Himmler, Heinrich Luitpold “Reichsheini”, born 07-10-1900 in Munich, was head of the entire Nazi police force including SD and the Gestapo, he was Minister of the Interior and commander of the Waffen SS and the Home Army.
One of Hitler’s most sinister henchmen, he was also in charge of the death camps in the East. The account of Himmler’s life and his impact on the rise and fall of the Nazi state make a gripping and horrifying story. Although Adolf Hitler
(did you know
) held the ultimate responsibility for what became the Holocaust, it was Heinrich Himmler who essentially laid the plans and devised the schemes that led to the killings of six million Jews. Heinrich Himmler was born as the son of a secondary school instructor, had two brothers, Gebhard Ludwig
and Ernst and were strict Roman Catholic. The army mad boy suffered from poor health and wore glasses.
He and his brothers not real an Aryan types and his mother in particular looked like a Creole. By the end of World War I, Himmler had completed secondary school instruction and went on to receive a diploma in agriculture from the Munich Technical High School in 1922. Himmler worked as a salesman for a firm of fertilizer manufacturers before joining a paramilitary organization in 1923. This standard bearer for racial health, whose face betrayed traces of possible Mongol ancestry, was a virgin when he met his future wife Margarete Boden, a nurse who was his senior by 7 years. They met in December 1927, sheltering in a hotel lobby during a downpour. He liked to call himself “wild” or “rough”, often referred to himself as “beese”, meaning “bad”. Apparently, his fantasie of being a tough and ruthless fighter also played into his sex-life with Marga. The word “bad” is freqently mentioned in their love-letters. Phrases such as “(…) I am so lucky to have such a good bad man who loves his bad wife as much as she loves him” can often be found in the correspondence.. They had also often speak of an unspecified “revenge”, presumably as punishment for teasing. “(…) our “revenge”. Their relationship was speedily consummated and they corresponded by post, before their marriage on 03-07-1928 and set up a chicken farm at Waldtrudering, near Munich. The couple got one child, Gudrun Himmler was born on 08-08-1929. Himmler was a devoted father and even after he lost interest in Marga, would phone her regularly throughout the rest of his life. During the war years especially Himmler was constantly on the move, but even then he frequently phoned “Puppi” his pet names for Gudrun. Other called her the “Little Nazi princess”. The doting father even had photographs of himself on the move taken for Puppi. In 1941 he even took his daughter to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Gudrun wrote in her diary: “Today, we went to the SS concentration camp at Dachau. We saw everything we could. We saw the gardening work. We saw the pear trees. We saw all the pictures painted by the prisoners. Marvellous. and afterwards we had a lot to eat. It was very nice.” “At fourteen… she cut out every picture of him from the newspapers and glued them into a large scrapbook”
After the war Marga Himmler and Gudrun were imprisoned by the Allies at an interrogation camp but were later released. 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. 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 childhood, Gudrun stayed faithful to her father. Gudrun married journalist and author Wulf Dieter Burwitz and had two children. She has remained active in the Nazi community Neo Nazism and had since 1951 been a member of Stille Hilfe, Silence Help, an organisation providing support to arrested, condemned or fugitive former SS members.
In 1952 she helped to found Wiking Jugend (Baldur von Schirach
) which was organized after after the Hitler Youth model. She was longtime friend of Florentine “Florrie” Rost van Tonningen
, who was known in the Netherlands as “the Balck Widow” and was active in Nazi circles after the war. For decades Gudrun Burwitz has been a prominent symbol and idol in Stille Hilfe. At various meetings, for instant the annual Ulrichsberg gathering in Austria, an annual reunion for veterans of the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS, she enjoys the status as both a star and an authority. Gudrun has intensified the support for so-called Nazi war criminals in recent years. This was particularly evident in the case of Anton Malloth, a supervisor of Theresienstadt
concentration camp, who was extradited to Germany in 1988 and after a prolonged public trial was sentenced in 2001 to life in prison. She arranged his stay at an expensive nursing home in Pullach at the southern outskirt of Munich from 1988 to his death on 31-10-2002, age 90. In 1936 a young Hedwig Potthast
a girlfriend of Lina Heydrich-Osten
, born von Osten, went to work as a secretary for the Reichsfuhrer SS. It was not until Christmas 1938 that the couple professed their love for one another. She probably became Himmler’s mistress shortly afterwards. In early 1941 Hedwig left her job as Himmler’s secretary & became his mistress semi-formally. Himmler sent her to live in Bruckenthin in Mecklenburg, near the home of one of his most trusted senior officers, Chef des SS Wirtschaftsamt
, Oswald Pohl
. Pohl also had a child of his secretary and mistress, Rosemarie Fauler. Hedwig Potthast was 12 years younger than him. she was 26 years old in 1938. She was familiarly know as ‘Häschen’. Hedwig and Himmler’s first child was secretly born in 15-02-1942, a son called Helge
with the help of his old friend Dr. Karl Gebhardt
in the Clinic Hohenlychen
sanatorium for the Nazi elite. Helge was followed in 1944 by Nanette Dorothea, born on 20th
July, the day of the bomb attack on Hitler in the Wolfschanze. Himmler had already appeared in front of the SS court to claim paternity of the child Hedwig was carrying. He legalized the paternity of both children before the court in September. Hedwig and Himmler met for the last time on 26th
March at their Berchtesgaden home. Himmler had built this with an 85.000 Reichsmark loan from the party, organised by Martin Bormann, a sometime friend of the family. His son says that Himmler and his mistress Hedwig kept furniture made from human bones, in the attic. Hedwig Potthast died in Baden Baden at the age of 85 in 1997. Gerda Bormann made friends with the lonely young woman, but was apparently horrified by the secrets in the attic. It is unlikely that Marga ever knew about the atrocities perpetrated by her husband, on Hitler’s orders. Himmler kept Marga strictly divorced from his work and her naturally abrasive personality kept many potential friends aloof. In 1925 Himmler joined the Nazi party, 1927 he worked as a poultry farmer but his future would be imbued following his appointment in January 1929 as leader of the SS, an elite guard of Hitler. The submissive Himmler quickly moved up the ranks and once Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 Himmler became the head of the Munich police. From this position he organized the first concentration camp at Dachau and began to organize the Nazi political police throughout Germany. In April of 1934 he was named assistant chief of the Prussian Gestapo, the secret police and in June of 1934, Himmler successfully crushed the paramilitary SA, headed by Ernst Julius Röhm
, making the SS the dominant organization in Germany. Two years later, a power-thirsting Himmler got full control of the SS, and became SS Reichsführer. Wiligut-Weisthor
was one of the most bizarre and colourful figures to have been drawn to the black flame of Himmler’s Nazi Camelot “Wewelsburg”. There is no doubt that Wiligut-Weisthor, dubbed “Himmler’s Rasputin” by popular historians, was seen as something of a mentor figure by the Reichsführer and accordingly came to wield considerable influence within the Order. He was introduced to Himmler, whose growing fascination with the occult traditions of old Europe set him apart from the other, more pragmatic members of Hitler’s inner circle. Himmler was labouring under the apprehension that he was the reincarnation of King Heinrich of Saxony at the time and seems to have been deeply impressed by this weird old man, who was duly recruited into the SS under the pseudonym ‘Weisthor’ (literally ‘Thor, the wise warrior’) and installed as the head of a newly created Department for Pre and Early History within the Race and Settlement Main Office in Munich. From a number of letters and speeches of Himmler it becomes clear, that he referred to the annihilation of the Jews in Europe, the Holocaust, as a task which he had to carry out, with the help of Reinhard Heydrich
and Adolf Eichmann
on the behalf of the highest authority in the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler (see Hitler parents
). In 1941, Himmler summoned Rudolf Höss, SS Commandant of the largest killing centre ever created, the death camp Auschwitz. Josef Mengele
infamous for performing human experiments on camp inmates in Auschwitz, including children, for which Mengele was called the “Angel of Death”.
Höss was trailed and hanged in his own camp of Auschwitz, on 16-04-1947, age 46. Himmler told him that “the Führer had given the order for a Final Solution of the Jewish Question” and that “we”, the SS, must carry out that order”. In 1943, Himmler became Interior Minister, and in July of 1944, he attained the rank of chief of the army’s home organization, now second only to Adolf Hitler. But Himmler’s empire was already crumbling from within and under attack from without. Weakened on all fronts, he was attacked after 1944 by Martin Bormann
, who tried to revitalize the party organization as a rival of the SS. Martin Bormann and Joseph Goebbels
(did you know
), Goebbels assistant was Werner Naumann
, emerged victorious in April 1945, when Hitler ordered Himmler’s arrest because he had tried to propose peace to the Allies. The chief of the SS sought to win asylum for himself and 200 leading Nazis in the final days of World War II by offering cash and the freedom of 3,500 Jews, according to British intelligence documents released last year. According to the documents, details of which have been held in the secret files of Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency, the concentration camp inmates were to be sent to Switzerland in two trainloads, in cooperation with the Swedish diplomat Graf Folke Bernadotte
. The offer was made by Himmler and orchestrated by his intelligence chief, SS Brigadeführer Walther Schellenberg
. Schellenberg died of cancer age 42, in Turin, on 31-03-1952. During the postwar Nuremberg Trials, Schellenberg testified against other Nazis. In the 1949 Ministries Trial he was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, during which time he wrote his memoirs, The Labyrinth. He was released in 1951 on grounds of ill-health, a worsening liver condition and moved to Switzerland before settling in Verbania Pallanza, Italy. The following year Schellenberg died of cancer in Turin, age 42, on 31-03-1952.
But the arrangement was aborted after the first trainload of 1.700 left Germany, Hitler ordered the plan halted immediately. Heinrich Himmler fled Berlin to Flensburg, after the German surrender in the disguise of a discharged Gestapo agent with moustache shaved and wearing an eye patch. Unwanted by his former colleagues and hunted by the Allies, Himmler left Flensberg on 11 May and headed south to Friedrichskoog with a small band of companions. Himmler was captured, though not identified on May 22, along with his Waffen SS aides, SS Obersturmbannführer, Werner Grothmann,
Grothmann after 16 years of imprisonment, he was tried as a war criminal, but after a couple of months Grothmann was declared innocent. He worked as a businessman until his death on 26-02-2002, old age 86. The other aid was SS Sturmbannführer, Heinz Macher
who was also charged with the task of burying the castle’s treasures, including over 9.000 Death’s Head
SS rings held in a shrine to commemorate SS men killed in action. These treasures have never been found.Heinz. Macher died old age 81 on 21-12-2001 in Schenefeld. They had not made extensive preparations to go into hiding, but he had equipped himself with a forged paybook under the name of Sergeant Heinrich Hitzinger, They continued their journey to Neuhaus, where the group split up. Himmler, appearance of a small disheveled figure with a patch over his left eye
and two aides were stopped at a checkpoint on 21 May
by Arthur Britton and his men who were manning a checkpoint at the Bremervorde bridge in West Germany. The three men were brought in for questioning by Britton, who examined their documents. One in particular, going by the name of Heinrich Hitzinger, misspelled as Hizinger, raised Britton’s suspicion and detained. Over the following two days he was moved around to several camps and was brought to the British 31st
Civilian Interrogation Camp near Lüneburg on 23 May. A routine interrogation was begun by the duty officer, Captain Tom Selvester, who died age 88, on 04-07-1998. When Tom confronted the once-powerful Nazi figure after separating him from two burly men, clearly bodyguards, whom soldiers from his Pioneer Corps unit had arrested, the man chillingly announced: ”Ich bin Herr Heinrich Himmler,” words which remained with the retired police inspector for the rest of his life. Himmler thus admitted who he was, and Selvester had the prisoner searched. He was taken to the headquarters of the Second British Army in Lüneburg
, a , where Captain Doctor C.J. Wells, accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Michael “Spud”Murphy (Secret Service), Major Norman Whittaker, Colonel Mike Osborne
he died age 92, on 15-01-2010 and Company Sergeant Major Edwin Austin,
conducted a medical exam.
Death and burial ground of Himmler, Heinrich Luitpold “Reichsheini”.
The top-ranking Nazi was then searched for poisonous phials, a suicide attempt being an obvious possibility in the circumstances. They found two brass cases, one containing a glass phial, and the other was empty. They realised that the second small capsule must have been in Himmler’s mouth, but did not want to make a move in case he swallowed it. 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.” Cyanide if ingested or inhaled in gas form , kills a person by preventing the body from using the oxygen carried in the blood.
He, 44 years old was dead within fifteen minutes. At least one death mask of Himmler was taken.