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May 1948

SOCIOPSYCHOLOGIC STRUCTURE OF THE SSPsychiatric Report of the Nurnberg Trials for War Crimes

Author Affiliations

BOSTON Associate Director of Research, Boston State Hospital; Instructor in Psychiatry, Tufts College Medical School

Formerly consultant to the Secretary of War of the United States, on duty with the Office of the Chief of Counsel for War Crimes in Nurnberg, United States Zone of Germany, 1946-1947; Lieutenant Colonel, ORC, Medical Corps, Army of the United States.

Arch NeurPsych. 1948;59(5):622-634. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1948.02300400058003

THE MOST important political organization in Nazi Germany was the SS (abbreviated from Schutz-Staffel, which means "protective quadron"). No totalitarian state can function without an SS-like organiation. It is therefore important for us as psychiatrists to know all we can about the SS, to understand its motivation and how it worked, what its strength was and what its weaknesses were; and it is the duty of sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists to study these facts and to make them generally understood.

The SS was a criminal organization not only because its members actually committed crimes, but also because the essential mode of its thinking and its group behavior were those of all criminal organizations. If a member did anything which put his loyalty to the organization in a questionable light, either he was liquidated—killed—or he had to undertake a cirminal act which definitely and irrevocably tied him to the organization. According