The title of SS and police leader (SS- und Polizeiführer) was used to designate a senior Nazi Party official who commanded large units of the SS, Gestapo and the German uniformed police (Ordnungspolizei), prior to and during World War II.
Three levels of subordination were established for bearers of this title:
The first Higher SS and Police Leaders were appointed in 1937 from the existing SS-Oberabschnitt Führer (leaders of the main districts). The purpose of the Higher SS and Police Leader was to be a direct command authority for every SS and police unit in a given geographical region with such authority answering only to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler. They were to act as the highest liaison under Himmler and "unifier" for command of the SS and police in a region.
Inside the Reich, the man referred to as HSSPF was usually also SS-Oberabschnitt Führer for that region. In the occupied territories, there was no Oberabschnitt, so the HSSPF existed on their own. However, they had something the Reich HSSPFs did not – several SS- und Polizeiführer (SSPF) reporting to them. There were two Höchster SS- und Polizeiführer (Supreme SS and Police Leader) posts; these were Italien (1943–1945) and Ukraine (1943–1944), both of which had various HSSPF and SSPF reporting to them.
The SS and police leaders directly commanded a headquarters staff with representatives from almost every branch of the SS and the uniformed police. This typically included the Ordnungspolizei (Orpo; regular police), Gestapo (secret police), Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV; Nazi concentration camps), SD (intelligence service), and certain units of the Waffen-SS (combat units). Most of these SS and Police Leaders normally held the rank of SS-Gruppenführer or above and answered directly to Himmler in all matters pertaining to the SS within their area of responsibility. Their role was to be part of the SS control mechanism within the state policing the German population and overseeing the activities of the SS men within each respective district. The men in these positions could bypass the main chain of command of the administrative offices in their district for the SS, SD, SiPo, SS-TV and Orpo under the "guise of an emergency situation" thereby gaining direct operational control of these groups.
Himmler authorized SS and Police Bases (SS- und Polizeistützpunkte) to be established in occupied Poland and occupied areas of the Soviet Union. They were to be "armed industrialized agricultural complexes". They would also maintain order in the areas they were established. They did not go beyond the planning stage.
In 1944 and 1945, many HSSPF were promoted to general's rank in the Waffen-SS by Himmler. This was apparently an attempt to provide potential protection under the Hague Convention rules of warfare.
The SS and Police Leaders served as commanding SS generals for any Einsatzgruppen (death squads) operating in their area. This entailed ordering the deaths of tens of thousands of persons and, following the end of World War II, most SS and Police Leaders who had served in Poland and the Soviet Union were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The SS and Police Leaders were the overseeing authority of the Jewish ghettos in Poland and, as such, directly coordinated deportations to Nazi extermination camps with the administrative help of the RSHA. They had direct command over Order Police battalions and SD regiments that were assigned to guard the ghettos.
Main article: List of SS and police commands
Note – Men were often transferred and promoted as the war went on. The HSSPF areas themselves might change, be absorbed, cease to exist, etc. This list is by no means exhaustive.[Note 1]