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A Sociography of the SS Officer Corps, 1925-1939.

Boehnert, GC; (1977) A Sociography of the SS Officer Corps, 1925-1939. Doctoral thesis, University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This quantitative study of the SS Officer Corps was designed to discover who in German society joined the SS between its inception in 1925 and the outbreak of the war in 1939. The study is based on data contained in 5250 SS officer personnel files which were selected from 61,340 personnel files housed at the Berlin Document Center. The selection criteria used were, (1) the officer had to have reached commissioned rank prior to 1 September 1939, and (2) the personnel file had to supply an answer to all the questions deemed important by the investigator. The selection of cases can be called random since there was no indication that certain files were incomplete because of any systematic bias, i. e., interference by the SS Personalhauptamt. In order to determine who joined the SS at specific stages of its pre-war history, the fourteen year time span under investigation was divided into six time periods determined by a date important to either the NSDAP or the SS. The four major branches of the SS - the Allgemeine SS or general SS, the Totenkopfverbande or deaths head units, the Sicherheitsdienst or security service, and the Verfogungstruppe or the armed SS - were looked at separately. This division further allowed for an analysis of the composition of the various branches of the Black Order over the time periods of interest. The information gathered on each officer, i. e., date of joining, highest rank achieved, date of birth, place of birth, education, occupation, other organizational affiliations, religious background, marital status and number of children was coded and transferred to computer cards. (The material is presently available on magnetic tape). The information was analyzed on the IBM computer at the University of Guelph using the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) subprogram Crosstabs. The results show that there was a tendency for those with little education to have joined the SS in its early stages. While the lower Mittelstand in the sampled Fuhrerkorps was overrepresented prior to Hitler's seizure of power on 30 January 1933, it was the educated segment of society that flocked to the elite formation of the Third Reich after that date. As might be expected, the median age of the incoming officers after January 1933 also increased. While the proportion of officers born north of the Main River roughly equalled that of the general population, there was a marked tendency for southern rural-born men to dominate the Fuhrerkorps prior to September 1930. A levelling process then took place with norther-born officers dominating the Fuhrer after January 1933. As far as the family life of the officers was concerned, the quantitative analysis showed that Himmler had little influence over his officers. About 80% of the sampled officers did not meet the guidelines set by Himmler of four children per family. Also only about 20% of the officers' wives were party members. Differences were also found in the officers who served in the various branches of the SS. Thus the Fuhrerkorps of the general SS and the security service had the highest percentage of university graduates, while the armed SS had the largest percentage of officers who gave the Abitur as their highest educational achievement. The deaths head units had the highest percentage of elementary school educated officers. This study shows that the SS attracted different men at different times and that the social composition of the officer corps varied from branch to branch. While the lower educated joined the SS during the early days of the Kampfzeit, it was the educated and established segment of German society that rushed to join the elite formation of National Socialism after Hitler assumed power.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:A Sociography of the SS Officer Corps, 1925-1939.
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Thesis digitised by British Library EThOS
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > SSEES (School of Slavonic and East European Studies)

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