SS Main Office

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SS Main Office
SS-Hauptamt (SS-HA)
SS Hauptamt.svg
Vehicle command flag for SS Main Office
Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg
SS logo
Agency overview
Formed30 January 1935
Preceding agencies
  • SS-Amt
  • SS-Oberführerbereiche
Dissolved8 May 1945
JurisdictionGermany Germany
Occupied Europe
HeadquartersPrinz-Albrecht-Straße, Berlin
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Chef des SS-Hauptamtes
Parent agency SS
Child agencies

The SS Main Office (German: SS-Hauptamt) (SS-HA) was the central command office of the Schutzstaffel (SS) in Nazi Germany until 1940.

Formation[edit]

The office traces its origins to 1931 when the SS created the SS-Amt to serve as an SS Headquarters staff overseeing the various units of the Allgemeine-SS (General SS). In 1933, after the Nazi Party came to power, the SS-Amt was renamed the SS-Oberführerbereichen and placed in command of all SS units within Nazi Germany; this agency then became the SS-HA on January 30, 1935.[1] The organization oversaw the Allgemeine-SS, concentration camps, the SS-Verfügungstruppe (Special-purpose troops), and the Grenzschutz (Border Control regiments).[1]

During the late 1930s, the power of the SS-HA continued to grow becoming the largest and most powerful office of the SS, managing nearly all aspects of the paramilitary organization; this included the SS officer schools (SS-Junker Schools), physical training, communication, SS garrisons, logistics and support.[1] Shortly after the outbreak of World War II in Europe, the SS-Verfügungstruppe expanded rapidly becoming the Waffen-SS in 1940. By this time, the office of the SS-Hauptamt could no longer administer the entire SS organization; as a result, the SS-HA was downsized losing much of its pre-war power to the SS Führungshauptamt (SS Leading Main Office; SS-FHA) and the main offices of the Allgemeine-SS, such as the Reich Main Security Office.[2]

Recruiting members for the Waffen-SS was handled through the SS-HA and its chief, Berger; this caused overlapping jurisdiction and friction with the SS-FHA.[3] Berger's SS-HA had a problematic relationship with the SS-FHA, which was responsible for organising, training and equipping the Waffen-SS; the SS-FHA wanted the Waffen-SS to be a small elite corps, but Berger and Himmler knew that Adolf Hitler needed as many divisions as possible, even if that meant some Waffen-SS formations would be of lesser quality.[4] During the early war years, to meet the high casualty rates and expansion of Waffen-SS field divisions, members of the Allgemeine SS were used for compulsory recruitment drives by the SS-HA for both the Waffen-SS and the SS-Totenkopfverbände; the General SS members were especially seen as well suited for duty at the Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps.[5] From 1942, forward, other personnel working for SS organisations were also drafted into the Waffen-SS to meet its manpower needs.[5]

Organization[edit]

In 1940 the SS-Hauptamt remained responsible for SS administrative matters such as manpower allocation, supplies, personnel transfers, and promotions; the SS-HA had 11 departments (Ämter or Amtsgruppe):[6]

  • Amt Zentralamt (Central office)
  • Amt Leitender Ärzt beim Chef SS-HA (Chief Medical Officer)
  • Amt Verwaltung (Administration)
  • Amt Ergänzungsamt der Waffen-SS (Waffen-SS Reinforcements)
  • Amt Erfassungsamt (Requisitioning)
  • Amt für Weltanschauliche Erziehung (Ideological Training)
  • Amt für Leibeserziehhung (Physical Training)
  • Amt für Berufserziehung (Trade Training)
  • Amt Germanische Leitstelle (Germanic Control)
  • Amt Germanische Ergänzung (Germanic Recruitment)
  • Amt Germanische Erziehung (Germanic Education)

The SS-HA was technically subordinate to the Personal Staff Reichsführer-SS, but in reality it remained autonomous.

Leadership[edit]

Name Took office Left office Time in office Ref
1
Curt Wittje [de]
Wittje, CurtSS-Gruppenführer
Curt Wittje [de]
(1894–1947)
12 February 193414 May 19351 year, 91 days[7]
2
August Heissmeyer
Heissmeyer, AugustSS-Obergruppenführer
August Heissmeyer
(1897–1979)
14 May 19359 November 19394 years, 179 days[7]
3
Gottlob Berger
Berger, GottlobSS-Obergruppenführer
Gottlob Berger
(1896–1975)
1 December 19398 May 19455 years, 180 days[7]

Post-war[edit]

Gottlob Berger in the dock at the Nuremberg Trials in 1949.

After the end of World War II in Europe, members of the SS-HA were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Gottlob Berger, its former chief was arrested in May 1945 and tried in 1949; the trial against Berger and his co-defendants commenced on 6 January 1948,[8] and ended on 13 April 1949.[9] Berger was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, but received credit for the four years during which he had been in custody awaiting trial.[10] Berger was released from Landsberg prison in 1951.[11]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Yerger 1997, p. 13.
  2. ^ McNab 2009, pp. 36, 41.
  3. ^ Wegner 1990, pp. 296–298.
  4. ^ Weale 2010, pp. 118–119.
  5. ^ a b Wegner 1990, p. 306.
  6. ^ Yerger 1997, pp. 14–15.
  7. ^ a b c Yerger 1997, p. 15.
  8. ^ Heller 2011, p. 79.
  9. ^ Heller 2011, p. 103.
  10. ^ NMT 1949, p. 867.
  11. ^ Maguire 2013, p. 206.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Heller, Kevin Jon (2011). The Nuremberg Military Tribunals and the Origins of International Criminal Law. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-162212-0.
  • Maguire, Peter H. (2013). Law and War: International Law and American History, Revised Edition. New York, New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-51819-2.
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-906626-49-5.
  • Weale, Adrian (2010). The SS: A New History. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-1-4087-0304-5.
  • Wegner, Bernd (1990). The Waffen-SS: Organization, Ideology and Function. Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-14073-5.
  • Yerger, Mark C. (1997). Allgemeine-SS: The Commands, Units and Leaders of the General SS. Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-7643-0145-4.
  • Trials of War Criminals before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals, Volume XIV, "The Ministries Case". Nuremberg, Allied-occupied Germany: Nuernberg Military Tribunals. 1949. OCLC 874547741.