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History In Pictures

History In Pictures
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NAZI GERMANY: The SS (Schutzstaffel)

The SS fascinate us till this day not only because of their blind loyalty to Hitler, but also because they were ruthlessly efficient. Below are some snippets about them. Read on.

Political Intimidation in Kassel's Opera Square: "Only a Stubborn Mule Ends Up in a Concentration Camp." (1933)

In the spring of 1933, Himmler, then Munich's chief of police, ordered the opening of the first concentration camp [Konzentrationslager or KZ] in nearby Dachau. The camp was to provide "protective custody" for Communists, Social Democrats, and other political opponents of the regime. Soon a network of camps stretched over all of Germany. After the war began, the network extended into Nazi occupied territories as well. The camp system was one of the most effective instruments of SS and police terror: political as well as racial and social enemies of the regime disappeared into them for days or even years without any form of legal protection. The Nazi leadership made no secret of the existence of the camps. Scenes such as the one shown below were supposed to send a message that inmates were actually to blame for their own fate. The message in this case was: “Only a stubborn mule ends up in a concentration camp.” People who followed the rules supposedly had no cause for concern.

Prisoners during Roll Call at the Oranienburg "Protective Custody Camp" Near Berlin.

Most concentration camp inmates were political opponents, so-called enemies of the race, common criminals, homosexuals, or “asocials” whom the Nazi leadership would not tolerate in the new German national community [Volksgemeinschaft]. The goal was not to rehabilitate prisoners, but rather to punish them by means of daily humiliation, arbitrary violence, and forced labor. Additionally, camps were supposed to have a deterrent effect on the rest of the population. The surveillance, torture, and exploitation of inmates was carried out by special SS units, the so-called SS Death's Head Units [Totenkopfverbände or SSTV] under the leadership of Theodor Eickes.


Prisoners at the Oranienburg "Protective Custody Camp" near Berlin, 1933.

Most concentration camp inmates were political opponents, so-called enemies of the race, common criminals, homosexuals, or “asocials” whom the Nazi leadership would not tolerate in the new German national community [Volksgemeinschaft]. The goal was not to rehabilitate prisoners, but rather to punish them by means of daily humiliation, arbitrary violence, and forced labor. Additionally, camps were supposed to have a deterrent effect on the rest of the population. The surveillance, torture, and exploitation of inmates was carried out by special SS units, the so-called SS Death's Head Units [Totenkopfverbände or SSTV] under the leadership of Theodor Eickes.

Prisoners Doing Leveling Work at the Dachau Concentration Camp (1933) .

In March 1933, Heinrich Himmler (then Munich's chief of police) opened the first concentration camp [Konzentrationslager or KZ] in nearby Dachau. The facility was supposed to provide "protective custody" for Communists, Social Democrats, and other political enemies. Soon hundreds of concentration camps modeled on Dachau were being built throughout the country.

An SS Member Signs the Oath of Loyalty to Hitler

Himmler regarded the SS as the "executive instrument of the Führer's will" and demanded of his men unconditional loyalty both to himself and to Hitler. The SS motto “My honor is loyalty” was drilled into them as soon as they started the admissions and training procedures. This photograph shows an SS member signing the oath of loyalty to Hitler on February 25, 1934, in Berlin's Lustgarten

Heinrich Himmler Views Ancient Germanic Rune Markings in a Palatinate Quarry (1935)

Heinrich Himmler was an advocate of racial myths, occultism, and esoteric ideas. He founded, for example, the German Ancestral Heritage Association [Deutsches Ahnenerbe e.V.], a group that engaged in pseudo-scientific research projects on the descent and characteristics of the “Aryan race.” Himmler also regarded his SS as an ancient Germanic clan, and endowed it with a series of pagan or pseudo-medieval symbols and rituals. This photograph shows Himmler (center), SS Colonel [Standartenführer] Weisthor (at right, above Himmler), and others at a quarry in the Palatinate. At the time, Weisthor was head of the department of early pre-history and early history at the Main Office of Race and Settlement (RuSHA); he was also considered an expert on ancient German runes. Weisthor, whose real name was Karl Maria Wiligut, was later unmasked as a charlatan and an escapee from a mental hospital. He was expelled from the SS in 1939.

Hitler's Bodyguard Regiment [SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler], 1936.

The SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (LSSAH or LAH) was Hitler’s bodyguard regiment; it was one of the many specialized groups and paramilitary organizations that developed within the SS during the course of the Nazi dictatorship. Hitler founded the LSSAH in March 1933 to protect members of the regime and government buildings; it was a private army under his personal control. Its first major action was "Operation Hummingbird," which saw the elimination of the SA leadership on the evening of June 30, 1934/July 1, 1934. After the war began, the LSSAH was incorporated into the Waffen-SS and deployed under army command on both the Eastern and Western fronts.

Group Photo of an SS Wedding, 1936.

Himmler had pursued the goal of “upbreeding” the SS into a racial-biological elite long before he assumed the lead role in defining Nazi policy on race and population – a position he secured by being the most radical spokesman for state-sponsored eugenics. Himmler not only recruited "pure-blood" men for the SS, he also took complete control over their family and reproductive plans. On December 31, 1931, he issued the so-called Engagement and Marriage Order, which called on SS members to protect their "racial potential" by marrying and producing offspring with women of so-called equal value. The SS's "Main Office for Race and Settlement" (RuSHA) was established at the same time. It was charged with conducting racial investigations into the backgrounds of fiancées and wives of SS members, and if the results were unsatisfactory, it could refuse to permit the marriage. SS members who were married to women of "lesser value" were threatened with expulsion from the organization. This photograph shows Heinrich Himmler (to the right of the bride)

Reinhard Heydrich’s Mercedes after Suffering Heavy Damage in the Ambush (May 27, 1942)

On the morning of May 27, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, who was then Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, was seriously wounded in an attack by Czech resistance fighters. He died eight days later in a Prague hospital at the age of thirty-eight. Heydrich played an important role in developing the SS into the Nazi dictatorship's most important instrument of terror. He was also a key contributor to the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question." On January 30, 1943, Ernst Kaltenbrunner was named his successor as head of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA).

The Lidice Massacre – SS Members Set the Village Ablaze (July 1, 1942)

The so-called Lidice Massacre is probably the best-known Nazi retaliation measure in connection with Heydrich's assassination. The inhabitants of the village of Lidice, about 500 in number, were falsely accused of having harbored Heydrich's attackers. During the night of June 10, 1942, German police and SS units surrounded the village. All men over age 15 were shot, and the women and children were sent to concentration camps. Then Lidice was burned to the ground.
A worried lot. Female SS Guards after their Arrest in Bergen-Belsen (May 15, 1945)

Formally, the SS was a purely male organization. Women were accepted into the "clan" through marriage with SS-men, but they had no organizational rank or function. Their job was to raise children and manage the household. But that being said, as members of the SS entourage, women were also called on to work as concentration camp guards and in a range of service positions. After the war began, the number of SS female aides – initially as volunteers, later as forced recruits – rose sharply. The photo shows, among others, camp guard Irma Grese (last row, left) after her arrest by British troops. Grese had distinguished herself by her extreme brutality as a guard at Ravensbrück, Auschwitz-Birkenau II, and Bergen-Belsen. In the first Bergen-Belsen Trial, she was sentenced to death for the abuse and murder of camp inmates. She was executed on December 13, 1945, at the age of twenty-two. Also shown are concentration camp guards Magdalene Kessel (second row, left), Irene Haschke (front row, left) and Herta Bothe (front row, right). Both Haschke and Bothe were sentenced to ten-year prison terms.

Source: DGDB

1 Comment:

Doctor Bulldog said...

Full Metal Jacket is one of the top 10 War Movies of all time.
It is almost 2 movies in one:
1. The Boot Camp Phase, and the
2. Vietnam War phase
R. Lee Ermey is outstanding in his role as Master Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, Matthew Modine is excellent in his role as Private Joker and Vincent D'nofrio is brilliant in his portrayal of Private Pyle.

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Von Stauffenberg: The Man Who Almost Killed HITLER
After several unsuccessful tries by Stauffenberg to meet Hitler, Göring and Himmler when they were together, he went ahead with the attempt at Wolfsschanze on 20 July, 1944. Stauffenberg entered the briefing room carrying a briefcase containing two small bombs. The location had unexpectedly been changed from the subterranean Führerbunker to Speer's wooden barrack/hut. He left the room to arm the first bomb with specially-adapted pliers, a task made difficult because he had lost his right hand and had only three fingers on his left. A guard knocked and opened the door, urging him to hurry as the meeting was about to begin. As a result, Stauffenberg was able to arm only one of the bombs. He left the second bomb with his aide-de-camp, Werner von Haeften, and returned to the briefing room, where he placed the briefcase under the conference table, as close as he could to Hitler. Some minutes later, he excused himself and left the room.

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In articles related to the Eastern Front of WW2, the Soviet Union has been commonly referred to as Russia. This is because the Soviet Union was mainly Russia. Other states like Ukraine, Georgia, Byelorussia were in comparision very small.
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