TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



6. The Waffen-SS

a. ORIGIN AND GROWTH. Ever since 1933 a portion of the SS has been armed and trained along military lines and served on a full-time basis, living in special barracks. These troops were originally known as the SS-Verfügungstruppen (SS-VT), the name indicating that they were held at the disposition of Hitler for any purpose whatever. By 1939 four regiments (Standarten) of these troops had been organized.

The Verfügungstruppen took part in the occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia side by side with the troops of the Army. During the months preceding the outbreak of the war they were given intensive military training and were formed into regular military units which then took an active part in the Polish campaign. Elements of the Death's Head Formations (Totenkopfverbände) also took the field as military units.

During the following winter and spring the regiments which had fought in Poland were expanded into brigades and later into full divisions. This purely military branch of the SS was at first known as the Bewaffnete SS (literally "Armed SS") and later as the Waffen-SS. The Leibstandarte SS "Adolf Hitler" became the SS division of the same name; the Standarte "Deutschland", together with the Austrian Standarte "Der Führer", formed the Verfügungs Division, to which a third regiment "Langemarck" was presently added to form the division "Das Reich"; and the Totenkopf units were formed into the "Totenkopf" Division. These three divisions were to be the nucleus of the Waffen-SS in its rapid expansion which followed.

The Waffen-SS is based on the tradition of the General SS. It retained the strict racial selection and the emphasis on political indoctrination of the SS. The reasons for its formation were as much political as they were a welcome opportunity to acquire for the SS the officer material which was to prove. so valuable later on.

With the intensification of the war the Waffen-SS became the proponent of the recruiting of "Nordic" peoples for military service in the interest of Germany. In 1940 the Standarten "Nordland" and "Westland" were created in order to incorporate such "Germanic" volunteers into the Waffen-SS. They were combined with the existing Standarte "Germania" to form the "Wiking" Division.

In the subsequent years the Waffen-SS proceeded to form native "Legions" in most occupied areas. These, in turn, were later converted into Waffen-SS brigades and divisions.

A slackening in the principles of racial selection occurred only after the war took on much less favorable aspects. During 1943 and 1944 the SS turned more and more toward frantic recruiting of all available manpower in occupied areas. While its major effort was directed toward the incorporation of the "racial" Germans (Volksdeutsche), a method was devised which permitted the recruiting of foreigners of all nationalities on a grand scale, while retaining at least some semblance of the original principles of "Nordic" superiority. Spreading foreigners thinly throughout trustworthy established units soon proved insufficient to digest the mass of recruits. Consequently divisions of foreigners were formed which received a sprinkling of regular Waffen-SS cadres. Finally the necessity arose to complement the officer corps of the Waffen-SS with foreigners.

Still very much concerned with the racial aspects of its units, the Waffen-SS developed a system of nomenclature which dubs the unit as foreign by an addition to its name.

Units containing a high percentage of "racial" Germans and "Germanic" volunteers (i.e. Scandinavians, Dutch, Flemings, Walloons, and Frenchmen), carry the designation "Freiwilligen-" as part of their names, e.g. 11. SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division "Nordland". Units containing a preponderance of "non-Germanic" personnel, especially members of the Slavic and Baltic peoples, carry the designation "Waffen-" as part of their names, e.g. 15. Waffen-Grenadier-Division-SS (Lett. Nr. 1). Officers of "non-Germanic" origin cannot become full-fledged members of the SS officer corps. They are designated as Waffen-Führer der SS, and the individual rank is always given in the same manner, e.g. Waffen-Untersturmführer.

There is no doubt that this rapid expansion has somewhat modified the character of the Waffen-SS as a political elite formation. Nevertheless, the crack divisions of this organization may still be expected to fight to the very end, especially since the individual soldier and especially the individual officer have been made to feel personally involved in the endless series of war crimes, and strong propaganda has convinced most that their treatment, either in captivity or after defeat, will compare very unfavorably with that accorded other members of the armed forces.

The Waffen-SS at present consists of at least 31 divisions and three brigades, as well as a number of independent smaller units. Of the divisions seven are Panzer divisions. They form the strongest and politically most reliable portion of the Waffen-SS. The balance consists of five Panzer Grenadier divisions, five mountain divisions (of which at least one is believed to have been disbanded), seven infantry divisions, and two cavalry divisions. Three other divisions have been identified, but their type is not certain. About a third of the divisions are classified as "non-Germanic". Of the brigades at least one is of the Panzer Grenadier type and its strength is little less than that of a division.

Of the 13 identified SS Corps five are Panzer corps, two mountain corps, four infantry corps and two of uncertain type. At least one SS Panzer Army exists. It played a prominent part in the Ardennes counteroffensive in December 1944.

Among the divisions of the Waffen-SS one is designated as the SS-Polizei Division. This is the only unit made up of members of the police which has been fully incorporated into the Waffen-SS. It is not to be confused with the SS-Polizei-Regimenter, which have remained part of the police and are described in a separate section below.

b. RECRUITING, TRAINING, AND REPLACEMENT IN THE Waffen-SS. (1) Recruiting. (a) General. In principle, no new members were accepted for the SS after 1933 except from selected graduates of the Hitler Youth. The creation of the Waffen-SS and its rapid growth have caused the partial suspension of this rule, although service in the Waffen-SS does not necessarily entail membership in the General SS.

(b) Pre-war recruitment. Suitable SS candidates were singled out while still in the Hitler Youth. In particular boys who had proved themselves, often under SS leadership, in the HJ patrol service (HJ-Streifendienst) were welcomed as future SS men. If the candidate satisfied SS requirements with respect to political reliability, racial purity, and physique, he was accepted at the age of 18 as a candidate (Bewerber). On the occasion of the annual Party Congress (Reichspartei) in September of the same year, he was accepted as an aspirant (Anwärter), received an SS certificate (SS-Ausweis), and was enrolled in the ranks of the SS.

(c) Wartime recruitment. Recruitment and enrollment of new members for the SS have become of particular importance in view of the great expansion of the Waffen-SS during the war. The SS Central Department (SS-Hauptamt) is responsible for recruiting and registration of Germans and of "Germanic" and "non-Germanic" foreigners for the Waffen-SS. It exercises such functions for German and "Germanic" personnel through the Recruiting and Registration Group (Amtsgruppe B), and for "non-Germanic" foreigners through Group D—Germanic SS (Amtsgruppe D).

The SS Main Operational Department (SS-Führungshauptamt—SS-FHA), which is responsible for the operational control of the Waffen-SS, lays down the general policy on recruiting and notifies its special requirements from time to time. The SS Central Department, however, remains responsible for the whole recruiting system of both the General SS and the Waffen-SS. Recruiting for the General SS, now almost at a standstill as a result of the war, is carried out through its own local units.

Service in the Waffen-SS is, at least officially, voluntary. The Waffen-SS claims priority over all other branches of the Armed Forces in the selection of recruits. To meet the high rate of casualties and the expansion of Waffen-SS field divisions, service in the Waffen-SS was made compulsory for all members of the General SS and voluntary transfer of personnel after being inducted into any of the other branches of the Armed Forces was permitted. Since 1943 a great amount of pressure has been exerted on members of the Hitler Youth to "volunteer" for the Waffen-SS. Still more recently, complete Army, Navy, and Air Force units were taken over by the Waffen-SS, given SS training, and incorporated into its field units.

(d) Recruitment machinery within Germany. The enlistment drives of the Waffen-SS within Germany, at first occurring at irregular intervals, are now practically continuous, indicating the great need for replacements. The SS-Standarte "Kurt Eggers", through its various agencies is the most successful propaganda machinery for the Waffen-SS. Through its war reporter battalion (Kriegsberichter Abteilung) it publicizes the important role of the Waffen-SS in the German press. Recruitment for the Waffen-SS is regionally organized and controlled by the recruiting office (Ergänzungsamt—Amt I), which is subordinate to the Recruiting and Registration Group. The regional organization consists of recruiting centers (Ergänzungsstellen), which are named in accordance with the SS districts (SS-Oberabschnitte) in which they are located. They also carry the Roman numeral of the Wehrkreis and are always located at the Wehrkreis headquarters city, except in SS district "Mitte", where the recruiting center is at Braunschweig instead of Hannover, and SS district "Weichsel", where it is at Gotenhafen instead of Danzig. Some of these recruiting centers also maintain branch offices outside Germany for the recruitment of racial Germans (Volksdeutsche). The recruiting centers, in cooperation with various State and military authorities effect the release of the examined and accepted applicants by the Reich Labor Service and by the recruiting sub-area headquarters (Wehrbezirkskommando). The recruits are then sent to a specific training and replacement unit or maneuver area of the Waffen-SS.

In January 1945, the recruiting centers for the Waffen-SS were combined with those of the Army for its volunteers for the officer and non-commissioned officer careers and for Volks Grenadier divisions. Under Himmler's orders "combined recruiting centers of the Army and Waffen-SS" (Ergänzungsstellen des Heeres und der Waffen-SS) were set up in each Wehrkreis, with branch offices in all major cities.

(e) Recruitment machinery outside Germany. The original decision to enlist "Germanic" and "non-Germanic" foreigners to serve with the Waffen-SS was based on the propaganda rather than on the fighting value of these volunteers. No doubt for this reason the men were mostly organized in small independent national legions.

In Scandinavia and the occupied countries of the West, the recruiting was undertaken largely by the local Nazi and Quisling parties; in the Baltic states by the German controlled governments; and in the Balkans by the German authorities in agreement with the governments concerned. With the growing need for reinforcements, a large element of compulsion entered into the recruiting campaigns. At the same time the small uneconomic legions were reorganized into regiments and battalions, either to be incorporated into existing Waffen-SS divisions or to form the basis for new divisions and brigades. Early in 1943 the German government, in exchange for promises to deliver certain quantities of war equipment, obtained from the governments of Rumania, Hungary, and Slovakia their consent to an all-out recruiting drive for the Waffen-SS among the "racial" Germans domiciled in those countries. In effect, all able-bodied men who could be considered to be of German origin, including some who could scarcely speak the language, were induced by various forms of social and economic pressure to volunteer, and many men already serving in the Armies of these three countries were transferred to the Germans. Well over 100,000 men were obtained in this manner and were distributed among all the divisions of the Waffen-SS.

The whole of this foreign recruiting organization is controlled by the Germanic recruiting office (Germanisches Ergänzungsamt—Amt II) in the Germanic SS group (Amtsgruppe D—Ag D). Orginally this recruiting organization consisted of a number of recruiting commands (Ersatzkommandos) established in the principal cities of the occupied countries. Subsequently these were reorganized as SS recruiting inspectorates (SS-Ersatzinspektionen) responsible for recruiting over a wide area, e.g. SS recruiting inspectorate Südostraum at Vienna for the whole of the Balkans. Such inspectorates control a number of recruiting commands covering smaller areas, which again are subdivided into branch offices (Nebenstellen); finally, there are various enlistment centers (Werbestellen) under each branch office.

(2) Training. (a) General. Propaganda on behalf of the SS, political education, physical training, pre-military and technical training, as well as training within the SS, are the responsibility of the SS Central Department. However, the responsibility for the military training of Waffen-SS units devolves entirely on the SS Main Operational Department.

Before the war the SS aspirant in his first year of service trained for the SA Defense Training Badge (SA-Wehrabzeichen) and the Reich Sports Badge in bronze (bronzenes Reichssportabzeichen). He was then called up first for six months of service in the Reich Labor Service, and then for his term of duty in the German Army. After two and a half years, he returned to the SS to receive further intensive training and indoctrination. Finally, on the ninth of November following his return to civil life, he was inducted into the SS as a full SS man. The outbreak of the war and the creation of the Waffen-SS interrupted this training schedule.

(b) Propaganda and political education. The Office for Political Education (Amt Weltanschauliche Erziehung—Amt I) in the Education and Physical Training Group (Amtsgruppe C—Ag C) is responsible for propaganda and the political education of German personnel. This is carried out mainly in two ways. In the first place this office supervises the issuance of a number of propaganda publications, such as the Waffen-SS recruiting handbook "Dich ruft die Waffen-SS", the series of SS educational booklets (SS-Schulungshefte), a news magazine for SS and Police (SS-Informationsdienst), and an illustrated magazine with stories and articles for more general consumption (SS-Leitheft). Secondly, this office holds political education courses for SS officers and enlisted personnel in SS training camps (SS-Ausbildungslager) and in addition is responsible for the appointment of education officers (Schulungsoffiziere) to the staffs of the SS training schools. Political and propaganda directives for the Waffen-SS also emanate from this office.

The foreign recruits often require special indoctrination before they can be handed over to the Waffen-SS as fit for its military training. To meet this need special training camps (Ausbildungslager) were established. Such camps and the whole political education of foreign volunteers are under the control and supervision of the Office for Germanic Training (Germanische Erziehung—Amt III) in the Germanic SS group. This office issues a number of propaganda publications for foreign volunteers, including a magazine for each nationality in its own language and also a number of newspapers.

(c) Physical and preliminary training. The Office for Physical Training (Amt für Leibeserziehung—Amt II) in the Education and Physical Training Group is charged with the responsibility for physical training of all branches of the SS. The SS instructors in athletics and physical culture are trained at the SS Central School for Physical Training (SS-Reichsschule für Leibesubungen), and special SS manuals on the subject are issued. In addition the Office for Physical Training has set up special physical training camps for the Germanic SS outside the Reich. The SS has for some time taken a very active interest in the premilitary training programs of the Hitler Youth and other Party organizations.

(d) Technical training. As part of the general program of training and preparation for the Waffen-SS, special SS Higher Vocational Schools (SS-Berufsoberschulen) have been set up under the control and direction of the Education and Physical Training Group for giving higher technical training to candidates for the Waffen-SS. All German boys who are apprentices or students in business, trade, or agriculture, and are attending a trade or technical school may apply for entry into such a school as officer applicants of the Waffen-SS. The wartime course is limited to 1 1/2 years and is free to the selected candidates.

The Vocational Schools of the Waffen-SS (Berufsschulen der Waffen-SS) give similar training, though of a lower standard.

(e) Military training. The military training of the Waffen-SS is controlled entirely by the SS Main Operational Department, which exercises this function through three main agencies:

The Training Branch (Abt 1 d) in the Headquarters Office of the Waffen-SS (Kommandoamt der Waffen-SS—Amt II) supervises and coordinates the whole sphere of training in the Waffen-SS. This branch is divided into a number of sections, each of which is responsible for a certain type of training. Its mission includes close cooperation with all other offices and inspectorates concerned with military training, liaison with the training agencies of the German Army, and issuance and control of all instructional material. It also registers and controls the training of future SS staff officers, providing courses for supply officers (1 b-Lehrgänge) and for intelligence officers (1 c-Lehrgänge).

The SS inspectorates (SS-Inspektionen), which are combined into an inspectorate group (Amtsgruppe C—Ag C), are responsible for the technical and unit training within the various branches of service. There are ten such inspectorates, numbered in a broken series from one to 13. Each one is headed by an Inspector (Inspekteur), who is directly responsible to the Chief of the SS Main Operational Department. It may control experimental and demonstration units and staffs, and it usually works in close liaison with the corresponding inspectorate in the OKH.

The Training Group (Amtsgruppe B—Ag B) is responsible for individual officer and noncommissioned officer training. It exercises these functions through the Office for Officer Training (Amt Führerausbildung—Amt XI), which controls all officer candidate schools (SS-Junkerschulen) and courses, and the Office for Noncommissioned Officer Training (Amt Unterführerausbildung), which controls all noncommissioned officer schools and courses.

(f) Schools and courses. During 1943 and 1944 the Waffen-SS established schools and courses for almost all branches of military affairs needed by a complete and well balanced military organization. As a result, it is now thoroughly equipped with schooling facilities of its own, although certain highly specialized types of personnel are still trained in special SS courses at regular Army schools.

The SS schools may be divided into four categories: special service schools, officer candidate schools, noncommissioned officer schools, and specialist training establishments.

Almost all the schools of the Waffen-SS have certain basic elements of organization in common, which are analogous to those of Army schools. They are headed by a commander who is assisted by a headquarters staff (Kommandostab). Under this they have instruction groups (Lehrgruppen) of battalion status and inspectorates (Inspektionen) of company status.

Special-service schools (Waffenschulen) have the function of providing specialized and advanced training for officers and enlisted personnel in their particular branch of service (Waffengattung). The Waffen-SS has special-service schools for mountain infantry, cavalry, Panzer Grenadiers, and Panzer troops, but not for ordinary infantry; this is explained by the fact that all Waffen-SS field divisions except some of those which are composed principally of non-German personnel are either Panzer, Panzer Grenadier, cavalry, or mountain divisions.

The courses at the special-service schools may be divided into three main categories: reserve officer candidate courses (Reserve-Junker-Lehrgänge—RJL); preparatory courses (Vorbereitungs-Lehrgänge) for officer applicants (Führer-Bewerber—FB) and reserve officer applicants (Reserve-Führer-Bewerber—RFB); and courses for technicians, which are found mainly at the special-service schools of the signal troops and artillery and which use special technical equipment peculiar to their respective arms.

Most of the Waffen-SS special-service schools have demonstration regiments (Lehrregimenter) attached to them for demonstrating and instructing and also for experimenting with new weapons and tactics.

Officer candidate schools are discussed in the separate section on the officer corps below.

The two basic types of establishments for the training of noncommissioned officers for the Waffen-SS are the noncommissioned officer schools and separate noncommissioned officer courses. The former are for professional non-commissioned officers and the latter for reserve noncommissioned officers.

The SS noncommissioned officer schools (SS-Unterführer-Schulen), which train German and "Germanic" personnel, and the SS and foreign personnel noncommissioned officer schools (SS- und Waffen-Unterführer-Schulen), which train German and "non-Germanic" personnel, are organized into either one or two battalions, a battalion consisting of a headquarters and four companies. Each company usually trains noncommissioned officers for a different branch of service. On completing the course an SS noncom missioned officer applicant (SS-Unterführer-Bewerber) is appointed SS noncommissioned officer candidate (SS-Unterführer-Anwarter); he may become a sergeant (SS-Unterscharführer) only after demonstrating his abilities in a troop unit.

Besides the courses for professional noncommissioned officers held at the noncommissioned officer schools, the Waffen-SS conducts short-term noncommissioned officer courses (Unterführer-Lehrgänge) for reserve noncommissioned officers. These are usually held in the field divisions during quiet periods.

Specialist training establishments have the mission of training of officer technicians (Technische Führer der Sonderlaufbahnen) and particularly noncommissioned officer technicians (Unterführer der Sonderlaufbahnen). Specialist training establishments include the Motor Technical School of the Waffen-SS (Kraftfahrtechnische Lehranstalt der Waffen-SS) at Vienna, the Ordnance Technical School of the Waffen-SS (Waffentechnische Lehranstalt der Waffen-SS) at Dachau, riding and driving schools, motor transport supply-troop schools, and a number of other types.

(3) Replacement. Unlike the Army, the Waffen-SS does not decentralize the control of its replacement system to its regional headquarters in Germany. The entire replacement system of the Waffen-SS is administered centrally by the SS Main Operational Department. Replacement requisitions from field units for ordinary personnel are sent through this department direct to the replacement units concerned. Those for officers go to the SS Main Department for Personnel (SS-Personnel Hauptamt), except that for all officers in the economic administrative service the SS Main Economic Administrative Department (SS-Wirtschaft-Verwaltungs-Hauptamt) is the responsible replacement agency.

The entire system of transferring and assigning Waffen-SS personnel to training and replacement units, field units, schools, and headquarters is controlled by the reinforcement branch (Abt I e) in the Headquarters Office of the Waffen-SS (Kommandoamt der Waffen-SS—Amt II). This branch works in close cooperation with various other agencies regarding the transfer and assignment of specialist personnel. For example, the veterinary troops of the Waffen-SS are supervised by the Veterinary Branch (Abt IV) in the Riding and Driving Office (Amt Reit- und -Fahrwesen—Amt VI), which also conducts their training and courses, while all ordnance troops are controlled by the Ordnance Branch (Abt II) in the office for supply (Nachschubamt—Amt VII). Both these branches maintain personnel assignment sections for their respective specialist personnel. Medical personnel comes under the control of the Administration Office (Amt XIII) in the Medical Group (Sanitätswesen der Waffen-SS-Amtsgruppe D—Ag D).

c. OFFICER CORPS OF THE Waffen-SS. (1) General. The SS Main Department for Personnel (SS-Personal-Hauptamt—SS-Pers HA) keeps a central card file on all officers of the SS. The original officer corps of the SS comprised a number of different categories, mainly dependent upon the nature of their employment. The creation of the Waffen-SS and its employment as a powerful military force necessitated the formation of a separate officer corps for the Waffen-SS. An officer may, and often does, have different ranks in the two corps.

(2) Selection of prospective officers. The selection, registration, and training of prospective officers for the Waffen-SS is the responsibility of the SS Main Operational Department, which exercises this function through the Office for Officer Training (Amt Führerausbildung—Amt XI) in the Training Group (Amtsgruppe B). At the time of induction the recruiting center reports officer material to this office. Every volunteer has the opportunity to enter the officer career of the Waffen-SS, depending upon three qualifications, namely, his character as a German, his performance as a National Socialist and a member of the SS, and his qualifications as a soldier and leader.

Men selected as prospective officer candidates proceed to a training and replacement unit or training camp of the Waffen-SS. The unit commander concerned decides whether a candidate is fit or unfit for the officer career of the Waffen-SS after he has completed his basic training. The branch of service to which an approved candidate is to be allotted is then determined by the Office for Officer Training in consultation with the various offices and inspectorates of the SS Main Operational Department.

The officer corps of the Waffen-SS comprises three categories:

(a) Active officers of the Waffen-SS (Aktive Führer der Waffen-SS), those who adopt the career of SS officer. The elite of this category includes all pre-war graduates of the SS officer candidate schools.

(b) Reserve officers of the Waffen-SS (Reserve-Führer der Waffen-SS).

(c) Foreign officers of the SS (Waffen-Führer der SS). This category includes all active and reserve officers of "non-Germanic" nationalities. Those eligible include men who previously held a commission in their own armies and those who show leadership qualifications in the ranks of the Waffen-SS. This category, however, does not include officers coming from "Germanic" countries, who may become full-fledged officers (SS-Führer) of either the active or reserve category

(3) Officer candidate schools. Waffen-SS schools designed to train and provide officer material are of two basic types: SS officer candidate schools (SS-Junkerschulen), which train German and "Germanic" officers; and SS and foreign personnel officer candidate schools (SS- und Waffen-Junkerschulen), which train both German personnel and "non-Germanic" foreigners. The courses last about 6 months and are differentiated as either war-officer-candidate courses (Kriegsjunker-Lehrgänge) or war-officer-candidate courses for foreign personnel (Kriegs-Waffenjunker-Lehrgänge).

(a) Active officers. The active officer candidates of the Waffen-SS attend the war-officer-candidate courses (Kriegjunker-Lehrgänge) held at the officer candidate schools. These candidates must have previously completed a preparatory course (Vorbereitungs-Lehrgäng) held either at a special-service school or at a training and replacement unit of the Waffen-SS. They start this course as active officer applicants (Führer-Bewerber—FB) and subsequently receive the title of SS-Junker and the equivalent rank of the lowest grade of sergeant (Unterscharführer). After the mid-term examinations at the officer candidate school they become Standartenjunker with the equivalent rank of Scharführer, and after the final examination Standartenoberjunker (equivalent to Hauptscharführer). Candidates then return to their units and, after a minimum of two months, are appointed 2d Lieutenant (Untersturmführer) by the RF-SS upon the recommendation of their regimental commanders.

(b) Reserve officers. Reserve officer candidates of the Waffen-SS, after taking a preparatory course as Reserve-Führer-Bewerber—RFB, become SS-Junker der Reserve and then attend a reserve officer candidate course (Reserve-Junker-Lehrgang), held at a special-service school of the Waffen-SS and lasting about 4 months. After the mid-term examinations they become Standartenjunker der Reserve, and after the final examinations Standartenoberjunker der Reserve. Foreign officers of the reserve (Waffen-Führer der Reserve) also attend the reserve officer candidate courses.

Like active officer candidates, the graduates become officers only after at least 2 months of service with a unit.

(c) Foreign officers of the SS. "Non-Germanic" officer candidates attend a war officer candidate course for foreign personnel (Kriegs-Waffenjunker-Lehrgang) held at the SS and foreign personnel officer-candidate schools (SS- und Waffenjunker-Schulen). After its completion they return to their units and after a period of 2 months are appointed Waffen-Untersturmführer by the RF-SS upon the recommendation of their regimental commander.

(4) Officer candidate courses. Apart from the regular courses at the officer-candidate schools described above, the Waffen-SS conducts the following special officer-candidate courses:

Courses for partly disabled SS officer candidates (Lehrgänge für versehrte SS-Junker) held at the officer-candidate schools.

Special course for Panzer officer candidates (Panzer-Junker-Sonderlehrgang).

(5) Other officer training establishments. The Waffen-SS maintains medical and economic administrative officer training establishments with the function of providing for and supervising the military education of prospective active medical and economic administrative officers of the Waffen-SS during the period of their studies at universities and other institutions.

(6) Specialist careers. All officer candidates choosing a specialist career (Sonderlaufbahn) must have certain basic qualifications. They must have spent half a year with a field unit and successfully graduated from an officer candidate school of the Waffen-SS.

The following are the various specialist careers of the Waffen-SS:

(a) Medical career. This includes:

Physician (SS-Führer und Arzt)

Medical technician (SS-Führer im Sanitätstechn. Dienst)

Dentist (SS-Führer und Zahnarzt)

Pharmacist (SS-Führer und Apotheker)

The Medical Academy of the Waffen-SS provides for the training of all officers in the medical career. Besides their formal training students attend lectures and practical demonstrations at various universities.

(b) Veterinary career. This includes:

Veterinary (SS-Führer und Veterinär)

Veterinary technician (SS-Führer im Veterinärtechn. Dienst)

Officers in the veterinary career receive their specialist training in the Blacksmith School as well as in the veterinary training and replacement unit of the Waffen-SS.

(c) Administrative career. The Officer School of the Economic Administrative Service of the SS gives lectures and provides practical application for officers in the administrative career. Besides lectures at universities, the training includes practical experience and instruction at an administrative office of the Waffen-SS.

(d) Ordnance technician career. This includes:

Ordnance supply officer (SS-Führer im Waffen- und Munitionsdienst)

Ordnance officer technician (Techn.SS-Führer W)

Engineering officer (Techn.SS-Führer W Ing.)

The Ordnance Technical School and the engineering schools of the Waffen-SS provide for the specialized training of these officers. They also attend lectures and receive practical application at technical institutions.

(e) Motor technical career. This includes:

Motor officers (Technische SS-Führer (K) I)

Motor officers (Technische SS-Führer (K) II)

The Motor Technical School of the Waffen-SS provides for and supervises the training of these officers.

(f) Other specialist careers of the Waffen-SS include:

Officer technician (sig) (Technische SS-Führer (N))

Judge advocate (SS-Führer und Richter)

Notary (SS-Führer und Beurkundungsführer)

Water supply officer (SS-Führer und Wehrgeologe)

Bandmaster (SS-Führer und Musikführer)

The officers in these specialist careers, besides their instruction at technical schools and other establishments of the Waffen-SS, receive specialized training at the special-service schools or specialist training schools of the Waffen-SS.

d. SUPPLY SYSTEM OF THE Waffen-SS. (1) General. Units of the Waffen-SS operating under the tactical control of the Army utilize the regular Army supply channels for supplies of rations, fuel, heavy equipment, and ammunition. In addition, however, the SS maintains its own system of supply distinct from that of the Armed Forces and not subject to control or supervision by the latter. For this purpose a large network of depots and stores has been built up in Germany and in occupied territory.

(2) Control. Operationally these depots and stores come under the control of the SS Main Operational Department, which is responsible for the equipment and supply of SS units and establishments when not under the tactical control of the Army. The SS Main Economic Administrative Department, on the other hand, is responsible for the detailed administration of these depots, or for the general supervision of administration where there is decentralization of its authority, e.g. to the economic official (SS-Wirtschafter) with a Higher SS and police commander in occupied territory. The actual responsibility for supply is divided between the SS Main Operational Department, which is responsible for initial equipment and the supply and maintenance of arms, ammunition, technical equipment, and transport vehicles, and the SS Main Economic Administrative Department, which is responsible for rations, clothing, personal equipment, coal, wood, and fodder.

For certain types of heavy equipment which are obtainable only from Army depots, agreement is reached between the OKH and the SS Main Operational Department, which becomes responsible for the general supervision of stocks, maintenance, and repair once such equipment has been handed over to an SS unit.

Although the SS and Police supply and administration system in wartime operates primarily for the Waffen-SS and SS police units, its organization and installations are also at the disposal of the General SS and the SS Death's-Head Formations.

(3) Regional organization of supply. The SS Main Economic Administrative Department controls all regional supply depots. There is a marked tendency for SS depots and administrative services to be grouped around concentration camps, notably Dachau and Oranienburg. This arrangement centralized administrative matters, as the concentration camps come under the control of the SS Main Economic Administrative Department, and the inmates of such camps provide a cheap source of labor.

At each SS district headquarters in Germany proper there is an administrative office (Verwaltungsamt) which controls and supervises all supply depots and installations within its area. Similarly at the SS sub-district headquarters there is an administrative branch (Verwaltungsabteilung) with the same functions. At the headquarters of an SS garrison command (SS-Standortbereich) there is an SS garrison administration headquarters (SS-Standortverwaltung) dealing with supply and finance in its area and directly subordinate to the respective SS district and sub-district.

In occupied territory, there is an economic section controlled by an official (SS-Wirtschafter) on the staff of an HSSPf. He is responsible for the administration of all depots and supplies in his region. Where field units of the Waffen-SS are likely to operate in a particular area for a considerable period, special supply bases (Stutzpunkte) are usually established at convenient points. These are small and temporary in character.

(4) Channels of supply. All Waffen-SS units requisition their supplies from the SS Main Operational Department, which either makes the issue itself or instructs the SS Main Economic Administrative Department to do so. The latter then either dispatches the material direct to the unit from one of the central depots or from the factory, or arranges for it to be made available to the unit at the nearest convenient sub-depot.

The main stocks of supply are held in central SS depots. These are of two kinds:

Main supply depots (SS-Hauptwirtschaftslager—HWL), containing miscellaneous types of supplies.

Special depots, including SS ordnance depots, motor transport supply depots and parks, signal equipment depots, medical equipment depots, and clothing depots.

From these central depots, outlying sub-depots are supplied. These may be either SS supply depots (SS-Nachschublager), mainly found near the borders of Germany and in occupied territory, or SS troop supply depots (SS-Truppenwirtschaftslager—TWL) , which hold stocks of clothing, light equipment, fuel, and other goods.

At the time, when the supply lines on the Eastern Front were too far extended. SS supply service headquarters (SS-Nachschubkommandanturen) were established. Each of these was in itself an important group of depots and administrative offices. Although subordinate for administrative purposes to the SS economic official with the local HSSPf, it was the primary link between the SS main departments and main depots in Germany and the SS units and sub-depots in its own area. It served both as a distribution center and a supply base, and in its depots were held arms, ammunition, motor transport equipment, captured material, clothing, fuel, coal, wood, building material, and other goods. It was also empowered, subject to the approval of the SS economic official with the HSSPf, to make contracts with or purchases from private firms in its area.

(5) Veterinary supply service. The Waffen-SS maintains its own channel of supply for its cavalry and non-motorized units. Horses for the Waffen-SS are procured through SS remount depots (SS-Remonteämter), which were mainly found until recently in occupied territory. These depots forward the horses to the SS riding and driving schools (SS-Reit-und-Fahrschulen), from where they either go to a unit direct or to an SS base veterinary depot (SS-Heimatpferdepark), which in turn forwards them to an SS veterinary depot (SS-Pferdepark) in a forward area, usually attached to an SS corps. These corps will then make distribution among their divisions which have veterinary companies. Wounded horses, after treatment in the field, go to an SS veterinary hospital (SS-Pferdelazarett) in a forward area and then to an SS base veterinary hospital (SS-Heimatpferdelazarett) in Germany. Veterinary equipment for Waffen-SS units can be obtained from the SS Central Veterinary Park (SS-Hauptveterinärpark) by way of one of the veterinary parks in forward areas.

(6) Movement of supplies. The transportation of SS supplies is coordinated by the transportation officer (Transportoffizier—TO) in the SS Main Operational Department. He maintains liaison both with other SS main departments where necessary and also with the German railway authorities and the transportation authorities of the German Army. Subordinate to him are a number of regional transportation officers, found mainly in those districts close to the German border. Other transportation officers are stationed at principal railway stations in Germany and in occupied territory. At railway junctions particularly important for SS movement, SS reloading stations (SS-Umschlagstellen) are established.

(7) Repair and maintenance of vehicles and equipment. In forward areas, besides the repair and recovery sections at divisions, independent sections may operate at supply depots or at supply service headquarters. In Germany facilities for repair exist at the appropriate SS central depots and also at the SS Ordnance Testing Workshop (SS-Waffenamt-Prüfungswerkstätte) and the SS Ordnance Works (SS-Ausrüstungswerke). Extensive use is also made of Army repair facilities.

(8) Medical services. General supervision over the medical services of the SS is exercised by two officers, the Chief SS and Police Medical Officer (Reichsarzt SS und Polizei), who is attached to the Personal Staff RF-SS (Persönlicher Stab RF-SS), and the Head of the SS Medical Group, who acts as Inspector General of SS Medical Services.

Actual administration is carried out by the Medical Group (Sanitätswesen der Waffen-SS—Amtsgruppe D) in the SS Main Operational Department, which controls SS hospitals and medical services in Germany and in occupied territory as well as the medical units attached to SS units in the field. It does not, however, automatically follow that all SS casualties are evacuated through SS medical channels. Local circumstances may make it difficult or inexpedient to use SS medical facilities, and it frequently happens that SS wounded are evacuated as far as base hospitals in Germany entirely through regular Army medical channels.

A great number of SS medical institutions, SS hospitals (SS-Lazarette), and SS convalescent homes (SS-Genesungsheime) have been identified both in Germany and in occupied areas.


Hitler is nominally the Supreme Commander of the Waffen-SS. This command is exercised only through the RF-SS, and it has become very doubtful of late whether Hitler has retained any power to direct Himmler in this or any other capacity.

The field headquarters of the RF-SS (Feldkommandostelle RF-SS) represents nominally the highest echelon in the direction of the employment of the Waffen-SS. Since Himmler is not always present at this headquarters, proper allowance should be made for the fact that the RF-SS will decide in person about such employment, regardless of his whereabouts at the time. No unit of the Waffen-SS may be dissolved, under any circumstances, by anybody but the RF-SS.

For military operations, units of the Waffen-SS are placed under command of the OKH. In the beginning individual units were assigned to army groups and armies as needed, although an effort was made to give them independent tasks wherever possible. Special emphasis was placed on the propaganda value of their employment, and many spectacular missions were assigned to them, although their military importance and difficulty were often exaggerated. With the progress of the Russian campaign these units became involved in tougher combat assignments. Due to the strict selection of their personnel, not only from a political point of view but also from that of health, stamina, and stature, these units were in a position to take full advantage of the strong propaganda efforts which the SS made in their behalf. Gaining a reputation as an elite force, divisions of the Waffen-SS began to control regular Army units engaged in the immediate vicinity. The next step was the formation of SS corps which, under OKH command, controlled SS divisions and brigades. Soon certain SS corps held command over a small group of SS units and a much larger proportion of regular Army units. Eventually, certain SS corps commanded Army units only. For a brief period, in 1943, an SS Army existed which held mainly administrative functions in northern Italy. But in the autumn of 1944, when the Sixth Panzer Army was formed, a large unit of the German Army was for the first time designated as an SS unit. Previous to that event, SS generals had held Army commands under the OKH in a few instances during the defense of Normandy and the withdrawal from France.

The territorial commanders of the Waffen-SS (Befehlshaber der Waffen-SS), who have been installed in certain occupied and annexed areas, take charge of operations only in certain special cases. For example, a coast defense sector (Küstenverteidigungsabschnitt) in the Netherlands was commanded by such an officer under the Commanding General in the Netherlands (LXXXVIII Army Corps). His command included training and replacement units of the Waffen-SS, of the SS Police, and of the Air Force.

In theory, the influence of the RF-SS ceases with the subordination of Waffen-SS units to the Army. In effect, however, much evidence points to the fact that he retains the right to pass on the type of employment which the Army may prescribe.

The temporary relief of Rundstedt as commander of the Western Front in 1944 is attributed, at least in part, to a conflict between him and the RF-SS resulting from discrepancies of opinion as to the employment of the Waffen-SS in that theater.

Units of the Waffen-SS have been employed in all theatres of the war, except in North Africa and in the original campaign in Norway. From the small beginning of regimental units participating in the Polish campaign, active employment of Waffen-SS units grew to at least two divisions in the Western and Balkan drives of 1940 and 1941. One division was engaged in Finland from the beginning of the Russian campaign. In Russia itself the number of Waffen-SS units engaged grew from five divisions in 1942 to at least four corps and 13 divisions for the better part of 1944. An SS brigade participated in the defense of Corsica and was later committed as a division in the Italian theater, while another appeared there to assist in the internal tasks resulting from the Italian collapse. To this were added a new division and a new brigade in 1944. Two corps and at least seven divisions fought at various times against the partisans in Yugoslavia, and one division formed an important component of the occupation forces in Greece. Two Waffen-SS corps and six divisions were employed in Normandy and participated in the withdrawal from France. On the Western Front one Army, at least six corps, and a minimum of nine divisions were opposing Allied forces at the beginning of 1945. Two or three corps, nine divisions, and two brigades formed the strength of the Waffen-SS in Hungary at that time.

Corps units of the Waffen-SS, such as Panzer, heavy artillery, observation, projector, signal, reconnaissance, and antiaircraft battalions and smaller units of the same and other types, may be used as tactical support for both Waffen-SS and Army units.

Ever since the SS increased its power over the Army so suddenly in July 1944, rumors have persisted that individual members of the Waffen-SS became attached to regular Army units, especially in the low echelons, in order to increase the reliability of these troops. The fact that units of the Waffen-SS were used to prevent mass desertions or withdrawals contrary to orders is established. Waffen-SS personnel forms the nucleus of the Volks Grenadier and probably also the Volkssturm units. To some extent personnel of the Waffen-SS was exchanged with Army personnel, while whole contingents of Air Corps and Navy personnel were repeatedly pressed into the service of the Waffen-SS when it became urgently necessary to reform badly mauled Waffen-SS units.

Another recent trend is the assumption of command functions in the Waffen-SS by high-ranking Army officers. They appear with SS ranks equivalent to their former Army ranks. Although this procedure may be caused merely by military expediency, it is not likely that a high-ranking German officer would assume an SS rank without coming under the special disciplinary rules of the SS and without having reconciled himself to its program, ideals, and plans for the future.


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