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What happened to most of the members of the SS after the war? Were they punished?

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I have deleted all the comments from the question as well as the answer because there was too much discussion centered around the way the question was originally posted. I believe the new wording for the question makes it much more suitable and have therefore decided not to close it. If the rest of the community disagrees then you may continue with the vote to close. –  Steven Drennon Dec 10 '13 at 15:45
So, the SS is still a matter of controversy, to this very day... –  Bak1139 Dec 10 '13 at 18:01
But this site is not a forum for discussing or debating historical matters or topics. It is a question and answer site: period. If the comments start devolving into discussion or debate again, then they will be deleted and if necessary, so will the question. –  Steven Drennon Dec 11 '13 at 5:13
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Schutzstaffel was a paramilitary unit created by the Nazi party. After the Nazi party came to power and the Nazi party effectively became the state, the SS as a result also became much less of a paramilitary unit, and instead become just a second military unit, parallel to the Wehrmacht.

The difference between the Wehrmacht and the SS was that SS was seen as an elite force, and was also populated by pure "aryans" who at least claimed to believe in the national socialist ideology.

As such, most of the members were not punished, because you were not punished after the war for being "aryan" or being a Nazi, for pretty obvious reasons. So yes, most of the over one million members of the SS were not punished after the war. The exception was those that were convicted of war crimes.

Further reading:

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obvious reasons? really? each part and branch of the SS had some part in the persecution of some group...the more sadist elements and people had joined it, knowingly –  Bak1139 Dec 8 '13 at 15:39
let us continue this discussion in chat –  Lennart Regebro Dec 8 '13 at 22:18
-1 I am afraid. The SS was not just a "second military unit". Perhaps you had the Waffen-SS in mind which was a band of murderous thugs AND a military unit. But the "regular" variety of SS was just a band of murderous thugs. –  Felix Goldberg Dec 10 '13 at 19:40
But yes, it's quite impossible to summarily punish a million people for being SS members so the Allies had to make do with trying of (a) top brass (b) those officers/men who were guilty of particularly heinous crimes. –  Felix Goldberg Dec 10 '13 at 19:42
@FelixGoldberg: SS was split into many parts (and the organisation changed over time, making this complicated). But the question is about SS in general. It doesn't specifically point out either the Waffen-SS or Allgemeine-SS or SS-Totenkopfverbände or the Sonderkommando or anything. The question is about SS in general, and hence the answer is about SS in general. But as your second comment points out: This doesn't really change anything. It's a military unit, people follow orders, the ones punished are those giving the orders, not those who follow them. –  Lennart Regebro Dec 10 '13 at 20:54
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