The 1. SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH or LAH) was formed 17 March 1933 as SS-Stabswache Berlin by Josef “Sepp” Dietrich, Hitler’s bodyguard, on the order of Adolf Hitler who wanted a full-time armed force that was completly loyal to him.
Dietrich handpicked 120 men (some of whom had served in the Stosstrupp Adolf Hitler that was formed in 1921) who were barracked at the Alexander Barracks in Berlin and later at Berlin-Lichterfelde.
It was soon redesignated SS-Sonderkommando Zossen and a new unit, SS-Sonderkommando Jüterbog, was raised. These units merged September 1933 as was designated SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (LAH). The members of LAH took an oath of loyalty to Hitler 9 November 1933 (the 10th anniversary of the failed Beer Hall Putsch). It was redesignated Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) in 1934.
It took part in the purge of Ernst Röhm and other enemies of Hitler (mainly leaders of the SA) during the Night of Long Knifes together with Landespolizeigruppe General Göring. It was motorised and expanded October 1934 as a reward for its loyalty and services during the “Röhm-Putsch”.
What my fate is, my men of the Leibstandarte, I do not know. But I know one thing, that you will be in the front line of every action. As long as I have the honor of leading the struggle at the head of the Reich, it is also an honor for you, who bear my name, to be at the forefront of the struggle!
Adolf Hitler in a speech to LSSAH 26 Dec 1940 in Metz (1)
I came to the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler on 1 May 1941. As a Berliner there was never any doubt in my mind that I would volunteer for this unit. I had often seen them on parades in the city, on guard at the Reichs Chancellery and so on. Good uniform, comradeship and above all they were all very tall men, at least 1,82m tall.
SS-Unterscharführer Erwin Bartmann (2)