Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (7 October 1900 - 23 May 1945) was a German agronomist, officer of the German Army, politician and Reichsführer (State Leader) of the Schutzstaffel (Protection Squadron; SS). He was known for good organizational skills and for selecting highly competent subordinates. As being in charge of and organizing many aspects of internal NSDAP and German security, he was involved in many of the most controversial and debated aspects of National Socialist Germany.
- 1 Life
- 2 Himmler and the Holocaust
- 3 Alleged suicide
- 4 Family
- 5 External links
- 6 Further reading
- 7 References
Himmler was born in Munich to a Bavarian family. His father was Director of Studies (Oberstudiendirektor) Joseph Gebhard Himmler (1865–1936), a secondary-school teacher and principal of the prestigious Wittelsbacher Gymnasium in Munich. His mother was Anna Maria, née Heyder (1866–1941), a devout Roman Catholic and attentive mother. Heinrich had an older brother, Gebhard Ludwig Himmler (29 July 1898–), and a younger brother, Ernst Hermann Himmler (23 December 1905–2 May 1945; killed in action serving with the Volkssturm during fierce fighting in the Battle of Berlin). His father and mother were strict but actively involved in the rearing of their three children.
Heinrich was named after his godparent, Prince Heinrich of Wittelsbach of the royal family of Bavaria, who was tutored by his father. In 1910, Himmler began attending elite secondary schools in Munich and Landshut, where studies revolved around classical literature.
While he struggled in athletics, he did well in his schoolwork. Also, at the behest of his father, Heinrich kept a fairly extensive diary from age ten until he was 24. He enjoyed chess, harpsichord, stamp collecting, gardening and other extracurricular activities.
In 1914, World War I began, and Himmler’s diaries from the time show that he was extremely interested in news pertaining to it. He began imploring his father to use his royal connections to obtain him a position as an officer candidate. His parents initially objected, yet eventually acquiesced, allowing him to train upon graduation from secondary school in 1918 with the 11th Bavarian Regiment. Since he was not athletic, he struggled throughout his military training. Later in that same year, the war ended in Germany’s defeat. The Treaty of Versailles, which Germany was forced to sign, limited its military numbers, ending his aspirations of becoming a professional army officer, and he was discharged; he never saw battle.
From 1919 to 1922 Himmler studied agronomy at the Munich Technische Hochschule, following a short-lived apprenticeship on a farm and subsequent illness.
Rise in the SS
Himmler joined the SS in 1925 and in 1927 was appointed deputy–Reichsführer-SS, a role he took very seriously. Upon the resignation of SS commander Erhard Heiden, Himmler was appointed Reichsführer-SS in January 1929. At that time the SS had 280 members and was considered a mere battalion of the much larger Sturmabteilung (SA).
By 1933, when the Party gained power in Germany, Himmler’s SS numbered 52,000 members. Himmler, along with his deputy Reinhard Heydrich, next began a massive effort to separate the SS from SA control; he introduced black SS uniforms (designed by Hugo Boss) to replace the SA brown shirts in the autumn of 1933. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer und Reichsführer-SS and became an equal of the senior SA commanders, who by this time were bitter rivals with the SS.
Himmler, Hermann Göring, and General Werner von Blomberg agreed that the SA and its leader Ernst Röhm posed a threat to the German Army and the leadership of Germany. Röhm had strong socialistic and populist views and believed that although Hitler had successfully gained power, the “real” revolution had not yet begun and that the SA should become the sole arms-bearing corp of the state. This left some party leaders believing Röhm was intent on using the SA to undertake a coup.
With persuasion from Himmler and Göring, Hitler agreed that Röhm had to be removed. He delegated the task of Röhm’s demise to Himmler and Göring who, along with Reinhard Heydrich, Kurt Daluege and Walter Schellenberg, ordered the execution of Röhm (carried out by Theodor Eicke) and other senior SA officials, as well as some of Hitler’s personal enemies (like Gregor Strasser and Kurt von Schleicher) on 30 June 1934, in what became known as the Night of the Long Knives in German Nacht der langen Messer, which is a falsified name, since the national socialists themselves never used that name.
Himmler about the future of SS
In a personal conversation with Artur Silgailis, chief of staff of Inspection General the Latvian Legion, the Latvian Waffen-SS, Heinrich Himmler outlined his future intentions with the SS and the organization of Europe:
- He [Himmler] then singled out those nations which he regarded as belonging to the German family of nations and they were: the Germans, the Dutch, the Flemish, the Anglo-Saxons, the Scandinavians and the Baltic people. 'To combine all of these nations into one big family is the most important task at the present time' [Himmler said]. 'This unification has to take place on the principle of equality and at that same time has to secure the identity of each nation and its economical independence, of course, adjusting the latter to the interests of the whole German living space (...)
After the unification of all the German nations into one family, this family [...] has to take over the mission to include, in the family, all the Roman nations whose living space is favored by nature with a milder climate [...] I am convinced that after the unification, the Roman nations will be able to persevere as the Germans [...] This enlarged family of the White race will then have the mission to include the Slavic nations into the family also because they too are of the White race [...] it is only with such a unification of the White race that the Western culture could be saved from the Yellow race [...] At the present time, the Waffen-SS is leading in this respect because its organization is based on the principle of equality. The Waffen-SS comprises not only German, Roman and Slavic, but even Islamic units and at the same time has proven that every unit has maintained its national identity while fighting in close togetherness [...] I know quite well my Germans. The German always likes to think himself better but I would like to avert this. It is important that every Waffen-SS officer obeys the order of another officer of another nationality, as the officer of the other nationality obeys the order of the German officer. 
However, since Himmler's speeches and utterings were largely falsified by the victors after the war, not authentic citations, like the above are not to be considered, as reality.
Himmler and the occult
Himmler was raised a Catholic, but became interested in ancient German/Aryan history and mythology as well as occultism (→ National Socialism and occultism). He therefore supported the Ahnenerbe institute. Eventually Himmler publicly left the Catholic Church in 1936.
Himmler and the Holocaust
Karl Wolff and Richard Schulze-Kossens
Karl Wolff was Chief of Personal Staff of Heinrich Himmler and SS Liaison Officer to Hitler. Wolff after the war stated that he had never, during the entire length of the war, been informed of the Holocaust.
David Irving has stated that "On June 9, 1977, I planted Hitler's personal adjutant Richard Schulze-Kossens (you can see him in the background at the Kremlin signing of the Ribbentrop-Stalin pact in August 1939) in the London audience of the live David Frost Programme, and invited this former S.S. colonel, when I was challenged on this point, to stand and tell the multi-million television audience just that: that from 1942-1944 he had been charged by Hitler to attend every single conference, even the most secret ones alone with Heinrich Himmler, and that not once had any extermination of the Jews been discussed or even mentioned in these conclaves."
Alleged statements by Himmler on the Holocaust
Himmler was interviewed on 20 April 1945 by Norbert Masur, a representative of the World Jewish Congress. Himmler rejected the genocide allegations and stated that "in order to put a stop to the epidemics, we were forced to burn the bodies of incalculable numbers of people who had been destroyed by disease. We were therefore forced to build crematoria, and on this account they are knotting a noose for us." He also stated that he punished the guilty if atrocities occurred in the camps (see Konrad Morgen). On the Einsatzgruppen: "The war at the eastern front made the most difficult demands on our soldiers. A terrible climate, never ending distances, an enemy population, and constantly appearing partisans. Only by being harsh could the troops prevail. Because of this, they were forced to destroy whole villages, if there was resistance and shooting from such a village. The Russians are not ordinary enemies, we cannot understand their mentality. In the most hopeless situations, they would refuse to capitulate. If, because of these difficulties in the east, the Jewish people suffered great casualties, one needs to remember that the German people also suffered severely."
Somewhat earlier, on 15 January 1945, Himmler met the former Swiss President Jean Marie Musy (who was there at the behest of the Americans), in order to continue earlier discussions on Jewish issues. In a note on this meeting Himmler wrote that "I again put forth my position to him. We assign the Jews to labor and that, of course, includes hard work such as the building of roads and canals, mining, and there they have a high mortality rate. Since the start of discussions on improving the Jews’ lot, they have been employed in normal work, but it goes without saying that they must, like all Germans, work in armaments production. Our view on the Jewish question is as follows: the position taken by America and England regarding the Jews does not interest us in any way. What is clear is that we do not want to have them in Germany and in the German living space, given the decades of experience since the [First] World War, and we shall not join in any discussion on the matter. If America wants to take them, we are glad of it. But it must be ruled out, and here a guarantee will have to be given to us, that the Jews whom we allow to leave [continental Europe] via Switzerland can ever be sent back to Palestine. We know that the Arabs, just as much as we Germans, reject the Jews and we do not want to partake in such an indecency as the sending of more Jews to that poor nation tormented by the Jews."
See the article World War II statements argued to support Holocaust revisionism on several statements at certain dates by Himmler, argued to be incompatible with the politically correct view on the Holocaust:
- 18 September 1941
- 23 November 1942
- 5 July 1943
- 18 November 1943
In 2014, a recently released cache of letters, photos, and diaries belonging to Himmler revealed that he never mentioned the Holocaust to his wife, despite she sharing his dislike of Jews. The German newspaper Die Welt wrote that "There was no word about the countless crimes in which he was involved as Reichsführer-SS. Not a word about the persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews."
There is a brief handwritten note by Himmler on a meeting with Hitler on 18 December 1941. It included several very brief jotted down words and phrases that, among others, included "Judenfrage" ("Jewish question") and "als Partisanen auszurotten". Regarding the translation of "auszurotten" (literally "rooting out") see Meanings and translations of German words and Holocaust revisionism. Even if assuming that the two scribblings refer to the same topic, this may refer to a discussion on Jews being "rooted out" in order to be placed in camps/ghettos as alleged possible partisans or partisan supporters, similarly to how the British placed the Boer population in concentration camps in order to prevent them from supporting Boer partisans during the Second Boer War. See Holocaust motivations.
There are also very brief, jotted down handwritten phrases in a note by Himmler on a telephone conversation with Reinhard Heydrich on 30 November 1941. It included the phrases "Incarceration Dr. Jekelius", "Alleged son Molotov", "Jewish transport from Berlin", and "No liquidation". The meaning of this note was discussed at the Irving-Lipstadt trial, with Irving arguing that this indicated an order from Hitler to Himmler to stop killing Jews in general. The judge and politically correct historians in general instead interpret it as referring to an order to not kill the Jews on a particular transport from Berlin to Riga. Another interpretation is that another document on Jews deported to Riga stated that Jews with infectious diseases were in rare cases killed, and that Himmler's note may refer to an order to stop such killings. Yet another interpretation is that "liquidate" does not necessarily mean killing (see Meanings and translations of German words and Holocaust revisionism). Thus, the note may refer to Himmler ordering Heydrich that a transport or transports of Jews should not to be canceled, with Heydrich known to be stressing that military needs for transportation must take priority over deporting Jews. Another possibility is that the note was referring to earlier (but now solved) problems with Riga as destination, with these problems known to have caused earlier transports to Riga to have been diverted elsewhere.
See Einsatzgruppen: 29 December 1942 report regarding an often cited alleged report from Himmler to Hitler on Einsatzgruppen killings.
See Einsatzgruppen: 1 August 1941 order regarding an alleged Himmler order involving killing Jews in the Pripet Marshes.
See Lebensraum: Alleged Himmler order to exterminate all Poles on an alleged order to exterminate all Poles.
Statements (allegedly) made by others may be wrongly attributed to Himmler for greater effect, such as an alleged draft, containing a statement on a "Brack remedy" for Jews who were not capable of work, and that was allegedly initialed by Alfred Wetzel. See the article on Wetzel.
In addition, there are claims involving Himmler allegedly made by various individuals. See the articles on:
- Arthur Greiser (on an alleged proposed killing of incurably sick Poles with tuberculosis).
- Felix Kersten (on Himmler allegedly making confessions to his masseur).
- Kurt Becher (on an alleged Himmler order to stop the extermination of Jews).
- Otto Thierack (on Himmler allegedly being involved in an "extermination through labor" policy).
- Rudolf Höss (on Himmler allegedly personally witnessing a homicidal gassing at Auschwitz).
Himmler allegedly committed suicide by using a cyanide pill after being captured. This has been questioned with the suggestion that Himmler was murdered. One example is the revisionist Arthur Butz who have stated that
- "It is most unfortunate that Himmler was a "suicide" while in British captivity because, had he been a defendant at the IMT, his situation would have been such that he would have told the true story (being fully informed and not in a position to shift responsibility to somebody else), and books such as the present book would not be necessary because the major material could be read in the IMT trial transcript. But then, you see, it was not within the bounds of political possibility that Himmler live to talk at the IMT."
In 1926, Himmler met his future wife in a hotel lobby while escaping a storm. Margarete "Marga" Siegroth, née Boden (b. 9 September 1893 in Goncarzewo near Bromberg; d. 25 August 1967 in München) was seven years older than Himmler, divorced, and Protestant. On 3 July 1928, the two were married and had their only child, their daughter Gudrun Margarete Elfriede Emma Anna (de), on 8 August 1929. Himmler adored his daughter, and called her Püppi (“dolly”). The Himmlers adopted in March 1933 Gerhard Kurt von der Ahé (de), son of SS-Truppführer Julius Ferdinand Kurt von der Ahé (de), who was murdered by communists. Gerhard was very much loved, especially by his aunt Lydia Boden (Marga's sister), who wrote the book "Um und mit Gerhard 1933–1945" in 1955, the year the former young member of the Waffen-SS finally returned home to Germany, after spending more than 10 years as a Russian prisoner of war.
Heinrich and Margarete’s marriage was difficult, and they separated in 1940 without seeking divorce. Himmler started to become friendly with a staff secretary, Hedwig Potthast (1912–1994), who left her job in 1941 and became his mistress. He fathered two children with her: a son, Helge (b. 15 February 1942) and a daughter, Nanette-Dorothea (b. 20 July 1944).
Hedwig Pottgast from Cologne
Gudrun (left) and Marga Himmler in allied captivity outside Rome, Italy, 1945
Gudrun, who had married the wealthy author Dr. Wulf-Dieter Burwitz, in Munich, June 2011
- The National Socialist Party in Third Reich Germany: Himmler Talks with American journalist Lothrop Stoddard
- Text of Himmler's Secret Speech to Gauleiters, August 3, 1944, with commentary
- Irving, David, True Himmler, Focal Point Publications U.K., 2020, ISBN: 978-1-872-197-83-8
- Deschner, Gunther, Heydrich, Orbis Pubs., London, 1981, ISBN: 0-85613-295-0 - many Himmler references, see index.
- Mollo, Andrew, A Pictorial History of the SS 1923-1945, Purnell Book Services Ltd., U.K., 1976.
- Silgailis, Artur: Latvian Legion. James Bender Publishing, 1986. p. 348 – 349.
- A Radical's Diary, Thursday, February 14, 2002 http://www.fpp.co.uk/docs/Irving/RadDi/2002/140202.html
- Arthur R. Butz. The Hoax of the Twentieth Century - The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry. 4th, corrected and expanded edition. Holocaust Handbooks. http://holocausthandbooks.com/index.php?page_id=7
- Contemporaries who denied what is now called 'THE Holocaust' https://rodoh.info/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2856#p101060
- The Victories of Revisionism (Part 2) https://codoh.com/library/document/4031/?lang=en
- Himmler never mentioned Holocaust to wife despite her dislike of Jews - letters https://www.rt.com/news/nazis-himmler-holocaust-letters-224/
- Keine Liquidierung http://www.codoh.com/library/document/200/
- Auschwitz Lies - Legends, Lies, and Prejudices on the Holocaust http://holocausthandbooks.com/index.php?page_id=18