SS Recruitment poster entitled “Deutsche Maenner”, German men, featuring photographs of training sessions, men in action, and military parades. The poster is aimed at young men in their mid-twenties who are not in military service. It encourages them to apply for the police force. Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The SS (Schutzstaffel; Protection Squadron or Defence Corps) was a major paramilitary organisation under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, and was its main tool of terror. Initially, it was a small, permanent guard, known as theSaal-Schutz”(Hall-Protection), composed of NSDAP (National Socialist Workers Party or Nazi Party) volunteers, to provide security for Nazi Party meetings in Munich. Under Himmler leadership, from 1929 until 1945, it grew from a small paramilitary group into one of the largest, most elite, racially pure, and most formidable organisations in the Third Reich. The SS, together with the Nazi Party, was declared a criminal organisation by the International Military Tribunal, and banned in Germany after 1945.

Reichsfuehrer – SS Heinrich Himmler, centre stands outside with Lothar Debes, right, and another unidentified SS officer Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
SS troops stand at attention for inspection. This images if from an album of SS photographs Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum