German Armed Forces Research 1918-1945
High Command of the SS
The highest and most powerful SS office, essentially the SS high command. This office was run by the second most powerful person in the Third Reich, Heinrich Himmler, and as commander of the RF-SS, Himmler had control of the entire SS. Himmler answered to Hitler, as did all German commanders and leaders, but above all others, Himmler seemed to be a leader unto himself.
The Reichsführung-SS was composed of two main parts, the Kommandostab Reichsführung-SS and the Personlicher Stab Reichsführung-SS. The Kommandostab Reichsführung-SS was an executive administrative staff which was located at Himmler's personal headquarters. During the War, the Kommandostab Reichsführung-SS acted on a mobile basis under the title Feldkommadostelle Reichsführung-SS and was organized like a military headquarters. As such, it acted more-or-less as the Waffen SS High Command, in the way the Oberkommandos were the high commands for the other arms of the military. A number of independent combat and combat support units were attached to the Feldkommandostelle, such as signals, flak, and police units. During the War, the Feldkommadostelle Reichsführung-SS was organized with the following units.
I Flak Abteilung
II Flak Abteilung
Veterinar Kompanie with:
SS Begleit Abteilung
Sonder Abteilung Reichsführer-SS
Personlicher Stab Reichsführung-SS
The Personlicher Stab Reichsführung-SS was the second main part of the Reichsführung-SS and was basically Himmler's personal staff. The Personlicher Stab Reichsführung-SS was initially an organization consisting of advisory officials, the heads of the main SS departments and members of other important offices. It acted as an advisory body to Himmler and the Reichsführung-SS, and also took care of any area not covered specifically by one of the other main departments. The Personlicher Stab Reichsführung-SS was to become a specific main office within the RF-SS after 1940.
The day-to-day management of the SS was run by the SS Hauptamter or main departments. The Hauptamter were under the direct control of the Reichsführung-SS and The Reichsführer-SS Himmler but were otherwise in control of managing and running a particular aspect of the SS. All of the Hauptamt are listed in the previous table.
The SS Hauptamt was the primary SS command organization before the War. It was formed on January 30th, 1935 from the original SS Amt (SS office) which controlled the SS in its early years. The SS Hauptamt controlled all areas of the SS not specifically controlled by any of the other main offices. The SS-HA initially controlled the Allgemeine SS, the concentration camps, the frontier and border personnel, and the political readiness detachments (which evolved into the SS Verfugungstruppe and latter into the Waffen SS). From these, the SS-HA went on to control an even greater number of duties within the SS. In the late 1930's, the SS Hauptamt was the largest and most powerful office of the SS, managing nearly all aspects of the SS. The title of Hauptamt, meaning simply, the main office, shows the importance that this position held within the administration of the SS. With no other qualification in its title, this office was understood to be the most important of those in the SS. Before 1940 the SS-HA consisted of the following.
Zentralkanzlei (Central Chancellery)
(Oringinally the legal office, but removed by this time)
Amt fur Sicherungsaufgaben (Security)
Amt fur Leibsubungen (Physical Training)
Amt fur Nachrichtenverbindungen (Communications)
Versorgungs und Fursorgeamt (Welfare and Supply)
When the SS grew much larger after 1940, the administration of the SS as a whole became more than the SS-HA could manage alone. As a result, the SS-HA was split up creating a number of new main offices. The structure of the SS-HA after 1940 when its importance was reduced was as follows.
Zentralamt (Central office)
Leitender Artz bei Chef SS-HA (Chief Medical Officer)
Erganzungsamt der Waffen-SS (Waffen-SS Reinforcements)
Amt fur Weltanschauliche Erziehung (Ideological Training)
Amt fur Leibeserziehhung (Physical Training)
Amt fur Berufserziehung (Trade Training)
Germanische Leitstelle (Germanic Control)
Germanische Erganzung (Germanic Recruitment)
Germanische Erziehung Germanic Education)
The Rasse-und Siedlungshauptamt was the Race and Settlement Department of the SS. It was made into the main office on January 3Oth, 1935 from the earlier Race and Settlement Office. The name was thus changed from office to department, along with other various structural changes. This department was also known as RuSHA, and it acted as the supreme authority on matters dealing with the purity of SS members, on genealogy, lineage, marriage, and on matters dealing with the settlement of Germans into conquered areas. Before 1940 the RuSHA consisted of the following.
Organisation und Verwaltungsamt (Organisation and Administration)
Sippen und Heiratsamt (Family and Marriage)
Amt fur Archiv und Zeitungswesen (Records and Press)
Amt fur Bevolkerungspolitik (Population Policy)
This main office was the Reich Central Security Main Office or RSHA. The RSHA was formed on September 27th, 1939, and was by far the most feared and the most sinister of all the main offices in the RF-SS. The RSHA was formed from two other existing main offices, the Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police Main Office) and the Sicherheits Hauptamt (Security Service Main Office). The Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei controlled what was known as the Sipo, which consisted of the Geheime Staatspolizei or Gestapo (The Secret State Police) and the Kriminalpolizei or Kripo (The Criminal Police). The Sicherheitspolizei Hauptamt controlled the Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführer-SS or SD (Security Service of the Reichsführer-SS). The above two offices and the security forces they controlled (Sipo consisting of the Gestapo and Kripo, and the SD), all became a part of the RSHA in 1939. The RSHA also formed and manned the most infamous "security" groups of the War, the Einsatzgruppen (Special Action Groups). The Einsatzgruppen were formed to gather Jews, partisans, and other peoples from the areas the armed forces conquered, and to murder them. During the War, the RSHA was always growing, adding new offices to its structure. During the War, the RSHA consisted of the following.
Hauptamt Personlicher Stab Reichsführer-SS
This main office was formed from the Personlicher Stab Reichsführer-SS that was a part of the Reichsführung-SS. When formed into the main office, the Hauptamt Personlicher Stab Reichsführer-SS continued much the same as it had before it was the main office, taking care of protocol, matters of interest to Himmler, awarding decorations to SS men, and taking care of Himmler's personal correspondence. Matters that were important to Himmler consisted of his personal areas of interest, and these were things like press relations, Germanic cultural research, and the Lebensborn agency.
Hauptamt SS Gericht
This main office was the officer in charge of legal matters as they pertained to the SS and police. This main office was expanded from the original SS Gerichtsamt (SS legal office) that was originally attached to the SS Hauptamt. This office controlled the SS and police courts, the SS and police penal camps. It was responsible for preparing and prosecuting cases and for the execution of penal and disciplinary sentences, and for the remission or reprieve of such sentences. It dealt with all areas related to law and legal matters within the SS.
This main office was formed on June 1st, 1939 from Himmler's personal staff. This office was in charge of the records for SS personnel and was the ultimate authority responsible for all questions regarding SS Personal. The primary focus of this main office was with officers though.
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