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Waffen SS

The Waffen-SS were troops trained to fight in Germany’s battles during WWII. For the early campaigns against Austria, Czechoslovakia as well as Poland, military SS units were of regiment size and came from the existing armed SS formations:

The invasion of France and the Low Countries in 1940 saw the three SS-VT and three of the SS-TV regiments organized into divisions (the future 2nd “Das Reich” and 3rd “Totenkopf”), and another division was raised from the Ordnungspolizei (later the 4th “Polizei”). After the campaign, these units together with the Leibstandarte and additional SS-TV Standarten were amalgamated into the newly-formed Kommandoamt der Waffen-SS within the SS-F√ľhrungshauptamt.

Himmler in 1941 announced that Waffen-SS Freiwilligen units would be raised from non-German foreign nationals. The goal was to obtain manpower from the occupied territories. These foreign legions came to include included volunteers from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Britain and the Netherlands.

The Waffen-SS remained officially outside the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) and under Himmler’s authority, but they were placed under the operational command of the Armed Forces High Command (OKW) or Army High Command (OKH), and were largely funded by the Wehrmacht. During wartime, the Waffen-SS grew to 38 divisions. The most well known are the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH), the SS Division Das Reich, the SS Division Totenkopf and the SS Division Hitlerjugend.

The Waffen-SS also maintained several “Foreign Legions” of conquered territories and countries allied to Germany. The majority wore distinctive national collar patches and preceded their SS rank titles with the prefix Waffen instead of SS. Volunteers from Scandinavian countries filled the ranks of two divisions, the 5th “Wiking” and 11th “Nordland.” Belgian Flemings joined Dutchmen to form the “Nederland” Legion, and their Walloon compatriots joined the Sturmbrigade “Wallonien”.

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