Wagner and SS


Hitler's NSDAP party had a paramilitary organisation for bullying, intimidating, 'security' at events and plain brawling against communists and social-democrats; it was called the SA.

This SA quickly became very important and very powerful in 1933, as among other things it gained power by providing personnel for the government's new auxiliary police force that did the dirt political stuff that the regular police wasn't reliable enough for.

Its leader became too ambitious* for Hitler and was eliminated in 1934, the SA was dissolved.

A much smaller violent party organisation rose to prominence instead. This SS had been a kind of bodyguards organisation at first. It took over much SA personnel and among other things the running of the KZs, which were at that time mostly holding political prisoners.

You didn't need to be well-versed in military matters to rise up the ranks in these organisations, most important for a career were

  • being loyal to superiors
  • being able to shout commands well
  • being ambitious
  • participating in social events with other 'leaders'
  • talking shit

Some men rose through the ranks because of personal connections to top leaders, in the SA this included wartime friends of the SA leader.

The military arm of the SS was founded soon after war broke out, in late 1939. It became a parallel organisation to the army.

There was another parallel German ground force in WW2; the air force (Luftwaffe) had initially a ground combat element in shape of paratroopers, which gained much attention and prestige in 1940 and 1941. It wasn't difficult to raise them as a good infantry force because the air force itself was created in 1933 with army officers.

The army bled white in the Russia campaign 1941...1943 while the air force wasted hundreds of thousands of infantry-suitable young conscripts in utterly inflated organisations such as pickets all over occupied France to observe the sky with eyes and microphones. Thus the Luftwaffe came under pressure to provide men for ground warfare. Its ambitious and blusterous boss Göring didn't intend to have hundreds of thousands of young men transferred from HIS air force to army. So he formed air force divisions for ground combat, with more or less ridiculous names (including a 'paratrooper tank division'). These divisions appeared a decade after the inheritance of skilled army personnel by the air force and they generally weren't average or better fighting forces. Their equipment was mostly 3rd rate (including many captured weapons with insecure munitions supply) anyway. Their leaders would have been fit for occupation security regiments, while their young conscripts should have been channelled through several months of retraining in and by the army before being sent to the front.


Back to the Waffen-SS; it was founded in late 1939, enjoyed no inheritance of thousands of highly skilled army officers and once in action on the Eastern Front in 1941/1942 it quickly gained a reputation for reckless and unnecessarily casualties-rich tactics. In short; it was led poorly.

This did improve eventually, but the continued quick expansion of the Waffen-SS to rival the army ever more and the concentration of talent in one 'elite' flagship division meant that the waning army critique of Waffen-SS casualty rates was probably more about the deteriorating army experiencing rising casualty rates itself in 1943...1945 than about the Waffen-SS becoming very good at tactics.

Brutality towards not only the enemy but also towards the own men was employed by the Waffen-SS (and the army itself was already brutal by today's standards including an outrageous casualty rate during training).

Neither the air force's dabbling in ground war nor the Waffen-SS' were rooted in rational optimisation of national warfare potential. These were political efforts, meant to elevate their leader, some inner circle crony. Neither army competitor was particularly skilled and both suffered excessive casualty rates (including the original paratroopers, who were ruined in the Crete invasion).

Fast forward to 2022, we see the Wagner PMC employing inept tactics and brutality in a ground war in order to elevate the political weight of their crony-in-command, Prigozhin. The organisation has a few former military officers, but isn't built on such 'competence'. Wagner PMC's behaviour  fits to the fact that the Russian Federation checked all the Fascism test checkboxes in the past years.




*: It didn't help him that he was a fat by the standards of the day, gay and in the focus of public disaffection with the new regime and its corruptness.



  1. See Perun's recent video on this topic (How Politics Destroys Armies). Separate military channels are a feature of dictatorships, not a bu.

  2. The SS was the armed wing of a political party. Just like the Red Army was, and just like the PLA is now in China. All three are not national armies, but political ones; created to impose and defend an ideological system. Understanding this can create opportunities to defeat them.