Military arm of the SS, Adolf Hitler's personal troops. They originally comprised of the SS-VT and the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler {Hitler's personal bodyguard), later to expand to 36 divisions and over 500,000 men. These units were feared everywhere they fought in WWII, whether in conventional combat or in anti-partisan warfare. Their ferociousness, combined with their devout belief in Nazism, caused them to perpetrate some of the most horrible atrocities of the war, such as the Malmedy massacre, where dozens of US Army prisoners were summarily executed during the Battle of the Bulge.

Their units include:

1st SS-Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (LSSAH)

2nd SS-Panzer Division Das Reich

3rd SS-Panzer Division Totenkopf (originally formed from concentration camp guards.)
5th SS-Panzer Division Wiking (Viking)
6th SS-Panzer Division Nord
(these units were made up of volunteers from Scandinavia)

The previous units did most of their fighting on the Eastern Front (Soviet Union)
9th SS-Panzer Division Hohenstaufen
10th SS-Panzer Division Frundsberg
(these units distinguished themselves during Operation MARKET-GARDEN (A Bridge Too Far) when they, with a scattering of other units, defeated the British 1st Airborne and the British 30th Corps. This was one of the few times Waffen-SS units acted with honor and chivalry, caring for wounded prisoners.)

12th SS-Panzer Division Hitlerjugend (this division was formed from former Hitler Youth)

Panzer Brigade 500
(this unit, commanded by Otto Skorzeny, sent English speaking commandos behind US lines to disrupt Allied rear echelon units and conduct sabotage during the Ardennes Offensive in 1944)

SS-schwere Panzerbatallion 501
(unit which Michael Wittmann, the greatest tank commander in history, served)

Other non-German SS units included Belgians, Ukranians, Russians, Muslims from Yugoslavia, French, and 50 British.

Some Waffen-SS men were attached to the Einsatzgruppen, whose task was to round up Jews, Communists, intellectuals, Gypsies, or anyone else considered undesireable to be executed. Particularly on the Eastern Front.
These units are to be respected and feared, but never admired.
Not to be confused with other units such as the SD, Gestapo, or Allegemeine-SS (the branch of the SS that ran the concentration and death camps)
by pctfitz June 9, 2005
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