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The Order of the Death's Head: The Story of Hitler's SS (Classic Military History) Paperback – September 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Classic Military History
  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; New edition edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141390123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141390123
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

About the Author

Heinz Hohne was head of the Foreign News Department at 'Der Spiegel' and is also the author of CODEWORD: DIREKTOR, the story of the Red Orchestra spy-ring which operated in Nazi Germany.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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The book is also well researched and has a great bibliography.
Robert E. Murena Jr.
I believed that the Nazi regime was a well oiled machine that ran more efficiently than any other in the world.
Matthew Smith
For anyone interested in over all history and obviously any one into WWII stuff this book one for your library.
Kevin Nazario Bartolomei

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Konrad Baumeister VINE VOICE on December 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Hoehne's book on the SS is the most complete, authoritative, and interesting I have read on the subject. There is nothing in the formation, administration, directing and eventual destruction of the SS that is not addressed, and much is covered here which is simply never dealt with elsewhere.

From the start, Hitler had to contend with the various power blocs in his government. He had devised a system which his various paladins would have to jockey and maneuver for relative favor, which generally allowed Hitler greater room for maneuver and control, but which also at times forced unpleasant meetings and compromise. Himmler's SS was quite often at the center of these power struggles, as its grasp grew more and more ambitious and it conflicted with first the SA at home, then the foreign service abroad, and finally the Wehrmacht in the conduct of the war. The SS won some of these; they lost some, too. The bureaucratic struggles throughout Nazi Germany take up quite a large part of the book; they did not end until Nazi Germany itself did. Nazi rule was self-contradictory, anarchic and without structure; anything but the planned and directed political order it is usually alleged to have been.

As late as 1932 Hitler's position in the party and the nation was often in doubt. The 1934 Roehm Putsch, in which Hitler of all the top Nazis looks least duplicitous and may well have been maneuvered into against his wishes, is presented almost minute by minute. It is one episode among many which are treated definitively by Hoehne; others include the evolution of the racial policy, of the death camps - their planning, design, implementation and abandonment - of the peace feelers made to the west by Schellenberg of the SD and others; it contains a wealth of fascinating information.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By drongo on February 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
This recounts the history of one of the most evil organizations ever created. Founded in 1925 as a bodyguard for Hitler, the SS ultimately became a security, military and bureaucratic behemoth whose influence pervaded the entire Nazi empire. Contrary to both contemporary propaganda and subsequent popular belief, however, neither the SS nor the Nazi regime were monolithic organizations devoted to exercising their leaders' directives. Indeed, a suggestive metaphor for the Nazi state would be that of a cancerous tumour, in which a collection of aggressively growing and constantly mutating cells maintains just enough cohesion to carry out its expansionist aims. The government consisted of a variety of departments whose ill-defined and overlapping responsibilities resulted in a permanent state of fractious feudalism. This arrangement suited Hitler perfectly. By pitting his subordinates against each other he maintained his position as the supreme and final authority.
The SS, for all its powers, was therefore still hemmed in by its rivals, of whom the most notable were the SA, the Party and the Wehrmacht. The rivalry with the SA was eventually settled in blood in the Roehm putsch of 1934, following which the SS gained primacy. But the rise of the SS would have been likely in any event by virtue of the Party's ascension to power. The SA had served its purpose: the regime no longer required an army of politicized street brawlers but rather a professional security apparatus.
The rivalries with the Party and the army were not so neatly resolved. Party administrators frustrated SS designs in the occupied regions - for example in Poland under Hans Frank - while Martin Bormann controlled access to the Fuehrer.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Murena Jr. on March 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
The "Order of the Death's Head" first published in 1965, was written while the dust had not yet settled on world war two and at 40 years of age Hoehne's work is a historical classic of the Nazi Period. As with Albert Speer's "Inside the Third Reich" and Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", this is one of those quintessential works of the period. Focusing on the rise and actions of the German SS, this book certainly does not glorify the SS or the Nazi party while providing a near exhaustive record. The work, while still very useful is still quite flawed in its organization and is by no means complete. The majority of the work focuses on the origins of the SS and the early Nazi party as well as later actions as a political entity and finally discusses the SS involvement with concentration camps. While discussed, the combat actions of the Waffen SS are but an aside to the greater focus of the work and many significant happenings within Nazi Germany are discussed quickly while others that may seem less significant are given substance. This book is an excellent though incomplete resource that is well written and receives both benefit and disadvantage from the period in which it was written.

Building up the scene Hoehne discusses at great details the ideal and actions of the early Nazi Party and the formation of the Schutzstaffel (SS). Filled with interesting detail and anecdote this is perhaps the richest portion of the work. As the work progresses Hoehne discusses the interaction of the SS with the other part organizations including the SA the party itself and later the Wehrmacht, SD and Gestapo.
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