The members of the SS, the elite guard of the Nazi regime, were key players in the "Final Solution," the plan to murder the Jews of Europe. The head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, and his subordinates, Reinhard Heydrich, Kurt Daluege, and others, established the SS and police state under Adolf Hitler and led the efforts to carry out the regime's ideological agenda. Toward that end, the SS perpetrated countless acts of mass murder. SS and Police Commanders directed Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) in the ruthless and systematic shooting of Jewish men, women, and children in the killing fields of the occupied Soviet Union. In occupied Poland, the SS established killing centers equipped with gas chambers to facilitate assembly line mass murder.
Murder on such a colossal scale could not be carried out by the SS alone, however. The implementation of the "Final Solution" required cooperation from and participation of the military bureaucracy and the German civilian authorities in occupied territories. Mass deportation operations required the cooperation of Adolf Eichmann of the Reich Security Main Office with Albert Ganzenmueller of the German State Railways and Joachim von Ribbentrop of the German Foreign Office. The Wehrmacht (German armed forces) provided the Einsatzgruppen with transportation and supplies, and also participated in the mass murder of Jews and other Soviet civilians and especially of Soviet POWs. The Reichsbank, the German central bank headed by Walther Funk, served as a depository for stolen currency and gold and helped to finance the SS killing operations. German physicians and other healthcare professionals implemented the Nazi-sponsored "Euthanasia" Program murdering tens of thousands of people with mental and physical disabilities. Other physicians conducted unethical and cruel medical experiments, and determined in "selections" at killing centers which prisoners should live and which should die. Private German industrial concerns such as I.G. Farben and Krupp used slave laborers. A subsidiary of I.G. Farben provided the Zyklon B gas used to kill in the gas chambers.