- (SS)(Protective Squads)The organization was founded in 1923 to serve as Adolf Hitler’s personal bodyguard. The SS replaced the Sturmabteilungen (SA), following its purge in 1934, as the instrument of terror in the Third Reich. Under the leadership of Heinrich Himmler, who was appointed Reich leader of the SS in 1929, the organization broadened its responsibilities to include the operation of the concentration camps, as well as responsibility for implementing the Final Solution through the organization of the Einsatzgruppen units and the supervision of the death camps. Additional responsibilities of the SS included the organization of the Wirtschafts und Verwaltungshauptamt (WVHA) (Economy and Administration Main Office), which provided forced labor in the camps for German corporations such as I. G. Farben and Krupp. The war also witnessed the organization of the WaffenSS units, which served as Hitler’s personal multinational brigade. By 1945, the Waffen-SS numbered some 800,000 men who fought alongside the Wehrmacht (German army) in the war, but under the army’s operational control.Racial pedigree and ideology were institutionalized in the SS. Aryan racial characteristics were primary criteria for admission to the elite organization. Membership in the SS required that recruits and their wives prove that their “racial purity” extended back as far as the year 1700.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.