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The real story of the SS, unlike its popular mythology, is so complex as to almost defy belief: it is a tale of intrigue and nepotism, of archaeology and Teutonism, of art and symbolism. This is a story of street fighters and convicted criminals becoming Ministers of State and police commanders; the story of charitable works and mass extermination being administered from the same building; and the story of boy generals directing vast heterogeneous armies on devastating campaigns of conquest. Fact is stranger than fiction in this look at the SS's wide-ranging effects on the police, racial policies, German history, education, the economy, and public life, as well as the uniforms and regalia which were carefully designed to set Himmler’s men apart as the new elite in Third Reich society. Fully illustrated, with rare images that show the "face" of the SS, this authoritative history will appeal to all with an interest in Hitler’s Third Reich.