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The Schutzstaffel was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II. It began with a small guard unit known as the Saal-Schutz made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for party meetings in Munich. In 1925 Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under his direction (1929–45) it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. From 1929 until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe.
  • Origins 

  • Pre-war Germany 

  • SS in World War II 

  • War in the east 

  • Business empire 

  • Military reversals 

  • SS units and branches 

  • Foreign legions and volunteers 

  • Ranks and uniforms 

  • SS membership estimates 1925–45 

  • SS offices 

  • Austrian SS 

  • Post-war activity and aftermath