The Schutzstaffel (lit. Protection Squad, SS) was a major paramilitary organization of the Third Reich. Although it originated as a simple volunteer unit providing event security for party rallies, it evolved into one of the largest and most important organizations within the Nazi empire. The SS became a political force, an army, a megacorporation, and the primary executor of Nazism' genocidal ideology.
Background[edit | edit source]
Origins[edit | edit source]
The SS had its origins in the Saal-Schutz (Hall Security), organized in 1923 to provide security for NSDAP meetings in Munich, with a separate detachment created to provide security for Hitler specifically, the Stabswache. Led by Julius Schreck, a veteran of the Freikorps, the unit was quickly renamed Stoßtrupp (Shock Troops) and later dissolved after the failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, leaving only its contender, the Sturmabteilung (Storm Battalion, SA) in existence. However, Hitler ordered the unit to be reformed in 1925, with the Schutzstaffel (Protection Squad) founded in November 1925. The organization grew together with Nazi influence, with their growth exploding after the Nazis seized power in 1933.
Envisioned as the absolute elite of Nazi Germany, the SS came to embody Nazi ideals: hatred, unquestioning obedience, and blind devotion to their human ideal, the failed Austrian landscape painter named Adolf Hitler. These qualities led to its evolution into a state organization and a branch of the Nazi government, responsible for establishing and maintaining the police state. Starting with the establishment of the Gestapo by Göring in 1933 and the elimination of the SA's leadership in 1934, the SS gradually took control of all police forces within Nazi Germany by 1936. This rendered it independent of anyone, save Hitler himself, and allowed it to expand its political, economic, and military power and influence.
By 1939, the beginning of World War II, the SS was responsible not just for policing the state and protecting Nazi dignitaries, but also operating its ever-expanding network of concentration camps, repression of political dissidents and "enemies of the Volk" (Jews, communists, and anyone else who didn't fit Hitler's insane ideas about the world), and a rapidly expanding economic empire.
World War II[edit | edit source]
With the invasion of Poland, a new chapter opened in the history of the SS, permeated by a foul smell of blood and decay. Although the fledgling military branch of the organization was a distant cousin to the Wehrmacht, it was a powerful political and economic force that took a new role in its expansion to the east: Its culture of violence and death made it the principal tool of genocide against Slavic peoples, through a combination of terror , mass executions, and industrial-scale killing. Atrocity followed atrocity, with the killing frenzy only intensifying as Nazi Germany claimed new victims: Poland, Norway, Balkans, France, and eventually the Soviet Union. The campaign of genocide would have claimed hundreds of thousands even before systematic extermination began in the East.
The military branch, the Waffen-SS, grew with the war, with it eventually becoming a second army known for its fanatical aggression, suicidal determination, and a tendnecy to commit atrocities at the slightest provocation (inventing reasons if none manifested). Forever disdained by the Wehrmacht, it eventually blindsided the regular military after the failed assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944. After falling on the conspirators like a starving wolf, the SS became the dominant force in all aspects of the Nazi empire, while the Waffen-SS was fattened and lavished with weapons and materiel to craft an elite army.
In the background, the other branches of the SS profited from the war, ravaging the conquered Europe through confiscations, robbery, looting, enslavement, and extermination. Concentration camps provided slaves for factories of the SS and a rentable workforce for other German businesses, while factories taken from Jews, Poles, and other peoples in the European East were put into private hands of SS capitalists, establishing de facto monopolies across entire sectors of the economies. Even death did not save anyone from the SS economic machine, as even hair and fillings from gold metals would be taken to feed the Nazi monster.
The New Order[edit | edit source]
While the Nazi empire and the SS was defeated in some timelines, in one of them, the rise of Wilhelm Strasse to prominence has turned the tables of the war. With power concentrated in the offices and companies of the SS, Strasse had enormous resources to draw upon to harness the Da'at Yichud technology and replicate it for use on the front against the Allies and the Soviets (himself being one of the few SS members who weren't a completely dead-brained anti-Semite). Issued primarily to SS troops, these new robotic monstrosities, combat vehicles, and other weapons of war led to a string of reversals, starting in 1944, when the Nazis repulsed the D-Day landings with minimal casualties.
In the following years, the SS became so integrated and intertwined with the Nazi empire that the two became indistinguishable. The defeat of the Soviet Union on the ground, the RAF in the air, and a seemingly ceaseless stream of wondrous technologies coming from the SS Special Projects Division cemented its prominence. By 1946, the burgeoning SS-Hauptamt (Main Office) reformed as a major agency protecting key assets of the Reich, such as Strasse himself and the experimental operations at Castle Wolfenstein and Padeborn, and formed the last line of defense during the last airborne Allied assault on Deathshead's castle.
As the core of the Nazi empire, the SS remained a mighty, savage influence on the empire through its heyday in the 1960 and the steady decline of the subsequent decades, maintaing its caustic grip on its culture, economy, and of course, the military.
Organization[edit | edit source]
The SS has its own rank structure, unit insignia, and uniforms; the most recognizable being the all-black uniform. Within the main division, it exist several sub-divisions some with overlapping duties while other SS commands had little to no contact with each other.
Hierarchy[edit | edit source]
The SS uses special ranks based on military titles and derived from conventions established by the Sturmabteilung and various Freikorps after World War I. Almost each rank has an army equivalent.
|Return to Castle Wolfenstein||Wolfenstein
|The New Order||Old Blood||The New Colossus||Youngblood|
|Reichsführer||Field marshall||Heinrich Himmler|
|Oberstgruppenführer||General||Wilhelm Strasse||Wilhelm Strasse
||Gerhardt Dunkel||Lothar Brandt (formerly)|
|Obergruppenführer||Lieutenant General||Wolfgang Statz||Irene Engel||Irene Engel|
|Gruppenführer||Major General||Klaus Klinger|
|Brigadeführer||Brigadier General||Daniel Eckstein|
|Oberführer||Colonel||Marianna Blavatsky||Heinrich Müller|
|Standartenführer||Helga von Bulow|
|Obersturmbannführer||Lieutenant Colonel||Helga von Schabbs|
|Obersturmführer||First Lieutenant||Emmerich Schreiner||Anselm Decker|
|Untersturmführer||Second Lieutenant||Hans Winkle|
|Oberschütze||Senior private||Adolf Zimmermann|
Although not formal ranks, the many
- Überkommandant (High Commander) is a highly influential and important figure in German military. Notable Übercommander incldue the whole occupation force in the US, including Roderick Metze and Hans Stiglitz.
- Kampfkommandant (Combat Commander) refers to any commander who operates on the front lines as opposed to a command post.
- Kommandant (Commander) is an important officer and is trusted with enigma codes to Übercommanders locations. Two famous Commanders include Orlando Mannheimer, The Owl and Gruber.
- Field Coordinator oversees the operation and execution of services at a work site or client location, eg. Friedrich Keller.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
Generic Schutzstaffel enemies may be found in virtually ever major Wolfenstein game:
In all MachineGames' titles, the SS is the military, with every soldier, police man, and other uniformed service operating under the auspices of the SS.
Specific members[edit | edit source]
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein
- Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler: Chief of the SS.
- Oberstgruppenführer Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse: Leader of the SS Special Projects Division. A gifted researcher and doctor behind both the Lopers, and the Super Soldiers, towering cyborg soldiers that were heavily armed and armored.
- Oberführer Marianna Blavatsky - one of the SS Paranormal Division leaders. Woman with a great knowledge of occult power. Died during the return of Heinrich I.
- Standartenführer Helga von Bulow - one of the SS Paranormal Division leaders and the pupil of Marianna Blavatsky. She created the Elite Guard special unit. Died during the encounter with Olaric.
- Wolfenstein (2009)
- Oberstgruppenführer : Viktor Zetta - one of the SS Paranormal Division leader after the deaths of its major leaders and Operation Resurrection's failure. He leads the research on Black Sun Dimension. Assassinated in Isenstadt.
- Oberstgruppenführer Wolfgang Statz: an important member of the SS managing the warehouse of Isenstadt. Assassinated in Isenstadt.
- Hauptsturmführer Hans Grosse: imposing and ruthless engineer and Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse's personal bodyguard after Operation Resurrection's failure. He acted as the final boss in Wolfenstein.
- Hauptsturmführer Richter: one of the SS Paranormal Division leader after the deaths of its major leaders and Operation Resurrection's failure. He is the right hand of Viktor Zetta.
- The New Order series (MachineGames)
- Obergruppenführer Irene Engel: League of German Girls leader, later commandant of Camp Belica, a concentration/death camp in annexed Croatia, and overseer of North America.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- The SS soldiers in Wolfenstein 3D makes an appearance in Doom 2's two secret levels, and in the "Nightmare!" easter egg in Wolfenstein: The New Order
- Generic Waffen-SS soldiers in Return to Castle Wolfenstein wear the rank insignia for Hauptsturmführer, a Hauptmann (Captain) in the German Army.
- In Return to Castle Wolfenstein, the SS personnel seen are near-exclusively members of the Waffen-SS, the military wing of the Nazi Party.
- The chief antagonists of Return to Castle Wolfenstein are overwhelmingly SS, especially the all-female Elite Guard and Heinrich Himmler's Black Guard paratroopers. Only small numbers of Luftwaffe (Air Force) and Heer (Army) personnel appear in the game.
- One member of the SS in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Oberfuehrer Wilhelm Strasse, views Operation Resurrection - the very focus of the entire game's plot and all of the efforts of the SS Paranormal Division - with barely-concealed contempt. When he appears again in the 2009 sequel Wolfenstein, Strasse is a fervent and boastful Nazi.