Army of Evil: A History of the SS

BOOK: Army of Evil: A History of the SS
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ARMY OF EVIL

Also by Adrian Weale

Patriot Traitors

Green-Eyed Boys

Secret Warfare

The Real SAS

Fighting Fit

Eyewitness Hiroshima

Renegades: Hitler’s Englishmen

Science and the Swastika

— ADRIAN WEALE —

ARMY

OF

EVIL

A HISTORY OF THE SS

NAL C
ALIBER

Published by New American Library, a division of

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Published by NAL Caliber, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Previously published in Great Britain by Little, Brown, a Hachette UK Company. For information contact Little, Brown, 100 Victoria Embankment, London, England, EC4Y 0DY. Published by arrangement with the author.

First NAL Caliber Printing, September 2012

10    9    8    7    6    5    4    3    2    1

Copyright © Adrian Weale, 2010

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

NAL CALIBER and the “C” logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:

Weale, Adrian.

    Army of evil: a history of the SS/Adrian Weale.

        p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN: 978-1-101-59807-8

    1. Waffen-SS—History. 2. Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei. Schutzstaffel. 3. World War, 1939–1945—Regimental histories—Germany. 4. National Socialism. 5. World War, 1939–1945—Germany. 6. Germany—Politics and government—1933–1945. I. Title. II. Title: History of the SS.

    DD253.6.W43 2012

    940.54’1343—dc23                2012014170

Set in Fairfield

Designed by Vicky Hartman

Printed in the United States of America

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers, Internet addresses and other contact information at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

ALWAYS LEARNING
PEARSON
CONTENTS

Acknowledgements

Preface

Author’s Note

INTRODUCTION

1.
THE DEFEAT OF WILHELMINE GERMANY AND THE ORIGINS OF THE NATIONAL SOCIALIST PARTY

2.
THE REBIRTH OF NATIONAL SOCIALISM AND THE CREATION OF THE SS

3.
HEINRICH HIMMLER

4.
A NEW BROOM

5.
TAKING CONTROL

6.
CONSOLIDATION

7.
DACHAU AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS

8.
THE CENTRAL ORGANISATION OF THE SS

9.
THE RACE AND SETTLEMENT OFfiCE

10.
THE SD—THE INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY WING OF THE SS

11.
THE PATH TO GENOCIDE

12.
EUTHANASIA AND THE BEGINNING OF MASS MURDER

13.
ORIGINS OF THE WAFFEN-SS

14.
MILITARISING THE “POLITICAL SOLDIERS”

15.
EXPANSION OF THE MILITARISED SS

16.
THE INVASION OF POLAND AND THE SPECIAL TASK GROUPS

17.
THE SS AND THE POLISH JEWS

18.
GOTTLOB BERGER AND THE CREATION OF THE WAFFEN-SS

19.
MAKING UP THE NUMBERS: FOREIGN VOLUNTEERS AND CRIMINALS IN THE WAFFEN-SS

20.
THE WAFFEN-SS HEADS EAST

21.
OPERATION BARBAROSSA AND THE FIRST AND SECOND SWEEPS

22.
THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE

23.
THE EXTERMINATION CAMPS

24.
AUSCHWITZ

25.
THE FINAL ACT

EPILOGUE

Appendix: Table of Comparative Military Ranks

Notes

Bibliography

Index

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am extremely grateful for the help I have received from a number of organisations during the writing of this book. These include:

The UK National Archives at Kew

The US National Archives at College Park, Maryland

The Imperial War Museum Library, London

The Defence Academy Library, Shrivenham

The German Federal Archives in Koblenz, Freiburg and Berlin

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

The Auschwitz State Museum, Poland

Over the years I have spoken to and corresponded with a large number of individuals on this and related subjects and I hope they will forgive me for not listing them all here. Nevertheless, all of them have contributed in some way and I would like to offer my thanks.

Work on this book was interrupted when I was called up and sent
to Iraq with the British Army in 2003. Resuming work after a high-stress combat tour proved somewhat difficult and I am extremely grateful for the patience of everyone at Little, Brown, particularly including Tim Whiting, Iain Hunt and Steve Guise, who bore with me as I readjusted! As always, my friend and agent Andrew Lownie has been a tower of strength.

On a personal level, I’m very grateful for the help and advice of my friends Guy Walters and Michael Burleigh; and finally I must thank my wife, Mary, and my children, Robert, Ivo and Dido, for putting up with the general grouchiness of a writer working on a long and involved project!

PREFACE

T
hirty or so years ago, when I first studied the history of the Third Reich as a schoolboy, I began to read about the SS. In the material we were using, they were often described as “Hitler’s Bodyguards,” but this struck me as odd. I could understand the sense in a wartime head of state having a bodyguard unit, but as I read more I came to understand that the SS had played a central role in the attempted murder of the Jewish population of Europe; it had key responsibilities in policing National Socialist Germany; and it had fielded a substantial military force. How, I wondered, had this come about?

This book is my answer to that question. The reason why I wanted to write about the SS—apart from the fact that it had always fascinated me—was because there seemed to be an increasing disconnection between what the organisation actually was and how it is now portrayed, more than sixty years since it was dissolved. A generation of casual readers of military history is likely to believe that the Holocaust was perpetrated by a gang of psychopathic sadists, while the Waffen-SS was an elite force of military supermen whose reputation has been tainted simply because of the uniform they wore.

I did not want to write a combat history of the Waffen-SS: there are plenty of those already, dealing with units at all levels from company to “Panzer Army.” And I did not want to write a comprehensive history of the Holocaust: some of the most compelling historical writing of recent years—by Christopher Browning, Saul Friedlander, David Cesarani, Michael Wildt, Götz Aly and Michael Burleigh, among others—has done that job. Instead, I have attempted to write a book for the general reader rather than the academic, in order that they may understand the links between the SS’s background and formation, the ideology it adopted, its decision-making processes and its strategies “on the ground,” while also gaining an insight into how the various parts of the organisation fitted together. This is not a comprehensive history of the activities of the SS, but it deals in some depth with the organisation’s key roles during the Third Reich.

About a month after I signed the contract to write this book, I received a call-up notice from the British Ministry of Defence, requiring me to rejoin the regular army, travel to Iraq and serve six months as a member of the occupation forces there. In one respect this was frustrating, because I had been researching and planning this book for some time, but it was also extremely instructive. I had originally trained as an army intelligence officer, and was expecting to be employed in a liaison role in Iraq. Instead, I was appointed chief of staff (or deputy governor) of the Coalition Provisional Authority that was running the province of Dhi Qar, centred on the ancient city of Nasariyah (the biblical Ur of the Chaldees). I therefore found myself in the distinctly odd position—for an author, at least—of possessing almost absolute authority over a population of some two million people.

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