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SS Origins

The group was formed in 1923, as a specific group of SA personnel that had the sole task of  protecting the senior leaders of the Nazi Party at rallies, from physical assault.

The original group of 8 although disbanded after the 1923 failed takeover attempt by the Nazi Party, returned to a 30 strong group in 1925. It was named the “Stosstrupp Adolf Hitler”, and then after further expansion called the Schutzstaffel (SS). Hitler’s personal SS protection unit was later enlarged to include combat units and after April 13, 1934, was known as the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH).

In January 1929, Adolf Hitler appointed Heinrich Himmler as the leader of the SS, and by the end of 1932, the SS had 52,000 members, and by the end of the next year, it had over 209,000 members.

Initially the SS were only distinguished from the brown uniforms of the SA, by a black tie and black cap with a deaths head symbol placed on it. Greater differentiation was seen in 1932 when an all black uniform was designed, and in later years an earth grey uniform was issued.

SS Officers and other ranks were able to purchase their respective daggers from only very specific channels and only when specific requirements had been met. There were also award ceremonies in Munich on November 9th yearly that were conducted in an atmosphere that would have been very emotive for the crowds as well as the SS candidates.

Swords (Degens) were also awarded, and were authorized by Himmler himself.

Their motto was “Meine Ehre heißt Treue (“My Honour is Loyalty”) The rank system was different from the ranks used in the different branches of the Wehrmacht (Heer – Army) (Luftwaffe – Air Force), and (Kriegsmarine – Navy), but instead used the ranks established by the post-WWI Freikorps and taken over by the SA. The purpose of this was to make the SS a totally separate organisation from the Wehrmacht, however SS ranks did have rough equivalents to the other armed services.

Heinrich Himmler the leader of the SS, together with Reinhard Heydrich, increased the political and military hold of the organization. In 1931, Reinhard Heydrich had the task to build an intelligence and security service inside the SS, which became the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). When WW2 started, SS numbers increased to 250,000, and the Waffen-SS was formed in August 1940, expanding the earlier armed SS troops who had fought in Poland and France in 1939-40, to serve alongside the regular armed forces.

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