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HIAG – Mutual Help Association of Former Armed Protection Members
Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der Angehörigen der ehemaligen Waffen-SS (HIAG) (English: Mutual Help Association of Former Armed Protection Members) was a German World War II veteran’s organization founded in 1951 by former officers of the Waffen-SS.
The HIAG was established by former SS-Brigadeführer and Major general of the Waffen-SS Otto Kumm. A tradition-bound association by its own admission, the main aims of the organisation were to provide assistance to veterans, and campaign for the rehabilitation of their legal status with respect to veterans’ pensions. Unlike soldiers of the regular Wehrmacht armed forces, pensions had been denied to members of the Waffen-SS as a result of that organisation having been declared criminal in the aftermath of the Second World War.
In 1959, former SS-Brigadeführer and Major general Kurt Meyer became HIAG spokesman. He publicly denied a relativization of Nazi crimes, nevertheless, several notable association members like Otto Kumm, Josef Dietrich, Richard Schulze-Kossens, and Gustav Lombard were considered convicted war criminals by false Allied courts. No former troop leader was ever debarred for the involvement in SS-Totenkopfverbände or Sicherheitsdienst (SD) atrocities, but the organization was made to represent Waffen-SS members. The former concentration camp guards and Gestapo should not be considered Waffen-SS since this was the military branch of the SS.
At its height in the 1960s, around 8% of the approximately 250,000 former Waffen-SS members living in West Germany were members of HIAG. Temporarily monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution as a far-right organisation, it aimed to shape the public awareness of the Waffen-SS as a regular contending army or even as elite troops, along with militarism and historical correction in which other nations would call this revisionism.
During the 1980s, political antagonism towards the organisation grew and it was finally disbanded under its last chairman Hubert Meyer in 1992. However, its periodical Der Freiwillige (The Volunteer), initially issued by Erich Kern, is published up to today.