Schutzstaffel Facts

Schutzstaffel Facts
The SS, or Schutzstaffel, was the paramilitary wing of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party). Formed in 1925 as the elite wing of the Nazis, its members were to be the vanguard of the rulers of the New Order: tall, blond, and racially pure. Julius Schreck was the first leader of the SS and after him the mantle passed to Heinrich Himmler, who ran the organization for most of its existence. The German name of the organization is translated into English as "protection force," which describes part of the group's mission. Although it did serve as the bodyguard force for Hitler, it developed a far ranging mission before and during World War II and was divided into three primary branches. The Allgemeine SS was the general SS, the Totenkopfverbände, or "Death Head Brigade," ran the concentration camps, and the Waffen was a purely military division and fought alongside the Wehrmacht units, although it maintained separate leadership throughout the war. The Gestapo, which was the Nazi secret police, was also a branch of the SS.
Interesting Schutzstaffel Facts:
The Einsatzgruppen, or "special task forces," were SS deaths squads that followed the advancing Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front, killing communist, Jews, and other enemies of the Nazi regime in the process.
The SS symbol, seen on their flags and the lapels of their uniforms, was based on the Germanic "sig" rune, which means "victory."
Himmler was an ardent pagan and mystic and modeled the organization after many of his beliefs. New members were inducted through an elaborate, esoteric ritual ceremony.
The Ahnenerbe was a branch of the SS that focused on arcane historical and archaeological research. The Nazi archaeologists in the first and third Indian Jones movies were based on the Ahnenerbe.
Many SS officers were imprisoned for war crimes after the war.
Himmler was captured by British troops at the end of the war, but committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule.
Very few of the Waffen SS soldiers were tried for war crimes, as they were essentially a military unit with recognized uniforms and had little to do with the concentration camps.
Himmler established many SS ritual sites throughout Germany, the most famous being the castle at Wewelsburg. A black sun was imprinted on the floor of the main hall of the castle, which reinforced Himmler's pagan beliefs.
As the war dragged on, Himmler opened the Waffen SS up to non-Germans of Nordic ethnicity. Norwegians, Swedes, Dutch, and Flemish volunteers made up the majority of these units. Himmler and the Nazis considered these people to be Germanic.
The Waffen was eventually opened to non-Germanic peoples, as long as they weren't Jewish.
Léon Degrelle was perhaps one of the most famous Waffen volunteers. He was a Walloon (French speaking Belgian) who fought on the Eastern Front for most of the war.
The Hanschar SS was a predominately Bosnian Muslim division of the Waffen SS.

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