SS Totenkopfverbände “Death’s-Head Units,” was the SS organization responsible for the Nazi concentration camps.


SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV), “Death’s-Head Units,”

  Kragenpatten, 13. SS-TK-Standarte.jpg was the SS organization responsible for administering the Nazi concentration camps for the Third Reich. While the Totenkopf (Death’s Head/skull) was the universal cap badge of the SS, the SS-TV also wore the insignia on the right collar to distinguish itself from other SS units.

On 26 June 1933, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler   appointed SS-Oberführer Theodore Eicke

   the Kommandant of the first Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. Eicke requested a permanent unit that would be subordinate only to him and Himmler granted the request; the SS-Wachverband (Guard Unit) was formed.

The SS-TV was an independent unit within the SS with its own ranks and command structure. It ran the camps throughout Germany, such as Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald; in Nazi-occupied Europe, there was Auschwitz in German occupied Poland and Mauthausen in Austria as well as numerous other concentration and death camps. The death camps’ primary function was genocide and included Treblinka, Bełżec  and Sobibór.

It was responsible for facilitating what was called the Final Solution, known since as Shoah or the Holocaust, in collaboration with the Reich Main Security Office under Reinard Heydrich and the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office or WVHA.

At the outbreak of World War II one of the first combat units of the Waffen-SS , the SS Division Totenkopf, was formed from SS-TV personnel. It soon developed a reputation for ferocity and fanaticism, participating in several war crimes such as the Le Paradis massacre in 1940 during the Fall of France and the killings of Soviet civilians in Operation Barbarossa.

In the last days of World War II, a special group called the “Auxiliary-SS” (SS-Mannschaft) was formed as a last-ditch effort to keep concentration camps running and allow regular SS personnel to escape. Auxiliary-SS members were not considered regular SS personnel, but were conscripted members from other branches of the German military, the Nazi Party, and the Volkssturm. Such personnel wore a distinctive twin swastika collar patch and served as camp guard and administrative personnel until the surrender of Germany.

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