for "Protective Corps," often abbreviated SS
) was an elite para-military
unit of the German Nazi party. They were formed from the ranks of the SA
in 1925 to be Adolf Hitler's personal guard. By the time the Nazis came
to power in 1933 the SS had over 50,000 members called "black shirts" (from
the black uniform they wore).
From 1929 the leader of the SS was Heinrich Himmler, who together with
his right hand Reinhard Heydrich consolidated the power of the organisation.
By the time World War II began the number of members rose to 250,000 and
the Waffen-SS was formed which fought alongside the Wehrmacht, Germany's
Evolving to little more than a band of murderous thugs during World
War II, the name "SS" alone was enough to strike fear into the heart of
anyone. Hitler gave the SS jurisdiction over all concentration camps and
allowed them to oversee the day-to-day control of all countries conquered
by Germany during the war.