- The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

    Schutzstaffeln: Waffen-SS - Armed-SS

The Death's Head Insignia of the Waffen-SS


The Armed-SS (Waffen-SS) of World War II fame grew from existing guard units officially designated SS-Special Purpose Troops (SS-Verfügungstruppe).  Announcement of the existence of the SS-Verfügungstruppe (known as SS-VT) was publicly declared on 16 March 1935.  The term “Waffen” was first used to describe this branch of Adolf Hitler’s “Protection Squads” (Schutzstaffeln or “SS”) in July 1940.  Prior to 1940, elements of the SS-VT had already seen action with the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) during the occupation of the Sudetenland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.  Combat trained members of the SS-VT also participated in the invasion of Poland along with the campaign against France and the Low Countries.

By 1941, the Waffen-SS had been organized into six divisions that included the 1st and 2nd Motorized SS Brigades.  These included the:

  • Division SS-Leibstandarte “Adolf Hitler”

  • SS Division “Das Reich”

  • SS Division “Totenkopf”

  • SS Polizei Division

  • SS Division “Wiking”

  • SS Gebirgsdivision “Nord”

In 1941 the overall commander of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, announced that additional Waffen-SS units would be raised from non-German foreign nationals.  Himmler’s goal was to acquire additional manpower from occupied nations where there existed anti-Communist, National Socialist, and racially skewed men willing to fight for Germany’s cause.  Some of the most prominent of these foreign legions included volunteers from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, and the Netherlands to name but a few.  Many volunteer units were raised to fight with the Waffen-SS from all regions where Germany had seized control.  It is estimated that nearly 57 percent of the strength behind the Waffen-SS consisted of foreign nationals.  At the close of 1943 the Waffen-SS had more than 246,000 members of which approximately 156,000 were field troops, with 64,000 assigned to special duties and nearly 26,000 reserved for maintenance and supply.  By May 1945 nearly 180,000 men serving with the Waffen-SS were killed in combat with another 70,000 listed as missing.


Each section of is divided into separate Information Tracks that outline important details, facts, and historical notes pertaining to steel helmets used by the German Armed Forces during World War II.  

Information Tracks are organized by subject matter and their content is directly related to the service arm or organization to which each topic is related.  Topic areas that bridge one subject matter to another are cross linked within each Information Track.

This Information Track provides historical facts pertaining to steel helmets worn by the Waffen-SS (Armed-SS) from 1934-1945.  Individual links related to this subject are outlined below.

    Primary Topics

Helmet Types

Helmet Insignia

Period Photos

    Protection Units


SS-Heimwehr Danzig / Danzig Polizei

SS-Leibstandarte (LAH)

SS-Sicherheitspolizei (SD)

SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT)


  - The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

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