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Paramilitary corps of the Nazi Party. Founded in 1925 by Adolf Hitler as a personal bodyguard, it was directed from 1929 by Heinrich Himmler, who enlarged its membership from fewer than 300 to more than 250,000. Wearing black uniforms and special insignia (lightning-like runic S's, death's-head badges, and silver daggers), the SS considered itself superior to the SA, whom they purged on Hitler's orders in 1934. The corps was divided into the General SS (Allgemeine-SS), which dealt with police matters and included the Gestapo, and the Armed SS (Waffen-SS), which included the concentration-camp guards and the 39 regiments in World War II that served as elite combat troops. SS men were schooled in racial hatred and absolute obedience to Hitler. They carried out massive executions of political opponents, Roma (Gypsies), Jews, communists, partisans, and Russian prisoners. In 1946 the SS was declared a criminal organization at the Nürnberg trials.
Variants of SS
SS German in full Schutzstaffel (Protective Echelon)
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on SS, visit Britannica.com.