Himmler on the SS (1937)

A speech transcript from January 1937, containing the thoughts of Heinrich Himmler on the SS, its values and mission:

“I shall speak first of all about the origin, organization, and the spheres of activity of the SS…

The SA originated in 1923, very early in the history of the movement, as shock troops… When the party was re-established in 1925, the SA was at first prohibited. The fuhrer was also denied the right of speech and assembly in Prussia, as well as in Bavaria. Assembly was permitted only in Saxony and Thuringia, which at that time were entirely communist. In order to ensure the success of these meetings, it was necessary to protect them. Therefore, in 1925, the fuhrer ordered a small organization to be formed in order to protect these meetings, namely the SS [Schutzstaffel protective squadrons], namely small formations with the effective strength of one leader and 10 men in each location. Even as large a city as Berlin had a squadron of only two leaders and 20 men at that time.

Throughout 1925 and 1926, we succeeded in carrying out and carrying through the meetings of the fuhrer, also of other party speakers in Saxony and Thuringia with these squadrons. In 1926 the SA was again permitted to exist, and for a few years the SS withdrew more into the background. In the year 1929, eight years ago, I was ordered by the  fuhrer to the leadership of all SS units in the entire Reich, then totalling 280 men, and to change them according to the order, into a reliable elite organization of the Party. I decided to tackle this problem because I was a National Socialist, of course. I am a strong believer in the doctrine that, in the end, only good blood can achieve the greatest, enduring things in the world.

Strengthened by this conviction of mine, I began to work on this problem. I shall skip the next few periods, to the year 1933. This year was for the SS the hardest trial; for it was a time when all organizations flourished; a time of great assault and tidal waves of those seeking membership in the party and its organizations.

A very difficult question confronted us. It was a question of deciding whether to close the party and its organizations to further membership, and thus remaining pure in quality but small in volume, or of opening them to further membership to increase their volume. This resulted in a dangerous situation, as was shown by the number of people who poured in who were not entirely loyal, so that to a certain degree it became a menace of numbers, of the masses.

The SS too was endangered by this menace. Therefore I closed it in April 1933, while some of the other organizations still accepted as great a number of people as possible. This way I had the SS again under my control in April. From the end of 1933 to the end of 1935 we expelled all those of the newly accepted members who proved unsuitable. In these years I have expelled approximately 60,000 men. Today the strength of the SS consists of approximately 210,000 men. This has been of great benefit to the SS and all of its units, as its quality has greatly improved, whereas it would have suffered considerably through quantity.

I shall close the question of selection by stating that today we accept young men of 18 years of age. We know them already from the Hitler Youth, have studied them already a few years, so that we are sure to get only the best. At 18 years they come to us as candidates. They are thoroughly examined and checked. Of 100 men we can use on the average 10 or 15, no more. We ask for the political record of his parents, brothers and sisters, the record of his ancestry as far back as 1750, naturally the physical examination, and his records of the Hitler Youth. Further we ask for a record of hereditary health, showing that no hereditary diseases exist in his parents and in his family. Last, but perhaps most important, is a certification of the race commission, composed of SS leaders, anthropologists and physicians.

The behavior of this young man in front of this commission is now what is decisive: Not only the way he stands at attention but also his manly disciplined bearing, the ease and composition with which he answers the questions posed to him, his gait, his hands, in fact all that which we have come to regard in the course of our eight years of experience as ideal.

This is the way we determine whether to accept the man or not.”