The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume II
Criminality of Groups and Organizations
The Schutzstaffeln (SS)
(Part 3 of 16)

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 began."


"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

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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 SS.

"Everyone has acquainted himself with the comprehensive Manual for the Waffen SS; the principal points are as follows:

"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)

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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 Friend":

"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":

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"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." (1918-PS)

(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.

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"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-PS)

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.

(3) Unity of the Organization.

Each of the various components described above played its part in carrying out one or more functions of the SS. The personnel composing each differed. Some were part-time volunteers; others were professionals enlisted for different periods of time. But every branch, every department, every member was an integral part of the whole organization. Each performed his assigned role in the manifold tasks for which the organization had been created. No better witness to this fact could be called upon than the Reichsfuehrer SS, whose every endeavor was to insure the complete unity of the organization. The following words are taken from his Posen speech:

"It would be an evil day if the SS and police fell out. It would

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be an evil day if the Main Offices, performing their tasks well meaningly but mistakenly made themselves independent by each having a downward chain of command. I really think that the day of my overthrow would be the end of the SS. It must be, and so come about, that this SS organization with all its branches -- the General SS which is the common basis of all of them, the Waffen-SS, the regular uniformed police (Ordnungspolizei), the SIPO (with the whole economic administration, schooling, ideological training, the whole question of kindred), is, even under the tenth Reichsfuehrer-SS one bloc, one body, one organization."

"The regular uniformed police and SIPO, General-SS and Waffen-SS must now gradually amalgamate too, just as this is and must be the case within the Waffen-SS. This applies to matters concerning filling of posts, recruiting, schooling, economic organization, and medical services. I am always doing something towards this end, a bond is constantly being cast around these sections of the whole to cause them to grow together. Alas, if these bonds should ever be loosened -- then everything -- you may be sure of this -- would sink back into its old insignificance in one generation, and in a short space of time." (1919-PS)

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