DEFINITION


Members of the SS (Schutzstaffel; originally Hitler's bodyguard, later the elite guard of the Nazi state) parade during a rally. Germany, date uncertain.
Members of the SS (Schutzstaffel; originally Hitler's bodyguard, later the elite guard of the Nazi state) parade during a rally. Germany, date uncertain.


The SchutzStaffel (SS) was formed in April 1925 as a section of the SA and functioned as a personal bodyguard for NSDAP leaders, Adolf Hitler. The SS was considered to be an elite force and membership was restricted to those who were pure Aryan Germans. It was an important tool of Nazi terror. The black-shirted SS members formed a smaller, elite group whose members also served as policemen and, later, as concentration camp guards. Eventually overshadowing the Storm Troopers (SA) in importance, the SS became, after 1934, the private army of the Nazi party.


HOW DID IT HELP HITLER RISE TO POWER?
  • The SS set up hundred of makeshift "camps" in empty warehouses, factories, and other locations all over Germany where they held political opponents without trial and under conditions of great cruelty.
  • Used ruthless and cruel methods throughout Germany to identify and arrest political opponents: elimination of all organized opposition.