The units of the Waffen-SS were some of the most successful and influental combat formations produced by any country in this century. Their abilities and accomplishments, in both defense and offense, remain legendary. Finally, the commanders of these elite units are examined here in detail. In this book, the first of a two volume set, forty-four biographies reveal the lives of the most senior Waffen-SS commanders. Details are provided for education, as well as pre-Third Reich era service in military and civil posts, and includes promotions, assignments and decorations. The 1933-1945 era, the most detailed, reveals all their commands and related data similar to their earlier service. Officially documented recollections of the combat actions that resulted in bestowal of their highest awards (Knight's Cross and German Cross in Gold) are finally discussed. Heavily documented, their individual stories continue until their eventual fates are revealed. Apart from the most famous leaders, such as Paul Hausser and Josef "Sepp" Dietrich, these volumes reveal and examine the many divisional commanders who have previously remained unknown except by the men they led. Included are the commanders who rose through the ranks after graduating from the SS officer school system. Along with numerous private archive sources in the U.S. and Europe, more than a dozen former divisional commanders contributed information or illustrations from their private collections. In additon to text data, this volume is profusely illustrated with more than 400 rare or previously unpublished photographs, and 35 documents. Order of battle charts with an explanation of symbols provided, detail the units themselves. With a foreward by Otto Kumm, the highly decorated last commander of the "Leibstandarte," this initial volume finally fills a significant knowledge void in recording the history of the Waffen-SS.