From bodyguards to an elite force

General information

When Hitler started giving speeches along with other Nazi party members, they felt like they needed bodyguards. This is when and where the SS originated. They also brought in subscribers for the Nazi newspaper and controlled agencies that gathered intelligence over all citizens in the third Reich. In 1933, the SS had numbered more than 52,000 racially pure men. Hitler gave all authority over the SS to Himmler who then changed the SS to a fighting force. After that some were changed into concentration camp guards or Death head units. They remained Germany's biggest special force until the wars end.

The SS as bodyguards

The SS were originally formed as bodyguards to protect Hitler and other Nazi speakers. When it numbered 280 men, it was transformed into a racially pure elite guard unit. To get in you needed to have 3 things 1.Be racially pure 2.Have complete loyalty to Hitler 3. Have faith in the Nazi movement.

The SS as an Elite fighting force

In 1933, when the SS had numbered more than 52,000 men, Hitler made the SS an independent organization and gave leadership to Himmler. Himmler then transformed the SS from bodyguards to soldiers.

The SS as campguards

Before and during the second World war, the SS had a supervising position in camps. Although normal camp guards had official permission to kill prisoners, the SS could still kill whoever they want whenever. Prisoners gave them a nickname called deaths head units.


by Michael Chapman, Moen 6th Period, 3/19/15

Cited from


United States Memorial Holocaust Museum

last updated June 20,2014

access date February 20, 2015

Websource:SS and the camp system

United States Memorial Holocaust Museum

last updated June 20,2014

date of access March 3, 2015

Booksource: The Holocaust, Hitler and Nazi Germany

Author:Linda Altman

City of Publication: Berkeley Heights

copyright 1999