The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1996/12/28

SS control of the police was, however, not only a matter of
organization and of unified command. Unity of personnel was
also in large measure achieved. Vacancies occurring in the
police forces were filled by SS members; police officials
retained in the force were urged to join the SS; and schools
operated by the SS were the required training centers for
police as well as SS officials. These measures are described
in Himmler's article, "Organization and Obligations of the
SS and the Police" (1992-A-PS). They are also described in
an authoritative book on the police and on the SS, titled
"The German Police," written by Dr. Werner Best, a
Ministerial Director in the Ministry of the Interior and a
department head in the Security Police and published in
1940. It bears on its flyleaf-the imprimatur of the Nazi
Party and is listed in the official list of National
Socialist Party bibliography. Chapter 7 from that book is
reproduced in document (1852-PS). Reference is also made to
the order of the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German
Police of 23 June 1938, entitled "Acceptance of Members of
the Security Police into the SS" (1637-PS). In that order
provision was made for admitting members of the Security
Police into the SS upon certain conditions. The preamble of
the order states that it was issued "with the aim of fusing
members of the German Police with the 'Schutzstaffeln' of
the National Socialist German Workers Party into one
uniformly turned out State Protective Corps of the National
Socialist Reich" (1637-PS). Parenthetically, it should be
observed that even this aim was not sufficient to cause a
relaxation of SS admission standards since the order
provided that, to be admitted as an SS member, personnel of
the Security Police were obliged to fulfill the general
requirements of the SS (its racial and ideological

Through this unity of organization and personnel, the SS and
the police became identified in structure and in activity.
The resulting situation was described by Best as follows:

     "Thus the SS and the Police form a unit, both in their
     structure and in their activity, although their
     individual organizations have not lost their true
     individuality and their position in the larger units of
     the Party and State administration ***"
                                                  [Page 200]
     "In the relationship between the Police and the SS, the
     principle of the 'orderly' penetration of an
     organization of the National order has been realized
     for the first time to the final outcome through the
     supporters of the National Socialist movement". (1852-

As Himmler-stated in his address to the officers of SS-
Leibstandarte "Adolph Hitler" on the "Day of Metz":

     "I want to tell you: In the entire Waffen-SS we must
     begin to view the other great activity of the entire SS
     (Gesamt -SS) and entire Police. We must see to it that
     you consider the activity of the man in the green
     uniform as just as valuable as the activity you
     yourself are engaged in. You have to consider the work
     of the SD man or the man of the Security Police as a
     vital part of our whole work just like the fact that
     you can carry arms". (1918-PS)

Through the police the SS was in a position to carry out a
large part of the functions assigned to it. The working
partnership between Gestapo, the criminal police, and the
SD, under the direction of the Reichsfuehrer SS, resulted in
the ultimate in repressive and unrestrained police activity.
(Cf. the discussion in Section 6 on the Gestapo.) It must be
remembered that the Gestapo activities were but one aspect
of SS functions -- one part of the whole criminal SS scheme.

(3) Functions and Activities with Respect to Concentration
Camps. Control over the police, however, was not enough.
Potential sources of opposition could be tracked down by the
SD. Suspects could be seized by the criminal police and
Gestapo. But those means alone would not assure the complete
suppression of all opponents and potential opponents of the
regime. For this purpose concentration camps were invented,
and the SS was given large responsibility in that system.

(a) Criminal activities of SS guards and camp personnel. The
first requirement of the camps was for guard and
administrative personnel. Part-time volunteer members of the
Allgemeine SS were originally utilized as guards. But part-
time volunteers could not adequately serve the need of the
extensive and long-range program that was planned. Hence,
beginning in 1933 full-time professional guard units (the SS
Totenkopf Verbaende) were organized. Their very name ("Death
Head Units") and their distinguishing insignia, the skull
and cross bones, appropriately marked the type of activity
in which they engaged.

During the war, members of the Allgemeine SS resumed the
function of guarding the camps which they had undertaken

                                                  [Page 201]
the camps were created. This was provided for in the Hitler
order of 17 August 1938 (67-PS) directing the substitution
of Allgemeine SS members for the Death Head Units in the
event of mobilization. That substitution took place. In
reviewing the events of the period between 1938 and 1940,
significant for the SS, the National Socialist Yearbook of
1940 congratulated the Allgemeine SS on the performance of
its new mission:

     "However, not only the garrisoned parts of the SS were
     employed. Also the General SS were brought forth for
     special missions. Thousands of younger and older SS
     comrades were employed for the strengthening of the
     police and for the guarding of concentration camps and
     have faithfully fulfilled -their duty throughout the
     weeks." (2164-PS)

It is unnecessary to repeat the evidence of wholesale
brutalities, tortures and murders committed by SS guards.
These were not sporadic crimes committed by irresponsible
individuals. They were a part of a definite and calculated
policy, which necessarily resulted from SS philosophy, and
which was carried out from the initial creation of the

Himmler bluntly explained to the Wehrmacht in 1937 the
prevailing view of the SS as to the inmates of concentration

     "It would be extremely instructive for everyone, some
     members of the Wehrmacht were already able to do so, to
     inspect such a concentration camp. Once they have seen
     it, they are convinced of the fact that no one had been
     sent there unjustly; that it is the offal of criminals
     and freaks. No better demonstration of the laws of
     inheritance and race, as set forth by Doctor Guett,
     exists than such a concentration camp. There you can
     find people with hydrocephalus, people who are cross-
     eyed, deformed, half-Jewish, and a number of racially
     inferior products. All that is assembled there. Of
     course, we distinguish between those inmates who are
     only here for a few months for the purpose of
     education, and those who are to stay for a very long
     time. On the whole, education consists of discipline,
     never of any kind of instruction on an ideological
     basis, for the prisoners have, for the mot part, slave-
     like souls; and only very few people of real character
     can be found there." (1992-A-PS)

Even these "slave-like souls," however, might be redeemed by
SS hygienic measures. For, as Himmler continued:

     "The discipline thus means order. The order begins with
     these people living in clean barracks. Such a thing can
     really not be accomplished by us Germans, hardly
     another nation would be as humane as we are. The
     laundry is frequently
                                                  [Page 202]
     changed. The people are taught to wash themselves twice
     daily, and the use of a toothbrush with which most of
     them have been unfamiliar." (1992-A-PS)

Despite this callous jest to the Wehrmacht, all pretense was
swept away in Himmler's speech to his own Gruppenfuehrers at
Posen: "I don't believe the Communists could attempt any
action, for their leading elements, like most criminals, are
in our concentration camps. And here I must say this that we
shall be able to see after the war what a blessing it was
for Germany that, in spite of all the silly talk about
humanitarianism, we imprisoned all this criminal substratum
of the German people in concentration camps: I'll answer for
that." (1919-PS)

Certainly there was no "silly humanitarianism" in the manner
in which SS men performed their task. An illustration of
their conduct, not in 1944 or 1945 but in 1933, is shown in
four reports relating to the deaths of four different
inmates of the Concentration Camp Dachau between 16 May 1933
and 27 May 1933. Each report is signed by Winterberger, the
Public Prosecutor of the District Court in Munich, and
addressed to the Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of
Munich. The first (641-PS) 1 June 1933, relates to the death
of Dr. Alfred Strauss, a prisoner in protective custody in
Dachau. That report states:

     "On 24 May 1933 the 30 year old, single, attorney at
     law, Dr. Alfred Strauss from Munich who was in the
     concentration camp Dachau as a prisoner under
     protective custody was killed by 2 pistol shots from SS
     man Johann Kantschuster who escorted him on a walk
     outside of the fenced part of the camp prescribed to
     him by the camp doctor.
     "Kantschuster gives the following report: He himself
     had to urinate; Strauss proceeded on his way. Suddenly
     Strauss broke away towards the shrub located at a
     distance of about 6 m from the line. When he noticed
     it, he fired 2 shots at the fugitive from a distance of
     about 8 m, whereupon Strauss collapsed dead.

     "On the same day, 24 May 1933, a judicial inspection of
     the locality took place. The corpse of Strauss was
     Iying at the edge of the wood. Leather slippers were on
     his feet. He wore a sock on one foot, while the other
     foot was bare, obviously because of an injury to this
     foot. Subsequently an autopsy was performed. Two
     bullets had entered the back of his head. Besides, the
     body showed several black and blue spots
     (Blutunterlaufung) and also open wounds."

                                                  [Page 203]
     "I have charged Kantschuster today with murder and have
     made application for opening and execution of the
     judicial preliminary investigation as well as for a
     warrant of arrest against him."

The second (642-PS) also 1 June 1933, relates to the death
of Leonhard Hausmann, another prisoner in Dachau. That
letter States:

     "On 17 May 1933, Leonhard Hausmann from Augsburg, 31
     years old, married, relief worker, who was kept in
     protective custody in the Dachau concentration camp,
     was shot by SS Staff Sergeant Karl Ehmann. According to
     the account of the latter, Hausmann was to dig out
     young fir trees in the woods in the vicinity of the
     camp and pile them up on a certain spot. He was
     supervised by Ehmann. Suddenly the latter did not see
     him anymore. Therefore Ehmann looked after the
     prisoners and saw him running away in a stooped
     position, Ehmann ran after him, called 'Halt' several
     times, once also 'Stop,' but in vain. Whereupon Ehmann
     raised his pistol at the prisoner and fired without
     aiming; Hausmann dropped dead. Ehmann asserts that he
     fired from a distance of 10 to 12 meters.
     "The corpse was inspected already on 17 May 1933 with
     the assistance of the State court physician. It was
     found that death was due to a shot through the left
     side of the chest. According to the autopsy protocol,
     the shot was fired from a distance less than 1 meter.
     Meanwhile the legal-medical institute ascertained that
     the distance was less than 30 cm." (642-PS)

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