .

From 1935 the administrative units of the SS were renamed General SS . In doing so, they wanted to differentiate themselves from their now armed units, the SS disposable troops and the SS death's head units , which later formed the Waffen SS . This General SS , now also known as the Home or Black SS , was now subordinate to the new command office of the General SS in Berlin .

This resulted in the classic tripartite division of the SS, which informally existed until 1945:

  1. General SS
  2. SS skull standards
  3. SS disposable troops

Final organizational structure

From 1939/40 the term "SS" formed the "umbrella organization" for various main offices and their subdivisions :

  • Contrary to its name, the SS main office lost most of its responsibilities by outsourcing to other offices. In 1940 still responsible for the armed units (Waffen-SS) and the General SS, their management was transferred to the main command office, but the main office remained responsible for the important supplementary SS office .
  • The Leadership Main Office (FHA) was the operational staff unit (headquarters) of the SS. It directed and administered the officers' schools, medical care, transport processes, wage payments and equipment. In 1944 it was responsible for both the command office of the General SS and the command office of the Waffen SS, which led to the Waffen SS.
  • The Personal Staff Reichsführer SS was intended for all matters of the Reichsführer that did not fall within the delimitable area of ​​another SS main office. Above all, the staff were responsible for the organizations of Lebensborn , Freundeskreis Reichsführer SS , Ahnenerbe and supporting members of the SS , with whom Heinrich Himmler realized ideological ideas on the one hand and operated his extensive network of (often influential) people assigned to the SS on the other.
  • The Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) arose from the merger of the Security Service (SD) and SiPo and was the central point for exercising the police functions of the SS.
    • The SD -Amt Reinhard Heydrichs served as a secret service to fight external and internal opponents and to spy on the population.
    • The security police (Sipo) were responsible for the criminal and the secret state police (Gestapo).
  • From 1939, the main office of the Ordnungspolizei bundled the leadership of the uniformed police in Germany and their close and personal interlinking with the SS. Police battalions were heavily involved in the occupation and the Holocaust.
  • The main office of the SS court was the central instance of the entire SS and police judiciary. Originally responsible for internal disciplinary offenses within the SS, from the beginning of the war in 1939, the SS courts stood alongside the military jurisdiction of the Wehrmacht, which was not explicitly responsible for them, as special jurisdiction in criminal matters for the entire area of ​​the SS and the police, including civilians. Up to 38 regional SS and police courts were subordinate to the main office of the SS Court. They were each set up at the headquarters of a Higher SS and Police Leader, who also acted as judge in the proceedings.
  • The National Political Educational Institutes (NPEA) were subordinate to the main office of SS-Obergruppenführer Heissmeyer . Your pupils were to be used deliberately as young leaders; the SS was thus able to gain direct access to the school system.
  • The Main Race and Settlement Office (RuSHA) had the task of developing a leadership elite composed according to racial criteria. It carried out training courses and race examinations among members of the SS, issued (or refused) marriage permits and took on planning tasks for the expulsion, resettlement and race selection (Germanization) of the populations of the occupied territories
  • The main office of the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle was responsible for so-called Volksdeutsche living outside the German Reich . As a central office, it took over the administration and distribution of considerable aid funds for so-called folk work. Between 1939 and 1940, the main task of this main office was to organize the resettlement of German ethnic groups under the slogan Heim ins Reich . Around a million ethnic Germans settled mainly in the annexed areas - u. a. in the Reichsgauen Wartheland (Posen) and Danzig-West Prussia (Danzig).
  • The main office of the Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Volkstum , which worked closely with the Main Office of the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, dealt with the re-Germanization of formerly German population groups. But also for the "Germanization" according to racial criteria as good Slavic parts of the population were recorded in this main office. Together with the middle office, it summarized the target persons in German people lists .
  • The Main Economic and Administrative Office (WVHA) controlled and operated the concentration and extermination camps by inspecting the concentration camps and administered the considerable and growing SS-owned industries, commercial and agricultural enterprises.

Training of the next generation of leaders

The SS trained their young leaders independently at various schools of their own. In the schools of the SS, SD and the Security Police , attention was paid to an elitist and ideologically stable self-image in the sense of the National Socialist worldview.

Well-known training institutions were the SS Junker Schools in Bad Tölz and Braunschweig. The military and ideological training of the officer candidates there initially made no distinction between whether the executives should be employed in the SS administration, in the Waffen SS, in the SD, with the security police or in the concentration camps - later permanent or temporary transfers and changes between the two Uses were common and, with regard to operational experience and complicity, also desired.

Women in the SS

Women could serve as civilian employees without belonging to the SS in the SS entourage or in the elitist-oriented SS helper corps also formally perform their service as members of the SS, where they were also "regular members of the SS clan community". Women worked as overseers in the concentration camps and in administration, as news and staff assistants, in whose function they kept communication links open and helped the staff administration. With Hedwig Potthast , an employed secretary in the Reich Security Main Office became Heinrich Himmler's lover.

SS business enterprises

The SS founded numerous companies, including a. In 1938 the Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH (DEST), which it merged in 1940 in the Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe (DWB). The DWB were led by senior employees of the SS administration. In 1942 all economic affairs were concentrated in the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office. This ran the administration of the concentration and extermination camps through the main office of administration and economics with the economic exploitation of prisoners of war and concentration camp prisoners. In 1943/44 around 30 companies with over 100 factories in which more than 40,000 concentration camp prisoners had to work belonged to the SS economic empire. The DWB's headquarters were in Oranienburg near Berlin.

The SS also acquired several mineral water companies, such as Heinrich Mattoni AG and Apollinaris Brunnen AG , out of concern about the dangers of alcohol abuse .

There were also the "artistic" activities of the SS:

SS public relations

The SS ran its own public relations work with which it represented its interests and addressed potential new members and recruits, but with which it could also initiate or influence discussions within the regime.

The weekly newspaper Das Schwarze Korps - newspaper of the NSDAP's Schutzstaffeln - organ of the Reichsführung SS represented the worldview of the SS internally and externally, it was read beyond the circle of the SS and could - within narrow limits - also partial criticism of the party and state leadership express. With over 750,000 copies sold, it had a considerable reach. She worked closely with security .

The SS-Standarte Kurt Eggers was a propaganda company in which the war reporters of the SS were organized. The Nordland-Verlag was the third largest publishing house of the kingdom.

The SS also took advantage of the sport's popularity. After the Olympic Games , she began to build up her own Olympic squad of quasi- state amateurs in order to provide the majority of the German Olympic team at the next Olympic Games. The SS also appeared as a supporter of the National Socialist nudist movement, which was of the opinion that there was no need to hide the beautiful Aryan body.

Personnel development

When Heinrich Himmler took over the leadership of the SS from Erhard Heiden on January 6, 1929 , this organization comprised 280 men as "active members". After the National Socialists came to power, the number of SS members rose from 52,174 (January 1933) to 209,014 (December 1933) within one year. Since the end of 1934, the SS consisted on the one hand of barracked units of the armed SS (since 1939: Waffen-SS ) and on the other hand of the General SS , whose members were not barracked. The number of members of the Allgemeine SS increased only slowly in the following years. Its peak was at the end of 1941 at 271,060 members. The armed SS only became a quantitatively significant factor during the war. Its membership increased from 23,406 (late 1938) to 594,443 (June 1944).

At the beginning of the war (1939) around 60% of the members of the General SS were drafted into the Wehrmacht . This meant that 170,000 of the 260,000 SS members at the time were doing their military service in the three Wehrmacht armies, the air force and the navy. Only about 36,000 were taken over by the Waffen SS. The remaining members were either too old for military service or were employed in "indispensable posts" in the public service or in the police force. SS member was the internal term. This collective term encompassed all SS men who performed their duty in the Reich Labor Service (RAD) or the Wehrmacht. For this time they left the command of the SS and were listed as "SS members". Within the General SS, a distinction was made between age groups (SS-I and SS-II, which formed the so-called Active SS , SS-Reserve and SS-Stammabteilung). On the other hand, there were no SS members in the SS disposal force , since service in it was viewed as completing military service and was recognized as such. Due to the character of the available troops as an active, barracked troop, the typical SS and age-related distinctions between SS-I, SS-II, SS-Reserve and SS-Stammabteilung were also omitted. Until Adolf Hitler's decree of August 17, 1938, the members of the SS-Totenkopfverband who were in the RAD or the Wehrmacht to perform their service were listed there as members of the SS , analogous to the General SS. This regulation ceased to exist with the above-mentioned decree, since from 1939 onwards only men could be hired who had already fulfilled their service obligations in the Wehrmacht. There was no age-based division of the SS death's head associations into SS-I, SS-II, SS-Reserve and SS-Stammabteilung. Like the available troops, it was an active, barracked unit of the SS.

In June 1944 the SS had 794,941 members. Of these, 264,379 belonged to the General SS. Before the International Court of Justice in Nuremberg , Robert Brill , former head of the "Supplementary Office of the Waffen-SS", gave information on the personnel development of the Waffen-SS on August 5 and 6, 1946:

“At the end of the war, the Waffen SS was still around 550,000 strong; by the end of October 1944 around 320,000 men had died or were seriously injured. [...] Around 400,000 Reich Germans, 300,000 ethnic Germans and 200,000 members of other peoples served in the Waffen SS. [...] In 1944, the majority of those who were still fit for use in the war were withdrawn from the security guards of the concentration camps and cleared for military service. Until then, the guards were made up of those obliged to do emergency duty of the General SS and the former 'Kyffhauser' group of combatants. In 1944 there was still a large contingent from the Wehrmacht. As far as I know, there were initially 10,000 men. Later more. [...] As far as I know, the guards in the concentration camps in 1944 were made up of 6,000 emergency services, 7,000 ethnic Germans, 7,000 army personnel and a number of air force personnel. [...] "

- Documents of the Major War Criminals. Vol. XX, pp. 371-471

In the course of the war, an increasing use of foreign nationals in associations of the Waffen-SS could be observed. At the end of the war, 19 of their 38 divisions consisted largely of foreigners, mostly from Eastern Europe.

After 1945 - Allied jurisdiction, refugee movements and the post-war period

Dissolution and prohibition of the SS

Until the end of the war, SS units fought bitterly against the advancing Allies and continued to murder Jews in particular as long as they were still able to do so (cf. death marches of concentration camp prisoners ). In numerous cases, members of the SS obtained Wehrmacht uniforms in order not to be recognized by the Allies as belonging to the SS. Heinrich Himmler himself was arrested by the British in the uniform of a non-commissioned officer in the Secret Field Police and committed suicide after he was recognized.

After the unconditional surrender of the Wehrmacht , which included all units under German command, the Allies ordered the dissolution with Directive 2 of the Control Council of September 10, 1945. With the Control Council Act No. 2 of October 10, 1945, the SS and their subsidiary and substitute organizations were also formally dissolved and the establishment of a new one was prohibited.

Nuremberg Trial and Subsequent Trials

Defendants in the Rastatt Trials (1946)

In the Nuremberg trial of the major war criminals in 1946, it was classified as a "criminal organization". This assessment affected the entire SS, including the Waffen-SS, the SS-Totenkopfverband and the SD with the exception of the so-called Reiter-SS and the SS-owned association Lebensborn . The defender of the SS was Horst Pelckmann .

This was followed by a series of trials that dealt with individual aspects of the acts of the SS: From January to November 1947 a number of functionaries of the SS Economic and Administrative Office had to answer for their role in the mass murder in the concentration camps; In the trial against functionaries of the Race and Settlement Main Office from July 1947 to March 1948, the "racial policy" of the SS was in the foreground. In the Einsatzgruppen trial between September 1947 and April 1948, SS Einsatzgruppenleiter were on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

SS perpetrators flee

Former SS members found support in escaping via the so-called Rattenlinien or Rattenlinie Nord from high-ranking representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in Italy. For a long time there was a rumor about an organization of former SS members (ODESSA), which is said to have been founded shortly before the end of the war to support former SS members after the war and to enable them to escape. The perpetrators who managed to escape included Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann .

Post-war until today

Statutory ban on symbols of the SS

The Federal Republic of Germany went beyond the Allies' prohibition of organization and made both the distribution of propaganda material ( Section 86 ) and the use of SS symbols ( Section 86a ) a criminal offense in the Criminal Code . Identifiers in the sense of the paragraphs are namely flags, badges, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting. Identical to the marks are those that are confusingly similar to them. These prohibitions on the use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations only do not apply if their use is "for civic education, the defense against unconstitutional endeavors, art or science, research or teaching, reporting on events of the day or history or similar purposes serves ”(Section 86, Paragraph 3).

For Austria the § 3 applies the prohibition law . For Switzerland and other countries relevant regulations.

Criminal trials

There were trials against SS perpetrators in numerous countries. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Ulmer Einsatzgruppen Trial and the Auschwitz Trials are among the best -known trials . The West German willingness to prosecute only gradually arose. Numerous SS perpetrators were able to evade their responsibility, including high-ranking officers. The investigative work of the public prosecutors, however, led to an increase in knowledge about the functioning of the SS institutions and the extent of their crimes.

Traditional SS associations

Despite extensive bans on the part of the SS, propaganda materials and symbols, there were a number of "traditional associations" of the SS and the Waffen SS members after 1945, such as the mutual aid community of soldiers of the former Waffen SS (HIAG) in Germany or the Comradeship IV in Austria.

Recent lawsuits

Occasionally there were war crimes trials against members of the SS and their sub-units in the Federal Republic of Germany after the turn of the millennium:

  • In November 2009, a trial against the alleged war criminal John Demjanjuk began at the Regional Court in Munich II . On May 12, 2011, the court sentenced 28,060 people to a total of five years' imprisonment for complicity in the murder . The verdict was not final: Demjanjuk died ten months later before about by him and by the prosecution against the judgment pickled revision was decided.
  • On 8 December 2009, the former SS man confessed Heinrich Boere in front of Aachen District Court of murdering three civilians in the Netherlands in 1944 (three of the 54 so-called "silver fir" murders. Under this code name the "perpetrated operation silbertanne " by Attacks by Dutch resistance fighters, retaliatory killings of civilians who were alleged to have sympathized with resistance fighters). The 88-year-old said he did not act with the knowledge that he would commit a crime. Heinrich Boere was sentenced to life imprisonment on March 23, 2010 and served on December 15, 2011. Boere died of natural causes on December 1, 2013, at the age of 92 in the Fröndenberg Correctional Hospital.
  • In August 2010, the Federal Ministry of Justice instructed the Free State of Bavaria to review a 60-year-old judgment by the Dutch judiciary. The almost 90-year-old alleged Nazi criminal Klaas Carel Faber , a native of the Netherlands, had lived undisturbed in Ingolstadt for decades. According to the conviction of the Dutch judiciary, Faber had committed 22 murders as a member of the SS special command Silbertanne . However, Faber passed away in 2012 before legal proceedings were initiated.

See also


Web links

Commons : Schutzstaffel  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Schutzstaffel  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

References and comments

  1. SS badge . In: Robert Ley (ed.): Organization book of the NSDAP . 7th edition. Central publishing house of the NSDAP, Franz Eher Nachf., Munich 1943, badge of the NSDAP., P. 38 (fig.).
  2. Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945 . Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-486-70936-0 , p. 41 .
  3. a b Longerich, Peter .: Heinrich Himmler: Biography . 1st edition Siedler, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-88680-859-5 , pp. 22nd f .
  4. Heinz Höhne: The Order under the Skull - The History of the SS. Der Spiegel 42/1966 (October 10, 1966).
  5. Hans Buchheim: The SS - the instrument of rule, command and obedience. Munich 1967, p. 30.
  6. ^ Brian L. Davis, Ian Westwell: German uniforms and badges 1933-1945. P. 66.
  7. Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, p. 42 ff.
  8. Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, p. 43.
  9. Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, p. 44.
  10. Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, p. 57 ff.
  11. Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, p. 56.
  12. Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, p. 64.
  13. Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, p. 65.
  14. Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, p. 67.
  15. ^ A b Bastian Hein: Elite for people and leaders? The General SS and its members 1925–1945. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2012, p. 82.
  16. Hans Buchheim, The SS - the instrument of rule, command and obedience, Munich 1967, p. 59 f.
  17. Hein, Bastian: The SS: History and Crimes . Orig. Edition edition. Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-67513-3 , pp. 82 ff .
  18. Hein, Bastian: The SS: History and Crimes . Orig. Edition edition. Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-406-67513-3 , pp. 81 .
  19. ^ Mommsen, Hans .: The Nazi regime and the extinction of Judaism in Europe . Wallstein, Göttingen, Lower Saxony 2014, ISBN 978-3-8353-1395-8 , pp. 140 .
  20. ^ Longerich, Peter .: Heinrich Himmler: Biography . 1st edition Siedler, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-88680-859-5 , pp. 539,550 ff .
  21. ^ Jens Westemeier: Himmler's warriors. Verlag Ferd. Schöningh, 2013, ISBN 978-3-506-77241-1 , p. 140. Limited preview in Google book search
  22. Hein, Bastian: The SS: History and Crimes . Orig.-issued edition. Beck, Munich 2015, ISBN 3-406-67513-1 , p. 96 ff .
  23. Bastian Hein: The SS. History and crime . Original edition. CH Beck, Munich 2015, p. 34 .
  24. See Franka Maubach's review at H-Soz-Kult, regarding: Mühlenberg, Jutta: Das SS-Helferinnenkorps. Training, deployment and denazification of the female members of the Waffen-SS 1942–1949, Hamburg 2012: Hamburger Edition, HIS Verlag .
  25. ^ Himmler's business group: Selters and Sudetenquell - SS brand. In: Spiegel Online . November 2, 2008, accessed December 31, 2014 .
  26. POLITICAL BOOK: The Black Corps . In: The time . November 22, 1968, ISSN  0044-2070 ( [accessed April 22, 2018]).
  27. Arnd Krüger : Between sex and selection. Nudism and Naturism in Germany and America. In: Norbert Finzsch , Hermann Wellenreuther (ed.): Liberalitas: A Festschrift for Erich Angermann . (= Transatlantic Studies. Volume 1). Steiner, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-515-05656-4 , pp. 343-3365.
  28. Note: Adolf Hitler was listed in the SS with membership number 1 and outside the SS-DAL (seniority lists of the SS). There he was referred to on the first page as the chief employer of the Schutzstaffel and the actual membership directory began with membership number 2. Source: SS-Hauptamt, DSt. Personnel: List of seniority of the NSDAP's Schutzstaffel . Issues 1934–1944, p. 1.
  29. See the membership statistics of the SS for the years 1930–1944 in: Michael Grüttner : Brandstifter und Biedermänner. Germany 1933–1939 , Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2015, p. 115.
  30. ^ A b Michael Grüttner: Arsonists and honest men. Germany 1933–1939. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2015, p. 115.
  31. Heinz Höhne: The order under the skull - The history of the SS. Weltbild-Verlag, p. 369.
  32. ^ A b c John F. Steiner: Power Politics and Social Change in National Socialist Germany: A Process of Escalation into Mass Destruction , p. 252
  33. ^ Mark Mazower: Hitler's Empire. Europe under the rule of National Socialism. CH Beck, Munich 2009, p. 418.
  34. ^ Aachen: Former SS man confesses. December 8, 2009.
  35. rls / wit: Former SS man: War Criminal Boere died. In: Spiegel Online. dated December 2, 2013. Retrieved February 17, 2016.