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The Waffen-SS was part of the SS. Waffen is a German word meaning "Arms". The Waffen-SS was a paramilitary organisation within the SS. The divisions of the Waffen-SS were positioned as elite troops. Their original task was to protect higher-ranking personnel of the SS and the NSDAP. Together with people from the SA they were used as a police force. The Waffen-SS was officially an auxiliary police force on the streets. In 1937, some troops were reorganised. Those parts of the SS that had the primary function to guard and operate Detention Camps were re-organised as SS-Totenkopfverbände. Experiments on humans, as they were done in KZ Buchenwald and other detention camps were led by doctors of the Waffen-SS.
Divisions of the Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was grouped into divisions, as follows:
The differences to the normal army units were as follows:
- All Infantry divisions had Anti-aircraft-cannons and supply battalions
- All mountain divisions had either a tank division or stormtroopers.
- All tank divisions had special battalions
- All divisions had more infantry
Some of the supposed crimes, the Waffen-SS committed
- The motorised infatry "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" conquered the Wormhoudt, in northern France. This happened in the month of May 1940. During the conquest, members of the division shot 45 captured British prisoners.
- About a day after Allied Troops had landed in Normandy, members of the SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" shot about 18 Canadian prisoners in the courtyard of the Abbey Ardenne Near Caen. Kurt Meyer was charged after the war for the war crime and was sentenced to death, but the case dissolved with faulty testimony and when Canadian officers came to his defense.
- The massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane is directly linked to the history of the Waffen-SS. The 2nd tank division "Das Reich" killed 642 people. There were 245 women and 207 children among them. The victims were either shot, or burned in their houses.
One of the strangest SS units was the British Free Corps. It was a unit of the Waffen SS during World War II consisting of British and Dominion prisoners of war. It consisted of about 27 men. One British soldier who helped recruit soldiers was John Amery. After the war he was sentenced to death for high-treason. He was then executed.
The troops after 1945
After the end of the war, all troops were disbanded. In 1951, the Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der ehemaligen Angehörigen der Waffen-SS was founded, in Germany. This translates to Mutual support organisation of former members of the Waffen-SS'. In English it is better known by HIAG. What they wanted is to have equal treatment of soldiers of the Waffen-SS, and soldiers of the Wehrmacht, the regular troops. They also publish a magazine. This (like most other such magazines), tries to convey the image that Waffen-SS troops were normal troops, after all. Sometimes, there are also revisionist articles in it.