The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1996/12/28

(5) Functions and Activities with respect to Jewish
Persecution. Through its activities with respect to
concentration camps the SS performed part of its mission to
safeguard the security of the Nazi regime. But another
specialized aspect of that mission must not be forgotten.
Himmler had defined that task as the prevention of a "Jewish
Bolshevist revolution of subhumans." In plain words this
meant participation in the Nazi program of Jewish
persecution and extermination. That program involved every
branch and component of the SS.

The racial philosophy of the SS made that organization a
natural agency for the execution of all types of antisemitic
measures. The SS position on the Jewish question was
publicly stated in the SS newspaper "Das Schwarze Korps," in
the issue of 8 August 1940, by its editor, Gunter d'Alquen
(2668-PS). "Das Schwarze Korps" was the official propaganda
agency of the SS which every SS man was required to read and
to induce others to read. This was the SS position on the

     "Just as the Jewish question will be solved for Germany
     only when the last Jew has been deported, so the rest
     of Europe should realize that the German peace which
     awaits it must be a peace without Jews." (2668-PS)

The attempted "solution" of the Jewish question through
pogroms and "spontaneous" demonstrations occurred following
the murder of von Rath in November 1938. In these
demonstrations all branches of the SS were called on to play
a part. The teletype message from SS Gruppenfuehrer
Heydrich, Chief of the Secur-

                                                  [Page 221]
ity Police and SD, issued on 10 November 1938 concerning
"Measures against Jews tonight," provided:

     "*** The direction of the measures of the Security
     Police concerning the demonstrations against Jews is
     vested with the organs of the State Police -- inasmuch
     as the inspectors of the Security Police are not
     issuing their own orders.  In order to carry out the
     measures of the Security Police, officials of the
     Criminal Police, as well as members of the SD, of the
     Verfuegungstruppe and the Allgemeine SS may be used."

With the outbreak of the war and the march of Nazi armies
over the Continent, the SS participated in "solving" the
Jewish question in all the countries of Europe. The solution
was nothing short of extermination. To a large degree these
wholesale murders were disguised under the name of
"antipartisan" or "antiguerilla" actions, and as such
included as victims not merely Jews but Soviets, Poles, and
other Eastern peoples. One example an action confined
essentially to Jews was the mass annihilation of Jews in gas
vans (501-PS). Those vans were operated by the Security
Police and SD under the direction of RSHA. Another example
is found in the report entitled "Solution of the Jewish
Question in Galicia," prepared by SS Gruppenfuehrer and Lt.
General of the Police Katzman and rendered to SS
Obergruppenfuehrer and General of the Police Krueger (18).
The "solution," which consisted in evacuation and
extermination of all the Jews in Galicia and confiscation of
their property, was carried out under the energetic
direction of the SS and Police Leaders, with assistance of
SS police units, as the report proudly boasts. These
additional items in that report dealing specifically with
the should be noted. The first is the text under a
photograph in original report:

     "Great was the joy of the SS men when the Reichsfuehrer
     SS in person in 1942 visited some camps along the
     Rollbahn." (L-18)

The second is a balance sheet, showing the income from
forced Jewish labor and expenditures therefrom. Item 3 on
the balance sheet reads as follows:

     "3. Amount paid over to the SS cashier:
          a. Camps             6,876,251,00 Zl.
          b. W&R Factories     6,556,513,69 Zl.
                              13,432,764,69 Zl.
     Further payments to the SS-cashier are effected every
     month." (L-18)

                                                  [Page 222]
The third is the last two paragraphs of the report:

     "Despite the extraordinary burden heaped upon every
     single SS Police Officer during these actions, mood and
     spirit of the men were extraordinarily good and
     praiseworthy to the last day.
     "Only thanks to the sense of duty of every single
     leader and man have we succeeded to get rid of this
     PLAGUE in so short a time."
One final example of SS participation in Jewish
extermination is the report by SS Brigadefuehrer and Major
General of the Police, Stroop, of the destruction of the
Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw during April and May 1943 (1061-PS).
Two sections of that report dealing with the constitution of
the participating forces should be noted. A table of the
units used indicates the average number of officers and men
from each unit employed per day. It will be observed that
among the units involved were the staff of the SS and Police
Leader, two battalions of the Waffen SS, two battalions at
the 22d SS Police Regiment and members of the Security
Police. The part played by the Waffen SS particularly came
in for high praise from the writer of the report. Tribute is
paid to the toughness of the men of the Waffen SS, Police,
and Wehrmacht. In the next paragraph the writer says:

     "Considering that the greater part of the men of the
     Waffen SS had been trained for only three or four weeks
     before being assigned to this action, high credit
     should be given for the pluck, courage and devotion to
     duty which they showed." (1061-PS)

The selection methods and ideological education of Waffen SS
men furnished such good grounding that a few weeks of
practice was all that was required to turn them into
excellent exterminators. Himmler's proud boast of the part
that the SS played in the extermination of the Jews occurs
in his Posen Speech:

     "Most of you must know what it means when 100 corpses
     are Iying side by side, or 500 or 1,000. To have stuck
     it out and at the same time -- apart from the
     exceptions caused by human weakness -- to have remained
     decent fellows, that is what has made us hard. This is
     a page of glory in our history which has never been
     written and is never to be written ***"

(6) Functions and activities with respect to preparing for
and waging aggressive war. From the very beginning the SS
made prime contributions to the conspirators' aggressive
aims. First, it served as one of the para-military
organizations under which the

                                                  [Page 223]
conspirators disguised their building up of an Army in
violation the Versailles Treaty. Second, through affiliated
SS organizations in other countries and through some of the
departments in its own Supreme Command, it fostered Fifth
Column movements outside Germany and prepared the way for
aggression. Third, through its militarized units, it
participated in the aggressive actions which were eventually
carried out.

(a) The SS as a para-military organization. The para
military character of the General SS is apparent from the
military character of its structure, the military discipline
required of its members, and the steps it took to enlist in
its ranks young men of military age. In addition to this
volunteer Army the SS created, as early as 1933, fully armed
professional soldiers who complied with requirement for
compulsory military service by performing duties in the SS.
These were the SS Vorfuegungstruppe and the Death Head

 (b) The SS as a fifth column agency. While building up the
SS as a military force within Germany, the conspirators also
utilized it in other countries to lay the groundwork for
aggression. During the seizure of Austria, the SS Standarte
89 was directly involved in the murder of Chancellor
Dolfuss, and a memorial plaque was erected in Vienna as a
tribute to the SS men who participated in that murder (L-
273; 2968-PS). Subsequently, on the night of 11 March 1938,
the SS with the SA marched into Vienna and occupied all
government buildings and important posts in the city. (See
report of Gauleiter Rainer to Reich Commissioner Buerckel
(812-PS); and the record of the telephone conversations
between Goering and Dambrowski (2949-PS)).

The same pattern wag repeated in Czechoslovakia. Henlein's
Corps played in that country the part of fifth column which
the SS had played in Austria and was rewarded, in September
1938, by being placed under the jurisdiction of the
Reichsfuehrer SS (388-PS, Items 37, 38). Moreover, a Most
Secret OKW order of 28 September 1938, reveals that the SS
had its own armed units, four battalions of Totenkopf
Verbaende, actually operating in Czechoslovakian territory
before the Munich Pact was signed (388-PS, Item 36).

But SS preparations for aggression were not confined to
military forces. One of the departments of the SS Supreme
Command, the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, was a center for
fifth column activity. At the secret meeting between
Ribbentrop and Henlein in March 1938, at which the line to
be followed by the Sudeten German Party was determined, the
Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle was represented by Professor
Haushofer and SS Obergruppenfuehrer

                                                  [Page 224]
Lorenz (2788-PS). And when the Foreign Office in August 1938
awarded further subsidies to Henlein's Sudeten Party, the
memorandum of that recommendation (3059-PS) contained the
significant footnote:

     "Volksdeutsche Mittlestelle will be informed." (3059-

(c) SS participation in aggressive war. When at last the
time came to strike, the SS was ready. In the words of the
National Socialist Yearbook for 1940 (2164-PS):

     "When the march into the liberated provinces of the
     Sudetenland began on that memorable 1 October 1938,
     Verfuegungstruppe as well as the Death Head Units were
     along with those in the lead. ***"
     "15 March 1939 brought a similar utilization of the SS
     when it served to establish order in collapsing
     Czechoslovakia. This action ended with the founding of
     the protectorate Bohemia-Moravia.
     "Only a week later, on 29 March 1939, Memel also
     returned to the Reich upon basis of an agreement wit
     Lithuania. Again it was the SS, here above all the
     Eastern Prussian SS, which played a prominent part in
     the liberation of this province." (2164-PS)

In the final act which set off the war, the attack on Poland
in September 1939, the SS acted as stage manager. In hi
affidavit (Affidavit A), Maj. Gen. Erwin Lahousen describes
the simulated attack on the radio station Gleiwitz by
Germans dressed in Polish uniforms, as one of the most
mysterious actions which took place in the Abwehr office:

     "This was an incident which had been deliberately
     engineered and directed by the SD and it was executed
     by prisoners from Concentration Camps dressed up in
     Polish uniforms, and using Polish weapons and
     equipment. Those prisoners were later murdered by the
     SD in order to eliminate any possibility of their
     giving testimony of the incident." (Affidavit A)

The war erupted and the Waffen SS again took its place in
the van of the attacking forces.

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