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The Weapon-SS was formed as a subdivision of the regular Schutzstaffel (SS) corps in Nazi Germany in order to perform a wide variety of functions:
  1. The Death's Head (Skull) Corps (Totenkopfverbände) administered the concentration camps
  2. Regular Troops (Verfügungstruppen) served as elite troops and fought alongside with the Wehrmacht - the regular army
  3. Hitler's personal guard -- Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler.

Later there were SS-Freiwilligenverbände (volunteers) from several occupied countries (e.g. SS Division Nordland, formed from Norwegian, Danish and Baltic volunteers), an SS-Hitlerjugend division (enlisted ranks were volunteers from the Hitlerjugend - Hitler Youth), an SS-Totenkopf Division (formed from concentration camps guards).

Until 1944, service in the Waffen-SS was voluntary. Beginning then, whole units were assigned to the Waffen-SS.

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