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The History of the SS Totenkopfdivision and the Postwar Mythology of the Waffen SS

  • Charles W. Sydnor


Among the international community of scholars, journalists, and laymen who share an interest in the history of Nazi Germany, one of the most frequently discussed and persistently controversial subjects of that era is the Waffen SS. Attempts to define what the Waffen SS was lead invariably to questions about the extent to which the Waffen SS was or was not an integral part of the overall SS organization and the degree to which it was or was not involved in the criminal acts attributed to the Schutzstaffel.



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The author is indebted to the department of history of Vanderbilt University and to the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst for the generous financial assistance which made possible the European archival research for this essay.

1. When the Nuremberg Tribunal included the Waffen SS in its indictment and condemnation of the SS as a criminal organization, it established the basis from which the postwar debate over the Waffen SS has developed. See Trials of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, 42 vols. (Nuremberg, 1948), XXII, 512–17, for the Tribunal's judgment against the SS. (Hereinafter cited as TMWC with volume and page or document numbers.)

2. To date, the best book in any language devoted to the Waffen SS is the American scholar Stein's, George H.The Waffen SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War, 1939–1945 (Ithaca, N.Y., and London, 1966). In addition, the paperback edition of Reitlinger's, GeraldThe SS: Alibi of a Nation, 1922–1945 (New York, 1968), issued with a new introduction, still contains a wealth of valuable information on the Waffen SS. More recently, three American doctoral dissertations have examined in detail vital areas of Waffen SS history. These include: Weingartner, James J. Jr., ‘The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, 1933–1945” (unpub. diss., Wisconsin, 1967);Sydnor, Charles W. Jr., “Totenkopf: A History of the Waffen SS Death's Head Division, 1939–1945” (unpub. diss., Vanderbilt, 1971); and Gelwick, Robert A., “Personnel Policies and Procedures of the Waffen SS” (unpub. diss., Nebraska, 1971). In West Germany, the Munin Verlag in Osnabrück has published a number of Waffen SS unit histories. To date, the most significant are: Weidinger, Otto, Division Das Reich, 1934–1941, 2 vols. (Osnabrück, 19671969);Husemann, Friedrich, Die guten Glaubens waren: Der Weg der SS Polizei-Division, 1939–1942 (Osnabrück, 1971);Tieke, Wilhelm, Tragödie um die Treue: Kampf und Untergang des III. (Germ.) SS Panzerkorps (Osnabrück, 1970); and Strassner, Peter, Europäische Freiwillige: Die Geschichte der 5. SS-Panzer Division “Wiking” (Osnabrück, 1969).

3. Two of the most significant recent works on the general subject of the SS are the products of West German research and writing. The collaborative work by Buchheim, Hans, Broszat, Martin, Jacobsen, Hans-Adolf, and Krausnick, Helmuth, Anatomie des SS Staates, 2 vols. (Olten and Freiburg i. Br., 1965), English ed., Anatomy of the SS State (New York, 1968), is a brilliant and powerful compendium and by far the most authoritative analysis of the SS that has yet appeared.Höhne's, HeinzDer Orden unter dem Totenkopf: Die Geschichte der SS (Gütersloh, 1967), English ed., The Order of the Death's Head: The Story of Hitler's SS (New York, 1971), is balanced and comprehensive and deals extensively with the functions of the Waffen SS within the overall structure of the SS.

4. The most cogent and illuminating discussion of the question of Waffen SS criminality is in Stein, , The Waffen SS, ch. 10, “The Tarnished Shield: Waffen SS Criminality,” pp. 250–81.

5. For a bibliographical summary of the apologist literature up to 1965, see especially Stein, , The Waffen SS, pp. 250–58; and the same author's The Myth of a European Army,” Wiener Library Bulletin, xix, No. 2 (04 1965), 2122. At present, the main outlet in West Germany for the dissemination of pro- Waffen SS literature is the Munin Verlag in Osnabrück. This house also publishes a monthly magazine entitled Der Freiwillige, which features articles about Waffen SS history, reminiscences by former SS generals, news about activities and gatherings of local SS veterans' chapters, and obituaries of members with elaborate commentary about their wartime records.

6. The title and theme of Hausser's, PaulSoldaten wie Andere Auch: Der Weg der Waffen SS (Osnabrück, 1966). Among the most important works of apologist literature are the books by former Waffen SS Generals Paul Hausser, Felix Steiner, and Kurt Meyer. Hausser, the ranking officer in the Waffen SS (still alive at the age of ninety-two), is also the author of Waffen SS im Einsatz (Göttingen, 1953), one of the earliest and most influential apologist works demanding rehabilitation of the Waffen SS. The late Felix Steiner's books, Die Freiwilligen: Idee und Opfergang (Göttingen, 1958), and Die Armee der Geächteten (Göttingen, 1963), also were important in stressing the theme of a purely military Waffen SS. Meyer's, Kurt popular Grenadiere (Munich, 1957), is perhaps the boldest and most truculent of the apologist works, arguing flatly that the Waffen SS was never involved in the commission of criminal acts. Not all of the apologist literature, however, is so tendentious. Krätschmer's, Ernst-GüntherDie Ritterkreuzträger der Waffen SS (Göttingen, 1955) contains a wealth of biographical and statistical information, while DrKlietmann's, K. G.. Die Waffen SS: Eine Dokumentation (Osnabrück, 1965) is a useful compendium detailing the organization and battles of the individual Waffen SS units.

7. The rehabilitation effort also has had its impact in nonacademic circles in this country. See especially Bender, Roger James and Taylor, Hugh Page, Uniforms, Organization and History of the Waffen SS, 2 vols. (Mountain View, Calif., 19691971). These first two installments of a projected four-volume work lean heavily on apologist literature (the foreword to the first volume is by Otto Skorzeny), and are slanted toward the large crowd of World War II hobbyists and souvenir collectors more susceptible to the romanticized mythology of the Waffen SS.

8. Until recently, some of the most extreme charges aimed at the Waffen SS came from East German publications. To substantiate their claims of a rebirth of Nazism in the Federal Republic, the East Germans pointed directly at the apologists with hefty document collections. A good example is SS im Einsatz: Eine Dokumentation über die Verbrechen der SS, Herausgegeben vom Komitee der Antifaschistischen Widerstandskämpfer in der DDR (Berlin, 1960).

9. Stein, , The Waffen SS, pp. 2734, for the organization of the first Waffen SS divisions after the Polish campaign. A complete organizational listing of the armed SS at this point in the war is in the Bundesarchiv, Koblenz, Akten des Reichsführers SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei, Persönlicher Stab, NS-7/426, “Einstellungsbedingungen für die Waffen SS,” an unsigned, undated chart drafted sometime early in 1940. (Hereinafter cited as BAKO, NS-7/426, with individual document identification.) The manuscript collections in the Bundesarchiv examined for this study consist of materials from the captured German documents microfilmed at Alexandria, Virginia, and then restituted to the Federal Republic of Germany. Microfilm copies of the documents now deposited at Koblenz can be located in the National Archives publication Guides to the German Records Microfilmed at Alexandria, Va. (Washington, D.C., 1958– ), especially Guides Nos. 32 and 33, Parts I and II, Microcopy T-175.

10. Materials dealing with the founding of the Totenkopfdivision are in the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv, Freiburg im Breisgau, Splitterakten der 3. SS Panzer-Division “Totenkopf,” especially III SS, 41/2, Anlagenband 1 zum KTB Nrs. 1–4; III SS, 41/8, Bd. 1, Sonderbefehle und Tagesbefehle, 12. Oktober 1939–1918. Juli 1940; and III SS, 42/1, Verwaltungsdienste, KTB Nr. 1. (Hereinafter cited as BAMA, III SS, with individual volume and document identification.) The records of the SS Totenkopfdivision now deposited at Freiburg may also be obtained on microfilm from the National Archives. These materials are identified in Guides to the German Records Microfilmed at Alexandria, Va., Guide No. 27, Microcopy T-354.

11. United States Document Center, West Berlin, SS Personalakte Eicke, handwritten “Lebenslauf” by Eicke, and a Dienstlaufbahn, or summary list of his assignments, promotions, and transfers in the SS. (Hereinafter cited as USDC, SS Personalakte Eicke, with specific document identification.)

12. The best discussion of Eicke's prewar SS career is Martin Broszat's chapter on the concentration camp system in Buchheim, et al. , Anatomy of the SS State, pp. 399459. In addition, the recent study by the French scholar Wormser-Migot, Olga, Le Système Concentrationnaire Nazi, 1939–1945 (Paris, 1968), esp. pp. 31137, discusses in detail Eicke's central role in the development of the prewar concentration camp system. Only recently has this rather significant contribution by Eicke to the construction of the Nazi terror apparatus been put into proper perspective. See Hilberg, Raul, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago, 1960), pp. 555–56, 577–86;Wheaton, Eliot Barculo, The Nazi Revolution 1933–1935: Prelude to Calamity (New York, 1969), pp. 497–99; and Bracher, Karl-Dietrich, The German Dictatorship (New York, 1970), pp. 359–61.

13. Höhne, , The Order of the Death's Head, pp. 143–44.

14. USDC, SS Personalakte Eicke, Lebenslauf. A detailed personal account by Eicke of the early years of the camp system is in BAKO, NS-19/neu-1925, letter from Eicke to Himmler, dated Aug. 10, 1936. An excellent study which devotes considerable attention to the relationships between the growing concentration camp system and the other SS and police agencies is Aronson, Shlomo, Heydrich und die Anfänge des SD und der Gestapo, 1931–1935 (diss., Free University of Berlin, 1967), most especially pp. 140–42, 151–91, 383–85, for the significance of Eicke's success with the Dachau camp. (Since the completion of this essay, Aronson's, important work has been published as Heydrich und die Frühgeschichte von Gestapo und SD [Stuttgart, 1971].)

15. Materials detailing Eicke's methods and policies as Inspector of concentration camps are in BAKO, NS-3/448, “Befehlsblätter und Rundschreiben des Inspekteurs der Konzentrationslager und Führer der SS Totenkopfverbände,” a series of weekly circular letters from Eicke to his camp commandants for Feb. and Mar. 1937; and in USDC, SS Personalakte Eicke, letter from Himmler to Eicke dated Nov. 3, 1937.

16. To tighten the internal security of the Reich during the Czech crisis, Hitler in August 1938 promulgated a top-secret decree that permitted the subsequent enlargement of the number and size of the Death's Head units commanded by Eicke. The decree provided the Totenkopfverbände with sizable new medical, transport, communications, and support Units, and allocated Eicke enough trucks and armored cars to make the Death's Head Units fully motorized. A “police strengthening” (Polizeiverstärkung) implemented by Himmler after the Czech crisis, and a full-scale call-up on the eve of the war brought Eicke a flood of new recruits from the Allgemeine SS, the SA, and the Nazi Party, and swelled the ranks of the Totenkopfverbände to nearly 24,000 men in September 1939. BAKO, NS/19-neu-1652, photostatic copy of the Führer Decree of Aug. 17, 1938; ibid., NS-3/138, “Gliederung and Stärkenachweisung der Polizeiverstärkung, SS Totenkopfverbände,” an undated unit-strength list signed by Eicke; and ibid., SS Erlasssammlung, “Einberufung der Verstärkung der SS Totenkopfstandarten,” dated Aug. 30, 1939.

17. This direct and significant link between Eicke, the concentration camp system, and the Waffen SS is a fact all the apologist writers understandably have chosen to ignore. This view is also reflected, deliberately or unintentionally, in other current West German military literature, where the Waffen SS is depicted as largely the product of the prewar SS Verfügungstruppe (SS Special Service Troops). A good example is Schickel, Alfred, “Wehrmacht und SS,” Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau, xix, No. 5 (05 1969), 241–65. The fourteen reserve Death's Head Regiments (Toteukopfstandarten) organized after August 1938 were posted to guard concentration camps or to serve as occupying police forces in the Protectorate and (after September 1939) in conquered Poland. All eventually were incorporated into field divisions of the Waffen SS.

18. Compilations of the Totenkopfdivision's war record are in BAMA, III SS, 41/11, Zusammenstellung der Kämpfe der SS “T” Div., 1939–1943; Klietmann, , Die Waffen SS, pp. 109–15; with a fuller narrative in Sydnor, , “Totenkopf,” pp. 148466. One of the most impressive features of the Totenkopfdivision's history was its significant personnel contribution to the expansion of the Waffen SS. The additional SS divisions created in 1942 and 1943 needed seasoned staff officers and unit commanders in order to become combat-ready. As a result, at least nine senior Totenkopf officers who served with Eicke early in the war subsequently became commanders of SS divisions. Three of these men (Helmuth Becker, Heinz Lammerding, and Max Simon) had served with Eicke in the prewar Totenkopfverbände. Three from the group of nine (Max Simon, Hermann Priess, and Georg Keppler) also rose to command of a Waffen SS corps, while one (Heinz Lammerding) became Chief of Staff to Himmler's Army Group Vistula in the spring of 1945. USDC, SS Personalakte of Otto Baum, Helmuth Becker, Georg Bochmann, Georg Keppler, Matthias Kleinheisterkamp, Heinz Lammerding, Hermann Priess, Max Simon, and Karl Ullrich.

19. Stein, , The Waffen SS, pp. 7677;Reitlinger, , The SS, pp. 148–49; Sydnor, “Totenkopf,” pp. 175–80; and Jolly, Cyril, The Vengeance of Private Pooley (London, 1956), pp. 1939 and 151232, for a complete eyewitness account by the two British soldiers who survived the massacre. Fritz Knöchlein, the SS officer who ordered the shootings, was caught, tried, and executed by the British after the war.

20. BAMA, III SS, 46/1, KTB Nr. 4, pp. 105–8; III SS, 41/4, Anlagenband 3 zum KTB Nrs. 1–4, pp. 2, 8–9. One instance involving the shooting of a captured Soviet Commissar is in III SS, 41/7, Anlagenband 2 zum KTB Nr. 7, pp. 217–18.

21. Ibid., III SS, 42/2, Tagesbefehle, Telegrammen, und besondere Anordnungen für die Versorgung, pp. 301–6. Interesting also is the atrocity record among Eicke's protégés who commanded their own Waffen SS divisions. The cases of Max Simon and Heinz Lammerding are perhaps best known. Simon was condemned by Soviet and British tribunals for ordering the murder of civilians while commander first of the Totenkopfdivision and then the 16th SS Panzergrenadierdivision “Reichsführer SS.” He subsequently served less than eight years in prison, and in 1954 was released by the British. As commander of the SS Das Reich division, Lammerding in June 1944 ordered the savage reprisals against the French villages of Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane. At Oradour, 642 men, women, and children were shot or burned to death by SS soldiers because a lone sniper allegedly killed an SS officer. The French never succeeded in bringing Lammerding to justice, although a demand for his extradition was still pending at the time of his death in January 1971. See USDC, SS Personalakte of Simon and Lammerding, summary lists of transfers and promotions; Stein, , The Waffen SS, pp. 273–76, 278–81;Reitlinger, , The SS, pp. 245n., 400–1, 450; and Time: The Weekly News Magazine, Jan. 11, 1971, p. 22, for an account of the French case against Lammerding at the time of his death.

22. See especially, Hilberg, , The Destruction of the European Jews, pp. 177256;Stein, , The Waffen SS, pp. 263–64; and Tenenbaum, Joseph, “The Einsatzgruppen,” Jewish Social Studies, xvii (1955), pp. 4364.

23. Identification of the Waffen SS company transferred from Einsatzgruppe A to the Totenkopfdivision is made in Unsere Ehre Heisst Treue: Kriegstagebuch des Kommandostabes RFSS: Tätigkeitsberichte der 1. und 2. SS Inf. Brigade und von Sonderkommandos der SS, Zeitgeschichte in Dokumenten (Vienna, Frankfurt, Zurich, 1965), pp. 231–33. At the time the Waffen SS company was transferred to the Totenkopfdivision from the killing operations, Einsatzgruppe A had liquidated over 125,000 Jews. A man who at one point was a batallion commander in the Totenkopfdivision, SS Standartenführer Herbert Wachsmann, later served as a Kampfgruppe leader in the First SS Infantry Brigade during that unit's big antipartisan sweeps and killing operations in northern Russia during the winter of 1941–42. USDC, SS Personalakte Wachsmann, Dienstlaufbahn.

24. BAKO, NS-7/437, “Errichtung einer Heimatverwaltung für die SS-T. Div.,” dated Mar. 11, 1941.

25. BAMA, III SS, 42/1, pp. 73–76; III SS, 42/2, pp. 121, 465–78; and BAKO, NS-19/370, order from the SS Führungshauptamt headed “Auflösung des SS Inf. Rgts. 14,” dated June 17, 1941. See also BAKO, NS-19/374, circulars from Himmler to all SS units dated Nov. 2 and 23, 1940, announcing the dissolution of SS Totenkopf Regiments 9 and 15, and the transfer of SS Totenkopf Regiment 14 from Buchenwald to the occupied Netherlands. Upon the disbanding of Regiments 9 and 15, one battalion from each was detailed for concentration camp guard duty to replace men being sent to the Totenkopfdivision. SS Totenkopf Regiment 14, which moved from Holland to Poland in the spring of 1941, murdered a number of Jews and Polish civilians in the Lublin district in June 1941 while conducting expropriations of farm animals and agricultural produce. When this regiment was dissolved in late June 1941, many of its men were sent to the Totenkopfdivision as combat replacements. BAKO, NS-19/370, SS IR 14(mot.), “Erfahrungsbericht über zwangsweise Eintreibung von Getreide, Kartoffeln, usw…im Distrikt Lublin,” dated June 10, 1941.

26. Eicke's practice of sending SS officers from the Totenkopfdivision back to the guard units in the concentration camps as punishment ran counter to official SS policy about the camp system and its wartime role. In the autumn of 1939, SS publications stressed at length the view that guard duty in the camps was no less important or soldierly than service in the front lines. The SS Totenkopf units, moreover, were depicted as heroic detachments filled with exemplary SS men performing an invaluable service by protecting Germany from the internal enemies incarcerated in the concentration camps. Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich, newspaper collection, Das Schwarze Korps (the official SS tabloid), issue for Dec. 21, 1939, pp. 9–10. (Materials from this repository hereinafter cited as IFZ with individual collection and document identification.)

27. BAKO, NS-19/370, SS Totenkopf-Division IIa, “Zusammenstellung über die von der SS Totenkopf-Division an andere Einheiten der Waffen SS abgegebene Führer,” dated Mar. 5, 1941.

28. The figure of fifty-five was determined by the author on the basis of a hand count of the transfer announcements for NCO's and SS men scattered throughout the Totenkopfdivision's records for the period from Oct. 1939 to Mar. 1941. These volumes include: BAMA, III SS, 41/5, KTB Nr. 5 und Anlagenband zum KTB Nr. 5, 7. Oktober 1940 bis 31. Mai 1941; III SS, 41/8, Bd. 1; III SS, 42/1; III SS, 42/2; and III SS, 44/2, Nachschubdienst, Tagesbefehle, 25. Oktober 1939–1925. August 1940.

29. Ibid., III SS, 41/9, Lageberichte und Meldungen aus Kessel Demjansk, 10. April 1942 bis 12. September 1942, pp. 140–41, a letter from Heinz Lammerding to Max Simon of Aug. 8, 1942, describing the composition of a new infantry regiment being created for the Totenkopfdivision.

30. Ibid., III SS, 41/9, p. 127, a personal letter from Max Simon to Theodor Eicke written on Aug. 2, 1942. The relevant portion of the letter, in the original, reads as follows: “Soweit mir bekannt ist, befinden sich viele genesene Angehörige der Division in den Wachsturmbannen der K.L. [Konzentrationslagern] und werden da von den betreffenden Kommandeuren zurückgehalten, obwohl sie gern an die Front möchten.”

31. USDC, SS Personalakte Hartjenstein, especially the efficiency report on Hartjenstein written by Oswald Pohl, the Chief of the WVHA, and dated June 8, 1943. See also Stein, , The Waffen SS, p. 262;Hilberg, , The Destruction of the European Jews, pp. 574–75;Wormser-Migot, , Le Système Concentrationnaire, pp. 241–42, 366, 499, 531–33, 576, 580; and Langbein, Hermann, ed., Der Auschwitz Prozess: Eine Dokumentation, 2 vols. (Vienna, 1965), II, 601, 615, and 632, for additional details of Hartjenstein's tenure in Birkenau and his activities as commandant at Natzweiler.

32. USDC, SS Personalakte Hartjenstein, Dienstlaufbahn; Langbein, , ed., Der Auschwitz Prozess, ii, 995; and Hilberg, , Destruction of the European Jews, p. 707. Hartjenstein was captured by the French in 1945 and condemned to death by a military tribunal for the mass murder of prisoners in Natzweiler. While his case was still under appeal in 1954, Hartjenstein died of a heart attack in prison in Metz. See especially Rückerl, Adalbert, ed., NS-Prozesse: Nach 25 Jahren Strafverfolgung: Moglichkeiten-Grenzen-Ergebnisse (Karlsruhe, 1971), p. 127.

33. USDC, SS Personalakte Kaindl, Dienstlaufbahn, ; Dienstaltersliste der Schutzstaffel der N.S.D.A.P., Stand vom 1. Juli 1943 (Berlin, 1943), p. 9;Reitlinger, , The SS, p. 259 and Hilberg, , Destruction of the European Jews, p. 559.

34. USDC, SS Personalakte Kaindl, efficiency report on Kaindi written by Oswald Pohl on Mar. 23, 1944; Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, 8 vols. (Washington, 1946), vii, 209, a written deposition by Kaindl concerning his tenure as commandant at Sachsenhausen; TMWC, XXI, 608–9, 611; and Wormser-Migot, , Le Système Concentrationnaire, pp. 146, 232, 319. Kaindl was tried as a war criminal by the Russians in 1946, and on Nov. 1, 1947, sentenced by a Soviet tribunal to life in prison. He died in a Soviet prison several years later. Rückerl, , ed., NS-Prozesse, p. 127.

35. USDC, SS Personalakte Hoppe, summary of materials in Hoppe's SS service records listing assignments, transfers, and promotions.

36. Ibid. See especially the copy of Glücks's letter of recommendation for Hoppe's promotion and assignment as a concentration camp commandant, dated July 24, 1942, and signed by Oswald Pohl with an appended note of approval. As of this writing (Dec. 1972), the author has been unable to uncover any information about Hoppe's postwar fate.

37. USDC, SS Personalakte Grünewald, “SS- und Polizeigericht Den Haag, Feldurteil, Beglaubigte Abschrift,” dated Mar. 6, 1944; and Grünewald's Dienstlaufbahn. See also, Heiber, Helmut, ed., Reichsführer!… Briefe an und von Himmler (Stuttgart, 1968), Doc. No. 301, p. 254; and Presser, Jacob, The Destruction of the Dutch Jews (New York 1969), pp. 464–78, for a description of life and conditions in the Vught camp at the time Grünewald was commandant. After being sent back to the Totenkopfdivision as a private, Grünewald was killed in action on Jan. 22, 1945, while fighting with the division in Hungary. Rückerl, , ed., NS-Prozesse, p. 126.

38. The best analysis of the place and functions of the Higher SS and Police Leaders within the structure of the SS is the extremely important article by Buchheim, Hans, “Die Höheren SS und Polizei Führer,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, xi (1963), 362–91.

39. USDC, SS Personalakte Schmauser, Dienstlaufbahn; BAMA, III SS, 41/8, Bd. 1, p. 332; and Hilberg, , Destruction of the European Jews, pp. 333, 585.

40. USDC, SS Personalakte Jeckeln, “Vorschlag… für die Verleihung des Deutschen Kreuzes in Gold,” dated May 23, 1944, for a description of Jeckeln's period of combat duty with the Totenkopfdivision. See also Hilberg, , Destruction of the European Jews, pp. 193, 196, 238n., 250–51, for an account of Jeckeln's activities in Russia up to 1942.

41. BAMA, III SS, 42/2, pp. 444, 465, 478; III SS, 41/10, Funksprucke und Telegrammen, Bd. 3, p. 469. Vital supplies such as clothing and shoes were not the only valuables collected from murdered Jews and sent to the Totenkopfdivision during the war. In May 1943 Hans Frank, the Governor General of Poland, shipped 500 watches collected in Auschwitz to the Totenkopfdivision for distribution among the men as gifts. The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and Das Reich SS divisions also received allotments of 500 watches from Frank, who promised Himmler that he would send each of the three Waffen SS divisions 1,000 watches from among the 94,000 that had already been collected in Auschwitz. Hilberg, , Destruction of the European Jews, p. 616; and Eisenbach, Artur, “Operation Reinhard: Mass Extermination of the Jewish Population in Poland,” Polish Western Affairs, iii (1962), 80124, esp. p. 109.

42. USDC, SS Personalakte Klapsch, summary of assignments, transfers, and promotions in Klapsch's SS service records. Klapsch succumbed quickly to the degenerate influence of Jeckeln, became an alcoholic, and subsequently was demoted to an insignificant SS administrative post in Cracow. The spirit of amicability and cooperation between Eicke and Jeckeln was not exactly typical of the tenor of relations between Waffen SS commanders and the Higher SS and Police Leaders. All Waffen SS units not in the front lines theoretically were under the jurisdiction of a HSSPF, who in turn was directly subordinate to Himmler as the commander of all SS and police in his assigned region or Wehrkreis. The HSSPF thus served to preserve Himmler's authority against the tendency by many vigorous Waffen SS commanders to try to exercise independent control over their own commands. See especially BAKO, NS-19/neu-1665, copy of a teleprinter message from Himmler to the SS Führungshauptamt dated Mar. 5, 1942, in which the Reichsführer SS expresses his concern about SS control over the Waffen SS and issues instructions for tightening the authority of the HSSPF over Waffen SS units in the occupied territories. These conclusions and the same document are in Buchheim, “Die Höheren SS und Polizei Führer,” pp. 362–66, 380–82, and p. 383; and the same teleprinter directive is also reproduced in Heiber, , ed., Reichsführer!, pp. 107–9.

43. USDC, SS Personalakte Tschimpke, summary list of assignments, transfers, and promotions; BAMA, III SS, 42/2, pp. 20–21; and BAKO, NS-19/neu-1842, circular order from Himmler to Chef der Ordnungspolizei, SS Personalhauptamt, and the SS Führungshauptamt of Sept. 19, 1942; and NS-19/neu-1842, letter of Nov. 28, 1942, from the SS Personalhauptamt to Himmler concerning Tschimpke's appointment.

44. BAKO, NS-19/neu-1842, “Der Reichskommissar für die Festigung Deutschen Volkstums, Stabshauptamt, an RFSS, Persönlicher Stab,” dated Mar. 12, 1943; ibid., copy of a teleprinter message from Tschimpke to Himmler of May 25, 1943; and copy of a letter from Tschimpke to Himmler, dated July 7, 1943.

45. Ibid., NS-19/neu-1842, letter of July 24, 1943, from SS Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Brandt, Himmler's personal adjutant, to SS Obergruppenführer Hans Adolf Prützmann, the Higher SS and Police Leader for southern Russia; and copy of a teleprinter message from Tschimpke to Himmler of Mar. 29, 1944. See also USDC, SS Personalakte Tschimpke, summary of SS service records.

46. USDC, SS Personalakte Franke-Gricksch, Dienstlaufbahn. Franke-Gricksch became a key member of the SS Personalhauptamt staff during the last years of the war, and was regarded by his boss, SS Gruppenführer Maximilien von Herff, as the second best officer in the entire SS personnel organization. His obvious abilities prompted Gottlob Berger, Chief of the Waffen SS Recruiting Office, to try repeatedly—and unsuccessfully—to draft Franke-Gricksch back into the Waffen SS. Ibid., letter from Maximilien von Herff, Chief of the SS Personalhauptamt, to Gottlob Berger dated Nov. 13, 1943.

47. Ibid., letter from Brandt to Franke-Gricksch of July 23, 1941. Himmler's directive is in BAKO, Au-NS-19/415, “Austausch von SS Führern zwischen Front und Heimat,” and is dated Apr. 10, 1942.

48. USDC, SS Personalakte Hellerich, “SS WVHA, Amt A V, Beförderungen in der Waffen SS,” dated Dec. 7, 1942. See also Buchheim, , “Die Höheren SS und Polizei Führer,” pp. 387–88; and Hilberg, , Destruction of the European Jews, p. 557.

49. USDC, SS Personalakte Hellerich, efficiency report on Hellerich signed by Prützmann on Oct. 20, 1943; letter of Sept. 18, 1944, from the former HSSPF Schwarzes Meer, Obergruppenführer Hildebrandt, Richard, to Oswalds Pohl; and a SS WVHA transfer notice for Hellerich dated Oct. 10, 1944.

50. USDC, SS Personalakte Rothardt, Dienstlaufbahn; and summary of the other materials in Rothhardt's SS service records.

51. IFZ, microfilm collection, roll MA-293, frames 2550872–73, 2550882–84, letter of May 3, 1939, from Eicke to Karl Wolff, chief of Himmler's personal staff; and a letter from Glücks to Wolff dated Dec. 2, 1939. See also BAMA, III SS, 46/1, Divisions Arzt, KTB Nr. 3, pp. 6–7, for the arrival of Genzken and Jung in the Totenkopfdivision; and USDC, SS Personalakte Genzken, Dienstlaufbahn, for Genzken's transfers and promotions after leaving the Totenkopfdivision. Genzken left the Death's Head Division on Mar. 31, 1940, and transferred to the Medical Inspectorate of the Waffen SS, and subsequently became the wartime chief of the entire Waffen SS medical service. In 1946 he was convicted as a war criminal and sentenced to life imprisonment by a U. S. Military tribunal. Hilberg, Destruction of the European Jews, pp. 601, 706.

52. USDC, SS Personalakte Hock, summary of materials in Hock's SS service records.

53. Himmler's constant efforts to keep Eicke and the Tofenkopfdivision under his authority are reflected in the frequent and sharp rebukes by the Reichsführer SS that punctuate his wartime correspondence with Eicke. A good example is BAKO, NS-19/370, letter from Himmler to Eicke of Jan. 30, 1941, in which the Reichsführer SS expresses displeasure with Eicke's command policies, and orders him to revise the disciplinary procedures used in the Totenkopfdivision.

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Central European History
  • ISSN: 0008-9389
  • EISSN: 1569-1616
  • URL: /core/journals/central-european-history
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