Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggresion. Vol. II. USGPO, Washington, 1946,pp.173-237

[Note: The characters in brackets, eg, (2233-N-PS) refer to the official document numbers included in the series Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression.   A list of legal references and documents relating to the SS appears on pages 237-248.  For information on the referencing of Internet sources see Chapter 4 of S D Stein Learning, Teaching and Researching on the Internet. Addison Wesley Longman 1999-published Nov.1998]

Error Submission Form

The Schutzstaffeln (SS)

The Nuremberg Charges

Part II

Part I
Part III
Part IV
Part V

Selection, Training, and Obligations of Members

The Racial Basis of the SS

The SS as a Racial and Biological Elite
The SS as an Exterminator of "Inferior" Races
Indoctrination of Members in SS Racial Theories

The Obligation of Obedience
The SS as a Terroristic Agency
Continuance of the Elite and Voluntary Character of the SS
Method of Acquiring Membership

C. Selection, Training, and Obligations of Members.

To understand this organization, the theories' upon which it was based must be kept clearly in mind. The underlying philosophy of the SS, the principles by which its members were selected, and the obligations imposed upon them furnish the key to all its activities. It is necessary, therefore, to consider them in some detail.

(1) The Racial Basis of the SS.

(a) The SS as a racial and biological elite;

The fundamental principle of selection was what Himmler called that of Blood and Elite. The SS was to be the living embodiment of the Nazi doctrine of the superiority of Nordic blood, and of the Nazi conception of a master race. In Himmler's own words, the SS was to be a "National Socialist Soldierly Order of Nordic Men" (1992-A-PS). In describing to the Wehrmacht the reasons behind his emphasis on racial standards of selection and the manner in which they were carried out, he said :

"* * * Accordingly, only good blood, blood which his: tory has proved to be leading and creative and the foundation of every state and of all military activities, only Nordic blood, can be considered. I said to myself that should I succeed in selecting from the German people for this organization as many people as possible a majority of whom possess this desired blood, in teaching them military discipline and, in time, the understanding of the value of blood and the entire ideology which results from it, then it will be possible actually to create such an elite organization which would successfully hold its own in all cases of emergency." (1992-A-PS)

Further on in the same speech, Himmler described the selection of candidates for his organization:

"* * * They are extremely thoroughly examined and checked. Of 100 men we can use on the average of 10 or 15, no more. We ask for the political reputation record of his parents, brothers and sisters, the record of his ancestry as far back as 1750 and naturally the physical examination and his records from the Hitler Youth. Further, we ask for a record of hereditary health showing that no hereditary disease exists in his parents and in his family. Last, but perhaps most important, is a certification of the race commission. This examining commission is composed of SS leaders, anthropologists and physicians." (1992-A-PS)

This same strict selection process for the SS was somewhat similarly described in the Organizations Book of the Nazi Party for 1943:

"Selection of Members
"For the fulfillment of these missions a homogenous firmly welded fighting force has been created bound by ideological oaths, whose fighters are selected out of the best Aryan humanity. "The conception of the value of the blood and soil serves as directive for the selection into the SS. Every SS man must be deeply imbued with the sense and essence of the National Socialist Movement. He will. be ideologically and physically trained so that he can be employed individually or in groups in the decisive battle for the National Socialist ideology. "Only the best and thoroughbred Germans are suited for commitment in this battle. Therefore it is necessary that an uninterrupted selection is retained within the ranks of the SS, first superficially, then constantly more thoroughly." (2640-PS)

The creation of a racial and biological elite had some very practical reasons behind it. The conspirators' plans for conquest and exploitation of the conquered territories required the development of a Nazi aristocracy which would dominate Germany and Europe for centuries to come. That purpose was explicitly stated by Himmler in his Posen speech :

"One thing must be clear, one thing I would like to say to you today: the moment the war is over, we will really begin to weld together our organization, this organization which we have built up for 10 years, which we imbued and indoctrinated with the first most important principles during the 10 years before the war.. We must continue to do this-we,-if I may say so, we older men-for twenty years full of toil and work, so that a tradition 30,35,40 years, a generation, may be created. Then this organization will march forward into the future young and strong, revolutionary and efficient to fulfill the task of giving the German people, the Germanic people, the superstratum of society which will combine and hold together this Germanic people and this Europe, and from which the brains which the people need for industry, farming, politics, and as soldiers, statesmen and technicians, will emerge. In addition this superstratum must be so strong and vital that every generation can unreservedly sacrifice two or three sons from every family on the battlefield, and that nevertheless the continued flowing of the bloodstream is assured." (1919-PS)

He forcibly made the same point in his address to officers of the SS Leibstandarte "Adolph Hitler" on the "Day of Metz":

"The ultimate aim for these 11 years during which I have been the Reichsfuehrer SS has been invariably the same: To create an order of good blood which is able to serve Germany. Which unfailingly and without sparing itself can be made use of because the greatest losses can do no harm to the vitality of this order, the vitality of these men, because they will always be replaced. To create an order which will spread the idea of nordic blood so far that we will attract all nordic blood in the world, take away the blood from our adversaries, absorb it so that never again, looking at it from the viewpoint of grand policy, nordic blood in great quantities and to an extent worth mentioning will fight against us. We must get it and the others cannot have it. We never gave up the ideas and the aim conceived so many years ago. Everything we did has taken us some distance further on the way. Everything we are going to do will lead us further on the way." (1918-PS)

Since the SS was to be made a Nazi aristocracy which would dominate not only Germany but the world for centuries to come, it was essential that the SS stock be perpetuated. To insure the continuance of this good blood, the first step was to limit marriages of SS men to women meeting the same requirements as to health, descent, and ideological background as the SS man himself. This was accomplished by an order of the Reichsfuehrer SS issued on 31 December 1931. This SS marriage law is set out in full in d'Alquen's Book, "The SS," (2284-PS). But proper marriages were not enough without children. A series of orders took care of that. On 13 September 1936, Himmler issued an order entitled "Foundation of the Organization 'Lebensborn e. V. ' ", published in the SS manual, "The Soldier Friend":

"As early as December 13, 1934, I wrote to all SS leaders and declared that we have fought in vain if political victory was not to be followed by victory of birth of good blood. The question of multiplicity of children is not a private affair of the individual but his duty towards his ancestors and our people.
"The SS has taken the first step in this direction long ago with the engagement and marriage decree of December 1931. However, the existence of sound marriage is futile if it does not result in the creation of numerous descendants." * * *
"The minimum amount of children for a good sound marriage is four. Should unfortunate circumstances deny a married couple their own children, then every SS leader should adopt racially and hereditarily valuable children, educate them in the spirit of National Socialism, let them have an education corresponding to their ability." (2825-PS)

The drive for perpetuation of SS stock was continued. A further order of Himmler, issued on 28 October 1939, directed to the entire SS and the Police, is also published in the SS manual, "' The Soldier Friend":

"The old saying that only those who have children can die in peace must again become acknowledged truth in this war, especially for the SS. * * *
"Though in other times it may perhaps be considered an infraction of necessary social standards and conventions, German women and girls of good blood can fulfill a high obligation by bearing children out of wedlock to soldiers going to the front, whose eventual return or death for Germany lies entirely in the hands of fate-not out of promiscuity but out of a deep sense of ethics." * * *
"Let us never forget that the victory of the sword and of the spilled blood of our soldiers remains fruitless, if it is not succeeded by the victory of the child and the colonizing of conquered soil." (2825-PS)

A final order designed to assure continuance of good SS blood was issued on 15 August 1942, entitled "SS Orders to the Last Sons", also published in "The Soldier Friend":

"You SS men have been withdrawn from the front lines by order of the Fuehrer because you are the last sons. This measure has been taken because the people and the State have an interest in seeing that your families do not die out.
"It has never been the nature of SS men to submit to a fate without attempting to effect a change. It is your duty to see to it that you are no longer the last sons by producing as many children of good blood as possible." (2825-PS)

These orders were not the product of some benevolent theorist in eugenics who was interested in large and happy SS families for their own sake. They stemmed from a basic idea of the conspiracy, the plan to insure Germany's continued capacity to wage war for generations. Himmler put this theory very bluntly in his speech to officers of the SS Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler" on the "Day of Metz":

"* * * If we once had not enough sons, those who will come after us will have to become cowards. A nation 'which has an average of four sons per family can venture a war; if two of them die, two transmit the name. The leadership of a nation having one son or two sons per family will have to be fainthearted at any decision on account of their own experience, because they will have to tell themselves : We cannot afford it. Look at France, which is the best example. France had to accept from us a dictate." (1918-PS)

(b) The SS as an exterminator of "inferior" races.

Domination of Europe through a Nazi Elite required more, however, than the positive side of racism-that is, the building up of a numerous "biologically superior" group. It necessarily meant also the destruction of other races. The SS had to be, and was, taught not merely to breed, but to exterminate. In a speech delivered at Kharkov in April 1943, Himmler declared:

"We have-I would say, as very consistent National Socialists-taken the question of blood as our starting point. We were the first really to solve the problem of blood by action, and in this connection by problem of blood, we of course do not mean antisemitism. Antisemitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting rid of lice is not a question of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness. In just the same way, antisemitism for us, will soon have been dealt with. We shall soon be deloused. We have only 20,000 lice left, and then the matter is finished within the whole of Germany." (1919-PS)

But it was not merely against Jews that SS efforts were directed. All non-Nordic races were similarly condemned. In his Posen speech, Himmler stated this basic principle of the SS:

"One basic principle must be the absolute rule for the SS men : We must be honest, decent, loyal and comradely to members of our own blood and to nobody else. What happens to a Russian, to a Czech, does not interest me in the slightest. What other nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take, if necessary, by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only so far as we need them as slaves for our culture; otherwise, it is of no interest to me. Whether 10,000 Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an antitank ditch interests me only insofar as the antitank ditch for Germany is finished." * * *
"That is what I want to instil into this SS and what I'believe I have instilled in them as one of the most sacred laws of the future." (1919-PS)

(c) Indoctrination of members in SS racial theories.

These were the principles which were publicly reiterated, over and over again, so that the newest recruit was thoroughly steeped in them. In his Kharkov speech to the commanding officers of three Waffen SS divisions, Himmler strongly insisted on indoctrinating all SS members in his theories of the racial struggle.

"This is what is important for us as SS men, for, our province of duty and our mission (it is a task additional to those of the whole German armed forces and the whole German people): That is what I would like to impress upon you. This is what I beg you as commanding officers, as chiefs and as leaders, to teach the young men again and again in their ideological instruction. That is what I demand and exact of you-that you really concern yourself with the man, the young fellow of 17 or 18 who comes to us, and with many who are in our ranks not as volunteers but as conscripts. I ask you to look after them, and guide them, and not let them go before they are really saturated with our spirit and are fighting as the old guard fought before us-that is what I request and demand of you.
"We have only one task-to stand firm and carry on the racial struggle without mercy." 1919-PS)

This function of the SS men in the racial struggle was publicly proclaimed in the Organizations Book of the NSDAP for 1943:

"He openly and relentlessly fights against the most dangerous enemies of the State: Jews, Freemasons, Jesuits and political clergymen." (2640-PS)

(2) The Obligation of Obedience.

Indoctrination of the organization in principles of racial hatred was not enough. 'The members had to be ready and willing tools, prepared to carry out tasks of any nature, however distasteful, illegal or inhuman. Absolute obedience was the necessary second foundation stone of the SS. The Organizations Book of the NSDAP for 1943 thus describes this fundamental requirement:

"Obedience must be unconditional. It corresponds to the conviction that the National Socialist ideology must reign supreme. He who is possessed by it and fights for it passionately subjects himself voluntarily to the obligation to obey. Every SS man is prepared, therefore, to carry out blindly every order which is issued by the Feuhrer or which is given by his superior, irrespective of the heaviest sacrifices involved." (2640-PS)

The same point was emphasized by Himmler in the Posen speech:

"I would like here to state something clearly and unequivocally. It is a matter of course that the little man must obey. It is even more a matter of course that all the senior leaders of the SS, that is the whole corps of Gruppenfuehrers, are a model of blind obedience."(1919-PS)

(3) The SS as a Terroristic Agency.

A necessary corollary of these two fundamental principles of race and of blind obedience was ruthlessness. Subsequent evidence of SS activities will prove how successfully the SS learned the lesson it was taught. The SS had to and did develop a reputation for terror which was carefully cultivated. Himmler himself attested to it as early as 1936 in a speech publicly delivered at the Peasant's Day Rally and subsequently published and circulated in pamphlet form under the title "The SS as an Anti-bolshevist Fighting Organization":

"I know that there are some people in Germany who become sick when they see their black coats. .We understand the reason for this and do not expect that we shall be loved by too many." (1851-PS)

(4) Continuance of the Elite and Voluntary Character of the SS.

The role which the SS was to play required that it remain constantly the essence of Naziism, and that its elite Nazi quality never be diluted. 'For this reason the SS was for a time temporarily closed. to new members, and those who had proved unfit were weeded out. Himmler described this process in his article "Organization and Obligations of the SS and the Police" (1992-A-PS). Referring to the influx of new adherents to the Party and its organizations in 1933, he said:

"A very difficult question confronted us at that time. It was a question of deciding whether to close the Party and its organizations to further membership and thus remain pure in quality but small in volume, or of opening them to further membership to increase their volume." * * *
"The SS too was endangered by this menace. Therefore I closed it while some of the other organizations accepted as great a number of people as possible. This way I had the SS again under my control in April and said: We shall accept no more people. From the end of 1933 to the end of 1936 we expelled all those of the newly accepted members who proved unsuitable." (1992-A-PS)

These standards were not abandoned later. Indeed, in 1943 the Organizations Book of the Nazi Party stated that:

"The demands with respect to racial purity of the SS are being increased every year." And in the same year, 1943, Himmler emphasized this point in a letter written to Kaltenbrunner (2768-PS).

This letter from the Reichsfuehrer SS, which bears the date 24 April 1943, states in part as follows:

"Referring again to the matter which I discussed some time ago, i. e., the admission of SIPO officials into the SS. I wish to clarify again: I want an admission only if the following conditions are fulfilled :

"1. If the man applies freely and voluntarily ;
"2. If, by applying strict and peacetime standards, the applicant fits racially and ideologically into the SS, guarantees according to the number of his children a really healthy SS stock, and is neither ill, degenerate nor worthless." * * *

I beg you not only to act accordingly in the future, but especially also that numerous admissions into ranks of the SS in the past be reexamined and revised according to these instructions." (2768-PS)

(5) Method of Acquiring Membership in the SS.

The normal method by which membership in the SS was attained was discussed by Himmler in his article, "Organization and Obligations of the SS and Police":

"The age groups in the SS are as follows: With 18 years the young man enters the SS. He is first an applicant, after three months he takes the oath on the Fuehrer and thus becomes a candidate (Anwaerter). As a candidate during the first year he takes examinations for his SA sport insignia and his bronze sport insignia. At the age of 19 or 191/2, according to the time of his acceptance, he is conscripted for the labor service and subsequently for the Wehrmacht. After two more years he comes back from the Wehrmacht unless he remains there as a prospective noncommissioned officer or reenlists. If he returns to us, he is still candidate. In these weeks he is especially thoroughly instructed in ideology. The first year is for him a period of elementary ideological indoctrination. In these weeks following his return from the Wehrmacht he receives special instruction about the marriage law and all other laws pertaining to the family, and the honor laws. On the 9th of November, following his return from the Wehrmacht, he becomes an, SS man in the true sense. The Reichsfuehrer of the SS is just as much an SS man in, the sense of the SS organization as the common man at the front. On this 9th of No-vember he is awarded the dagger, and at this occasion he promises to abide by the marriage law and the disciplinary laws of the SS, since the family is also subject to these laws. From this day on he has the right and the duty to defend his honor with a weapon as laid down by the honor laws of the SS. The applicants and candidates do not yet have this right. The SS man remains in the so-called active General SS until his 35th year. From his 35th to his 45th year he is in the SS reserve, and after his 45th year in the Stammabteilung of the SS, identified by the grey color patch." (1992-A-PS)

The oath to the Fuehrer, referred to by Himmler in the passage just quoted, appears in the SS recruiting pamphlet, "The SS Calls You":

"The Oath of the SS Man :
"I swear to you, Adolf Hitler, as Fuehrer and Reichschancellor, loyalty and bravery. I vow to you, and to those you have named to command me, obedience unto death, so help me God." (3429-PS)

Part III

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 08/01/99
Stuart.Stein@uwe.ac.uk
ęS D Stein

Holocaust Index Page
Genocide Index Page
ESS Home Page