SS and police leader

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The title of SS and police leader (German: SS- und Polizeiführer) was used to designate a senior Nazi official who commanded large units of the SS, Gestapo and of the regular German police prior to and during World War II.

Three levels of subordination were established for bearers of this title:

  • SS and Police Leader (German: SS- und Polizeiführer), SSPF
  • Higher SS and Police Leader (German: Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer, HSSPF, HSS-PF, HSSuPF)
  • Supreme SS and Police Leader (German: Höchster SS- und Polizeiführer, HöSSPF)


The first Higher SS and Police Leaders were appointed in 1937[1] from the existing SS-Oberabschnitt Führer (leaders of the main districts). The purpose of the Higher SS and Police Leader was to be a direct command authority for every SS and police unit in a given geographical region with such authority answering only to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler.

Inside the Reich the man named as HSSPF was usually also SS-Oberabschnitt Führer for that region. Outside the Reich there was no Oberabschnitt, so the HSSPF existed on their own. However, they had something the Reich HSSPFs did not - several SS- und Polizeiführer (SSPF) reporting to them.[2]

There were also two Höchster SS- und Polizeiführer (Supreme SS and Police Leader) posts. These were "Italien" (1943–1945) and "Ukraine" (1943–1944), both of which had various HSSPF and SSPF reporting to them.[3]

The SS and police leaders directly commanded a headquarters staff with representatives from almost every branch of the SS. This typically included the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo; regular police), Gestapo (secret police), Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV; Nazi concentration camps), SD (intelligence service), and certain units of the Waffen-SS (combat units). Most of these SS and Police Leader's normally held the rank of SS-Gruppenführer or above and answered directly to Himmler in all matters pertaining to the SS within their area of responsibility. Their role was to be part of the SS control mechanism within the state policing the German population and overseeing the activities of the SS men within each respective district.[4] The men in these positions could bypass the main chain of command of the administrative offices in their district for the SS, SD, SiPo, SS-TV and Orpo under the "guise of an emergency situation" thereby gaining direct operational control of these groups.[5]

"The Higher SS and Police Leaders or HSSPF and their subordinate SS and Police Leaders were the most powerful (and feared) SS posts created by Himmler" Mark Yerger, Allgemeine-SS[1]

War crimes

decrypted wireless telegram from "HSSPF Russland Mitte" (middle Russia) in 1942, reporting to Himmler the 'liquidation' of a village in Belarus (from NSA report[6])
Another decrypt, 1941, HSSPF Russland Sud (south Russia), reporting to Himmler the 'liquidation' of Jewish people (from NSA report[7])

One of the more notorious functions of the SS and police leaders was to serve as the commanding SS general for any Einsatzgruppen (death squads) that were activated in the SS and police leader’s area. Such duties typically involved ordering the deaths of tens of thousands of persons and, following the close of World War II, most SS and police leaders who had served in Poland and the Soviet Union was charged with war crimes. A large number of the SS and police leaders who had been involved with such crimes committed suicide before capture.

The SS and police leaders were also the overseeing authority of the Jewish ghettos in Poland and, as such, directly coordinated deportations to Nazi extermination camps with the administrative help of the RSHA. The SS and police leaders were also afforded direct command over police battalions and SD regiments that were assigned to keep order in the ghettos.

SS ruler

The grand dream of Heinrich Himmler was to evolve the SS and police leader into an SS ruler of the Lebensraum which the SS would rule and control after Germany had won World War II.[8] Himmler’s dream envisioned twenty-eight SS states (SS- und Polizeistützpunkte, literally SS- and police strongholds), spread throughout the East, each one of which would be ruled by an SS and police leader, militarily controlled by the Waffen-SS, and settled by SS warriors of the Allgemeine-SS.[8] Whether or not Himmler’s vision was plausible, and if the more rational elements of the Nazi government would have permitted an SS nation in the East, remains speculative.

Late war promotions to Waffen-SS

In 1944 and 1945, many HSSPF were promoted to general rank in the Waffen-SS by Himmler. This was apparently to provide potential protection under the Hague Convention rules of warfare.[9]

Notable SS and police leaders

Note – Men were often transferred, promoted, etc., as the war went on. The HSSPF areas themselves might change, be absorbed, cease to exist, etc. This list is by no means exhaustive.[10]




See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 Yerger, p 22
  2. Yerger, pp 22, 52
  3. Yerger, pp 22-25
  4. Koehl 2004, pp. 144, 148, 169, 176–177.
  5. McNab 2009, p. 165.
  6. Robert J. Hanyok, CENTER FOR CRYPTOLOGIC HISTORY NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY (2005). "Eavesdropping on Hell: Historical Guide to Western Communications Intelligence and the Holocaust, 1939-1945" (PDF) (Second ed.). National Security Agency, United States Government. Retrieved 2011-03-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> UNITED STATES CRYPTOLOGIC HISTORY, Series IV, Volume 9 The message is on page 52 "Decrypt of Police message [National Archives and Records Administration] (NARA), RG 457, HCC, Box 1386)"
  7. Hanyok, NSA, eavesdropping.pdf, Page 61, "German Police Decrypts, ZIP/G.P.D.353/14.9.41. Decrypt No.1 is from the Senior Commander of the SS and Police in Southern Russia to Heinrich Himmler, the Chiefs of the Order and Secret Police and the Himmler’s staff. (Source: [National Archives and Records Administration] (NARA), RG 457, Box 1386)"
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ingrao, Charles W.; Szabo, Franz A. J. (2008). The Germans and the East. Purdue University Press, p. 288. [1]
  9. "Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 20 day 195". Avalon Project, Yale Law School. Retrieved 2009-01-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Yerger lists about 37 separate HSSPF posts, most of which had several different commanders over the lifetime of the post. He also lists over 50 SSPF posts, many of which also had several commanders.


  • Koehl, Robert (2004). The SS: A History 1919–45. Stroud: Tempus. ISBN 978-0-75242-559-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. London: Amber Books. ISBN 978-1-906626-49-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Yerger, Mark C. (1997). Allgemeine-SS: The Commands, Units and Leaders of the General SS. Schiffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7643-0145-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Höhne, Heinz (2001) [1969]. The Order of the Death's Head: The Story of Hitler’s SS. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14139-012-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>