Le SS o Schutzstaffel (“Squadre di Protezione“) erano un corpo paramilitare creato dal Partito Nazionalsocialista con lo scopo di creare la guardia personale per Adolf Hitler.
In 1929 there were only 280 of them.
Heinrich Himmler was their head, and he was authorized to expand the paramilitary unit up to 200.000 members in less than a year.
For several years the Schutzstaffel wore the same uniform worn by the SA, the Nazi Paty's first paramilitary organization: the two corps differred only in the black beret, as the SS's had the Totenkopf(lit. "dead person's head"). on it - a skull-shaped symbol.
Meine Ehre heißt Treue
"My honor's called loyalty" - This was the Schutzstaffel's motto, and in 1936 they even took control of the Gestapo, the Nazi secret services.
During the war they stood our for their cruelty and their efficiency; their inclination towards violence made them forever famous, and Hitler entrusted them with the control of every concentration camp, as well as that of the nations that Germany conquered.
- The Schutzstaffel's symbol isn't only an acronym for the corps' name: it is two sig rune (o Siegrunen). At first these runes represented the sun, but later they were re-interpreted as a symbol of victory;
- In time, the SS uniforms became completely black, and all the members had to get their blood type and their identification number tattooed on the left forearm's inner part;
- The Schutzstaffel's members were taught racial hatred, and they had to learn how to be insensible to human pain.
- Aside from overseeing the camps, the SS were in charge of a wide range of businesses that were supported mostly by the slave labour of the jews and the people form the occupied countries;
- There SS had a commercial empire: bakeries, farms, textile industries, weapons, leather production and other businesses. Their revenue was strengthened also by the commerce of properties and goods they took from the camps' prisoners; they sold corpses' hair in order to make felt, and they sold ashes to the prisoners' relatives, who believed they were really buying what was left of their loved ones.
che credevano che in tali ceneri ci fossero i veri resti dei loro cari, mentre si trattava solamente di resti inceneriti di cadaveri sconosciuti.
End of the War
After the end of the war, during the Nurmberg Trials the SS was declared a criminal organization and its members were imprisoned. Nonetheless, before the war ended, a group of SS went to Argentina and founded ODESSA, a network that was meant to help other Nazis go to South America...
...But this material for another post.