Schutzstaffel, which translated to Protection Squadron, was the paramilitary organisation under the German NSDAP.
The men of the SS endorsed the National Socialist ideology. Initially, the SS was established to protect Hitler and his party members. Gradually the organisation became more responsible for implementing the race laws. The SS consisted of various units,
including the Gestapo. In the Netherlands the SS was led by Hanns Albin Rauter. His superior in Germany was Heinrich Himmler.
Originally the SS was responsible for protecting party gatherings and party officials against political opponents. Turning the SS into an elite group was mostly Heinrich Himmler's work.
At the beginning, the concentration camps were controlled by local units of the SA (Sturmabteilung), the general SS, and sometimes also by the police. In April 1933, SS units took over the surveillance in Dachau in south Germany. They were distinguished from the general SS. In this way a separate department was created, exclusively connected to the camp system and directly under leadership of Theodor Eicke.
After the invasion in Poland SS units were also deployed behind the frontlines to carry out the first measures in the systematic extermination policies. From the beginning the SS was designed not only as a security service (Totenkopfverbände), but also as a paramilitary organisation.