Thank you for the advice F-B!
Thank you for the advice F-B!
And for that we thank you!
As Friedrich-Berthold said, when it comes to a serious study of the SS' history and its main figures, the most interesting and in-depth material these days is published in German. Therefore (and because I tend to follow Friedrich-Berthold's book recommendations), the majority of material I purchase and read consists of German publications.
Still, as far as English language literature is concerned, here are a few titles found in my bookshelf that may be of interest... It's a very brief list, grossly incomplete and entirely subjective.
Let's start with two books dealing with the SS in its entirety:
Robin Lumsden's "Himmler's Black Order. A History of the SS 1923 - 45" is still a good starting point. Granted, it is in many ways dated now and not free of errors, but it is attractively presented, written in a lively style and gives a good overview of the SS' history, organisation and regalia from its beginnings to its end and, with its numerous lists, charts and tables, is still good for quick reference on a number of subjects.
Add to this Adrian Weale's "The SS. A New History", which is also a complete history of the SS. Not uninteresting, but it, too, has a few problems. For one thing, it does not offer the volume of actually new data promised in its advertising and I found Mr. Weale's practice of translating rank titles ["Captain" for "Hauptsturmführer" etc.] into English is a bit obnoxious. Also, the entire Allgemeine SS is given far too little space whereas the bulk of the book is taken up by the concentration camp / extermination apparatus. Don't get me wrong: I'm most certainly not saying this should be left out or kept as brief as possible! It's just a matter of balancing the number of pages dedicated to the individual branches of the overall organisation.
[While we're at it: "Renegades. Hitler's Englishmen" by the same author is fully recommended. It is about English (or, more precisely, British) collaborators/traitors/volunteers as a whole, but a good part of its pages is taken up by a study of the Waffen-SS' very own British Free Corps. Sure, that odd little unit had no political/historical/tactical significance whatsoever, but is an interesting footnote in the SS' history.]
On the subject of the Allgemeine SS, precious little literature is available:
Mark C. Yerger's "Allgemeine SS. The Commands, Units And Leaders of the General SS" is still a standard reference, listing information for all organisational levels and biographical data for the commanders at each of those levels.
For those wanting to learn more about the A-SS' Equestrian branch specifically, "Himmler's Cavalry. The Equestrian SS, 1933-1945" by Paul J. Wilson is an interesting and highly informative study. In fact, it is the only title exclusively dedicated to this subject. (That I am aware of, at least.)
When it comes to encyclopedic, biographical data on senior SS officers, two titles come to mind:
One is Max Williams' "The SS Leadership Corps. Volume I A-E". The biographical information on these figures is brief and condensed, and one could say that it is actually pretty much a "coffee table book" as its focus is on the photographs, but these are a veritable treasure trove of period images, personal artifacts, original documents etc. etc. From paperwork relating to Himmler's agronomic studies to views of his dead body, from Darré's baby photograph to his post-capture mug shot, from Daluege's holiday snapshots to Demelhuber's rank insignia, from Eicke's personnel file card to von Eberstein's Golden Party Badge and presentation pistol... Remarkable material, much of it never seen before. Now if only the follow-up volume would materialize...
For a wealth of more in-depth data, get "Leaders Of The SS & German Police. Volume 1. Reichsführer SS - SS-Gruppenführer. (Georg Ahrens to Karl Gutenberger)" by Michael D. Miller with Andreas Schulz and Ken McCanliss. You won't regret it. The men are covered with detailed career data, promotion dates, a listing of awards and decorations and additional notes (which are sometimes brief, sometimes extensive). An impressive work. But, again, I am eagerly waiting for Vol. 2...
As for individual biographies, I have a lot of fondness for a title first published more than a century ago:
"Hitler's Gladiator. The Life And Times of Oberstgruppenführer and Panzer-Generaloberst der Waffen-SS Sepp Dietrich" is well worth reading. A fair and balanced account, neither condemnation nor hero worship. On a personal note, the author had me with a sentence on the first page of chapter I: "Bavarians have traditionally regarded themselves as a people apart from the remainder of the German states. They speak a particular type of German, and tend to regard north Germans with a certain suspicion." Yes; that's us alright.
Of interest in terms of the Waffen-SS' personnel procurement/training system is:
"In Perfect Formation. SS Ideology And The SS-Junkerschule Tölz" by Jay Hatheway, a good study of the SS' first and best-known officer training facility. Incidentally, the author is a former U.S. Army officer who was stationed at the former Junkerschule when it was the Flint Kaserne.
(I have deliberately not listed any books dealing with militaria/uniformology, as surely this was not the point here.)
Thank you, Andreas. Your insights are superb as always. I imagine that some of the work I cite in German will gradually make its way into English, but the publishing business, especially for scholarly books, is no longer
the institution it once was. The Eicke biography and the Peiper biography are quite remarkable, but there is much other work that especially demolishes most received wisdom about the SS and the Waffen SS that is the product of the era after 1945 and which, in turn, makes its way into the digital space where it flourishes.
This work is also noteworthy, and Katrin Himmler has emerged as a worthy scholar of her own family......
The Himmler Brothers: A German Family History: Katrin Himmler: 9780330448147: Amazon.com: Books
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This work can be read along with the Longerich biography. I am a fan of good biographies.
Himmler's diaries and daily calendars are important sources, and new editions of recently found documents are at hand, the 1940 edition I just got in Berlin....
...and there is a new work edited by her and Wildt of the private letters of Heini H. and his disagreeable wife, too....
Himmler privat: Briefe eines MassenmÃ¶rders: Amazon.de: Katrin Himmler, Michael Wildt: Bücher