The Waffen-SS was the combat wing of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel, as well as the multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of Nazi Germany. Throughout the length of the war it would go from a shabby fighting force to the most brutal, feared, and detested military organization in the world.
The Waffen-SS started from three regiments and expanded to over 38 divisions during World War II, serving alongside the Wermacht, but never officially becoming part of it. Adolf Hitler resisted assimilating the Waffen-SS into the army as it was supposed to become a specialized police force at the end of the war. Prior to the war it was under the command of Heinreich Himmler, but upon mobilization control was given to the German High Command.
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In January 1942, Hitler authorized Himmler to begin creating new Waffen-SS units, however, the manpower was simply not available and young native Germans were conscripted – despite the protests of parents and from the Wehrmacht. The original pedigree of Himmler’s idea for the SS was being diluted. He wanted ideologically pure volunteers; those who were willing to fight and die for the cause. Now, the new units were being made up of conscripts. Along with this, Waffen-SS units were made up of men from Eastern Europe. This went entirely in the face of Nazi racial purity, but they were greatly needed to fight the Partisans who were becoming more and more successful in the east. Eventually the sole qualification to join became a hatred of communism, where from predominantly foreign legions there was no short supply of volunteers. The Waffen-SS was to ultimately include Croats, Albanians, Russians, Ukrainians, and Caucasians etc. Over 100,000 Ukrainians responded to Himmler’s call in April 1943.
Only few of the foreign divisions were tactically successful. The Baltic divisions were particularly strong until the Russians overran their home countries. The Ukrainians SS division suffered badly at its first battle at Brody-Tarnov in June 1944. The Balkan Muslim SS units mutinied in training, did little good against Tito’s partisans and were disbanded at the end of 1944. The Cossack SS units simply