The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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These departments and their functions are described in two
official Nazi publications: The first is the Organizations
Book of the NSDAP for 1943, at pages 419-422 (2640-PS). The
second is an SS manual, which bears the title: "The Soldier
Friend -- Pocket Diary for the German Armed Forces --
Edition D: Waffen SS" (2825-PS). It was prepared at the
direction of the Reichsfuehrer SS and issued by the SS Main
Office for the year ending 1942.; In addition, the
departments are listed in a directory of the SS Published by
one of the Main Departments of the SS (2769-PS). This
document was found in the files of the Personal Staffs of
the Reichsfuehrer SS. It is entitled "Directory for the
Schutzstaffel of the NSDAP, 1 November 1944", marked
"Restricted", and bears the notation "Published by SS
Fuerhungshauptamt, Kommandant of the General SS. Berlin --

                                                  [Page 178]
Returning to the chart, following down the central spine
from the Reichsfuehrer SS to the regional level, the Higher
SS and Police Leaders, the supreme SS commanders in each
region are reached. Immediately below these officials is the
breakdown of the organization of the Allgemeine or General
SS. To the left are indicated two other branches of the SS -
- the Death Head Units (Totenkopf Verbaende) and the Waffen
SS. To the right under the HSS Pf is the SD. All of which,
together with the SS Police Regiments, are specifically
named in the Indictment (Appendix B) as being included in
the SS.

(2) Principal Branches of the SS. Up to 1933 there were no
such specially designated branches. The SS was a single
group, made up of "volunteer political soldiers." It was out
of this original nucleus that new units developed.

(a) The Allgemeine SS. The Allgemeine (General) SS was the
main stem from which the various branches grew. It was
composed of all members of the SS who did not belong to any
of the special branches. It was the backbone of the entire
organization. The personnel and officers of the Main
Departments of the SS Supreme Command were members of this
branch. Except for high ranking officers and those remaining
in staff capacities, as in the Main Offices of the SS
Supreme Command, its members were part-time volunteers. Its
members were utilized in about every phase of SS activity.
They were called upon in anti-Jewish pogroms of 1938; they
took over the task of guarding concentration camps during
the war; they participated in the colonization and
resettlement program. In short, the term "SS" normally meant
the General SS.

It was organized on military lines as will be seen from the
chart (Chart Number 3), ranging from district and
subdistrict down through the regiment, battalion, and
company, to the platoon. Until after the beginning of the
war it constituted numerically the largest branch of the SS.
In 1939 d'Alquen, the official SS spokesmen, said, in his
book, "The SS" (2284-PS):

     "The strength of the General SS, 240,000 men, is
     subdivided today into 14 corps, 38 divisions, 140
     infantry regiments, 19 mounted regiments, 14
     communication battalions and 19 engineer battalions as
     well as motorized and medical units. This General SS
     stands fully and wholly on call as in the fighting
     years, except for one small part of the chief leaders
     and men. The corps, which are presently led by a Lt.
     General or Major General, are subdivided into
     divisions, regiments, battalions and companies." (2284-

                                                  [Page 179]
Similar reference to the military organization of the
General SS will be found in Himmler's speech, "Organization
and Obligations of the SS and the Police" (1992-A-PS), and
in the Organizations Book of the NSDAP for 1943 (2640-PS).
Members of this branch, however, with the exception of
certain staff personnel-were subject to compulsory military
service. As a result of the draft of members of the General
SS of military age into the Army, the numerical strength of
presently active members considerably declined during the
war. Older SS men and those working in or holding high
positions in the Main Departments of the Supreme Command of
the SS remained. Its entire strength during the war was
probably not in excess of 40,000 men.

(b) The SD. The second component to be mentioned is the
Security Service of the Reichsfuehrer SS, almost always
referred to as the SD. Himmler described the SD in these
words (1992-A-PS):

     "I now come to the Security Service (SD); it is the
     great ideological intelligence service of the Party
     and, in the long run, also that of the State. During
     the time of struggle for power it was only the
     intelligence service of the SS. At that time we had,
     for quite natural reasons, an intelligence service with
     the regiments, battalions and companies. We had to know
     what was going on on the opponents side, whether the
     Communists intended to hold a meeting today or not,
     whether our people were to be suddenly attacked or not,
     and similar things. I separated this service already in
     1931 from the troops, from the units of the General SS,
     because I considered it to be wrong. For one thing, the
     secrecy is endangered, then the individual men, or even
     the companies, are too likely to discuss everyday
     problems." (1992-A-PS)

Although, as Himmler put it, the SD was only the
intelligence service of the SS during the years preceding
the accession of the Nazis to power, it became a much more
important organization promptly thereafter. It had been
developed into such a powerful and scientific espionage
system under its chief, Reinhard Heydrich, that on 6/9/1934,
just a few weeks before the bloody purge of the SA, it was
made, by decree of Hess, the sole intelligence and
counterintelligence agency of the entire Nazi Party (2284-
PS). Its organization and numbers, as they stood in 1937,
were thus described by Himmler (1992-A-PS):

     "The Security Service was already separated from the
     troop in 1931 and separately organized. Its higher
     headquarters, coincide today with the Oberabschnitte
     and Abschnitte -- [that is, the districts and
     subdistricts of the General SS] --
                                                  [Page 180]
     and it has also field offices, its own organization of
     officials with a great many Command Posts,
     approximately three to four thousand men strong, at
     least when it is built up." (1992-A-PS)

Up to 1939 its headquarters was the SS Main Security Office
(Sicherheitshauptamt), which became amalgamated in 1939 into
the Reich Main Security Office (or RSHA), one of the SS main
departments shown on the chart (Chart Number 3).

The closer and closer collaboration of the SD with the
Gestapo and Criminal Police (Kripo), which eventually
resulted in the creation of the RSHA, as well as the
activities in which the SD engaged in partnership with the
Gestapo are discussed in Section 6 on the Gestapo. The SD
was, of course, at all times an integral and important
component of the SS. But it is more practicable to deal with
it in connection with the activities of the whole repressive
police system with which it functioned.

(c) The Waffen SS. The third component is the Waffen SS, the
combat arm of the SS, which was created, trained, and
finally utilized for the purposes of aggressive war. The
reason underlying the creation of this combat branch was
described in the Organizations Book of the Nazi Party for

     "The Waffen SS originated out of the thought: to create
     for the Fuehrer a selected long service troop for the
     fulfillment of special missions. It was to render it
     possible for members of the General SS, as well as for
     volunteers who fulfill the special requirements of the
     SS, to fight in the battle for the evolution of the
     National Socialist idea, with weapon in hand, in
     unified groups, partly within the framework of the
     Army." (2640-PS)

The term "Waffen SS" did not come into use until after the
beginning of the war. Up to that time there were two
branches of the SS composed of full-time, professional, well-
trained soldiers: the so-called SS Verfuegungstruppe,
translatable perhaps as "SS Emergency Troops"; and the SS
Totenkopf Verbaende, the "Death Head Units." After the
beginning of the war, the units of the SS Verfuegungstruppe
were brought up to division strength, and new divisions were
added to them. Moreover, parts of the SS Death Head Units
were formed into a division, the SS Totenkopf Division. All
these divisions then came to be known collectively as the
"Waffen SS".

This development is traced in the Organization Book of the
Nazi Party for 1943:

     "The origin of the Waffen SS goes back to the decree of
     17 March 1933, establishing the "Stabswache" with an
                                                  [Page 181]
     strength of 120 men. Out of this small group developed
     the later-called SS Verfuegungstruppe (SS Emergency
     Force)." (2640-PS)

The function and status of the SS Verfuegungstruppe are
described in a Top Secret Hitler order, 17 August 1938 (647-

That order provides, in part:

     "II. The Armed Units of the SS.
     "A. (The SS Verfuegungstruppe)
     "1. The SS Verfuegungstruppe is neither a part of the
     Wehrmacht nor a part of the police. It is a standing
     armed unit exclusively at my disposal. As such and as a
     unit of the NSDAP its members are to be selected by the
     Reichsfuehrer SS according to the philosophical and
     political standards which I have ordered for the NSDAP
     and for the Schutzstaffel. Its members are to be
     trained and its ranks filled with volunteers from those
     who are subject to serve in the army who have finished
     their duties in the obligatory labor service. The
     service period for volunteers is for 4 years. It may be
     prolonged for SS Unterfuehrer. Such regulations are in
     force for SS leaders. The regular compulsory military
     service (par. 8 of the law relating to military
     service) is fulfilled by service of the same amount of
     time in the SS Verfuegungstruppe."


     "III. Orders for the Case of Mobilization.
     "A. The employment of the SS Verfuegungstruppe in case
     of mobilization is a double one.
     "1. By the Supreme Commander of the Army within the
     wartime army. In that case it comes completely under
     military laws and regulations, but remains a unit of
     the NSDAP politically.
     In case of necessity in the interior according to my
     orders, in that case it is under the Reichsfuehrer SS
     and chief of the German Police.
     "In case of mobilization I myself will make the
     decision about the time, strength and manner of the
     incorporation of the SS Verfuegungstruppe into the
     wartime army, these things will depend on the inner-
     political situation at that time." (647-PS)

Immediately after the issuance of this decree, this
militarized force was employed with the Army for aggressive
purposes -- the taking over of the Sudetenland. Following
this action, feverish preparations to motorize the force and
to organize new units,

                                                  [Page 182]
such as antitank, machine gun, and reconnaissance
battalions, were undertaken pursuant to further directives
of the Fuehrer. By September 1939, the force was fully
motorizet, its units had been increased to division
strength, and it was prepared for combat. These steps are
described in the National Socialist Yearbook for the years
1940 (2164-PS) and 1941 (2163-PS): The Yearbook was an
official publication of the Nazi Party, edited by
Reichsleiter Robert Ley and published by the Nazi Party
publishing company.

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