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The SS or Schtutzstaffel were an elite unit of the Nazi party. Initially they were Hitler’s personal guard unit, but later grew to become a large organisation of 800,000 employees (by 1944). Under Heinrich Himmler’s leadership, the SS were in charge of internal security and ensuring racial purity within the Reich, including carrying out the Final Solution and running the concentration camps. Those in the SS had to prove they were of ‘pure Aryan stock’ to become members and had to receive permission to marry.