The Schutzstaffel, translated to Protection Squadron or defence corps, abbreviated SS was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. It began at the end of 1920 as a small, permanent guard unit known as the “Saal-Schutz” (Hall-Protection) made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for Nazi Party meetings in Munich.
Later, in 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and renamed the “Schutz-Staffel”. Under Himmler’s leadership (1929–45), it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the largest and most powerful organizations in the Third Reich. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Himmler’s command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II (1939–45). The SS, along with the Nazi Party, was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal, and banned in Germany after 1945.
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