Rise Of The Ss Essay, Research Paper
The Rise of The SSThe rise of the SS can be traced to the need for an elite body guard for Adolf Hitler. The SS developed into the elite soldiers in the different areas of the armed services. How did the rise of the SS, particularly the training and creation, lead to their brutal effectiveness?The SS was an offspring of the SA, the “Sturmabteilung–Storm Detachment” (H hne 17). The SA, originally designed as a guard for Hitler, developed into a strong force with definite military implications. Hitler’s specific body guards were called the Sturmabteilung Hitler. Germany’s Chief of Staff, Joachim Hoffman made the decision that the SA was too powerful a unit to just protect Hitler, and it had higher aspirations. Loyal followers of Hitler remained with him and formed the Stabswache, headquarters guard, which was to wear the black uniforms that would later characterize the SS. A new guard the Stosstrupp Adolf Hitler, assault squad, headed by former SA members sprang up to take the place of the Stabswache (H hne 16-21). After the failed Beer Hall Putsch, R hm expanded the SA to about 30,000 men. Hitler “categorically refused” (H hne 22) to allow theM to be under the control of the SA leaders by the political leaders. R hm did not agree and therefore he and Hilter split. Hitler felt that there was a need for there to be a bodyguard unit of such unending loyalty that they would be willing “to march against their own brothers” (H hne 23). Hitler’s choice for the leader of the new guard was Julius Schreck, a former member of the Assault Squad. They named the new guard the Schutzstaffel, the SS. Together, they picked the other members from the old rosters of the Assault Squad and the headquarters guard (H hne 22-24). The SS was thus created. The SS was known for its brutal methods that it undertook to achieve its goal with little or no regard for the people that it hurt. These brutal methods were a result of the intense discipline that the German army strived to have. The intense discipline could be traced back to the corporal punishment in the Prussian army. The German army prided itself on its discipline, and the discipline was praised as the stepping stone for the German army’s ability to accomplish very difficult maneuvers and tactics with little trouble. (Bartov 59). The German army had a history of discipline. They were built upon it and were known for it. They placed great faith in the ability of the army to work together towards a common goal with a minimal amount of disobedience or disagreement. The army of Kaiser developed the ability of the soldiers to stand up against their superiors. Instances occurred when the soldiers flatly refused to follow the orders of their commanding officers during “the Great War” (Bartov 60). Hitler greatly feared this happening again so he set out from the beginning to ensure total loyalty for the soldiers to their commanding officers and for the commanding officers to Hitler. The soldiers were imbued with such fear that they did not ever think of disobeying their orders even in the face of extreme danger. This also had the effect of making the soldiers a brutal entity (Bartov 60-61). The SS’s training taught them two main things. The first was to totally trust Hitler. His motivations, commands, and actions were never to be questioned. Secondly, he set forth in their minds a monolith of evil in all that opposed Hitler and Nazism. They were therefore able to act without thinking in their horrible crimes because Hitler had placed the idea in their mind that their enemies were a great evil and anything, no matter how much against their morals it seemed, was tolerable (Bartov 118). The soldiers, being forced to follow orders, held a bottled up resistance to their commanding officers, but they feared the punishment that would follow disobedience. They might have taken it out on the allies, but they were unable to defeat the allies. They therefore turned their anger and energy towards the prisoners and people (Bartov 61). Kampfugruppe Peiper was an example of the fierce brutality that some SS commanders desired. In one incident, after capturing more than eight soldieries at a position south of Bastogne at Malmedy, he massacred the prisoners after they removed their vehicles from the road. The men were machine-gunned down with only a few escapings from the horrid episode (Weingartner 127-128). In a similar incident, soldiers of the 2d Royal Norflok were massacred after surrendering under the white flag. They had been protecting a retreat and fought until running out of ammunition. They then surrendered only to be massacred by machine-guns after they were searched. Survivors were shot at close range or disposed of using a bayonet (Constable 156). One of the reasons that the SS was able in their mind to murder so many Jews was that they were simply inferior. In their eyes, as taught by the Furher in their training, inferiority was to be purged. The question arises though of how were the SS able to murder Americans or Slavs. This also goes back to their training. The SS creed held high combat and killing just for the sake of killing and, more importantly, for the sake of Hitler. Another and perhaps the strongest reason was that the creed of the SS held the attainment of the objective to be the highest possible goal. Anything that stood in the way of that attainment should be dealt with in whatever manner seems most efficient. The ultimate and final goal is to reach the goal of the mission or campaign (Weingartner 130). Part of the SS’s thoughts came from Hitler’s desire for the SS to be political soldiery. The “SS Race and Settlement Main Office” had the task of ensuring that the SS knew the political ideology by way of an “educational leader” assigned to each unit of the SS. At the same time, strict racial qualifications were going into effect to ensure that every SS soldier was of acceptable background (Weingartner 25). This only furthered the opinions of the SS that they were superior to anyone not of their specific unadulterated blood line. They of course would agree when they have this “educational leader” telling that they are the best in the world. Their whole ideology was shaped by the belief that their superiority naturally allowed them to destroy the inferior and cleanse the world for the furthering of the elite race of Aryans. Darwin’s natural selection served to further support their ideology. Their terrible crimes against humanity were being supported by everyone that they came into contact with them. Hitler their leader said that the annihilation of the Jews was okay. Science supported them. The education field supported their quest for world domination.
When Germany invaded Poland, Hitler desired the total destruction of the country. This, he thought, included the murdering of “aristocrats, priests, government officials, business people, teachers, and physicians” who were rounded up by the five rapidly advancing German armies. Assigned to each army was a task force of SS, the Einsatzgruppen, ranging in number from 400-600 men. These task forces had the sole purpose of murdering all of those in the town that Hitler deemed important people. Hitler acknowledged that the regular generals and soldiers would have a hard time in killing all the innocent people. Rather than have them think about their deeds, Hitler had them simply place them in makeshift prisons until the Einsatzgruppen could move in to destroy the prisoners. In one instance, one third of the total priest population in a town, approximately 215, were murdered. Two hundred priests were simply arrested (Constable 109). By the end of the first week in Germany’s invasion of Poland, the SS was “boasting of a death toll of 200 Poles a day” (Constable 110). The leaders, the upper class of Poland was to reduced to less than three percent of its original strength. In addition, self constructed German militias went on revenge missions to savagely repay Polish resistance that killed over 5000 Germans in Poland (Constable 111). Different Polish cities were controlled by different units of SS. Each unit and therefore each town had its own way in dealing with the execution of prisoners. One group of the Einsatzgruppe based in the southern portion would enter a city and ask the Jewish leaders to round up all Jewish inhabitants in order that they be “relocated.” They resulting group of people was made to relinquish valuable and to march to an area where their murder would result in their toppling over into a mass grave. Just before they were shot, they were forced to hand over all their outer clothing (Constable 122). Actions of this accord were rampant throughout Poland. Reports of the SS’s brutality were mainly masked by the words “disposed of,” “rendered harmless,” or “seized.” Some of the less caring simply stated that they were executing 500 or so Jews a day were “liquidated everyday.” In another town, over 33,000 people were executed in two days at Kiev in retaliation for German casualties suffered as a result of land mines . Himmler called for quicker executions and other plans were devised. Special sealed trucks that diverted waste carbon monoxide into the holding area of the prisoners were effective (Constable 122-123). Of the atrocities committed during war, the most heinous and terrible are those of the concentration camps. The death of Jews in factories was astronomical. “In Kulmhof 152,000 Jews died, in Belzec 600,000, in Sobibor 250,000, in Treblinka 700,000, in Maidanek 200,000, and in Auschwitz over 1,000,000 Jews died in the factories” (H hne 380). Those adults who did not remain healthy in the trips from the ghettos to the camps were beaten with an iron water pot until their death by “Gomerski, the Sobibor executioner.” Children who became sick had their heads smashed against barrack walls until they no longer lived (H hne 380). In Auschwitz, a prisoner assigned to clean up bodies discovered graphically the brutality of the SS. He entered an area with about 70 dead women, whom he characterized as “good lookers…even in death” (H hne 180). Their breasts were cut off, and deep incisions into their all throughout their bodies had been used to remove the muscle and meat from the bodies. Their bodies were in an area of sloped ground that carried their flowing blood down into a drain. The man reported walking through blood up past his ankles (H hne 180). Little girls who clung to SS officers’ boots were laughed at and shot. Those trying to sneak away were also shot. Those children that the SS wished to stop bothering the SS were sometimes shot in both feet so that they would have to be amputated. Men were forced to try to jump over a stick held two and a half feet in the air. Those that hit the stick were taken into the gas chamber. If two many jumped the stick, they were all beaten into submission with the stick. (H hne 180-181). In Treblinka, the Commandant, Kurt Franz, was known to often have his ferocious Saint Bernard attack unlucky prisoners who were forced to hang head down from a gallows where they were mauled. In the same camp, one of the extermination centers was portrayed as a hospital. Franz also selected ten prisoners in the “hospital” every day to personally execute with a gun shot to the head. They were then thrown into the 25 feet by 10 feet ditch adjacent to the hospital in which a fire continuously burned (H hne 181)All the examples serve to describe the brutality and discipline that the SS possessed, whether it be in the Waffen or Panzer of Luftwaffe. Their effectiveness has not been addressed. The SS was the most feared German soldiers in the war. They constituted less than five percent of the army, but they held fully a quarter of the Panzer tanks in the German army. Not only did the SS have a vast amount of tanks in proportion to its numbers, it also had the best equipped tanks. This in combination with their exceptionally high morale made them a quite formidable force. They were the deciding factor that saved the retreat on numerous occasions. Germany would have undoubtedly capitulated at an earlier time had the SS Panzer division, known as the “Fire Brigade,” not have saved the German army. General Dwight Eisenhower said that the SS divisions had such morale that even in defeat, “their blind confidence in the ultimate Nazi victory was extremely good” (Stein 289). The Allied advance to Berlin was help up because of a fictitious report that there were SS Panzers in the Alpine (Stein 289). The effectiveness of the SS was a direct result of their training. Their morale did not waver in bad situations. The training was not just to be brutal, but it was also the training that allowed them to be brutal in their mind. They were trained to believe that they were the superior race. They therefore had no qualms about destroying the lesser races. They accomplished their mission or order without thinking. They were therefore capable of doing anything because they did not question any order. The SS was called upon to do any operation that others did not want to do. Their means and methods are nothing to be envied, but the effectiveness of the SS was unmatched.