My great uncle, Lothar (pronounced "Lotah") Hain, in his SS uniform, 1944. He was 17 at the time, and as I hear it, he lied about his age in order to join the Schutzstaffel.
Having nazis in my family is no source of pride for me, and I am certainly NOT a sympathizer. This guy also caused no end of trouble for the rest of the family. My aunt Debbie (his niece) was almost not allowed to marry her first husband because of Lothar's having been in the SS. To quote a wikipedia article, "The SS was responsible for the vast majority of war crimes perpetrated under the Nazi regime, including the Holocaust."
I remember meeting Lothar when I was very young, at a German restaurant somewhere in the Western US (it was either California, Arizona or Washington). At the time, he seemed so.... I don't know. It's just a weird feeling to know that as a small child I was climbing on a hardcore nazi. He just seemed like a regular ol' German guy.
See the Death's Head on his hat?
EDIT: Children. I am going to take this down if you can't play nicely.
The Death Head is used by the SS to make them look like more elite troops. Mounted Lancer troops in the 19th Century would use the Totenkopf. Both the British and German Lancers used the skull and cross bones. It was used on WW1 German Tanks as well. Your uncle is the rank of Private. The SS was declared a Criminal Origination at the end of WW2. SS troops had to spend more time in P.O.W. camps than regular German Army troops.
That's pretty wild man, my great uncle also served under the Nazi flag when he was drafted at the age of 20 in 1940, he was trained in Germany and sent to North Africa under the Afrika Korps. He fought in several battles including the Siege Of Tobruk and later On the Battle Of Gazala before he surrendered to the Allies in 1943.He was later shipped to America as a POW and served his time here till the war's end at Camp Clinton. After that he started his new life and was acquitted of all crimes during his time in Germany.
If he was part of the Waffen SS then its likely he didn't participate in any thing that the SSTV was doing. Lot's of people were in the SS, just imagine them as a Shocktrooper, the elite troops of the Army.
The "Death's Head" emblem has a history going back to Frederick I believe. It symbolized the soldier wearing it that he will fight to the death for his king and country if ordered to do so (and they did).
Open up a few history books on the subject and if your uncle wasn't personally charged with war crimes I would cut him some slack.
He doesn't look like a hard core Nazi to me. Don't be so quick to judge your own family, at the time the S.S was seen as a very good organization in the eyes of most Germans, in the same situation, you may have joined too. Plus he was only 17.
My Jaja (Polish grandpa) was stationed in Germany following the war. I too knew him only as a boy; he smoked himself to death. I really want to learn more about him. All the more I do know is he loved Spanish salsa music
I agree with kagomemorino. Although the Nazis did some terrible things, not all of them were horrible people. Yes, the vast majority of them were assholes, but not all of them. I think it was Oscar Schindler (I think I spelled it right) who was an SS officer who employed Jews at his factories, then sent them to unoccupied territory for their own safety. By no means do I respect Nazism, but they did do SOME good things before shit hit the fan. I myself have a few ex Nazis in the family, and they were all good people. It's not their fault for what happened. No one person is responsible for what happened. (Well, Hitler was)
People have to remember at the time Hittler was promising things and so forth. So at the time it was a great honor to serve just like any other countrys military. So respect is given on my end. No I don't agree in what happens. I think its the sickest thing ever! That said. People make mistakes and learn from them. Fear is a very powerful influence. Please don't take down this photo. People need to realize they were normal kids who just wanted to protect others but were lead by the wrong person. You have a part of history in your family and a chance to truly understand what a regular kid was feeling back then. Accept and try to understand.