19 April 2023

What is Waffen SS? – Meaning, history and main divisions

By Donald

The Waffen SS is one of the most well-known military forces in the world, due to the damage and number of deaths that this squad caused. In this article, it is explained the history of the military group most important of the Nazi army, in addition to the characteristics. In the same way, the most relevant divisions of the battalion and the commanders who directed them are listed.

What does Waffen SS mean?

The Nazi army was a very well organized military force that took control of a large part of Europe in World War II. Therefore, they were the main support of the power of Adolf Hitler and the other axis powers. However, within the group of troops, there was a large group of men who went down in history more for the search to impose their ideology than for their achievements on the battlefields. So the name of this nazi army military command it is easy to identify today and became very famous in those days.

The Waffen SS was the military or combat body of the so-called Schutzstaffel, Adolf Hitler’s political, police and paramilitary organization. His name translates into Spanish as armed SS, although the denomination they received most frequently was only SS. They can also be called as protection squads, since they were one of the jobs they had to carry out.

What was the objective of the Waffen SS?

The Waffen SS consisted of a group of men from Germany and neighboring territories who were among the racially elite by their own standards. The squad’s goal was maintain the security of the nation and fulfill certain missions assigned by the führer himself. Well, it should be noted that a large part of this command was not at the front against the allied army.

The Waffen SS supported the bulk of the Nazi army, but were tasked with specific post-battle tasks. In this sense, the main objective of this military arm was to identify the captured people. So, they complied with the order of Nazi Germany to know the origin and ethnicity of each individual. Thus, they wanted to find the Jews and those who had ties to them.

A secondary function and objective was to regroup people and establish them in the concentration camps. The demographic change was possible because these military were in control of these fields. Likewise, they analyzed information in search of the military intelligence of the enemies.

In addition to the identification and regrouping of people, the Waffen SS had one of the most important missions for the objectives of Nazi Germany. In that sense, both Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler sought the extermination of the Jews. So, the Waffen SS had to execute the solution to the ‘jewish problem’ creating a massacre known as the Holocaust. It should be noted that many of these men carried out these atrocities not only by order, but also out of conviction in the party’s ideology.

What are the characteristics of the Waffen SS?

The soldiers who entered the SS had to comply with some very specific features because it was a special command. In that sense, Heinrich Himmler was looking for those people who would preserve the German race, in addition to political ideology.

  • The Waffen SS troops had to have the most German features, so blondes and colored eyes predominated.
  • was not allowed ethnic Crossing, so they had to go through a family study.
  • They could not marry anyone, they had to preserve the purity of the breed. So, the couples also went through a study to determine if they were suitable.
  • In its beginnings, the SS soldiers lacked military skills, since Himmler emphasized the political indoctrination more than physical training.
  • Many of the soldiers hated the jews and the gypsies, for which they carried out massacres in several towns in Europe. In this way, the ethnic cleansing and preservation of the superior race was sought.
  • In their uniforms they wore swastikain addition to the symbol of the SS, which is a black flag with two kinds of vertical white rays.
  • Each division carried a third symbol that represented the squadron to which they belonged.
  • Hitler’s security divisions and those that fulfilled the führer’s specific missions had better weapons or equipment than other soldiers.
  • The motto of the Waffen SS imposed by Himmler was My honor is loyalty.

Who was the founder of the Waffen SS?

The promoter of the idea of ​​an army or personal security body was Adolf Hitler himself, since since 1923 he began to use a group of men as his escort. This is how some people who participated in the Great War entered, they were known as brown shirts. Once the group grew in numbers, the führer appointed Heinrich Himmler as the leader of this division of men.

That was when Himmler took the opportunity to create a military force that responded to the objectives of Nazi Germany in the search for racial purity. Thus, this German chief began the recruitment of soldiers, but only accepting those with pure German ancestry. Similarly, these recruits had to go through severe indoctrination to abide by Hitler’s vision and swear eternal loyalty to him.

Heinrich Himmler was the one who established the name of Schutzstaffel or protection squad, was also the one who named this army as SS. Under his command they ruined the plans of the party’s opponents to overthrow Hitler. From that moment, he was appointed as the only leather in charge of collecting information and military intelligence.

Who were the commanders of the Waffen SS?

Before World War II began, the predecessor group of the Waffen SS was commanded by two close friends of the führer. These characters were Josef Berchtold and Julius Schreck, who commanded the troops between 1925 and 1927. Later, Erhard Heiden assumed command until 1929, the same year in which he was assigned Heinrich Himmler as the new and only commander. This high command was in charge until 1945, when he was replaced by Karl Hanke until the end of the war in May of the same year.

What are the divisions of the Waffen SS?

During World War II the troops of Nazi Germany and other axis powers were dispersed throughout Europe, since they had many open fronts. So, a large number of divisions were created, some heading west against the Allies and others heading east towards the Soviets. The Waffen SS came to have an army of between 600 thousand and 900 thousand soldiers, who also divided into groups.

  • LSSAH: Elite formation that he took care of the Führer.
  • Das Reich: Second SS Division, participated in the Battle of the Balkans.
  • Totenkopf: It was the third unit to use panzer tanks, special vehicles to carry out the so-called blitzkrieg, distinguished by a skull.
  • Wiking: Fifth Division, which included the Panzers, was made up of Scandinavian recruits.
  • Wallonie: Division of grenadiers belonging to the area of Walloon in Belgium.
  • Hohenstaufen: 9th Panzer Division, managed to be on both the Western and Eastern Fronts.
  • Frundsberg: It was also a team that was tasked with the panzer tank and the execution of the blitzkrieg.
  • Nordland: It was group 11 in the attack of the grenadiersits recruits were from mixed countries.
  • Charlemagne: Named in honor of charle the great, was one of the most decimated divisions of the war. Its recruits were from occupied France, so many were forced to fight.

In all, the Waffen SS was dispersed into 38 different divisions, although many of the final members were foreign recruits. so these they entered forced and they did not have the same ideology. The elite squadron had 7 armored divisions, three cavalry, 1 German mountain and 8 mechanical infantry. In addition, they assigned four groups to the foreign mountains, 5 infantry and 10 non-German infantry groups.