Heinrich Himmler

Word Count: 1920

Reichsfuhrer-SS, head of the Gestapo and the Waffen-SS, Minister of the
Interior from 1943 to 1945 and organizer of the mass murder of Jews in the
Third Reich, Heinrich Himmler was born in Munich on 7 October 1900. The son
of a pious, authoritarian Roman Catholic schoolmaster who had once been tutor
to the Bavarian Crown Prince, Himmler was educated at a secondary school in
Landshut. He served as an officer cadet in the Eleventh Bavarian Regiment at
the end of World War I, later obtaining a diploma in agriculture from Munich
Technical High School where he studied from 1918 to 1922.
After working briefly as a salesman for a firm of fertilizer manufacturers,
the young Himmler joined a para-military, nationalist organization and
participated in the Munich Beer-Hall putsch of November 1923 as
standard-bearer at the side of Ernst Rohm, Secretary to Gregor Strasser and
his deputy district leader in Bavaria, Swabia and the Palatinate, he was also
acting propaganda leader of the NSDAP from 1925 to 1930.

After marrying in 1927, Himmler returned to poultry farming for a time but
was singularly unsuccessful in the business of raising chickens. In January
1929 he was appointed head of Hitler\'s personal bodyguard, the black-shirted
Schutzstaffel (SS), at that time a small body of 200 men which was
subsequently to become under his leadership an all-embracing empire within
the Nazi State.

Elected in 1930 to the Reichstag as Nazi deputy for Weser-Ems, Himmler
concentrated on extending SS membership - which reached 52,000 by 1933 - and
securing its independence from control by Rohm\'s SA, to which it was
initially subordinated. He organized the Security Service (SD) under Reinhard
Heydrich, originally an ideological intelligence service of the Party, and
together the two men ensured that the Nazis consolidated their power over
Bavaria in 1933.

In March 1933 Himmler was appointed Munich Police President and shortly
afterwards he became Commander of the political police throughout Bavaria. In
September 1933 he was made Commander of all political police units outside
Prussia and, though formally under Goering , became head of the Prussian
Police and Gestapo on 20 April 1934. The turning-point in Himmler\'s career
was his masterminding of the purge of 30 June 1934 which smashed the power of
the SA and paved the way for the emergence of the SS as an independent
organization charged with \'safeguarding the . . . embodiment of the National
Socialist idea\' and translating the racism of the regime into a dynamic
principle of action.

By 17 June 1936 Himmler had successfully completed his bid to win control of
the political and criminal police throughout the Third Reich, becoming head
of the Gestapo in addition to his position as Reichsfuhrer of the SS. A very
able organizer and administrator, meticulous, calculating and efficient,
Himmler\'s astonishing capacity for work and irrepressible power-lust showed
itself in his accumulation of official posts and his perfectioning of the
methods of organized State terrorism against political and other opponents of
the regime.

In 1933 he had set up the first concentration camp in Dachau and in the next
few years, with Hitler\'s encouragement, greatly extended the range of persons
who qualified for internment in the camps. Himmler\'s philosophical mysticism,
his cranky obsessions with mesmerism, the occult, herbal remedies and
homeopathy went hand in hand with a narrow-minded fanatical racialism and
commitment to the \'Aryan\' myth. In a speech in January 1937 Himmler declared
that \'there is no more living proof of hereditary and racial laws than in a
concentration camp. You find there hydrocephalics, squinters, deformed
individuals, semi-Jews: a considerable number of inferior people.\' The
mission of the German people was \'the struggle for the extermination of any
sub-humans, all over the world who are in league against Germany, which is
the nucleus of the Nordic race; against Germany, nucleus of the German
nation, against Germany the custodian of human culture: they mean the
existence or non-existence of the white man; and we guide his destiny\'.

Himmler\'s decisive innovation was to transform the race question from \'a
negative concept based on matter-of-course anti- semitism\' into \'an
organizational task for building up the SS\'. Racism was to be safeguarded by
the reality of a race society, by the concentration camps presided over by
Himmler\'s Deaths Head