The SS Fuehrer Korps : an analysis of its socioeconomic and demographic structure, 1925-1938 / by Herbert F. Ziegler.
From 1925 a small group of men were collectively known as members of the Schutzstaffel of the National Socialist Geman Workers Party (NSDAP). The original purpose of the Schutzstaffel, abbreviated SS, was to guard Adolf Hitler's life with their own. Under the tutelage of Heinrich Himmler who was appointed leader of the SS in 1929, the SS developed from a personal bodyguard to a force of unswerving loyalty responsible for the security of the NSDAP, and after the amalgamation of the SS with the German policy in 1936, for the security of the entire Third Reich. Although limited in its power by the competing authorities of Party and Wehrmacht, there can be little doubt that the SS perceived itself as the praetorian guard of a "new order", and these elite pretensions were by and large shared by the National Socialist community if not the population at large. Members of an elite are usually recruited on the basis of special attributes they possess or appear to possess. By utilizing detailed background information based on a sample of SS-Fuehrer (officers) holding a minimum rank of SS-Untersturmfuehrer (2nd Lieutenant) by 31 December, 1938, this study attempts to identify as precisely as possible the recruitment patterns of the SS-Fuehrer Korps through 1938 by analyzing its demographic and socioeconomic structure. More specifically, the purpose of this study is three-fold: First, to investigate the collective biography of SS-Fuehrer in 1938, and to compare these findings to the structure of the literate adult male population of Germany; second, to contrast the make-up of the men who joined the SS before and after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933; and finally, to analyze the relationship between levels of socioeconomic advantage and rank obtained. In general, the findings suggest that the SS-Fuehrer Korps deviated from the literate adult male population in that it exhibited a structure which was marked by a young, well educated membership of middle class origin. Equally significant was the finding that approximately twenty-five percent of the Fuehrer came from a working-class background thereby giving credence to the argument of an "open elite." Further analysis showed that men joining the SS before 1933 differed in their social background from those who were attracted to the SS after the Nazi seizure of power. Aside from the fact that those Fuehrer who joined the SS prior to 1933 tended to come more frequently from the southern regions of Germany, it could be established that the late-comers to the Fuehrer Korps were in most instances better educated and less plebian than those who joined earlier. As to vertical mobility or organizational success of individuals within the Korps, a descriptive analysis of the data indicated that the hallmark of the men who had climbed to or near the pinnacle of power in the SS was its older, well-educated upper middle class membership which had a large number of ex-officers and former Free Corps members in its ranks. At the same time the results of a multiple regression analysis suggested that the actual attainment of rank was more likely to depend on the time of arrival and possibly strategic location in the SS-Fuehrer Korps than on ascriptive personal attributes.
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