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Protective Squadrons []

The was the very essence of Nazism -- the elite group of the Party, composed of the most thorough-going adherents of the Nazi cause, pledged to blind devotion to Nazi principles, and prepared to carry them out without any question and at any cost, including the deportation and Germanization of inhabitants of conquered territories, enslavement of foreign labor and illegal use of prisoners of war, concentration camps for the extermination of the Jews and and planning and waging aggressive war.

The sweeping National Socialist program and the measures they were prepared to use and did use, could be fully accomplished neither through the machinery of the government nor of the Party. Things had to be done for which no agency of government and no political party, even the Nazi Party, would openly take full responsibility. A specialized type of-apparatus was needed -- an apparatus which was to some extent connected with the government and given official support, but which, at the same time, could maintain a quasi-independent status so that all its acts could be attributed neither to the government nor to the Party as a whole. The was that apparatus.

It involved, of course, the performance of police functions. But it involved more. It required participation in the suppression and extermination of all internal opponents of the regime. It meant participation in extending the regime beyond the borders of Germany, and eventually, participation in every type of activity designed to secure a hold over those territories and populations which, through military conquest, had come under German domination.

Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsfuehrer , commanded the entire organization. The increasingly close collaboration of the Security Service of the Reichsfuehrer [almost always referred to as the SD] with the Gestapo and Criminal Police (Kripo) eventually resulted in the creation of the Reich Main Security Office (or RSHA). The SD originated as a part of the and always retained its character as a party organization, as distinguished from the GESTAPO, which was a State organization. However, the GESTAPO and the SD were brought into close working relationship, the SD serving primarily as the information-gathering agency and the GESTAPO as the executive agency of the police system established by the Nazis for the purpose of combatting the political and ideological enemies of the Nazi regime.

The Waffen , the combat arm of the , was created, trained, and finally utilized for the purposes of aggressive war. Although tactically under the command of the Wehrmacht while in the field, it remained as much a part of the as any other branch of that organization. The mission of the Death Head Units ( Totenkopf Verbaende) was guarding enemies of the State who were held in concentration camps. The eventually succeeded in assuming control over the entire Reich Police, out of which special militarized forces were formed, originally Police Battalions, and later expanded to Police Regiments. The Allgemeine (General) was composed of all members of the who did not belong to any of the special branches.

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