The organization was set up in September 1940 on the Flemish side by Herman van Puymbroeck, Ward Hermans and René Lagrou, with Lagrou becoming the organization's first leader. In December 1940, Hermans became the editor of newspaper of the unit, De SS-man. The SS-Vlaanderen was the first of the Germanic-SS organizations, which were intended to spread Pan-Nordicism and the SS ideology among the conquered Germanic nations. Unofficially, Himmler wanted to use the organization to penetrate occupied Belgium, which was under the control of the Wehrmacht military government, not the party or the SS. The SS-Vlaanderen was also used to staff the anti-Jewish units of the German security services with auxiliary staff.
Lagrou was succeeded as the Standaardleider by Jef De Langhe in May 1941, who was later followed by Raf van Hulse. Ward Hermans was also replaced as editor by Maurice Van de Walle. Despite the apparent Flemish leadership, the SS-Vlaanderen was actually under the control of the representative of the Reichsführer-SS in Flanders, SS-Brigadeführer Konstantin Kammerhofer, who was later succeeded by SS-Brigadeführer Richard Jungclaus.
As the war progressed, the influence of the SS-Vlaanderen increased. It joined hands with the DeVlag organization, with Jef van de Wiele, the leader of DeVlag, declaring that the Germanic SS and DeVlag shared the same struggle and ideologue. Van de Wiele was later promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer, and was the highest Flemish SS-official. In November 1943 he ordered all leading members of DeVlag to join the SS-Vlaanderen, and also demanded that all members of the latter join DeVlag, molding the two organizations practically together. The role of the Germanic SS in Flanders was transferred because of this relationship from a political organization to a military one. This shift started during the leadership of Jef François, who took over the SS-Vlaanderen from Van Hulse in August 1942. Members were increasingly used in guard assignments, surveillance and reprisals against resistance fighters. Most members also volunteered to serve in Waffen-SS, and fight against the Russians in the Eastern Front. On November 9, 1943, Antoon Van Dijck assumed the leadership of the SS-Vlaanderen, which lasted until the liberation of Belgium.
Commanders of the SS-Vlaanderen
- SS-Hauptsturmführer René Lagrou (7 Dec 1940 - 10 May 1941)
- SS-Hauptsturmführer Jef De Langhe (10 May 1941 - 1 Sep 1941)
- SS-Hauptsturmführer Raf Van Hulse (1 Sep 1941 - 1 Sep 1942)
- SS-Obersturmführer Jef François (1 Sep 1942 - 9 Nov 1943)
- SS-Untersturmführer Antoon Van Dijck (9 Nov 1943 - 15 Nov 1944)
The SS-Vlaanderen encompassed one standaard ("standard", "banner" or "unit), which was divided into four regional subunits called stormbans:
- Stormban I Antwerpen (Antwerpen, Mechelen and Geel)
- Stormban II Oost-Vlaanderen (Gent, Sint-Niklaas, Eeklo and Aalst)
- Stormban III West-Vlaanderen (Roeselare, Brugge, Kortrijk and Oostende)
- Stormban IV Brabant-Limburg(Brussel, Leuven, Hasselt and Neerpelt)
- Michael Vanhoof (August 8, 2008). "Germaansche SS in Vlaanderen". Axis History Factbook. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
- Lumsden, Robin (1993). The Allgemeine-SS. Osprey Publishing. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-85532-358-2.
- Bosworth, R. J. B. (2009). The Oxford handbook of fascism. Oxford University Press. p. 483. ISBN 978-0-19-929131-1.
- Mikhman, Dan (1998). Belgium and the Holocaust: Jews, Belgians, Germans. Berghahn Books. p. 212. ISBN 978-965-308-068-3.
- Bosworth (2009), p. 486
- Caballero Jurado, Carlos (1985). Resistance warfare: resistance and collaboration in Western Europe, 1940-1945. Osprey Publishing. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-85045-638-7.