War, Genocide and Cultural Memory

War, Genocide and Cultural Memory

The Waffen-SS, 1933 to Today

By Claus Bundgård Christensen
Niels Bo Poulsen
Peter Scharff Smith

This book presents the most comprehensive study of the Waffen-SS until this date. Based on archival studies done in more than 20 archives in 13 different countries over a period of 5 years the book covers the entire history of the Waffen-SS and follows the post-war fate of the SS-veterans as well.

PDF, 378 Pages


November 2022

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 378 Pages


November 2022

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
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  • Table of Contents
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About This Book

This book presents the most comprehensive study of the Waffen-SS until this date. It draws on archival studies done in more than 20 archives in 13 different countries over a period of 5 years. The gathered material comprises a wide-ranging selection of data such as records from the SS, contemporary Allied documents, letters from soldiers, as well as diaries and memoirs. Other major groups of material derive from the investigations into war crimes, from intelligence services and other organisations with a stake in the SS soldiers’ post-war networks and veteran societies. All this diverse data has made it possible to study the Waffen-SS not merely as a hierarchical organisation but as a living organisation made up by human beings. Based on this extensive material the book covers the entire history of the Waffen-SS and follows the post-war fate of the SS-veterans as well. The evolution of the Waffen-SS is analysed with special emphasis on the role of Nazi ideology, war crimes and atrocities, as well as the unique multi-ethnic and transnational character of the organization. The book describes the haphazard, opportunistic and sometimes chaotic growth of the Waffen-SS but also analyses how a constant focus on ideology and a continuous brutalization through commitment of war crimes had a considerable integrative power. The SS managed to form a strong ethos with lasting power both among many of the former SS-soldiers and a greater public audience, documented in the book’s study of the post-war veterans’ culture and the popular cultural memory of the Waffen-SS.


The infamy of the Waffen-SS stands in contrast to the lackluster state of its academic investigation. Three leading specialists in the field are describing here Hitler’s praetorian troop in all its facets. This state-of-the-art monograph is certain to be a standard work on the Waffen-SS for years to come’ —Jochen Böhler, Director of the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, Austria

‘This is by far the most comprehensive history of the Waffen-SS published to date. Drawing on a rich body of sources from across Europe, the authors have produced an excellent account of Himmler’s armed forces that included soldiers from virtually every European country. By focusing on the Waffen-SS’ origins and legacies, the book also goes well beyond the more familiar events of 1939–1945’ —Professor Robert Gerwarth, University College Dublin, Ireland.

This is a book on the Waffen-SS that was so far missing in English. Based on unprecedented multi-archival and multi-lingual research across Europe, it provides the fascinating yet unsettling transnational European story of the armed branch of Heinrich Himmler’s SS’ —Dr Marco Wyss, Reader in International History and Security, Lancaster University, UK.

“The Waffen-SS – War, Genocide and Cultural Memory” provides a comprehensive and updated presentation of the Waffen-SS as a transnational phenomenon. Drawing on 25 years of experience in the field, the authors synthesizes decades of Waffen-SS-research from all corners of German-occupied Europe. The book’s thematic breadth, spanning from organisational development, international recruitment, to war crimes and post-war veterans networks, makes it unique and a much needed supplement to the literature in this field” —Dr Terje Emberland, The Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies, Norway.

“In these present and uncertain times, such a study is needed now more than ever. Claus Bundgård Christensen, Niels Bo Poulsen and Peter Scharff Smith offer an innovative and rich overview of the Waffen SS, its mechanics and its aftermath up to the present day. The authors have succeeded in presenting the Waffen-SS’ complex and contradictory history in a skilled and impressive manner.” — Dr. Franziska Zaugg, University of Fribourg and University of Bern, Switzerland. 

Author Information

Claus Bundgård Christensen is associate professor of history at Roskilde University, Denmark.

Niels Bo Poulsen is associate professor and director of the Institute for the Study of Military History, Culture and War at the Royal Danish Defence College, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Peter Scharff Smith is professor in the sociology of law at the Institute for Criminology and Sociology of Law, Oslo University.


No series for this title.

Table of Contents

About the Authors; Foreword; Chapter One Introduction, Part I –The Organizational and Military History of the Waffen-SS; Chapter Two From Hitler’s Bodyguard to the Waffen-SS; Chapter Three War of Extermination; Chapter Four Fall and Obliteration; Part II –Ideology, Discipline and Punishment in the Waffen-SS, Chapter Five Ideological Training in the Waffen-SS; Chapter Six Sexuality, Race and Religion: Ideology in Practise; Chapter Seven Punishment and Discipline in the Waffen-SS: Law and Legal Practice in the Racial State; Part III –A European Nazi Army: Foreigners in the Waffen-SS, Chapter Eight Germanic and Western European Volunteers in the Waffen-SS; Chapter Nine ‘Volksdeutsche’ in the Waffen-SS; Chapter Ten Eastern European Waffen-SS Soldiers of Non-German Ethnicity; Part IV –Soldiers and War Criminals, Chapter Eleven Waffen-SS and Nazi Crimes; Chapter Twelve Explaining the Atrocities: Context and Motives; Part V –Waffen-SS after 1945, Chapter Thirteen Surrender and Imprisonment; Chapter Fourteen Prosecution and Flight; Chapter Fifteen The Veterans Unionise; Chapter Sixteen The Waffen-SS in Post-War Remembrance Culture; Epilogue – The Nazi’s European Soldiers; Appendix; List of Abbreviations; Bibliography; Index


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