Fighting for the Nazi New Order: Himmler's Swiss, Swedish and Danish Volunteers and the Germanic Project of the SS

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Michael Ebner


Collaboration, Nazi Germany, SS, Transnational, Waffen-SS, World War Two

Subject Categories



This dissertation examines foreigners--Danes, Swedes, and Swiss--who volunteered to join the Nazi SS. Despite being from neutral countries, these volunteers took up leadership role in the SS and were willing to fight and die for Hitler's New Order. I argue that far from being molded by Nazi propaganda once in Germany, these men arrived with an embryonic transnational fascist worldview, including beliefs in the regenerative quality of violence and the need for a more `organic' and authoritarian political re-organization of North-Western Europe. They saw this `Germanic' core of Western civilization as being threatened both by the Bolshevik East and the Liberal West. Although post-war historiography and collective memories identify the volunteers as criminals and "asocials" duped by the Nazi regime, the men were, in fact, highly educated and motivated and had been well-integrated into pre-war society.

Once in Germany the volunteers served not only as combat officers but contributed actively towards the formulation of a Germanic variant of National Socialist ideology. In addition to the experiences of these men, this study focuses on the Germanische Leitstelle, the SS office tasked with recruiting, training and coordinating Germanic soldiers and policies. As the military wing of the SS grew in the later years of the war, this office sought to use the organization to spread the Nazi revolution throughout Western Europe and to create a Germanic Empire in the place of independent nation states. For this purpose, beyond fighting Bolshevism, service in the SS was seen by the Leitstelle as a way of creating and cementing the future leadership corps of this Germanic Empire.

In their effort to mold the SS into a Germanic National Socialist organization, the neutral volunteers and the Germanische Leitstelle were opposed and eventually discredited by competing offices which promoted a more German-centric reading of National Socialism. As such, this dissertation is a case study of the "polyocratic" nature of the Nazi regime and the competition over political and ideological influence in Germany and across occupied Western Europe. It provides insight into the significant support the Nazi New Order enjoyed among certain young Western European elites and the regime's inability to make effective use of such willing collaborators.


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