Friday, August 19, 2011

Waffen-SS - Blandford War Photo-Files

As early as 1933, the year when the Nazi Party became the ruling party in Germany, a portion of the Allgemeine-SS (the General SS) had been equipped, armed and trained along military lines. Its personnel, garbed in earth-grey clothing, served on a full-time basis and were housed in specially appointed barracks. These troops, under the command of SS-Obergruppenf�hrer Josef Sepp' Dietrich, were originally known as the SS-verf�gungstruppen (SS-VT). This name, SS Special Disposal Troops, indicated that they were held in a state of readiness and at the disposition of Adolf Hitler for whatever purpose he chose for them. By 1939 four regiments (Standarten) of these Special Disposal Troops had been organized. The Verf�gungstruppen served alongside the German Army and took part in the German remilitarisation of the Rhineland in March 1936, the Austrian Anschluss in March 1938, the annexation of the Sudetenland in October 1938 and the occupation of Czechoslovakia in the following March. During the months preceeding the outbreak of world war Two, in September 1939, the SS-VT underwent intensive military training and were formed into regular military units which then took an active part in the Polish campaign. Elements of the SS-Totenkopfverb�nde (SS-TV), the Deaths Head formations created from guards and personnel of the German concentration camp system, also took the field as military units. During the following winter and the spring of 1940, the regiments which had fought in Poland were expanded into brigades and later into full divisions. This purely military branch of the SS was at first known as the Bewaffente-SS (literally Armed-SS) and later as the waffen-SS, the name by which it has gone down in history.