The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1996/12/28

After the launching of the Polish invasion, and as the war
progressed, still further divisions were added. The
Organizations Book of the Nazi Party for 1943 (2640-PS)
lists some eight division and two infantry brigades as
existing at the end of 1942. This was no longer a mere
emergency force. It was an SS army and hence came to be
designated as the "Waffen SS" that is, "Armed" or "Combat"
SS. Himmler referred to the spectacular development of this
SS combat branch in his speech at Posen on 4 October 1943 to
SS Gruppenfuehrers, in these terms:

     "*** Now I come to our own development, to that of the
     SS in the past months. Looking back on the whole war,
     this development was fantastic. It took place at an
     absolutely terrific speed. Let us look back a little to
     1939. At that time we were a few regiments, guard units
     (Wachverbande) 8 to 9,000 strong -- that is, not even a
     division, all in all 25 to 28,000 men at the outside.
     True, we were armed, but really only got our artillery
     regiment as our heavy arm two months before the war
     "In the hard battles of this year, the Waffen-SS has
     been welded together in the bitterest hours from the
     most varied divisions and sections, and from these it
     formed: bodyguard units (Leibstandarte), military SS
     (Verfuegungstruppe), Death's Head Units, and then the
     Germanic SS. Now when our 'Reich', Death's Head Cavalry
     Divisions and 'Viking' Divisions were there, everyone
     knew in these last weeks: 'Viking' is at my side,
     'Reich' is at my side, 'Death's Head' is at my side,' -
     - Thank God' now nothing can happen to us." (1919-PS)

The transformation of a small emergency force into a vast
combat Army did not result in any separation of this branch
from the SS. Although tactically under the command of the
Wehrmacht while in the field, it remained as much a part of
the SS as any other branch of that organization. Throughout
the war it was recruited, trained, administered and supplied
by the main offices

                                                  [Page 183]
of the SS Supreme Command. Ideologically and racially its
members were selected in conformity with SS standards, as
shown by the recruiting standards of the Waffen SS published
in the SS manual, "The Soldier Friend" (2825-PS). A section
of that manual entitled "The Way to the Waffen SS," reads:

     "Today at last is the longed-for day of the entrance
     examination where the examiners and physicians decide
     whether or not the candidate is ideologically and
     physically qualified to do service in the Armed Forces
     "Everyone has acquainted himself with the comprehensive
     Manual for the Waffen SS; the principal points are as
     "1. Service in the Armed Forces SS counts as military
     serve. Only volunteers are accepted."
     "3. Every pure-blooded German in good health between
     the ages of 17 and 45 can become a member of the armed
     forces SS. He must meet all the requirements of the SS,
     must be of excellent character, have no criminal
     record, and be an ardent adherent to all Nazi socialist
     doctrines. Members of the Streifendienst and of the
     Landdienst of the Hitler Youth will be given preference
     because their aptitudes, qualities and schooling are
     indicative that they have become acquainted very early
     with the ideology of the SS."
     "In all cases of doubt or difficulty the recruiting
     offices of the Waffen SS will advise and aid
     volunteers. They have branches over the entire Reich,
     always at the seat of the Service Command Headquarters,
     and work closely with the recruiting of the Waffen SS
     in the Main Office (SS Hauptamt) of the Reichsfuehrer
     SS." (2825-PS)

The recruiting activities of the SS Main Office are
illustrated by its recruiting pamphlet, "The SS Calls You,"
an elaborate illustrated booklet containing full information
covering the Waffen SS:

     "If you answer the call of the Waffen SS and volunteer
     to join the ranks of the great Front of SS Divisions,
     you will belong to a corps which has from the very
     beginning been directed toward outstanding
     achievements, and, because of this fact, has developed
     an especially deep feeling of comradeship. You will be
     bearing arms with a corps that embraces the most
     valuable elements of the young German generation. Over
     and above that you will be especially bound to the
     National Socialist ideology." (3429-PS)

                                                  [Page 184]
The SS Main Office, through which these recruiting
activities were conducted, was one of the principal
departments of the SS Supreme Command. It is shown on the
chart (the second box from the left) (Chart Number 3). In
the breakdown of that department, shown by the boxes
underneath, will be found the central recruiting office.

Other departments of the Supreme Command performed other
functions in connection with the Waffen SS. The SS
Operational Headquarters (SS Fuehrungshauptamt) -- the fifth
box from the left --  contains the Command Headquarters of
the Waffen SS (Chart Number 3). The functions of this
department are thus defined in the SS Manual, "The Soldier

     "In the Fuehrunshauptamt the command office of the
     Waffen SS handles tasks of military leadership:
     Training and organization of the units of the Waffen
     SS, supply of the troops with arms, equipment and
     ammunition, procurement of motor vehicles for the
     Waffen SS and General SS, personnel and disciplinary
     affairs." (2825-PS)

The SS Legal Main Office (Hauptamt SS Gericht) (indicated on
the chart by the second box from the top on the right hand
side within the heavy embracing line(Chart Number 3) )
controlled the administration of courts-martial and
discipline within the Waffen SS. The secret Hitler order of
17 August 1938 (647-PS) had, it is true, provided that in
the event of mobilization the SS militarized forces should
come completely under military laws and regulations. That
provision was modified by subsequent enactments: The decree
of 17 June 1939 relating to special jurisdiction in penal
matters for members of the SS and for members of police
groups on special tasks (2946-PS); and the decree of 17
April 1940, entitled "Second Decree for the Implementation
of the Decree Relating to a Special Jurisdiction in Penal
Matters for Members of the SS" (2947-PS). These two decrees
established a special jurisdiction in penal matters for
various classes of SS members, including members of the SS
militarized units, in cases which would ordinarily fall
under the jurisdiction of the Wehrmacht; and created special
SS courts to handle such cases under the direction of the SS
Legal Main Office. Thus, in the vital question of
discipline, as well as in recruiting, administration, and
supply, the Waffen SS was subject to the SS Supreme Command.

The place of the Waffen SS as an integral part of the entire
SS organization was strongly emphasized by Himmler in his
address to officers of the SS Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler"
on the "Day of Metz":

                                                  [Page 185]
     "You must also consider the following: I cannot
     concentrate my mind solely on -- now, please don't
     become conceited -- the most splendid part of the SS
     because it is the most positive part and because the
     trade you are following s the most positive and most
     manly. I cannot do that. I must always have the entire
     SS in my mind.

     "If I did not see this part, I would deny life to this
     most positive and most manly part of our activity;
     i.e., the Armed SS. I would deny your life. Because
     this armed SS will live only if the entire SS is alive.
     If the entire corps is actually an order which lives
     according to these laws and realizes that one part
     cannot exist without the other -- you are unimaginable
     without the General SS, and the latter is not
     imaginable without you. The police is not imaginable
     without the SS, nor are we imaginable without this
     executive branch of the state which is in our hands."

(d) The Totenkopf Verbaende.

The fourth component to be mentioned is the SS Death Head
Units (SS Totenkopf Verbaende.) Their origin and purpose are
succinctly described by d'Alquen on page 20 of his book,
"Die SS":

     "The SS Death Head Units form one part of the
     garrisoned SS. They arose from volunteers of the
     General SS who were recruited for the guarding of
     concentration camps in 1933. "Their mission, aside from
     the indoctrination of the armed political soldier, is
     guarding enemies of the State who are held in
     concentration camps.

     The SS Death Head Units obligate their members to 12
     years service. It is composed mainly of men who have
     already fulfilled their duty to serve in the Wehrmacht.
     This time of service is counted completely." (2284-PS)

Since the Death Head Units, like the SS Verfuegungstruppe,
were composed of well trained professional soldiers, they
were also a valuable nucleus for the Waffen SS. The secret
Hitler order 1 August 1938 (647-PS) provided for this task
in the event of mobilization. The Totenkopf Verbaende were
to be relieved from the duty of guarding concentration camps
and transferred as a skeleton corps to the SS
Verfuegungstruppe. Section II C, paragraph 5, of that order
provides: "5. Regulations for the case of the Mobilization.

     "The SS-Totenkopf Verbaende form the skeleton corps for
     the reinforcement of the SS-Totenkopf Verbaende (police
     reinforcement) and will be replaced in the guarding of
     the concentration camps by members of the General SS
     who are over 45 years of age and had military training.
                                                  [Page 186]
     "The skeleton corps -- which up to now were units of
     the two replacement units for the short time training
     of the reinforcement of the SS-Totenkopf Verbaende --
     will be transferred to the SS-Verfuegungstruppe as
     skeleton crews of the replacement units for that unit."

(e) The SS Polizei Regimente.

The final component specifically referred to in the
Indictment is the SS Police Regiments. The SS eventually
succeeded in assuming controls over the entire Reich Police.
Out of the police, special militarized forces were formed,
originally SS Police Battalions, and later expanded to SS
Police Regiments. Himmler, in his Posen speech, declared:

     "Now to deal briefly with the tasks of the regular
     uniformed police and the Sipo [the Security Police]
     they still cover the same field. I can see that great
     things have been achieved. We have formed roughly 30
     police regiments from police reservists and former
     members of the policepolice officials, as they used to
     be called. The average age in our police battalions is
     not lower than that of the security battalions of the
     Armed Forces. Their achievements are beyond all praise.
     In addition, we have formed Police Rifle Regiments by
     merging the police battalions of the 'savage peoples.'
     Thus we did not leave these police battalions untouched
     but blended them in the ratio of about 1 to 3." (1919-

The results of this blend of militarized SS police and
"savage peoples" will be seen in the evidence, subsequently
referred to, of the extermination actions conducted by them
in the Eastern territories. These exterminations which were
so successful and so ruthless that even Himmler could find
no words adequate for their eulogy.

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