When Heinrich Himmler was appointed as its fourth leader in 1929, the SS consisted of less than three hundred volunteers whose job was to protect Nazi Party speakers. The SS was so short of cash that its members had to provide their own uniforms and fund their own meetings and transport.
By the end of World War Two, just sixteen years later, more than one million men had served in the combat arm of the SS alone and the SS controlled almost every aspect of life in Germany and in the occupied parts of Europe and Russia.
Members of the SS ran Concentration and Death Camps where millions were murdered. SS combat troops massacred prisoners of war and civilians and SS doctors conducted some of the most horrifying medical experiments the world has ever seen.
How could this have happened? How could a tiny, voluntary group in one of the most civilized European countries grow to become one of the most feared, hated and reviled state terror organizations in the world? This book tells the story of the SS, of its beginnings, its expansion, its leaders, its eventual demise and the horrendous crimes that were committed by its members during its short history…