Heinrich Himmler was born near Munich, Germany, on 7th October, 1900. The son of a Catholic schoolmaster, he was educated at the Landshut High School. During the First World War Himmler joined the 11th Bavarian Regiment and by the end of the conflict he had become an officer cadet in the German Army.
After the war Himmler was active in the Freikorps. He also joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and in 1923 took part in the Munich Putsch.
In 1928 Himmler married and became a poultry farmer. He also joined the Sturm Abteilung (SA) and was a devout follower of Adolf Hitler. Himmler believed Hitler was the Messiah that was destined to lead Germany to greatness. Hitler, who was always vulnerable to flattery, decided in January, 1929, that Himmler should become the new leader of his personal bodyguard, the Schutzstaffel (SS).
By the time of his appointment the SS had only 280 members. They wore the same uniform as the SA except for a black cap with a silver death's head badge and a black tie. It was only after 1932 that they wore an all-black uniform.
With the agreement of Adolf Hitler, Himmler expanded the size of the SS. Himmler personally vetted all applicants to make sure that all were good 'Aryan' types. By the time the Nazi Party gained power in 1933 Himmler's SS had grown to a strength of 52,000. He was also made head of all German political police outside Prussia, where Hermann Goering was the minister of the interior.
Himmler agreed with Goering that the Sturm Abteilung (SA) posed a threat to the German Army and in June 1934, along with his loyal assistants, Reinhard Heydrich, Kurt Daluege and Walter Schellenberg, he arranged what became known as the Night of the Long Knives.
As a result of this purge the Schutzstaffel (SS) was now the principal instrument of internal rule in Germany. In 1936 the Gestapo also came under Himmler's control. Himmler was also able to put SS men in all the key posts in Nazi Germany.
In December, 1940 Himmler established the Waffen SS. This new army grew rapidly and within six months grew to over 150,000 men.
During the Second World War the SS Death's Head Units were put in charge of Germany's Concentration Camps. The SS also followed the German Army into the Soviet Union where they had the responsibility of murdering Jews, gypsies, communists and partisans. By June 1944 the SS had over 800,000 members: Hitler's Body Guard (200,000) Waffen (594,000) and Death Head Units (24,000).
There was great competition between the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) and the German military intelligence organization, Abwehr. In June, 1944 Himmler took over Abwehr and after the July Plot the organization was absorbed into the SD.
In 1944 Himmler was put in charge of the German Army facing the advancing United States Army. In January, 1945, he was switched to face the Red Army in the east. Unable to halt the decline in fortunes of the German forces, Himmler became convinced that Germany needed to seek peace with Britain and the United States. When Adolf Hitler discovered on 28th April that Himmler had been attempting to make contacting with the Allies, he ordered his arrest.
Himmler now took the name and documents of a dead village policeman. Although in heavy disguise, Himmler was arrested by a British army officer in Bremen on 22nd May. Before he could he interrogated, Himmler committed suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule.
Himmler makes a trip to the front
All of us, who are members of the Germanic peoples, can be happy and thankful that once in thousands of years fate has given us, from among the Germanic peoples, such a genius, a leader, our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, and you should be happy to be allowed to work with us.
Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA - ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State.
Now it is just this world we like the best, the Germanic world, the world of Nordic life.
The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don't ask for their love; only for their fear.
The decision, therefore, lies here in the East; here must the Russian enemy, this people numbering two hundred million Russians, be destroyed on the battle field and person by person, and made to bleed to death .
We know that these clashes with Asia and Jewry are necessary for evolution.
We have only one task, to stand firm and carry on the racial struggle without mercy.
The end of the man. Was it suicide or was he killed by the British Intelligence?
History states that Heinrich Himmler, to cheat the gallows, bit on a cyanide tablet embedded in one of his teeth and died as a result. Himmler, after the death of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, was probably the most prized catch out of all the senior figures in Nazi Germany.
Arrested with two other men by a British soldier at a bridge at Bremervorde in Northern Germany as he travelled to Switzerland, the small dishevelled figure with a patch over his left eye, was put into a guardroom. Here he was interviewed by two British Army sergeants who decided that the small man was a member of the 'field police' - men who shot anyone in non-occupied Germany who spoke out against the war as it reached its final stages of defeat for Nazi Germany. From the guardroom, 'Heinrich Hitzinger' (as his papers stated) was taken to an internment camp where he could be further questioned. It was only at this internment camp that it became obvious that Hitzinger was, in fact, Himmler.
Himmler was searched and two cyanide phials were found on him and removed. It is said that as an Army doctor was about to give Himmler a more thorough examination, he bit on a cyanide capsule embedded in one of his teeth and died as a result.
However, research done by Martin Allen questions this traditional story. He claims that Himmler was killed by British Intelligence to stop any chance of his inter-war peace dealings with the Allies from being made public. These covert dealings started in 1943 - at a time when publically the Allies were calling for the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. Any revelations about clandestine peace deals with one of the most notorious men in Nazi Germany, would have been highly embarrassing for the British government.
Himmler relaxes at his home
Himmler with his orderly
WHO WAS THE REAL HEINRICH HIMMLER?
The small, diffident man who looked more like a humble bank clerk than Germany's police dictator, whose pedantic demeanour and 'exquisite courtesy' fooled one English observer into stating that 'nobody I met in Germany is more normal', was a curious mixture of bizarre, romantic fantasy and cold, conscienceless efficiency. Described as "a man of quiet unemotional gestures, a man without nerves," he suffered from psycho-somatic illness, severe headaches and intestinal spasms and almost fainted at the sight of a hundred eastern Jews (including women) being executed for his benefit on the Russian front. Subsequent to this experience, he ordered as a "more humane means" of execution the use of poison gas in specially constructed chambers disguised as shower rooms.
Himmler with children of Belarus. Hitler considered all peoples in the east as barbarians. Himmler thought so too but he was keen to raise more SS armies with these people.
Making a private visit
"One principle must be absolute for the SS man: we must be honest, decent, loyal, and comradely to members of our own blood and to no one else. What happens to the Russians, what happens to the Czechs, is a matter of utter indifference to me. Such good blood of our own kind as there may be among the nations we shall acquire for ourselves, if necessary by taking away the children and bringing them up among us. Whether the other peoples live in comfort or perish of hunger interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our Kultur. Whether or not 10,000 Russian women collapse from exhaustion while digging a tank ditch interests me only in so far as the tank ditch is completed for Germany. We shall never be rough or heartless where it is not necessary; that is clear. We Germans, who are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude to animals, will also adopt a decent attitude to these human animals, but it is a crime against our own blood to worry about them and to bring them ideals."
Himmler in the nineteen twenties. From his salesman days.
Still others see Himmler as power-mad, devoted to the accumulation of power and influence.
Himmler told his personal masseur Felix Kersten that he always carried with him a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, because it relieved him of guilt about implementing the Final Solution; he felt that, like the warrior Arjuna, he was simply doing his duty without attachment to his actions. Himmler's ideas were probably influenced by Jakob Wilhelm Hauer's concepts of duty derived from his interpretation of the Gita.
In 2008, Himmler was named "the greatest mass murderer of all time" by German news magazine Der Spiegel, reflecting his role as architect of the Holocaust. While reflecting his continued public perception in modern Germany, statistical research on democide shows this claim to be a severe overestimate, even when his personal responsibility is considered collectively with Hitler and his other lieutenants.
On a visit to the front. With the elite SS Viking Division
During the early part of World War II Wolff was probably "Himmler's eyes and ears" in Hitler's headquarters. Here at the centre of power, he would undoubtedly be aware of all significant events or could easily have access to the relevant information. Apart from the information passing across his desk, Wolff received (as Chief of Personal Staff Reichsführer-SS) copies of all letters from SS officers...
After the assassination of Heydrich, Wolff fell out of favor with Himmler. Himmler after making Wolff a full SS-Obergruppenführer, dismissed him in 1942. In 1943, Hitler assigned Wolff SS adjutant to Benito Mussolini's Italian Government, personally granting him equivalent General's rank in the Waffen-SS.
Gracing the occasion of marriage of an underling
Buchenwald concentration camp was one of the largest on German soil, with one hundred and thirty satellite camps and extension units. The name “Buchenwald” was given to the camp by Heinrich Himmler on 28 July 1937.
At a concentration camp
Himmler with his favourite daughter, Gudrun. Hard to understand but the monster turned so gentle when with Gudrun
Gudrun Burwitz (née Himmler) was born 8 August 1929. Her parents were Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer-SS and head of the German police, and Margarete (born Boden). Gudrun was the first child of Himmler's marriage; they later adopted a son. In 1940, Heinrich Himmler started an affair with the secretary Hedwig Potthast with whom he had two children.
Gudrun Himmler's reaction to her father's role was completely opposite of the Frank brothers'. Her father had one of the most powerful roles during the Holocaust, but Gudrun refused to see it. Her love and respect for her father kept her alive and constantly fighting for her name. "At fourteen . . . she cut out every picture of him from the newspapers and glued them into a large scrapbook" After they were captured, Gudrun and her mother were put in jail after jail and left with nothing. Even through the ruthless interrogations at the Nuremberg trials, "she vowed herself to him. She did not weep, but went on hunger strikes. She lost weight, fell sick, and stopped developing" . When Gudrun found out that her father had committed suicide, "the fifteen-year-old suffered a psychological and medical breakdown. Shivering . . . day and night she lay delirious on the bed in her cell" . Even after the trials were over, Gudrun and her mother were forced to live in a protestant nursing home at Bethel under an alias, because they did not have any money or valuables. Gudrun struggled with her everyday life because of her name. She was denied acceptance to schools, turned down by scholarship programs, and was unable to receive a job. Due to the fact that she refused to take on another name, she constantly had "to start from scratch, introduce herself, say her name, her father' s name" . Even through her adulthood, Gudrun stayed faithful to her father. In a 1999 interview she talked about trying to save enough money to go to America and examine the evidence that would help her compare her childhood memories with the documents stating her father's views, and the orders he gave. Ultimately, her goal is to write a book called "simply Heinrich Himmler . . . to clear her father' s name"
With the men of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front
With troops on the Russian Front. Himmler looks glum. So does the soldiers. Bad news had started coming in from this front after the attack on Moscow failed
Himmler, Josef Kirmayer and Fritz von Scholz
WHO WAS FRITZ VON SCHOLZ?
Fritz von Scholz was an Austrian Austro-Hungarian Army and later German Waffen SS officer who served in both the First and Second World Wars.
During the intense combat for the Narva, von Scholz's leadership had a strong impact on the spirit of his men. His jovial, caring attitude towards his troops resulted in him being granted the affectionate nickname Papa Scholz. Scholz was frequently at the front line, visiting his men and ensuring that they were as comfortable as possible. The Nordland together with the rest of Steiner's corps, held the line against overwhelming odds for nearly five months. For his actions, von Scholz was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross on 12 March, 1944, as well as the Finnish Order of the Cross of Liberty (2nd class) with Swords. On 20 April, von Scholz was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer.
In late July, the launch of the Soviet Operation Bagration and the impending collapse of Army Group Centre meant that Steiner's corps had to fall back to secondary positions behind the Narva river. On 27 July, while visiting the front line on Lastekodumägi (Orphanage Hill), von Scholz was caught in an artillery barrage and struck in the head by a shell splinter. Despite the best efforts of the medics and field hospital staff, von Scholz died on July 28 1944. He was posthumously awarded the Swords to the Knight's Cross.
Himmler at the front
Making a visit to Galicia. 1942
With Ernst Kartenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner (4 October 1903 – 16 October 1946) was a senior Austrian official during World War II, holding the offices of Chief of the RSHA, and (from 1943 to 1945) President of Interpol. He was the highest-ranking SS leader to face trial at the first Nuremberg Trials, having the full rank of Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and executed.
Himmler with Gottlob Berger
Gottlob Berger (16 July 1896 – 5 January 1975) was a German Nazi war criminal who held the rank of Obergruppenführer during World War II. In 1939, he was Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler's main recruiting officer. From 1940, he was Chief of Staff for the Waffen-SS and head of SS-Hauptamt
He was a co-author of Heinrich Himmler's pamphlet Der Untermensch, and also promoted the pamphlet Mit Schwert und Wiege (With Sword and Cradle) for the recruitment of non-Germans. He was the father-in-law of SS-Sturmbannführer Karl Leib, the head of the Norwegian recruitment office at Drammensveien, Oslo. In SS ranks he was known as one of Himmler's 'Twelve Apostles' and was nicknamed 'der Allmaechtige Gottlob' - 'the Almighty Gottlob'. His organizational abilities contributed to the amazing expansion of the Waffen-SS in World War II, but he also became ensnared in typical in-fighting among the SS hierarchy.
The softer loving side of Himmler. With Gudrun
Burwitz, now aged 77, does not deny her involvement with Stille Hilfe, describing herself in one of her rare interviews as simply one of the few members in a dying organisation: "It's true I help where I can, but I refuse to discuss my work."
She is the only child of Himmler - the architect of the Final Solution. He nicknamed her "Puppi" - little doll.
The group was established in 1951 and branded by the Wiesenthal organisation as an organiser of the "ratlines" - secret escape routes out of Germany to South America and the Middle East for former Nazis, and later of helping those that remained to evade discovery and prosecution for their crimes.
Burwitz, who reveres the memory of her father despite the fact that he has the blood of six million on his hands, is fêted by SS veterans and has attended one of their rallies in Austria.
Like the children of Martin Bormann and Hermann Göring, she knows the infamy attached to having such a man as a father. Unlike them, she keeps alive the memory of her father - the architect of history's greatest industrial-scale mass murder.
Himmler killed himself with a cyanide pill minutes after capture by British soldiers in 1945. It has fallen to "Puppi" to keep his memory, and his fanatical ideals, alive among the monsters the group still aids.
She is grandmotherly in her appearance. But when she attended the rally in Austria in the 1990s, no-one who saw her was not in awe of her.
"They were terrified of her," said Andrea Ropke, an authority on neo-Nazism who attended the rally in Ulrichsberg, northern Austria, with Frau Burwitz.
She lives in the Munich suburb of Furstenried with her husband and student daughter. She carried her family surname until she married in her late thirties.
"The first man to enter my office was small, ill-looking and shabbily dressed, but he was immediately followed by two other men (Grothmann and Macher), both of whom were tall and soldierly-looking, one slim, and one well-built. The well-built man walked with a limp. I sensed something unusual, and ordered one of my sergeants to place the two men in close custody, and not to allow anyone to speak to them without my authority. They were then removed from my office, whereupon the small man, who was wearing a patch over his left eye, removed the patch and put on a pair of spectacles. His identity was at once obvious, and he said "Heinrich Himmler" in a very quiet voice."
The bad boys all together. Himmler, Dietrich, Heydrich and Wolff
Giving a good impression. Plays with children in Belarus
He had to undress himself and was inspected by the military doctor, Captain C. J. Wells, accompanied by Colonel Michael Murphy (Secret Service), Major Norman Whittaker, and Company Sergeant Major Edwin Austin.
When the doctor saw a dark object in a gap in Himmler's lower jaw, he ordered him to come closer to the light and tried to remove the glass capsule. Suddenly Himmler bit on the cyanide capsule and at the doctor's fingers. Himmler fell to the ground (or: he was thrown to the ground) and someone shouted "The bastard beats us!" The smell of prussic acid spread through the room. "We immediately upended the old bastard and got his mouth into the bowl of water which was there to wash the poison out", noted Major Whittaker in his diary. "There were terrible groans and grunts coming from the swine." Himmler's tongue was secured in an attempt to prevent him from swallowing the poison. Dr Wells tried resuscitation but it was in vain. After a quarter hour they stopped. "... it was a losing battle and this evil thing breathed its last at 23:14 hours."
On a trip to the Eastern Front
Himmler buys his first car. 1920s
Himmler wife Marga (or Margherita) with another lady
Shakes hands with Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's personal photographer. Karl Wolff looks on genially
Himmler with Hans Baur, Hitler's personal pilot
With Rudolph Schmundt. Wolff is in the middle
Keitel shakes hands with Himmler. Rudolph Schmundt gives a Nazi salute. The fourth person is Hitler.
Himmler with his wife
Taking part in a Nazi rally
Himmler, wishing to expand the Waffen-SS, advocated the idea of SS controlled foreign legions. The Reichsführer, with his penchant for medieval lore, envisioned a united european 'crusade', fighting to save old Europe from the 'Godless bolshevik hordes'. While volunteers from regions which and been declared Aryan were approved almost instantly, Himmler eagerly pressed for the creation of more and more foreign units.
In late 1940, the creation of a multinational SS division, the Wiking, was authorised. Command of the division was given to SS-Brigadeführer Felix Steiner. Steiner immersed himself in the organisation of the volunteer division, soon becoming a strong advocate for an increased number of foreign units. The Wiking was committed to combat several days after the launch of Operation Barbarossa, proving itself an impressive fighting unit.
Soon, Danish, Flemish, Norwegian and Dutch freiwilligen (volunteer) formations were committed to combat, gradually proving their worth. As the success of his experiment became apparent, the Reichsführer began to look for recruits from further afeild, planning the formation of legions from ethnic groups viewed as inferior to the Nordic races of Northern Europe.
Hitler however, was hesitant to allow foreign volunteers to be formed into formations based on their ethnicity, preferring that they be absorbed into multi-national divisions. Hitler feared that unless the foreign recruits were committed to the idea of a united Germania, then their reasons for fighting were suspect, and could damage the German cause.