The Military Channel had an episode of the Waffen SS last week and Odessa was mentioned.
The history of the Waffen SS is interesting, it was originally open only to Germans, but as the war dragged on it became open to all "Aryans", and eventually, even to non-Aryan Muslims. The original troops were pretty much comprised of the notorious Storm Troopers, (the "SA") and they fought with tremendous distinction in France and Poland, but they had a nasty habit of shooting their prisoners-of-war, and any Jews that happened to be in the neighborhood, which has compromised their reputations somewhat.
Interestingly, the opening of the Waffen SS to non-German "Aryans" was extremely successful, in fact, the Norwegian, Dutch and Ukrainian SS units were considered even more extreme Nazis then the Nazis themselves when it came to anti-Semitism and Hitler worship, and a number of historians have remarked that if Hitler had done this sooner, before the war started, it would have internationalized Nazism instead of it being pretty much a German phenomenem - many impressionable young men saw the SS as a dashing and elite force, and enlistees were fairly easy to come by, and these units could also be used for clandestine and propaganda purposes as well. One wonders if an American SS unit made of Klan members would have actually had a hard time fighting US troops, for example. Once it became a Racist Foreign Legion, it took on a life of its own, with each unit a legend unto itself, kind of like motorcycle gangs with tanks.
Militarily, however, despite their bad reputations, much of it smear splatter from the regular SS, which ran the concentration camps, they were the best of the best, probably the best elite fighting force that ever existed. These men were not mindless Nazis following lockstep orders, their training stressed personal initiative and independent action if necessary, they were known for their innovative tactics, ferocity and comradery and feared by all who fought them. It is a pity such a fine fighting force has been so tarnished.
Sadly, in the end most of these units were wasted. Most of them evaporated at Stalingrad and Kursk as Hitler ordered them to fight to the last man, and knowing that certain death awaited them, they did. The British were not much different in there treatment of SS prisoners as the Russians, since the Waffen SS had treated them the same. The thing that surprises me the most, is that there are any Latvian SS even alive, I would have figured the Russians had hunted them to the last man.