The Waffen-SS And SS

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The Waffen-SS was the combat wing of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel, or SS, as well as the multiethnic and multinational military force of Nazi Germany. Throughout the length of the war it would go from a shabby fighting force to the most brutal, feared, and detested military organization in the world. Originally the SS started as adjunct group to the SA, a political wing of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party. When the National Socialist Party came to power in the early 1930’s, the SA had been the group to back and associate heavily with Hitler. However, the SA became increasingly eager for power and wanted greatly to replace the regular army, which angered and threatened many leaders within the party. The SS was then placed under the control of Heinreich Himmler by Hitler in part to limit the growth of the SA. Many of the conflicts between the SS and SA arose from political rivalries, but another factor involved was the socio-economic differences between the SS and SA. Members of the SS generally came from the middle class, whereas SA members came from the unemployed and working class. In political aspects, the SA was more radical than the SS, with its leaders arguing the Nazi revolution had not ended when Hitler achieved power, and that Germany needed to implement Socialism to a wider degree. Eventually high ranker party leaders began to conspire against the SA and its leadership, leading to an event known as the Night of the Long Knives. Most of the leadership of the SA was killed and replaced during this incident, and the size of the SA was significantly downsized. This led to the SS superseding the SA in size and power, giving rise the armed branch of the SS known as the SS-TV in 1934, and later the Waffen-SS in 1938.... ... middle of paper ... ...ularly as the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive of the war. Waffen-SS units fought hard enough that they managed to successfully push back the Allies throughout the forest. Their advance was only rendered fruitless by lack of fuel for their tanks or proper air support. At Malmedy the SS showed its darker side when American POW’s were killed after what is thought to have been a singular escape attempt gone wrong. Leibstandarte SS officer Joachim Peiper was sentenced to death by the Allies after wars end for his part in this massacre, but was later sentences to life in prison instead. The legacy of the Waffen-SS is clouded with much controversy. On many occasions they proved themselves a powerful fighting force, on both the Eastern and Western fronts. However, many of the brutal aspects of the war they are linked to have tainted much of their achievement.

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