Nazi Germany's New Aristocracy
The SS Leadership,1925-1939
Herbert F. Ziegler


The first book-length presentation on the social origins of the prewar SS leadership, this volume offers a complete picture of the men who, between 1925 and 1939, joined the vanguard of National Socialism and rose to the rank of SS-Führer. Herbert Ziegler reveals that the Black Order was composed of people from all walks of life. Young Gymnasium and university graduates rubbed elbows with former gardeners, mechanics, and office clerks, while "old fighters" of the pre-1933 Nazi movement climbed the ladder of SS ranks alongside those who did not find their enthusiasm for Hitler's new order until after the Nazi seizure of power. Within the confines of Heinrich Himmler's new knighthood was created a people's community in microcosm, furnishing many a recruit a vehicle for upward social mobility. Moving beyond earlier explanations of who provided the support for National Socialism, Ziegler describes practices within the SS that were akin to a democracy of personnel selection and that resulted, by 1939, in a leadership corps characterized by social heterogeneity rather than homogeneity. Taking advantage of the detailed information contained in the thousands of SS personnel files located at the Berlin Document Center, and using the tools of statistical analysis, he also probes the connections between social reality and the ideological credos and promises of the Third Reich.

First published in 1990.

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