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Werner von Fritsch Reflects on the Relationship between the SS and the Wehrmacht (February 1, 1938)

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In the autumn of 1934, there was great agitation as a result of the machinations of the SS. The SS maintained the Army was preparing a putsch, and reports came in from all the military districts that the SS was planning a big coup. Then, the Führer decided to order the leading figures in the Party and many senior officers to a meeting in the Opera House. The Führer made a speech which was a clear statement of loyalty to the Army and its leader [i.e. Fritsch]. After the Führer's speech, the SS agitation decreased somewhat. But from the summer of 1935 it increased again. The behavior of the SS Verfügungstruppen at the military training establishment at Altengrabow, where for no reason at all they indulged in vicious abuse of the Army and myself, threw a significant light on the situation.

While during the subsequent phase, we managed to establish a good, in many cases intimate relationship with all Party agencies, this was not true of the SS. As far as our side was concerned, this may have derived from the fact that there was hardly a single senior officer who did not feel that the SS were spying on him. It is continually coming to light that, contrary to express instructions from the Führer's Deputy, SS people serving in the Army have received orders to provide reports on their superiors. Unfortunately, these matters come to my attention in such a form that I cannot pursue them.

Finally, the SS Verfügungstruppe, which is continually being expanded, must create conflict with the Army through its very existence. It is the living proof of mistrust towards the Army and its leadership.

Although the Army has a certain right to supervise the training of the SS Verfügungstruppe, this SS troop is developing completely separately and, as I see it, in conscious opposition to the Army. All units are unanimous in reporting that the relationship of the SS Verfügungstruppe to the Army is very cold if not hostile. One cannot avoid the impression that the negative attitude towards the Army in the SS Verfügungstruppe is positively encouraged. This attitude finds external expression in the fact that only very rarely does an SS man salute an officer.

[ . . . ]

Source of English translation: Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, eds., Nazism, 1919-1945, Vol. 3: Foreign Policy, War and Racial Extermination. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2001, pp. 37-38.

Original German text printed in: Friedrich Hossbach, Zwischen Wehrmacht und Hitler 1934-1938. (1949) 2nd Edition, Goettingen, 1965, pp. 60-62.

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