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Waffen S.S.
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Military Personnel
    (1933-1945)
    Formed in Germany
    Initially organized as the SS-Verfugungstruppen; later known as the Befwaffnete SS and finally the Waffen SS
    Largest branch of the SS; the other parts of the SS were responsible for death camps and political administration
    Grew to the size of four regiments (1939)
    Trained and organized for war shortly before the invasion of Poland
    Expanded to 31 divisions during World War II, numbering nearly a million soldiers
    Fought with distinction in the invasions of Poland, France, Hungary and the Soviet Union
    Fought at Normandy, Kursk, the Battle of the Bulge, numerous less well-known engagements and Berlin
    Most famous head was Heinrich Himmler
    Waffen SS translates roughly as 'Weapon SS'
    Suffered about 25% KIA and 25% injured during the war
    Disbanded at war's end
    It remained loyal to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis until the end.
    Several thousand of its members were responsible for massive atrocities during the war (though this was mainly the role of the Allegemine and Totenkopfverbande SS, not the Waffen SS).
    It was initially organized as a political measure to prevent the Wehrmacht from dominating military affairs.
    Heinrich Himmler often lobbied to increase its size because it would magnify his power.
    Initially, it only recruited German Aryans, but eventually allowed 'Nordic' peoples to enlist; it remained discriminatory throughout the war.
    One of its many insignia was a death's head.
    Despite the larger picture of German defeat, the Waffen SS held its own in most battles it fought in.
    It is misunderstood by most people of the modern era and confused with other branches of the SS.
    When its units fought on the Western Front, many American and British POWs reported that they were treated well and given medical care.
    An SS officer once shot one of his own men for firing at surrendering British troops.
    The military divisions of the SS were some of Germany's best soldiers.
    Their training was tougher than the regular army's.
    Their parade uniforms were generally more striking than most armed services.'

Credit: Wang


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