SS Collections: RuSHA (Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt)

The last of the SS collections consists of biographical records of the Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt-SS (RuSHA, SS Race and Settlement Office), whose responsibilities included safeguarding the racial "purity" of the SS. This collection contains approximately 240,000 dossiers for individual SS personnel and their spouses, who submitted detailed personal and family background information to receive permission to marry. Seized fairly intact by U.S. forces in 1945, the records are mostly complete for married SS personnel during the period 1932-44, with some accompanying correspondence dated as late as March 1945.

At the end of 1931 Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler issued an order that established official supervision of the marital decisions of unmarried SS men. Thereafter the latter had to apply for marriage permits at least three months prior to their engagement to allow time for background investigations of the racial fitness of both prospective parents. The RuSHA (designated the Rasseamt-SS from January through June 1932, and the Rasse- und Siedlungsamt-SS from July 1932 to January 1935) was established to monitor these applications, and continued to perform this function after its duties expanded into other areas. During the period of peak activity during the war years, the Heiratsamt (Marriage Suboffice) and Ahnentafelamt (Genealogical Suboffice) within RuSHA reviewed and processed SS marriage applications. Each SS man and his prospective bride filled out an extensive questionnaire, underwent a physical examination, and prepared genealogical data on their ancestors born after 1 January 1800 (for SS officers, after 1 January 1750) to prove their Aryan lineage. RuSHA officials then evaluated the data and accepted or rejected the applicants; for higher-ranking SS officers, Himmler himself made the final decision. The collection includes some data for foreign members of the Waffen-SS, particularly for volunteers from Western European states (e.g., the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Denmark) but also including some Estonians; for these foreign contingents, however, the documentation appears very fragmentary.

Compliance with the SS marriage laws proved somewhat problematical as transgressions increased and punishments grew progressively milder. In 1937 over 300 SS men were expelled from the organization for contravening the law, although an order in June of that year eliminated expulsion if those already married could still satisfy the racial requirements. In November 1940 Himmler reinstated all SS personnel expelled under the marriage laws, provided they themselves remained racially acceptable. Each dossier might include some or all of the following documents: personal questionnaires (Rasse- und Siedlung-Fragebogen), usually accompanied by photographs; family genealogical charts (SS-Ahnentafel); medical examination reports (Ärztlicher Untersuchungsbogen); RuSHA summaries on family background investigations (SS-Erbgesundheitsbogen); summary questionnaires prepared as character references for the prospective bride; final RuSHA evaluations of individuals? applications (Verlobungs- und Heiratsgesuch; Aufnahmegesuch); and related official correspondence (e.g., cover letters, followup inquiries regarding gaps in genealogical information). Some dossiers also include identification papers, correspondence with church and local authorities relating to birth and death records, notices of expulsion from the SS, and hospital reports regarding wounds and injuries suffered. For many marriage applications made in 1944-45, only the initial correspondence survives; in the case of one foreign member of the SS, only a letter with translated excerpts to his fianceé. Most of the entries are handwritten, and are generally arranged in reverse chronological order. Sample copies of these documents follow this description.

The records include information relating to medical histories, reasons for failed marriages, children born out of wedlock, and other data generally restricted as privileged. As with the other BDC collections, however, the previous release of this information to members of the public preclude any current restriction on their use.

The dossiers are reproduced on 7,826 16mm rolls of BDC Accessioned Microfilm A3343, series RS. The rolls are not arranged in a single sequence, but in several parts that correspond to a single alphabetical arrangement (with exceptions) of the dossiers as follows:

Aakerwik, Torstein - Bock, Ernst: rolls A001 - A548
Bock, Herbert - Dorn, Friedrich: rolls A5001 - A5564
Dorn, Kurt - Fügar, Edgar: rolls B001 - B545
Führer, Hans - Hahn, Karl: rolls B5001 - B5526
Hampel, Erich - Hoven, Heinrich: rolls C001 - C553
Hoy, Horst - Knoche, Walter: rolls C5001 - C5555
Knochen, Helmut - Leithe, Gustav: rolls D001 - D605
Leitinger, Ernst - Miessner, Wilhelm: rolls D5001 - D5542
Mlarnik, Karel - Pfaff, Karl: rolls E001 - E561
Pfannkuch, Andreas - Rose, Conrad: rolls E5001 - E5554
Rose, Heinrich - Schran, Fritz: rolls F001 - F595
Schratt, Anton - Sternkopf, Franz: rolls F5001 - F5532
Stetter, Erwin - Wawra, Franz: rolls G001 - G604
Weber, Adalbert - Zwolak, Wilhelm: rolls G5001 - G5542

Roll breaks by individual name are indicated in the annotated roll list that accompanies this description. For the most part, the dossiers are arranged alphabetically by surname, thereunder alphabetically by Christian name and chronologically by date of birth. Common names with different spellings, however, are grouped together phonetically (e.g., Mayer, Meier, and Meyer are filed under Maier) and arranged thereunder by first name; other examples of phonetic groupings include Bähr (Bär, Beer, Behr); Beyer (Baier, Bayer); Bieler (Biller); Geyer (Gaier, Gayer); Hoffmann (Hofmann); Kaiser (Kayser, Keyser); and Krämer (Kremer, Cremer). By contrast, however, all individuals with the surname "Eckert" are arranged entirely alphabetically by first name and date of birth, while the surnames "Eckard," "Eckart," "Eckhardt," and "Eckhard" are thereafter grouped together phonetically. Titles (e.g., Freiherr, Graf) and related supplements (e.g., von, van, von dem) are ignored and first letters of the surname are used. No divisions or separations are made between dossiers, requiring the user to carefully review each dossier to determine its beginning and end frames.

More than most BDC collections, however, the RuSHA collection suffers from inconsistencies in microfilming. Above all, individual dossiers initially omitted in filming are often subsequently filmed out of sequence at the beginning of a roll while the remainder of the roll follows the proper alphabetical arrangement: E.g., rolls A3343-RS-A5425 through A5437 all begin with retakes of omitted dossiers beginning with letters "B" through "D" (as identified on the roll list); the remainder of those rolls, however, reproduce the correct alphabetical arrangement from "Davids, Willem (04.08.13)" through "Dehn, Karl (29.06.07)." Similarly, the names indicated on the roll lists as the initial dossiers reproduced on rolls A3343-RS-A5539 through A5558 all constitute retakes of initially-omitted dossiers beginning with the letter "D," while the remainder of those rolls reproduce the alphabetical arrangement from "Doering, Fritz (29.03.14)" through "Donat, Richard (25.12.06)."

Under the surname "Meyer," the entries for Christian names "Hans," "Hannes," "Johannes," and "Johann" are intermixed on rolls A3343-RS-D5289 through D5294 without regard for date of birth; searches for individuals with these names will therefore require a review of all the rolls in question. For reasons that are unclear, surnames beginning with the letters "Lies-" (filmed on rolls A3343-RS-D5067-068) precede surnames beginning with the letters "Liem-" (beginning roll A3343-RS-D5068).

A revised roll list will eventually be prepared to provide the most complete information on the arrangement of names. In the interim, researchers should use the existing roll list with caution and advise NARA staff members of any additional inconsistencies discovered in the series.

Among significant SS personalities, RuSHA records on the marriages of the following individuals are available: SS-Obergruppenführer Josef "Sepp" Dietrich (roll A3343-RS-A5497); SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann (roll A3343-RS-B0148); SS-Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höss (filmed out of sequence on roll A3343-RS-C0523); SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr. Josef Mengele (roll A3343-RS-D5462); SS-Brigadeführer Kurt Meyer ("Panzermeyer") (filmed out of sequence at the beginning of roll A3343-RS-D5349); and SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper (filmed out of sequence at the beginning of roll A3343-RS-E0552). No files are available, however, for Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler or SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. The RuSHA marriage records are closely related to the other biographic records of the SS collections, described elsewhere among BDC finding aids. Together with the SS officers' service records, they provide the most comprehensive documentation available on those who served as the SS leadership corps. The series also significantly complements the SS enlisted men?s records, especially as the latter collection contains little information for SS enlisted personnel prior to 1942. By contrast, the records apparently offer little information regarding marriages of female SS personnel, which may be more readily found in the SS womens' records.

Related RuSHA policy and operations records are reproduced on National Archives Microfilm Publication T175, Records of the Reich Leader of the SS and Chief of the German Police, described in Guides to German Records Microfilmed at Alexandria, Va. Nos. 32, 33, and 39, and on National Archives Microfilm Publication T580, German Records Filmed at Berlin for the American Historical Association, 1960, a finding aid to which is reproduced on roll 999 of that publication. RuSHA participation in the naturalization of ethnic Germans form other European countries is documented among the Einwandererzentrale (EWZ) collections, described elsewhere among the BDC finding aids. The originals of all RuSHA records are now in the custody of the Bundesarchiv in Germany.