Reichsführer-SS was both a title
and a rank. The title of Reichsführer was first
created in 1926 by Joseph Berchtold. Berchtold's predecessor,
Julius Schreck, never referred to himself as Reichsführer
but the title was retroactively applied to him in later
years. In 1929, Heinrich
Himmler became Reichsführer-SS and referred
to himself by his title instead of his regular SS rank.
This set the precedent for the Commanding General of
the SS to be called Reichsführer-SS.
In 1934, Himmler's title became an
actual rank after the Night
of the Long Knives.
From that point on, Reichsführer-SS
became the highest rank of the SS and was considered
the equivalent of a Generalfeldmarschall in the German
There was never more than one Reichsführer-SS
in the SS, with Himmler holding the rank as his personal
title and rank from 1934 to 1945.
In all, five people held the title
of Reichsführer-SS during the twenty years of its
existence. Three persons held the position as a title
while two held the actual SS rank.
· Julius Schreck (1925–1926)
· Joseph Berchtold (1926–1927)
· Erhard Heiden (1927–1929)
Hanke (1945), the last
leader of the SS, was appointed to the position in April
1945 but never learned of his promotion and was killed
by partisans before word of his appointment reached