SS-Begleitkommando des Führers
|SS-Begleitkommando des Führers; Führerbegleitkommando|
|Active||1932 - 1945|
SS-Begleitkommando des Führers (literally: "SS Escort Command of the Führer"), later known as the Führerbegleitkommando (Escort Command of the Führer; FBK) was originally an eight-man SS squad assigned with protecting the life of Adolf Hitler during the early 1930s. It was expanded and remained responsible for Hitler's personal protection until 30 April 1945.
It was formed on 29 February 1932. Twelve SS members were selected to present to Hitler by Sepp Dietrich. From the twelve, a smaller eight-man team was chosen to protect Hitler as he traveled outside Munich and the borders of Bavaria in Germany. Their first appearance was when they accompanied Hitler during the election campaign trips in 1932. In 1934, the Führerschutzkommando (FSK) replaced the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers for Hitler's overall protection throughout Germany. The Führerschutzkommando was officially renamed the Reichssicherheitsdienst (Reich Security Service; RSD) on 1 August 1935.
Expansion and renamed
Thereafter, the Begleitkommando des Führers was expanded and became known as the Führerbegleitkommando (Escort Command of the Führer; FBK). The additional members for the FBK were drawn from 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH). Hitler used them for guard duty, but also as orderlies, valets, waiters, and couriers. Although the FBK was administratively under the control of the LSSAH, they received their orders directly from Hitler and in the last years from his chief adjutant, Julius Schaub.
The FBK continued under separate command and remained responsible for Hitler's personal protection. For trips and public events the RSD and FBK worked together for security and protection. They still operated as two groups and used separate vehicles for these activities. Johann Rattenhuber chief of the RSD would be in overall command and the FBK chief, at the time, would act as his deputy. By March 1938, both units wore the standard field grey uniform of the SS. The FBK accompanied Hitler on all his travels and was always present at the several Führerhauptquartiere (Führer Headquarters) located in various parts of occupied Europe during World War II. By June 1941, the FBK had grown to 35 members. Later by 15 January 1943 it had expanded to 31 SS officers and 112 men. Thirty-three were used in escort duties, rotating in groups of eleven. The rest were used as guards for Hitler's residence and as drivers, orderlies, valets, waiters, couriers and for communication duties. Also, the term SS-Begleitkommando or Begleit-Kommando were used at times when referring to the Führerbegleitkommando.
The last FBK commander was SS-Obersturmbannführer Franz Schädle who was appointed on 5 January 1945, after the dismissal of Bruno Gesche. Thereafter, Schädle and the FBK accompanied Hitler (and his entourage) into the bunker complex under the Reich Chancellery garden in the central government sector of Berlin. By 23 April 1945, Schädle commanded approximately 30 members of the unit who stood guard therein for Hitler until his suicide on 30 April 1945.
- Bodo Gelzenleuchter
- Willy Herzberger
- Kurt Gildisch
- Bruno Gesche
- Franz Schädle
- Erich Kempka
- August Körber
- Adolf Dirr
Begleitkommando (later known as: FBK) Commanders
- Bodo Gelzenleuchter: March to autumn 1932
- Willy Herzberger: Fall of 1932 to 11 April 1933
- Kurt Gildisch: 11 April 1933 to 15 June 1934
- Bruno Gesche: 15 June 1934 to April 1942 and December 1942 to December 1944
- Franz Schädle: January to April 1945
Notable FBK members
- Ewald Lindloff
- Fritz Darges
- Hans Hermann Junge
- Heinz Linge
- Karl Wilhelm Krause
- Max Wünsche
- Otto Günsche
- Richard Schulze-Kossens
- Rochus Misch
- Hoffmann 2000, p. 48.
- Hoffmann 2000, p. 36.
- Joachimsthaler 1999, pp. 16, 287.
- O'Donnell 1978, p. 101.
- Joachimsthaler 1999, pp. 16, 287, 293.
- Felton 2014, pp. 32, 33.
- Felton 2014, p. 33.
- Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 293.
- Hoffmann 2000, p. 54.
- Hoffmann 2000, pp. 48, 54, 57.
- Joachimsthaler 1999, pp. 293, 294.
- O'Donnell 1978, p. 97.
- Hoffmann 2000, p. 52.
- Kershaw 2008, p. 957.
- Hoffmann 2000, pp. 55, 56.
- Hoffmann 2000, p. 56.
- Hoffmann 2000, p. 55.
- Felton 2014, p. 140.
- Felton, Mark (2014). Guarding Hitler: The Secret World of the Führer. London: Pen and Sword Military. ISBN 978-1-78159-305-9.
- Hoffmann, Peter (2000) . Hitler's Personal Security: Protecting the Führer 1921-1945. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-30680-947-7.
- Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) . The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, the Evidence, the Truth. Trans. Helmut Bögler. London: Brockhampton Press. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8.
- Kershaw, Ian (2008). Hitler: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-06757-6.
- O'Donnell, James P. (1978). The Bunker: The History of the Reich Chancellery Group. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-25719-7.