Heinrich Himmler

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Heinrich Himmler
A lunatic Chaplin imitator
and his greatest fans

Nazism
Icon nazi.svg
First as tragedy
Then as farce
The most impenetrable of all Hitler's disciples was the National Leader of the SS, Heinrich Himmler. An inconspicuous man with all the marks of racial inferiority, the impression he made was one of simplicity. He went out of his way to be polite. In contrast to that of Goering his private life might be described as positively Spartan in its austerity. His imagination was all the more vivid, and even fantastic. He seemed like a man from some other planet.
Heinz Guderian, Panzer Leader (1990), p. 446

Heinrich Himmler (1900–1945) was the head of the Waffen-SS and the Gestapo, and had overall control of the Nazi Concentration camps. He also helped give the Nazis their reputation for creepy occultism.

Early life and views[edit]

Himmler first grew interested in nationalist politics after meeting Ernst Röhm,[1] who convinced him to join his antisemitic paramilitary group, the Bund Reichskriegsflagge[2] (Imperial War Flag Society).[3] Himmler then began to grow more interested in the "Jewish question", and started filling his personal diary with numerous antisemitic pamphlets. Himmler joined the Nazi Party in August 1923. In November 1923 he participated in Adolf Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch, a failed coup d'état in Bavaria.

Himmler became obsessed with racial purity; he personally looked at the pictures of SS applicants to ensure that they were "physically and racially suitable". [4] In 1939 he issued the Procreation Order, which encouraged SS men to have children with 'German women and girls of good blood'[5] – even out of wedlock. This was done to ensure the continuation of Aryan bloodlines (Lebensborn) should the father be killed in battle.[6] His search for "purity" also led him to endorse Neo-paganism, particularly attempts to revive the ancient Germanic religion, something that earned him the derision of Hitler.

World War Two[edit]

The Holocaust[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Holocaust
Himmler visits Mauthausen concentration camp in 1941

Himmler was one of the leading perpetrators of the Holocaust. He became the leader of the SS (Reichsführer-SS) in 1929, a position he held until the end of the Second World War.

By the mid-1930’s Himmler had taken total control of Germany’s police force. He also gained control of the Gestapo from Hermann Goering. Initially the Gestapo was used to track down political opponents, however, it later became involved in tracking down Jews and sending them to concentration camps.[7]

He set up and had overall control of the Nazi concentration camps and death camps. In 1941 he ordered Rudolf Höss, the Commandant of Auschwitz, to begin exterminating the Jews. He said "the Führer had given the order for a Final Solution of the Jewish Question…. we, the SS, must carry out that order"[8] In August 1941, Himmler watched the mass shooting of Jews in Minsk. During the murder Himmler's uniform was splattered by the blood of one of the victims. It is said that Himmler turned green and vomited afterwards.[9] Concerned about the psychological impact of mass shootings on his SS men, Himmler ordered that more 'efficient' methods be found and the SS started to increase the use of gas.

Under Himmler's orders, new arrivals to concentration camps were put through a selection process by the camp guards. Those considered ‘fit for work’ were used as slave labour, where many would later die from exhaustion, starvation or disease. Those who were not selected for labour were immediately condemned to death.[10]

He is also responsible for setting up the dreaded Einsatzgruppen, the Nazi’s paramilitary death squads. Einsatzgruppen conducted many of the mass killings behind German lines in Nazi-occupied Europe. Many of Einsatzgruppen’s victims were Jewish, with up to 80% of Jewish population of Lithuania being murdered. [11]

Loyal Heinrich[edit]

Recognising that the war was lost, Himmler attempted to engage in peace talks with the Allies without the permission of Hitler. This included a meeting with a Swedish representative of the World Jewish Congress,Wikipedia where Himmler had the audacity to claim that Auschwitz had a high survival rate. He also embarked on negotiations with the leader of the Swedish Red Cross, in which Himmler described himself as the soon-to-be leader of Germany.

On the 28 April, news of Himmler's negotiation attempts were leaked to the BBC. Hitler was enraged at this and stripped Himmler of all his ranks and ordered his arrest. Himmler's representative in Berlin, Hermann Fegelein, was executed the next day.

Death[edit]

Himmler used the fake identity 'Heinrich Hitzinger' in an attempted to evade the Allies, but was picked up by the British Army. He quickly admitted who he really was and was taken to British Army headquarters. When a doctor tried to conduct a medical examination on him, he bit into a cyanide capsule and subsequently died 15 minutes later.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. See the Wikipedia article on Ernst Röhm.
  2. See the Wikipedia article on Bund Reichskriegsflagge.
  3. Weale, Adrian (2010). The SS: A New History. London: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-1-4087-0304-5.
  4. Heinrich Himmler and the SS - A Study in Propaganda Spartacus Educational. - "Himmler now introduced a complex five year enrolment procedure. Having been declared physically and racially suitable for SS membership, an eighteen-year-old youth became an applicant (bewerber)."
  5. Gilbert, Martin (2014). The Second World War: A Complete History. Rosetta Books. ISBN 9780795337291. Retrieved 21 July 2022. "On October 28 Himmler issued a special 'Procreation Order' to the SS whereby it would become 'the sublime task of German women and girls of good blood, acting not frivolously but from a profound moral seriousness, to become mothers to children of soldiers setting off to battle'." 
  6. Himmler's Procreation Order to the SS (1939) Alpha History
  7. Holocaust Encyclopedia - Gestapo United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  8. Heinrich Himmler The SS Men
  9. Himmler’s Diary Gives Chilling Insights Into the Mind of One of the Most Powerful Men in Nazi Germany War History Online
  10. SS Concentration Camp System - Transportation to Camps The Holocaust Explained
  11. 'Death by bullets' The Einsatzgruppen and the Soviet Union, 1941-1945 The Holocaust Explained