The Reich SS Leader
The SS (Protection Squad) of the Nazi Party, led by Reich SS Leader Heinrich Himmler since 1929, was intended by Hitler as an elite troop and “party police” unconditionally loyal to him, guaranteeing his personal security and that of the Party. Himmler wanted the SS to become a “racially superior” leadership elite of the Nazi movement. By eliminating the SA leadership in June 1934 – an operation in which the SS played a major role – the SS became an independent structure of the Nazi Party.
The most important tasks of Himmler and the SS were:
– rigorous surveillance, persecution and elimination of all people regarded by the Nazi state as “opponents” and “enemies”
– creating a “racially pure” Germany, in particular by systematically persecuting and expelling the Jews
– conquering Lebensraum (living space), especially in Eastern Europe, and establishing a political/ethnic “New Order” in Europe based on racist ideology.
In the fields of policing and intelligence, the Reich SS Leader had the Security Service (SD) and Secret State Police (Gestapo), which was gradually merged with the SS, at his disposal.
Himmler created a concentration camp system, which was used to isolate and “eliminate” everyone declared “an enemy of the state and the people.” In addition to political opponents, a large number of minority and fringe groups were also considered “enemies.” Beginning in 1938, the persecution and murder of political and “racial” enemies spread over large areas of Europe. Special extermination camps run by the SS were set up for the murder of the “main enemy in racial policy terms” – the Jewish population in Germany and Europe.
The SS, Waffen-SS, SD, Security Police (Gestapo and Criminal Investigation Police) and Order Police (including regular police and rural police) played a decisive role in implementing the National Socialist war of ideology and extermination in eastern and southeastern Europe. In these regions Himmler and the SS emerged as the driving force in the “Germanization” of the conquered “East” (Eastern Europe).