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Waffen SS  [DVD] [UK Import]
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The SS had its beginnings in the turbulent street politics of the Weimar Republic. It became Heinrich Himmler's personal powerbase and under him the SS grew into a vast private army and state-within-the-state. It was a chaotic, corrupt and often grossly inefficient organisation. But one part of it-the "Waffen" or "Armed" SS, formed initially as a fighting force- achieved worldwide fame and notoriety. The Waffen-SS won a unique reputation for daring élan and unfailing professionalism in combat. Yet if their courage was unquestioned, so too was the fear and loathing which they elicited-even, eventually, amongst their own people, and in the regular soldiers alongside whom they fought. In many of the most signal triumphs of German arms they played a conspicuous role, one far disproportionate to their numbers. In the long period of decline and retreat, as the Germans were steadily pushed back from east to west, despite repeatedly sustaining horrendous casualties, their discipline remained unbroken, their fighting ardour unimpaired, almost to the very end. After the war, the Waffen-SS were burned with the near exclusive blame for the most hideous crimes of the Nazi regime. It was only unfair insofar as many others were involved as well: and for all their matchless undoubted bravery, the Waffen-SS bears a reputation which will remain forever stained with infamy.
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