SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Zakia Bouachraoui, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

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Hitler's SS leader Heinrich Himmler

Treue Heinrich

Heinrich Himmler

"Treue Heinrich"

 

Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler was born 7 October 1900 in Munich to a middle-class Bavarian family. His father was Joseph Gebhard Himmler, a secondary-school teacher and principal. His mother was Anna Maria Himmler (maiden name Heyder), a devout Catholic and attentive mother. Heinrich had an older brother, Gebhard Ludwig Himmler, and a younger brother, Ernst Hermann Himmler. 

 

Heinrich was named after his godparent, Prince Heinrich of Wittelsbach of the royal family of Bavaria, who was tutored by Gebhard Himmler.

Influenced by Nazism and by the Artamans, an obscure sect advocating a Teutonic rural life, he turned to racism and romantic Teutonism. He later joined the SS in 1925, and by 1927 had been appointed deputy Reichsführer-SS, a role he began to take very seriously.

 

Upon the resignation of SS Commander Erhard Heiden, Himmler was appointed as the new Reichsführer-SS in January 1929. At the time Himmler was appointed to lead the SS, it numbered only 280 members and was considered a mere battalion of the much larger SA. Himmler himself was considered only an SA-Oberführer, but after 1929 he referred to himself as the "Reichsführer-SS".

In 1936 Himmler gained further authority as all of Germany's uniformed law enforcement agencies were amalgamated into the new Ordnungspolizei, whose main office became a headquarters branch of the SS as Himmler was accorded the title Chief of the German Police. Himmler however was never able to gain operational control over the uniformed police.

 

The actual powers granted him with the appointment were those previously exercised in police matters by the Ministry of the Interior, and not even all of these. It was only in 1943 when Himmler was appointed Minister of the Interior, that the transfer of ministerial power was complete. Indeed his full title was Reichsfuhrer-SS and Chief of the German Police in the Ministry of the Interior (abbreviated as RFSSuCdDPidMI) which clearly indicates the limits of his brief, and though Himmler tended to omit the idMI in correspondence, his powers remained as they were.

 

Germany's political police forces came under Himmler's authority in 1934, which he organised into the Gestapo as well as Germany's entire concentration camps complex.

 

SS portrait of Himmler

In October 1939 Hitler appointed him Reichskommissar für die Festigung des Deutschen Volkstums and Himmler was given absolute control over the newly annexed Polish territories. Responsible for bringing people of German descent back from outside the Reich to within its newly expanded borders, Himmler set out to replace Poles and Jews by Volksdeutsche from the Baltic lands, various outlying parts of Poland, and elsewhere.

 

Within a year over a million Poles and 300,000 Jews had been uprooted and driven eastwards. In carrying out his task as supreme overseer of the “Final Solution”, Himmler proved himself a fanatical disciple of Nazi racial theory with an unswerving dedication to its translation into stark reality. 

So when it came time for Hitler to order the annihilation of the Jews, who better to select to carry it out than the man who was at once his most loyal follower and also in control of the apparatus necessary for its execution? And that is what Hitler did.

 

The precise date is not known, but what is known is that Himmler obeyed the order he received with his customary thoroughness and efficiency. Interestingly enough, for a man who has been demonized as the incarnation of evil, Himmler makes it clear in several speeches that he was not particularly anti-Semitic. He simply blindly obeyed, displaying almost more amorality than immorality.
 

Whatever misgivings Himmler may have had, he carried out his orders with an efficiency and a zeal that at once astonish and repel. The first murders were carried out by Einsatzgruppen by shooting. As deadly as these shootings were, a more "efficient" method had to be found, one that would accelerate the killing and would at the same time spare the SS men the necessity to murder women and children in cold blood.

The decision was made to use poison gases (hydrocyanic acid and carbon monoxide) in both stationary and mobile gas chambers in Poland. It is estimated that around 6 million Jews were killed during the Final Solution, along with as many as another 6 million non-Jews.

 

 By the time of the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Himmler’s strangle-hold of the police and security services was evident. He controlled the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), firstly via Heydrich and then subsequently Kaltenbrunner, the criminal police under Nebe, the Foreign Political Intelligence service under Schellenberg, and the Gestapo under Müller.

 

Through the SS he ruled supreme over the concentration camps and the death camps in Poland, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. Himmler instructed Odilo Globocnik, the SSPF Lublin, to construct these extermination camps in order to effect the destruction of the European Jewry (see the page on his visits to these Aktion Reinhard camps).

 

Read more about Heinrich Himmler here:

http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/holoprelude/himmler.html

 

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

 

www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

 

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

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