The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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(5) Method of Acquiring Membership in the SS. The normal

                                                  [Page 195]
method by which membership in the SS was attained was
discussed by Himmler in his article, "Organization and
Obligations of the SS and Police":

     "The age groups in the SS are as follows: With 18 years
     the young man enters the SS. He is first an applicant,
     after three months he takes the oath on the Fuehrer and
     thus becomes a candidate (Anwaerter). As a candidate
     during the first year he takes examinations for his SA
     sport insignia and his bronze sport insignia. At the
     age of 19 or 19 1/2, according to the time of his
     acceptance, he is conscripted for the labor service and
     1 subsequently for the Wehrmacht. After two more years
     he comes back from the Wehrmacht unless he remains
     there as a prospective noncommissioned officer or
     reenlists. If he returns to us, he is still candidate.
     In these weeks he is especially thoroughly instructed
     in ideology. The first year is for him a period of
     elementary ideological indoctrination. In these weeks
     following his return from the Wehrmacht he receives
     special instruction about the marriage law and all
     other laws pertaining to the family, and the honor
     laws. On the 9th of November, following his return from
     the Wehrmacht, he becomes an SS man in the true sense.
     The Reichsfuehrer of the SS is just as much an SS man
     in the sense of the SS organization as the common man
     at the front. On this 9th of November he is awarded the
     dagger, and at this occasion he promises to abide by
     the marriage law and the disciplinary laws of the SS,
     since the family is also subject to these laws. From
     this day on he has the right and the duty to defend his
     honor with a weapon as laid down by the honor laws of
     the SS. The applicants and candidates do not yet have
     this right. The SS man remains in the so-called active
     General SS until his 35th year. From his 35th to his
     45th year he is in the SS reserve, and after his 45th
     year in the Stammabteilung of the SS identified by the
     grey color patch. (1992-A-PS)

The oath to the Fuehrer, referred to by Himmler in the
passage just quoted, appears in the SS recruiting pamphlet,
"The SS Calls You":
     "The Oath of the SS Man:
     "I swear to you, Adolf Hitler, as Fuehrer and
     Reichschancellor, loyalty and bravery. I vow to you,
     and to those you have named to command me, obedience
     unto death, so help me God." (3429-PS)

                                                  [Page 196]
D. Criminal Aims and Activities of the SS.

(1) The Purge of 20 June 1934. Proof of the elite Nazi
quality and thorough reliability of the SS, the test by
which it won its spurs, occurred on 30 June 1934, when it
participated in the purge of the SA and other opponents or
potential opponents of the Nazi regime. That was the first
real occasion for use of this specialized organization which
could operate with the blessing of the Nazi State but
outside the law. In an affidavit signed and sworn to in
Nurnberg on 19 November 1945, Wilhelm Frick says, referring
to the victims of that purge:

     "They were just killed on the spot. Many people were
     killed -- I don't know how many -- who actually did not
     have anything to do with the putsch. People who just
     weren't liked very well, as for instance, Schleicher,
     the former Reich Chancellor, were killed *** The SS was
     used by Himmler for the execution of these orders to
     suppress the putsch." (2950-PS)

Himmler referred to this same event in his Posen speech:

     "Just as we did not hesitate on June 20,1934, to do the
     duty we were bidden, and stand comrades who had lapsed,
     up against the wall and shoot them, so we have never
     spoken about it and will never speak about it." (1919-

It was in recognition of its services in this respect that
the SS was elevated to the status of a component of the
Party equal in rank to the SA and other similar branches.
The following announcement appeared on page 1 of the
Voelkischer Beobachter of 26 July 1934:

"The Reich press office announces the following order of the

     "In consideration of the greatly meritorious service of
     the SS, especially in connection with the events of 30
     June 1934, I elevate it to the standing of an
     independent organization within the NSDAP.
     "Munch 20 July 1934." (1857-PS)

(2) Functions as a Repressive Police Organization.

One of the first steps essential to the security of any
regime is control of the police. The SS was the type of
organization which the conspirators needed for this purpose.
Their aim was to fuse the SS and police, and to merge them
into a single, unified repressive force.

Shortly after the seizure of power the conspirators began to
develop as part of the state machinery, secret political
police forces. These originated in Prussia with the Gestapo,

                                                  [Page 197]
by decree of Goering in April 1933, and were duplicated in
the other German States. (This development is discussed in
Section 6.on the Gestapo.) By 1934 Himmler, the
Reichsfuehrer SS, had become the chief of these secret
political police forces in each of the German states except
Prussia, and deputy chief of the Prussian Gestapo. In that
capacity he infiltrated these forces with members of the SS
until a virtual identity of membership was assured.

On 17 June 1936, by Decree on the Establishment of a Chief
of the German Police (2073-PS), the new post of Chief of the
German Police was created in the Ministry of the Interior.
Under the terms of the decree, Himmler was appointed to this
post with the title of "Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the
German Police in the Ministry of the Interior." The
combination of these two positions, that of leadership of
the SS and head of all the police forces in the Reich, was
no accident but was intended to establish a permanent
relation between the two bodies and not a mere "transitory
fusion of personnel." The significance of the combination of
these two positions was referred to by Hitler in the
preamble his secret order of 17 August 1938:

     "By means of the nomination of the Reichsfuehrer SS and
     Chief of the German Police in the Ministry of the
     Interior on 17 June 1936 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, page
     487), I have created the basis for the unification and
     reorganization of the German Police.
     "With this step, the Schutzstaffeln of the NSDAP, which
     were under the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German
     Police even up to now, have entered into close
     connection with the duties of the German Police." (647-

Upon his appointment, Himmler immediately proceeded to
reorganize the entire Reich Police Force, designating two
separate branches: (1) the regular uniformed police force
(Ordnungspolizei, or Orpo), and (2) the Security Police
(Sicherheitspolizei, Sipo). The Sipo was composed of all
criminal police organization the Reich and all the secret
political police forces, or Gestapo. This reorganization was
achieved by the Decree Assigning Functions in the Office of
the Chief of the German Police (1551-PS). To be head of the
Sipo, that is the criminal police and Gestapo, Himmler
appointed Reinhard Heydrich, who was at that time the Chief
of the SD. Thus, through Himmler's dual capacity as leader
of the SS and as Chief of the Police, and through Heydrich's
dual capacity as head of the Sipo and as chief of the SD, a
unified personal command of the SS and Security Police
Forces was achieved. But further steps toward unification
were later taken. In 1939, Security Police and the SD were
combined in a single depart-

                                                  [Page 198]
ment, the Reich Security Main Office, commonly referred to
as the RSHA. (The details of the organization of the RSHA
are discussed in Section 6 on the Gestapo.) The important
point to be observed is this: The newly created Reich
Security Main Office was not a mere department of the
Government. It was a dual body: an agency of the government,
organizationally placed in the Department of the Interior,
and at the same time one of the principal departments of the
SS, organizationally placed in the Supreme Command of the
SS. (Cf. the chart of the SS organization (Chart Number 3)
). The following description of the RSHA appears in the
Organizations Book of the NSDAP for 1943:

     "The RSHA handles all the organizational, personnel,
     management and technical affairs of the Security Police
     and the SD. In addition, it is the central office of he
     State Police and criminal police executive, as well as
     the central directorate of the intelligence net of the
     SD." (2640-PS)

The position of the RSHA in the Supreme Command of the SS is
also similarly described in the SS manual, "The Soldier

But it was not merely the Gestapo and the Criminal Police
which came under the sway of the SS. The regular uniformed
police as well were affected. For, like the RSHA, the
Department of the Regular Police (Ordnungspolizei, or Orpo),
was not merely a department in the Ministry of the Interior,
but also simultaneously in the Supreme Command of the SS.
Its position in the SS is indicated by the seventh box on
the chart of the SS organization (Chart. Number 3). The
following description of the Department of the Regular
Police appears in the Organizations Book of the NSDAP for

     "The sphere of duties of the Main Office of the
     Ordnungspolizei includes police administration as well
     as the management and direction of the protective
     police (Schutzpolizei) of the Reich, the Gendarmes, the
     protective police of the community, the water
     protection police, the air protection police, the fire
     protection police, the protective groups in the
     occupied territories, the colonial police, the
     volunteer fire department, the compulsatory and youth
     fire departments, the technical aid and the technical
     SS and police academy." (2640-PS)

The position of this Department in the SS Supreme Command is
also similarly described in the SS Manual, "The Soldier
Friend". (2825-PS)

This unity of the Command was not a mere matter of the
highest headquarters. It extended down to the operating
level. As the chart shows, the Higher SS and Police Leader
in each region, who

                                                  [Page 199]
was directly subordinate to Himmler, had under his command
both the Security Police and the regular, uniformed police
(Chart Number 3). These forces were subject to his orders as
well as to those of the RSHA and the Department of the
Regular Police respectively. This position of the Higher SS
and Police Leader is described in the Organizations Book of
the NSDAP for 1943. (2640-PS)

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