History Extended Essay: "A real elite fighting force." To what extent is this an accurate and reliable interpretation of the Waffen SS? By: Lauris Lo
The research question for my Extended Essay is: ""A real elite fighting force." To what extent is this an accurate and reliable interpretation of the Waffen SS?" The Waffen SS was the military branch of the larger SS (Schutzstaffel) organization, and originally started as Hitler's bodyguard unit. My Extended Essay aims to answer this question by examining the different aspects of the Waffen SS (leadership, ideology, equipment and training), using a range of academic sources as well as accounts from World War II veterans from both sides, including my grandfather, Steve Brooks, who fought with the 101st Airborne Division in Normandy. This essay will look at the Waffen SS from its initial formation in 1940 up until the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945 and will determine if its elite status among Allied troops was deserved.
The conclusion drawn from my various methods of research is that the Waffen SS was a combination of elite and regular, less effective units; the original German units deserved their elite status, whereas the later foreign legions, which Himmler insisted on introducing, performed abysmally in combat and often ran from battle.
This essay aims to answer the research question: 'An "elite fighting force": To what extent is this an accurate and reliable interpretation of the Waffen SS?
The Waffen SS was, technically, an independent entity. However most of the time the Waffen SS would fight alongside the regular Wehrmacht, and indeed took orders from the Wehrmacht high command in many circumstances. As the war progressed and the Waffen SS started drafting men from occupied territories in 1943, the "Aryan elite" image of the Waffen SS began to...