TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



5. Organization of the SS

a. FUNCTIONAL ORGANIZATION. The SS proper is divided functionally into three main groups:

(1) The General SS (Allgemeine SS), composed of the ordinary part-time members of General SS regiments (SS-Standarten), the full-time members (normally with the rank of major or above) of General SS units and headquarters, and non-active members attached to units and headquarters of the General SS. The General SS is not maintained by the state; its expenditures are borne by the Party and ultimately controlled by the Party Treasurer, who himself holds the rank of a full general of the SS.

In certain occupied countries (e.g. Norway, Holland) organizations have been set up which are modeled on the General SS. These are known as Germanic SS (Germanische SS) and have their own central organization, ultimately subordinate to the RF-SS in Germany.

(2) The Armed SS (Waffen-SS). This category comprises the full-time military organization of the SS together with their training and replacement units, schools, and installations. It is a specially regulated public instrument of the Reich on the model of the Army and is now considered a component part of the Armed Forces. Its expenses are borne by the State.

(3) The Death's-Head Formations (SS-Totenkopfverbände). These consist mainly of the guard units of concentration camps. Their development from the General SS is closely identified with the work of the Gestapo. Their expenses are a responsibility of the State.

b. HIGH COMMAND ORGANIZATION. The SS High Command is known as the Reichsführung-SS and consists of the RF-SS, his staffs, and the chiefs of the Main Departments (Hauptämter) described below. These Main Departments administer the internal affairs of the three functional subdivisions of the SS.

(1) The Headquarters Staff of the RF-SS (Kommandostab RF-SS) is located at the Field Command Post of the RF-SS (Feldkommandostelle RF-SS) which is usually near Hitler's headquarters in the field (Führerhauptquartier).

(2) The Main Department Personal Staff (Hauptamt Persönlicher Stab—HA Pers. Stab) is a permanent installation at Himmler's rear headquarters to assist him in the execution of his manifold tasks.

(3) The SS Central Department (SS-Hauptamt—SS-HA) is responsible for miscellaneous over-all administrative and personnel matters. It is divided into the following five groups (Amtsgruppen—Ag):

Group A handles general administration matter.

Group B takes care of recruiting and registration of all categories of SS personnel.

Group C is responsible for propaganda, education, and physical training.

Group D controls the Germanic SS (Germanische SS) including recruitment in cooperation with Group B.

The Executive Staff of the German Volkssturm (Stabsführung des Deutschen Volkssturms) has been identified in the SS Central Department and presumably handles the responsibilities of the RF-SS connected with this national militia.

(4) The SS Main Operational Department (SS-Führungshauptamt—SS-FHA) concerns itself largely with the Waffen-SS. It grew out of the former Operational Office in the SS Central Department in 1940. Its long-time chief, Hans Juttner, is now the deputy of the RF-SS in his capacity as Chief of Army Equipment and Commander of the Replacement Army. This Main Department contains the following four groups:

Group A controls operations, personnel, and supply. It includes the Headquarters Offices (Kommandoämter) of the General SS and of the Waffen-SS.

Group B is responsible for the selection and training of officers and noncommissioned officers.

Group C consists of the inspectorates of the various branches of service.

Group D is in charge of medical matters for the entire SS.

(5) The SS Main Economic Administrative Department (SS-Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt—SS-WVHA) is responsible for fiscal matters, administration of SS property and concentration camps, and control of supply installations. It is divided into five groups as follows:

Group A includes finance, law, and certain general administration matters.

Group B is responsible for supply installations and procurement and delivery of certain types of supplies for SS units and headquarters.

Group C administers the works and buildings of the SS, including the construction of buildings.

Group D administers all concentration camps.

Group W manages the economic enterprises of the SS.

(6) The SS Main Race and Settlement Department (SS-Rasse- und -Siedlungshauptamt—SS-RuSHA) contains the following four offices (Ämter):

Administration Office (Verwaltungsamt).

Marriage Office (Heiratsamt) which rigidly controls the selection of suitable wives by SS men.

Racial Office (Rassenamt), which selects future SS men and handles the tasks of racial selection connected with the function of the RF-SS as Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of Germanism.

Settlement Office (Siedlungsamt), which deals with the settlement of discharged SS men, especially in the annexed eastern areas.

The above offices of the Main Race and Settlement Department are further divided into Main Branches (Hauptabteilungen). One of these is the Main Welfare Branch, which handles the problems of welfare and pensions in close cooperation with the SS Main Welfare and Pension Department (SS-Hauptfürsorge- und- Versorgungsamt) in the Reich Ministry of the Interior.

(7) The SS Main Department for Personnel (SS-Personalhauptamt—SS-Pers.HA) is the central recording office for all SS officers and potential officers, including those of the Security Service (SD). It is not itself responsible for promotions and appointments. It is divided into two offices (Ämter):

The Office of Officer Personnel Records (Amt für Führerpersonalien).

The Office for Potential Officers (Amt für Führernachwuchs).

(8) The SS Main Legal Department (Hauptamt SS-Gericht—HA SS-Gericht) is concerned with the special jurisprudence which operates within the SS and police organization. It is divided into four offices (Ämter):

Office I is the Legal Affairs Office.

Office II is the Office for Organization, Personnel, and Disciplinary Matters.

Office III is the Office for Pardons, Reprieves, and the Execution of Sentences.

Office IV is a Liaison Office (Verbindungsamt).

c. REGIONAL ORGANIZATION. (1) General. The basis of the regional organization of the SS is the district (Oberabschnitt—Oa.). There are seventeen of these districts in Germany proper and each coincides exactly with a Wehrkreis (Army corps area). The SS districts are known by geographical names, but it has become a convenient and growing custom to add to the name the Roman numeral of the corresponding Wehrkreis. With two exceptions, the headquarters of the district is in the same city as that of the Wehrkreis. In addition six districts have been organized in occupied countries and are known by names according to their geographical location. One of these, named "Ukraine" was dissolved early in 1944.

The control of a district is entrusted to a Higher SS and Police Commander (Höherer SS und Polizeiführer—HSSPf), who normally commands both the SS and police units and installations in the district.

Occupied areas which have not been organized into SS districts are also commanded by an HSSPf, whose functions are analogous to those of the HSSPf of a district.

In certain areas a regional organization of the Waffen-SS exists side by side with the general regional organization of the SS and police. These areas are controlled, for special purposes of the Waffen-SS only, by territorial Commanders of the Waffen-SS (Befehlshaber der Waffen-SS—Bfh.d.W-SS).

(2) Authority of the HSSPf. (a) General functions. The HSSPf is the representative of the RF-SS at any given military territorial headquarters, or, where they exist, at the headquarters of the Reich commissioners (Reichskommissare) for occupied areas. As such he is the official adviser in all SS and police matters to the regional representatives of the Reich government administering any part of such an area.

He is the commander of the SS district if the area under his jurisdiction is constituted as such.

The HSSPf commands the SS and police units and installations in his area except those which have been subordinated to the OKH for operations and those which are commanded by a territorial commander of the Waffen-SS.

Operational commands have been assigned to an HSSPf under different circumstances and in varying degrees. Such commands have consisted of special staffs for combating partisans (SS und Polizei-Führungsstab für Bandenbekämpfung) and battle groups which were formed hastily from the forces normally commanded by the HSSPf when his area was invaded or threatened. A number of personalities have in this way graduated from assignment as HSSPf to that of the commander of an SS corps.

Various special offices are sometimes combined with that of the HSSPf in certain areas. For example, the HSSPf in Prague holds the position of Minister of State for Bohemia and Moravia (Staatsminister für Böhmen und Mähren) and acts as the deputy to the Reich Protector of this area. The HSSPf in the Government General holds the position of State Secretary for Security Matters (Staatssekretär des Sicherheitswesens).

With the increasing danger to Germany proper, new responsibilities have been thrust upon the HSSPf, especially in the border areas. In some cases he has assumed active command of all units of the auxiliary organizations of the Reich and of the Party, except those of the Todt Organization (OT), so far as they have been organized for defensive combat tasks. In case of an invasion of his area he has been ordered to attach himself and all the units under him, including those of the SS and police, to the commander of the Wehrkreis and to act as his deputy for the latter if necessary.

The full title of an HSSPf may indicate the Wehrkreis (e.g. HSSPf Wehrkreis X), the geographical name of the Oberabschnitt (HSSPf Nordsee), or its headquarters city (HSSPf Hamburg). In occupied or annexed areas the title varies. The following examples are given as illustrations: HSSPf beim Reichskommissar für die besetzten niederländischen Gebiets is also encountered as HSSPf Nordwest or as HSSPf den Haag. The HSSPf in Greece was normally designated HSSPf Griechenland.

Each HSSPf is assisted by a Chief of Staff (Stabsführer) in the execution of all his duties. The latter is also the Chief of Staff of the SS district in those areas where the HSSPf is also the commander of such a district.

(b) Organization of SS districts. In Greater Germany (excluding Bohemia-Moravia and the Government General), the HSSPf has two separate staffs for his two main functions. One staff assists him in the command and administration of the SS, another in that of the police.

The staff of the SS within the SS district consists of the following officers under the Chief of Staff:

Administrative Officer.
Chief Medical Officer.
Director of Training.
Chief Personnel Officer.
Chief Signal Officer.

The Administrative Officer heads the Administrative Office (Verwaltungsamt), which operates under the control of the SS Main Economic Administrative Department and handles all matters of finance and supply within the district.

Each district is divided into two or more sub-districts (Abschnitte), each having its own headquarters. These sub-districts are distinguished by Roman numerals. Their commanders are known as Führer des SS-Abschnitts. The headquarters of the SS sub-districts are organized on the same general lines as those of the district; both are closely parallel to the standard German staff organization for any military unit or headquarters, including the numbers and letters used for the sections and sub-sections.

Each of the districts inside Germany has a Waffen-SS recruiting center (Ergänzungsstelle) administered directly by the SS Central Department. It also has a section for racial and settlement matters (Rasse- und Siedlungswesen), which is under the supervision of the SS Main Race and Settlement Department.

The staff of the HSSPf for the command and administration of the police includes the following two leading police officers under the Chief of Staff:

Inspector of the Security Police and of the Security Service (Inspekteur der Sicherheitspolizei und des Sicherheitsdienstes—IdSuSD, sometimes also given as IdS).

Inspector of the Order Police (Inspekteur der Ordnungspolizei—IdO). This officer controls the commander of the Barrack Police (those elements of the Protective Police who live in barracks), who has the title of Commander of the Protective Police (Kommandeur der Schutzpolizei).

These inspectors have complete administrative departments covering all aspects of police activities which are assigned to their respective branches.

Certain areas adjacent to Germany, particularly Alsace, Lorraine, and Luxemburg, have been incorporated into Wehrkreise while their civil administration has remained separate. For these areas a dual nomenclature exists for the leading members of the police staff of the HSSPf. They are referred to as Inspectors in the old part of the district and as Senior Commanders (Befehlshaber) of their respective branches for the annexed areas. The latter nomenclature coincides with that of the corresponding officers in areas outside the Reich proper as described below.

The organization of SS districts outside Greater Germany (namely Ost, Nordwest, Nord, Ostland, and formerly Ukraine) is identical to that inside Germany with the following exceptions:

There is an economic section directly subordinate to the HSSPf. This is headed by an officer known as SS-Wirtschafter and replaces the administrative office in the SS district.

The sub-districts of SS districts do not exist. Instead, one or more SS and Police Commanders (SS und Polizeiführer—SSPf) may exist. These are representatives of the HSSPf in all his functions for the sub-area which is assigned to them.

A Waffen-SS Recruiting Inspectorate (Ersatzinspektion der Waffen-SS) replaces the Waffen-SS Recruiting Center.

The leading officers on the staff of the HSSPf for the command and administration of the police have the following titles and functions:

Senior Commander of the Security Police and of the Security Service (Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des Sicherheitsdienstes—BdSuSD or BdS). He may control subordinate area commanders (Kommandeure—KdSuSD or KdS).

Senior Commander of the Order Police (Befehlshaber der Ordnungspolizei—BdO). He may control subordinate Commanders (KdO).

These Senior Commanders have complete administrative departments covering all aspects of police activities which are assigned to their respective branches.

The above deviations in the organization of the police, but not those relating to the SS, also apply to the district Böhmen-Mähren.

(c) Organization of areas which are not SS districts. In occupied areas which are not constituted as SS districts, the HSSPf retains his dual function as commander of all SS and police forces. There is considerably less emphasis on SS matters and normally no special staff for the latter exists. The police functions take on added significance because the HSSPf not only concerns himself with the German police forces but also controls, in varying degrees, the native police in the area. The nomenclature of the police officers coincides with that in SS districts outside Greater Germany.

In Italy several HSSPf's have been installed. They are subordinated to one Supreme SS and Police Commander (Höchster SS und Polizeiführer—Höchst. SSPf). It is believed that the general organization of the areas controlled by these officers differs little from that of the HSSPf and subordinate SSPf's in other occupied areas.

(3) Territorial commanders of the Waffen-SS. In certain selected areas the SS High Command has installed territorial commanders of the Waffen-SS (Befehlshaber der Waffen-SS—Bfh.d.W-SS). These represent the regional echelon of the SS High Command for the Waffen-SS only. They execute its directives and are in complete command of all units of the Waffen-SS in their areas. The commander of the Waffen-SS shares with the HSSPf control of the static installations of the Waffen-SS, but is otherwise completely independent of him. Such commanders have been identified in the Netherlands, in Bohemia and Moravia, in the area of the SS district "Ostland", and in Hungary.

The commander of the Waffen-SS may take on operational assignments under the command of the OKH.

The staff organization of these commanders is comparable to that of a corps. The various members of his staff represent the different offices of the High Command and the Inspectorates of the branches of service.

(4) List of SS districts. The following is a list of the SS districts together with their headquarters and the corresponding Wehrkreise.

Oa.     Headquarters    Wehrkreis
NordwestDen Haag(Netherlands)
Böhmen-MährenPragueBöhmen und Mähren

(5) List of SS sub-districts. Each district comprises an average of two or three sub-districts (Abschnitte) distinguished by Roman numerals. The sub-districts are also colloquially referred to by the names of the regions which they comprise or by the location of their headquarters.

Number     Oa.    Headquarters

(6) SS regiments. The organization of the SS in the echelons below the sub-districts is on a unit rather than a territorial basis, although each unit controls a definite territory. Each sub-district headquarters controls two to four SS infantry regiments (SS-Fuss-Standarten). After 5 years of war these regiments are now no more than skeleton cadres carrying on the tradition and, to a limited extent, the functions of the organization until their members in the Armed Forces and Waffen-SS are demobilized. Regiments are numbered consecutively from 1 to 125.

Each regiment is normally composed of three active battalions (Sturmbanne) and one reserve battalion (Reserve-Sturmbann). The active battalions bear Roman numerals.

Each active battalion consists of four companies (Stürme) and a medical detachment (Sanitätsstaffel). One of the four companies may serve locally as a guard company (Wachkompanie) and one as an emergency company (Alarm-Kompanie), while the remaining two are assigned to general duties.

A reserve battalion has two reserve companies and a reserve medical detachment.

Recruiting battalions (Ergänzungs-Sturmbanne) are reserve battalions which undergo 3 months drilling prior to summary transfer to the Waffen-SS.

Each company is divided into three or four platoons (Trupps), each composed of three sections (Scharen). The file (Rotte) is the smallest unit of the SS.

There are a number of specialist and technical units (Sondereinheiten) in the SS. Among them are: cavalry regiments (SS-Reiterstandarten (R)); signal battalions (SS-Nachrichten-Sturmbanne (N)); engineer battalions (SS-Pionier-Sturmbanne (Pi)); medical companies (SS-Sanitäts-Stürme (San. St.)); motor transport companies (SS-Kraftfahr-Stürme (K)); motorcycle companies (SS-Kradstürme).

Within each district there is also a supplementary reserve formation (Stammabteilung), which is organized into territorial sub-units (Bezirke).


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