The Germanic SS (German: Germanische SS) was the collective name given to paramilitary and political organisations established in parts of German-occupied Europe between 1939 and 1945 under the auspices of the Schutzstaffel (SS). The units were modeled on the Allgemeine SS in Nazi Germany and established in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway whose populations were considered in Nazi ideology to be especially "racially suitable". They typically served as local security police augmenting German units of the Gestapo, Sicherheitsdienst (SD), and other departments of the German Reich Security Main Office.
Before the war, both Denmark and Norway had fascist parties. The Danish National Socialist Workers' Party (Danmarks Nationalsocialistiske Arbejderparti, or DNSAP) was founded in 1930, however, only held three seats in parliament by 1939. By 1933, Vidkun Quisling was the leader of a Norwegian political party, National Unity (Nasjonal Samling, NS). However, it was not effective as a political party until the pro-German government took over after Norway was occupied. At that point, its state police, abolished in 1937, was reestablished to assist the Gestapo in Norway. In the Netherlands, the National Socialist Movement (Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging, NSB) had greater success before the war. The party had four per cent of the vote in the 1937 national elections. After the occupation in 1940, all these groups worked in their respective countries in support of Nazi Germany and became recruiting grounds for the Waffen-SS.
The Nazi idea behind co-opting additional Germanic people into the SS stems to a certain extent from the Völkisch belief that the original Aryan-Germanic homeland rested in Scandinavia and that, in a racial-ideological sense, people from there or the neighbouring northern European regions were a human reservoir of Nordic/Germanic blood. Conquest of Western Europe gave the Germans, and especially the SS, access to these "potential recruits" who were considered part of the wider "Germanic family". Four of these conquered nations were ripe with Germanic peoples according to Nazi estimations (Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, and Flanders). Heinrich Himmler referred to people from these lands in terms of their Germanic suitability as, "blutsmässig unerhört wertvolle Kräfte" ("by blood exceptionally highly qualified people"). Accordingly, some of them were recruited into the SS and enjoyed the highest privileges as did foreign workers from these regions, to include unrestrained sexual contact with German women. Eager to expand their reach, fanatical Nazis like Chief of the SS Main Office, Gottlob Berger considered the Germanic SS as foundational for a burgeoning German Empire.
Himmler's vision for a Germanic SS started with grouping the Netherlands, Belgian, and French Flanders together into a western-Germanic state called Burgundia, which would be policed by the SS as a security buffer for Germany. In 1940, the first manifestation of the Germanic SS appeared in Flanders as the Allgemeene SS Vlaanderen to be joined two-months later by the Dutch Nederlandsche SS, and in May 1941 the Norwegian Norges SS was formed. The final nation to contribute to the Germanic SS was Denmark, whose Germansk Korpset (later called the Schalburg Corps) came into being in April 1943. For the SS, they did not think of their compatriots in terms of national borders but in terms of Germanic racial makeup, known conceptually to them as Deutschtum, a greater idea which transcended traditional political boundaries. While the SS leadership foresaw an imperialistic and semi-autonomous relationship for the Nordic or Germanic countries like Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway as co-bearers of a greater Germanic empire, Hitler refused to grant them the same degree of independence despite ongoing pressure from ranking members of the SS.
The purpose of the Germanic SS was to enforce Nazi racial doctrine, especially anti-Semitic ideas. They typically served as local security police augmenting German units of the Gestapo, Sicherheitsdienst (SD), and other main departments of the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, RSHA). Their principal responsibilities during wartime were to root-out partisans, subversive organizations, and any group opposed to Nazi ideas. In other cases, these foreign units of the SS were employed by major German firms to distribute propaganda for the Nazi cause among their compatriots and to police and control workers. In addition, the inclusion of other Germanic peoples was part of the Nazi attempt to collectively Germanize Europe, and for them, Germanization entailed the creation of an empire ruled by Germanic people at the expense of other races.
One of the most notorious groups was in the Netherlands, where the Germanic SS was employed to round-up Jews. Of the 140,000 Jews that had lived in the Netherlands prior to 1940, around 24,000 survived the war by hiding. Despite their relatively small numbers, a total of 512 Jews from Oslo were hunted down by the Norwegian Police and the Germanske SS Norge (Norwegian General SS); once caught, they were deported to Auschwitz. More Jews were rounded-up elsewhere, but the total number of Norwegian Jews captured never reached a thousand throughout the course of the war. Similar measures were planned by the SS against Danish Jews, who totaled about 6,500, but most of them managed to go into hiding or escape to Sweden before the senior German representative in Denmark, SS-General Werner Best, could marshal the SS forces at his disposal and complete his planned raids and deportations.
Germanic SS organizations
The following countries raised active Germanic SS detachments:
|Country or region
||Germansk Korpset, renamed the SS-Schalburgkorps
||The Germanic Corps (Germansk Korpset) was established in April 1943 and renamed the SS-Schalburgkorps[a] shortly afterwards. It was formed under the leadership of K.B. Martinsen. According to historian Martin Gutmann, this professional paramilitary group was "meant to replace the interned Danish army." By the winter of 1943, Martinsen had built up the unit to some one-thousand men commanded by two-dozen Danish Waffen-SS officers. Under plans devised by Himmler, Best, and Martinsen, the SS-Schalburgkorps was used to squash Danish resistance, where they murdered opposition figures—including the Danish playwright, Kaj Munk—and bombed buildings with suspected links to Danish resistance.
||Algemeene SS Vlaanderen,
renamed the Germaansche SS in Vlaanderen in 1942
|The General SS Flanders (Algemeene SS Vlaanderen) was originally founded in November 1940 and was one of the first collaborationist formations to become part of the Germanische SS in 1942. It was created as a political militia under the leadership of the radical flamingants René Lagrou and Ward Hermans. From 1943, it became associated with the radical political faction DeVlag which sought to supplant the larger and more conservative Flemish National Union (Vlaams Nationaal Verbond, VNV) as the principal collaborationist group in Flanders. Unofficially, Himmler wanted to use the organization to penetrate occupied Belgium, which was under the control of a military administration run by the German Army rather than the Nazi Party or SS. It was also used to staff the anti-Jewish units of the German security services with auxiliary staff and provided guards for the prison camp at Fort Breendonk. Under the leadership of Stormbanleider Robert Verbelen, DeVlag and the SS-Vlaanderen collaborated in the killings of civilians and public figures in notional reprisals for attacks committed by the Belgian Resistance. According to historian Jan Craeybeckx, "their 1944 raid in the Hageland near Leuven left a trail of death and destruction" and "countless people were deported to concentration camps." Alexandre Galopin, the incumbent governor of the Société Générale, was assassinated on Verbelen's orders in February 1944. As the Allies entered Belgium in September 1944, many of the perpetrators and collaborators fled to Germany.
renamed the Germaansche SS in Nederland in 1942.[b]
|The Dutch SS (Nederlandsche SS) was formed by the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands (Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland, NSB) in September 1940 under pressure from the German authorities. Although part of the NSB, it increasing rejected its nationalist views and gravitated towards the idea of integrating the Netherlands in a Greater Germany. It was integrated into the Germanic SS in November 1942.
renamed the Germanske SS Norge
|The Norwegian SS (Norges SS) was a paramilitary organization established in Norway in July 1942. GSSN was at the same time a Norwegian branch of Germanic-SS, and a sub organization of Quisling's National Union. Leader of the organization was Jonas Lie and second-in-command was Sverre Riisnæs. The number of members reached a maximum of about 1,300 in 1944. A large part of the members were recruited from the police, and about fifty percent served in the occupied Soviet Union.
An underground Nazi organization also existed in Switzerland, known as the Germanische SS Schweiz. It had very few members and was considered merely a splinter Nazi group by Swiss authorities.
After the war, many Germanic SS members were tried by their respective countries for treason. Independent war crimes trials outside the jurisdiction of the Nuremberg Trials were conducted in several European countries, such as in the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark, leading to several death sentences; an example being the commander of the Schalburg Corps, K.B. Martinsen.[c]
- ^ Christian Schalburg had originally commanded Danish volunteers to the Nazi cause as part of the Freikorps Danmark, until his death in 1942. Schalburg had been an instructional officer in the Danish infantry before joining the Waffen-SS. Both he and his wife became close friends of the Danish royal family, especially the Danish prince, Gustav.
- ^ Not only was there a Nederlandsche SS branch, Dutch historian Evertjan van Roekel also reports that there were between 22,000 and 25,000 men from the Netherlands who volunteered for service in the Waffen-SS, constituting the largest contingent amid "all the occupied countries of Western Europe."
- ^ In total, forty-six Danes were executed by Danish courts, Martinsen and Flemming Helweg-Larsen among them.
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