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Old 10-07-2005, 04:42 AM   #1
Abraham
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Default The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

The Holocaust thread turns into a general discussion about the role of the SS.
I find that unfitting and decided to open a separate thread about the SS. Admired by some, loathed by others, the SS as a whole was ruled a criminal organisation by the Nuerenburg Tribunal.
Here follows a factual description of it's origins and structure.

Hitlers political party, the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi-party) had in the roaring period after WWI it's Sturm Abteilung or SA (Storm Section), the men in brown uniforms, to participate in street fights with other extremist political organisations and later used to beat up political opponents and Jews before Hitler took power. The SA grew quickly through the infusion of WWI veterans, criminals and unemployed (or any combination of these). More and more the leaders of the SA had political ambitions. The SA was often described as a steak tartar, brown on the outside but red on the inside.

Heinrich Himmler founded the Schutz Staffeln (Protection Squads), also known as "the Black Corps" after their black uniforms, in April 1925. The idea was to have a politically loyal para-military force to protect the NSDAP and it's leaders.
With very few exceptions the SS men were all Nazi's and got political indoctrination. They were stricktly loyal to Hitler. Originally the SS comprised of 200 men, but its numbers grew to 2.700 at the end of 1930 and to 30.000 by April 1932. Himmler divided the SS in 4 Groups, North, East, South and West and subdivided it in 18 sectors, to be covered by 55 SS-Standarten. On February 29th, 1932 twelve SS men were chosen as Hitlers personal bodyguard, called SS Begleit-Kommando 'Der Führer' (SS Escort Command 'Der Führer') and stood under his direct command. This unit then incorporated the SS-Sonderkommando Berlin (SS Special Berlin Command) and two other SS-Sonderkommando's, company sized units that had received trained from the Army and the police.
Hitler changed the name of the Escort Command on September 3rd, 1933 into 'Adolf Hitler-Standarte' and shortly afterwards, on November 9th, into Leibstandarte SS 'Adolf Hitler'.
It quickly grew to battalion seize and it was not just tasked with the protection of Hitler, but also of Himmler, Heidrich, the Chancellery and the three airports of Berlin as well. In this way Hitler controlled the security of Himmler, Heidrich and Berlin. It's commander was the Sepp ('Butcher') Dietrich.

After Hitler took absolute power, March 23rd, 1933, Himmler took over as 'Secretary of Police' and became SS- und Polizei Füher (SS and Police Leader). Part of the SS security services were incorporated into the police organisation, forming the Sicherheits Dienst or SD (Security Service) under Reinhard Heydrich, which ran a espionage and counter-espionage service, was now partly responsable for the security of Hitler, and formed the Gestapo (Secret State Police). These were all SS organisations.

In 1934 the Army was 'willing' to make heavy weapons, transport and training available for the SS and Himmler announced the creation of the SS-Verfügungstruppe or SS-VT (SS Special Purpose Troops).
Himmler wanted next to the - now - SS Leibstandarte two regiments, one in Münich SS Regiment 'Deutschland' and one in Hamburg, SS Regiment 'Germania'. However Hitler refused to incorporate the 'Leibstandarte' into the SS-VT and wanted to keep direct control of it.

Also in the summer of 1934 Theodor Eicke, the already infamous commander of the - first - Dachau Concentration Camp was named head of a new SS organisation, the SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS Death Head Units) to run the growing number of concentration camps.

Now the SS was called Allgemeine SS (General SS), with three specialized branches; the SD, the SS Verfügungstruppen and the SS Totenkopfverbände. So Himmler controlled the police, the secret and political police, the prison camp system and had an paramilitary political force available. Next to these main branches a myriad of supporting organisations was created.

In 1935 Hitler secretly decreted that the SS-VT would be made up of three Standarten (Regiments) with a signals and an engineers battalion.

Sepp Dietrich made a showpiece of the Leibstandarte. It was a volonteer force which could only be joined between age 17 and 22. One should have extreme physical fitness and a minimum lenght of 1.80 m. (5'11"), later 1.84 m. (6'1/2"). A Nordic appearence was preferrable and a pure Aryan anchestry had to be demonstrated all the way back to the year 1800, for officers even to 1750 (after Christ).

In May 1938 a fourth SS Regiment was founded in Vienna, SS Standarte 'Der Führer'.

In August 1938 Hitler issued a decree that in case of internal threats the SS-VT would be commanded by Himmler, in case of external threats it would be absorbed as a unit in the Army onder the Commander in Chief, but even then it would remain politically an arm of the Nazi party, giving Himmler at least some control. The Army resisted attempts to make the SS-VT a complete Division, with its own artillery.

In June 1939 Hitler overruled the objections of the Army and declared that the SS-VT would be organised as a division with its own artillery.
However, this was not completed before the start of the Polish Campaign and the Standarten were separatly placed under Army command.
The first year of war there were many complaints about the SS-VT, over-confident, poor infantry tactics, trigger happines and, especially in Poland, setting villages alight when passing through them without the slightest provocation. The Army considered the relatively high number of SS casualties an indication of the poor standard of training.
Initially there were also Army complaints over the ethnic cleansing actions of the SS Totenkopfverbände.

In November 1939 Hitler alowed Himmler to form SS Divisions.
The Standarten 'Deutschland', 'Germania' and 'Der Führer' formed the first SS Verfügungs Division. Then Eicke's Totenkopfverbände formed the SS Totenkopf Division. Finally Himmler formed an SS Police Division.

On July 26th 1940 the Leibstandarte 'Adolf Hitler' was granted Brigade strenght. In June 1941, just before Operation Barbarossa, the Leibstandarte was raised to Division strenght, although it took some time to implement this.
It became the 1. SS Panzer Division 'Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler'. The SS Verfügungs Division then became the 2. SS Panzer Division 'Das Reich' and the SS Totenkopf Division became the 3. SS Panzer Division 'Totenkopf'. The number of SS divisions quickly rose to a total of 39 at the end of the war.

My personal assesment:
As the war progressed the level of tactics of the SS troops became better. They usually had better equipment than average Army units. However, their level of quality started to drop in the last year of the war. They fought ruthless and with extreme tenacy, remained politically loyal almost till the very end and did not shrug away from extreme brutalities on the Eastern Front as well as in the West. However, there are also documented cases of courtious behaviour towards (Western military) opponents. Their leadership was good up till Regimental level, few officers of the rank of SS Gruppenführer (Major General) and up could match the intellectual capacities of their Army equals. After all, the 'old' guard came from the ranks of ordinary streetfighters. An example is Sepp Dietrich himself. He became one of the highest ranking and highest decorated SS officers, leading the Sixth Panzer Army during the Battle of the Bulge and an SS Panzer Army at the Hungarian front in the closing months of the war. However, his colleagues considered him hardly capable of the rank of division commander and he leaned heavily of Army staff whenever he could.

Some interesting books about the SS (including Waffen SS atrocities) that I've read:
'The SS: Alibi of a Nation 1922-1945' by Gerald Reitlinger;
'Hitler's Gladiator' by Charles Messenger;
'Das Reich' by Max Hastings;
'The story of the Malmédy Massacre and Trial' by James J. Weingartner.
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Old 10-07-2005, 05:35 AM   #2
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Default The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

(In the Holocaust thread)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Mans Hand
... The Totenkopf, these were the murderers, comprised of both SS and Waffen SS soldiers. They were marked by a skull and crossbone on their collar. These are the soldiers that rotated between concentration camps and the front lines (because, believe it or not, the things the did at those camps caused more trauma to their psyche then the front did.) These men were comprised of psychopaths and murderers. For my sake, please do not discredit the entirity of the SS, which was comprised of some of the most brilliant commanders to ever walk this earth. Those who did what they did in the camps were a disgraces to the Fatherland, however the SS that served in the field of battle were feared by the Allies - generally the mere site of an SS unit would cause soldiers to loose their bowels. Never before or after in the modern world has an military force through it's prowess, cunning, and ruthlessness been both so deeply respected and widely feared.
(cursivation by Abraham) :hmm:
Aren't you glorifying the Waffen-SS a little bit far too much? The Waffen-SS committed many war atrocities and sa such discredited themselves. And although they did not do the butchers job of the SS Einsatzgruppen (SS Action Groups) nor guarded the concentration and extermination camps, there can be little doubt that they would have done it without a shrug had Himmler ordered them so.
After all, the SS-Totenkopf Standarten were incorporated in a Waffen-SS division without a problem. Their 'honor' was 'loyalty', without any moral inhibitions, to a whicked political system. So they served a whicked system, not their fatherland.
As for the supremacy of the Waffen-SS, Allied special forces, such as the airborne divisions, were a match for comparable SS units. At Arnhem both the SS and the British 1st Airborne Div. fought a bitter fight that only ended when after 9 days the Airbornes ran completely out of supplies. SS troops - with superior equipment - were often stopped in the Ardennes by 'ordinary' US Combat Commands.
And can you name "some of the most brilliant commanders to ever walk this earth"? Army level, Corps level, even Division level SS Generals that really stand out in military history? I don't know any...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Mans Hand
As for Donitz, he was no Nazi, nor was the majority of the SS, Wermacht, Luftwaffe, or Kriegsmarine.
Not so. The SS was part of the Nazi party structure and being SS implied being Nazi. The Waffen-SS even got Nazi indoctrination lessons.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Mans Hand
You must understand at the time the German attitude and fierce nationalistic pride of the German people of the time. Also, as a side note - to anyone that's read Mein Kampf and looked into the history of the period, most politician's and lawer's were Jewish at this point, also after WWI the Jews who were uninvolved and were now taking over business from bankrupt Germany. Before Hitler it took nearly 3,000,000 marks to equal one US dollar. Before 1942 the Reichmark was worth abit more than the US dollar. He took a broken nation and gave her hope. Unfortunately he used the Jews as a scapegoat to do it.
Where have I read this argumentation before...?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Mans Hand
Before I'm called a Nazi sympathizer, I would like to point out that Hitler and his Nazi's were an embarassment and a blemish on the honor of the Fatherland's finest men.
I do sincerely hope that you don't mean to say here that Hitler and his Nazi's were a blemish on the honor of the Waffen-SS...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Mans Hand
The misguided point of this post: The Holocaust and what caused it is far deeper than one can get by reading a book soley about the Holocaust. You must look at the entire picture and perhaps gain a sad understanding for those who were helpless to stop it and thus turned a blind eye.
Any good book about the Holocaust that I have read pays ample attention to the socio-political picture in Germany and the steady rise on virulent anti-Semitism, especially in right-wing, conservative political circles, from the late 19th century to the start of World War II.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dead Mans Hand
If you seriously wish to know of the some of the darkest horrors of the camps, research Doctor Mengele and other Nazi "medical" experiments. Anyone - and I do mean anyone - that can support Nazi's after that deserves to be shot.
Dr. Mengele - an SS doctor - was just an exponent of the Nazi system. While not all Nazi's were like Dr. Mengele, he certainly fitted the picture of a true SS Nazi; surprisingly few of those who worked with him seem to have protested.
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Old 10-07-2005, 06:55 AM   #3
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While in their prime, the 'classic' Waffen SS divisions were certainly an elite and extremely successful fighting force. However, it is grossly inaccurate to extend this characterisation of the rest of the SS. At it's height the Waffen SS numbered some 950,000 men, of whom a large number were conscripts from both Germany and abroad; not volunteers, let alone 6 foot Aryan volunteers.
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Old 10-07-2005, 09:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mog
While in their prime, the 'classic' Waffen SS divisions were certainly an elite and extremely successful fighting force. However, it is grossly inaccurate to extend this characterisation of the rest of the SS. At it's height the Waffen SS numbered some 950,000 men, of whom a large number were conscripts from both Germany and abroad; not volunteers, let alone 6 foot Aryan volunteers.
BAH!!!!!!!PFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!! 6 foot Aryan volunteers is what we read in Australia (whats that blonde haired blue eyed). That comment makes me so angry, and yet be quiet. I must say Abraham has found the information, but yet not all in my eyes. It is only one sentence, that needs to be said or read. And than ..............

*editor note*
The SS Oath...............That I decided against typing
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Old 10-07-2005, 12:13 PM   #5
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Default The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Damo1977
BAH!!!!!!!PFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!! 6 foot Aryan volunteers is what we read in Australia (whats that blonde haired blue eyed). That comment makes me so angry, and yet be quiet. I must say Abraham has found the information, but yet not all in my eyes. It is only one sentence, that needs to be said or read. And than ..............
*editor note*
The SS Oath...............That I decided against
'Meine Ehre heisst Treue'. My honor means loyalty. Their slogan and the core of their oath.
Loyalty towards a certifiable painter/corporal who seriously thought that he could rule Germany and conquer the world...
Loyalty to exclude any moral values, mercy, compassion and to follow orders blindly, whatever their content...
With their oath they really sold their soul to the Devil, or at least his henchman, and - sadly - they fully lived up to it...
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Old 10-07-2005, 10:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraham
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damo1977
BAH!!!!!!!PFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!! 6 foot Aryan volunteers is what we read in Australia (whats that blonde haired blue eyed). That comment makes me so angry, and yet be quiet. I must say Abraham has found the information, but yet not all in my eyes. It is only one sentence, that needs to be said or read. And than ..............
*editor note*
The SS Oath...............That I decided against
'Meine Ehre heisst Treue'. My honor means loyalty. Their slogan and the core of their oath.
Loyalty towards a certifiable painter/corporal who seriously thought that he could rule Germany and conquer the world...
Loyalty to exclude any moral values, mercy, compassion and to follow orders blindly, whatever their content...
With their oath they really sold their soul to the Devil, or at least his henchman, and - sadly - they fully lived up to it...
Abraham, that little corporal or painter could be a hero in the working in the working class society or working man (person to be p.c.). He rose from being abused by a family member, to living on the streets, to regular soldiering, to a leading state politician. Now his political agenda might not have been right, but who could deny that he actually worked his way to that position, by hard work. And he liked dogs (sorry couldn't resist )

anyhow you stated 'they sold there soul to the Devil', doesn't every armed forces member sell their soul to the politics of their country at any time? By accepting orders or taking an oath? A normal person cant govern the politics of their country to their own liking, even in a democracy, so they put up with it and deal with it, in there own way.
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Old 10-08-2005, 05:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Damo1977
Abraham, that little corporal or painter could be a hero in the working in the working class society or working man (person to be p.c.). He rose from being abused by a family member, to living on the streets, to regular soldiering, to a leading state politician. Now his political agenda might not have been right, but who could deny that he actually worked his way to that position, by hard work.
His political agenda was set out from the beginning in 'Mein Kampf'. Your: "his political agenda might not have been right" is an understatement that I did not expect from an Aussie! His policies were damn wrong: hatred & discrimination, suppression of the opposition, extreme nationalistic, German racial superiority & aggression, dictatorship, just to name a few items. He worked up his way allright by street terror; beating up the opposition in the weak Weimar democracy with his S.A. and of course by the underestimation of his opponents, who disappeared in concentration camps as soon as he reached power.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damo1977
anyhow you stated 'they sold there soul to the Devil', doesn't every armed forces member sell their soul to the politics of their country at any time? By accepting orders or taking an oath?
The Oath of armed forces in normal democracies is usually to the Constitution, or the whole country, the King or Queen or President as the nominal head of the democratic government. I find that normal. Armed forces have to obey the ruling civil authorities.
The situation in the Third Reich was completely different. There was no constituition; Hitler ruled by decree. Hitler was a dictator for life with no democratic review of his policies after 4,5 or 6 years. This Oath for life(!) was sworn to Hitler in person, with no restrictions, one of the things that often prevented the German Officer Corps to resist him, since both Hitler an they took that Oath extremely serious. After that Oath there was no way out for moral objections; that's why I say they sold their soul to the Devil. One man was thinking for Germany and in Germany, he made all the decisions and estimated their military, economic, social and moral values. And what a man he was!
"Der Führer befehlt, wir volgen!", shouted tens of thousands hysterically at Nazi rallies (The Führer orders, we'll follow!). Well, he did, they did and in the end they all got what they had been asking for...

I think it is very dangerous - and even offensive for servicemen and -women in the Armed Forces - not to make a clear distinction between the position of the Military in a democracy and the position of the Military towards Hitler in the Third Reich (and other dictatorships).
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Old 10-08-2005, 05:57 AM   #8
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Default The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

As a reaction on the remarks of Dead Mans Hand there's something more I'ld like to say about the perceived differences in morality between the SS-Totenkopfverbände the Skull Head Squads, that mainly served as Einsatzgruppen (Action Squads) in the East and guarded concentration- and death camps on the one hand and the so called 'honorable' Waffen-SS on the other hand.
That difference was not as big as it is often perceived.
Sure, the SS-Totenkopfverbände did the dirty jobs and sure, the Waffen-SS fought fanatically. And yes, they were high quality and were feared and worthy opponents for Allied forces.

But to percieve the SS-Totenkopfverbände as the 'bad guys' and the Waffen-SS as the 'good guys' doesn't do justice to both!
In the thirties there wasn't a difference in mentality, just in tasks. The Totenkopfverbände had the task to guard political prisoners in concentration camps, the SS to guard the party leadership and as Waffen-SS to protect the country from internal(!) and external threats.

Later the Waffen-SS expanded greatly and participated under Army command in the war, often with bravery. At the same time the SS-Totenkopfverbände formed Eisatzgruppen to start the Final Solution. Before the death camps started to operate, mid 1942, the Einsatzgruppen, four, later five groups of about 3.000 men each, had already gathered and shot more then 1.000.000 Jews by hand, including women and children. This completely dehumanized them, many became extremely violant and alcoholics. The quality of these SS men went down, while their Waffen-SS colleagues could boast about military successes.
But the mentality of the Waffen-SS and the SS-Totenkopfverbände was exactly the same. The Waffen-SS also showed extremely ruthless at suitable occasions in the East and in the West. The proof is that the Waffen-SS had absolutely no moral problem incorporating a whole division of Totenkopfverbände.
And why should they? Morality did not count, they had all sworn the Oath towards this one man, Adolf Hitler and put their human conscious on permafrost.

If somebody dares to state that the Waffen-SS was 'honorable' because they did not participate in the Final Solution I have to object. It was not a matter of honor; they would have, if they had been tasked so. They were lucky, not honorable...

Question to all:
If any given Waffen-SS unit had been ordered to get into a local ghetto and shoot every Jew on sight, men, women and children, the sick and the elderly included, is there anybody on this forum who would seriously doubt that they would have blindly followed that order? Or would they have refused to do so on moral objections?

Asking these questions is answering them; all SS men had sworn loyalty towards Hitler, that's where all they went wrong...
'Meine Ehre heisst Treue' (My honor is called loyalty).

My personal opinion: (Waffen-)SS = disgusting lot of failed human beings...
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Old 10-08-2005, 03:04 PM   #9
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This whole topic sprang from the remark of someone commenting on the SS in my sig....It is again well worth noting the term SS does not only refer to Nazi Germany Thugs....just as the Swastika did not come from the Nazis...

Quote:
The American public has come to regard the submarine force of the United States Navy as the "Silent Service." In some respects, this definition is accurate.
http://www.history.navy.mil/ac/wwii/...b/abotsub1.htm

Swastika = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika
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Old 10-08-2005, 03:44 PM   #10
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Yea and I was being ironic.
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Old 10-08-2005, 05:03 PM   #11
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Default Re: The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraham
all SS men all had sworn loyalty towards Hitler, that's where all they went wrong...
'Meine Ehre heisst Treue' (My honor is called loyalty).
I thought that the Wehrmacht had also sworn loyalty to Hitler personally by taking the oath when joining.
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Old 10-08-2005, 06:17 PM   #12
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Default Re: The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraham
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damo1977
Abraham, that little corporal or painter could be a hero in the working in the working class society or working man (person to be p.c.). He rose from being abused by a family member, to living on the streets, to regular soldiering, to a leading state politician. Now his political agenda might not have been right, but who could deny that he actually worked his way to that position, by hard work.
His political agenda was set out from the beginning in 'Mein Kampf'. Your: "his political agenda might not have been right" is an understatement that I did not expect from an Aussie!
I have done it again, just saying some people must have thought it was right otherwise he would not have gotten anywhere in politics.
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Old 10-09-2005, 08:54 AM   #13
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Malmady, Wormhoudt etc.

http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/massacres.html

Wasn't fully aware of these incidents until recently.

Lets face it these Nazi scum were a bunch of c***s. There isn't much else to say about them.
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Old 10-09-2005, 10:25 AM   #14
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Default Re: The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

@ Konovalov:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Konovalov
I thought that the Wehrmacht had also sworn loyalty to Hitler personally by taking the oath when joining.
You're right, and I know, but I was just discussing the SS. I think though that the oath of the Wehrmacht was slightly differently worded - but I'm not sure, the Nazi-system not being my favorite object of study...
A difference between the loyalty of the Army and the SS though, was that Hitler (rightfully) never completely trusted the Army, oath or no oath. Indeed, there was opposition within the Arm from the moment he took power, sometimes resulting in coup attemps. The SS was basically a volonteer and (Nazi-)political force and as such fully trusted by him. Much more than the Army, the SS - including the Waffen-SS - was Hitler's tool of power.
It's difficult for me to imagine Hitler ruling Germany without the SS...

@ Damo1977:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damo1977
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraham
... Your: "his political agenda might not have been right" is an understatement that I did not expect from an Aussie!
I've done it again, just saying some people must have thought it was right otherwise he would not have gotten anywhere in politics.
C'mon Damo1977, don't be so defensive! You always claim to be blunt and outspoken, so I found a funny remark fitting for your careful wording...

As far as Hitler and Nazism is concerned, I prefer to make my position cristal clear.

@ Jace11:
Thanks for the link. Remarkable how often the Waffen-SS was involved in war atrocities, isn't it? Of course they were not doing the 'dirty jobs' in the concentration camps, but let there be no doubt: if ordered, they would have done those 'dirty jobs' as well.
The link also contains this info:
Quote:
THE AMSTERDAM REPRISAL (October 24, 1944).
When S.D. officer Herbert Oelschagel was murdered by the Dutch resistance on October 23, 1944 in Amsterdam, the Nazi reprisal was swift and severe. Next day, 29 civilians were arrested and pedestrians on the Apollolaan were forced at gunpoint to witness their execution. At the same time, several buildings were deliberately set on fire.
That's the place where I usually pay my respect on Remembrance Day (May 4th) since the mid fifties, the place being 400 meters from my home...

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Old 10-16-2005, 09:29 AM   #15
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Default The SS (separated from the Holocaust thread).

Thank you Abraham for giving some painful but objective information about the Waffen SS.
I think you are right when you say that the moral distinction between theWaffen SS and the rest of the SS is artificial.
In my eyes, they were all criminals.
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