Book Review: The Story of the SS

This non-fiction book is something of a niche interest, to say the least. Most of us will know something about the German SS, whether the battlefield atrocities they committed, how they served in concentration camps, or the combat exploits of the Waffen SS. This long book (384 pages) examines the formation, background and organisation of the Nazi SS in great detail.

Starting shortly after the end of WW1, the rise of Hitler’s National Socialist Party is covered, as well as the creation of the SA, which led to the offshoot organisation, the SS. All the leading political figures of the day are examined, as well as many minor officials and their roles in the building of the controlling Nazi state that followed. The book goes on to discuss the roles that SS figures played before and during WW2, adding some photos and background details about the war in general, and specific events like the invasion of The Soviet Union, in 1941.

The use of SS units to execute prisoners, kill civilians, and fight partisans is contrasted by the political machinations of their members on the home front, and in the countries occupied by Germany. We also learn about the collaborators, the foreign volunteers, and the often brave and distinguished combat units that fought to the very end, in 1945. Then the author goes on to look at those who escaped justice, and those who faced trial for their involvement in the SS, and its actions.

Much of the book contains lists of units, with the German names translated for the benefit of non-German readers. Numerous individual characters are highlighted, from the top leaders of the organisation, down to some who were little more that murderers in uniform. Chilling totals of the deaths they were responsible for, and the crimes committed in both concentration camps, and after battles in the field.

This is not a book for everyone of course. But given the current world political situation, it serves to remind us just what ‘ordinary’ men can be capable of.
As an historical record, it has great value.

Here is an Amazon link.

35 thoughts on “Book Review: The Story of the SS

      1. Thank you for the review, Pete! Very interesting, and yes, their ideas are still around, in our village here too. Actually here the try to honour the Wehrmacht by glorifying a war monument from 1914. With new three stages, and big trees in the back. My description for this is “Heldenhain”. Michael

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, Michael. I think it is right to honour brave soldiers. But the majority of the SS were sadly very brutal. This book is very interesting, and provides a comprehensive history.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I have a good book that discusses the French Resistance. I have to admit that I’m not all that interested in the SS, although it has popped up in several books—both fiction and nonfiction—that I’ve read about the war.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quite right about the dangers of what ‘ordinary men’ are capable of – years ago I read Hannah Arendt’s meticulously researched ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’,,,a chilling read, as is her ‘The Rise of Totalitarianism’ (which was so dense, I never finished it)

    Liked by 1 person

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