Heinrich Himmler: Quick Facts
Birth Name: Heinrich Luitpold Himmler
Birth Date: 7 October 1900
Birth Place: Munich, Germany
Death: 23 May 1945 (44 Years of Age)
Place of Death: Luneburg
Cause of Death: Death by Suicide (While in British Custody)
Father: Joseph Gebhard Himmler (17 May 1865 – 29 October 1936)
Mother: Anna Maria Himmler (16 January 1866 – 10 September 1941)
Sibling(s): Gebhard Ludwig (Brother); Ernst Hermann (Brother)
Spouse(s): Margarete Boden (Married in 1928)
Children: Gudrun Himmler; Helge Himmler; Nanette Himmler
Education: Technical University of Munich (Agronomy)
Military Service: 1917-1918 (German Empire); Part of 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment
Military Rank: Fahnenjunker
Political Party: National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party)
Religion: Roman Catholic
Occupation(s): Agronomist; Member of Hitler’s Cabinet; Overseer of Einsatzgruppen and Nazi Concentration Camps; Commander of Home Army; General Plenipotentiary for Third Reich
Fact #1: Heinrich Himmler was born into a middle-class, German family on 7 October 1900. Himmler’s father was a schoolteacher and principal, whereas his mother was a devoted Roman Catholic. Personal testimonies record that Himmler was very shy during childhood; avoiding sports in favor of religion and mysticism.
Fact #2: Himmler displayed tremendous patriotism during the First World War, and managed to volunteer in the 11th Bavarian Regiment in the waning months of the war. Following Germany’s defeat, Himmler continued his education. Although he wished to become a doctor, his parents (unable to afford his education) pushed Himmler to obtain a diploma in agronomy. After only a few years, however, Himmler was swayed to politics, and participated actively in Hitler’s “Beer Hall Putsch.” He later joined the Nazi Party in 1925, and became Hitler’s deputy propaganda chief in 1926.
Fact #3: In January of 1929, Himmler became commander of the “blackshirt SS,” a relatively small detachment of untrained Nazi bodyguards. Within only a few years, Himmler managed to expand the organization into a small army of 50,000 men; organizing an elite framework of espionage in the process. Himmler transformed this army into the Gestapo (1933), using it to eliminate political opponents, political adversaries, and undesirables across the German nation. From this position of authority, Himmler coordinated the Nazi drive for racial purity through kidnappings, deportations, and executions.
Fact #4: Himmler served as Hitler’s overseer for the Nazi concentration camps. Under his direction, the Nazis killed over six million Jews, and nearly 500,000 Romani people. Altogether, Himmler was responsible for the death of nearly 14 million people (including Soviet and East European citizens).
Fact #5: Although Hitler considered Himmler to be one of his most loyal commanders, Himmler made multiple attempts to open peace talks with the Allies during World War Two, once he realized that the war was hopeless for Germany. Hitler learned of Himmler’s betrayal in April 1945 and ordered his arrest. After going into hiding, British forces detained Himmler. After only a few days, Himmler committed suicide. Some scholars believe that Himmler’s betrayal was part of a personal ambition to replace Hitler. By courting the Allies, Himmler hoped that the British and Americans would place him in a position of power over Germany during the postwar years.
Fact #6: Himmler met his wife, Margarete Boden in 1927; a nurse who was seven years older than him. The pair shared a common interest in herbal remedies and natural medicines. The couple married in July 1928, and had one daughter – Gudrun – the following year. Himmler and his wife also served as foster parents. The pair adopted a boy named Gerhard von Ahe, who was the son of an SS officer that died prior to World War Two.
Fact #7: After only a few years of marriage, Himmler began having an affair with his secretary, Hedwig Potthast. She became his mistress in 1939, and gave birth to two different children with Himmler; Helge (1942) and Nanette Dorothea (1944).
"We have only one task, to stand firm and carry on the racial struggle without mercy."— Heinrich Himmler
Quotes by Himmler
Quote #1: “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.”
Quote #2: “We have only one task, to stand firm and carry on the racial struggle without mercy.”
Quote #3: “Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting rid of lice is not a question of ideology, it is a matter of cleanliness. In just this same way, anti-Semitism for us has not been a question of ideology but a matter of cleanliness.”
Quote #4: “You men of the einsatzgruppen are called upon to fulfill a repulsive duty. But you are soldiers who have to carry out every order unconditionally. You have a responsibility before God and Hitler for everything that is happening. I, myself, hate this bloody business and I have been moved to the depths of my soul. But I am obeying the highest law by doing my duty. Man must defend himself against bedbugs and rats, against vermin.”
Quote #5: “We shall not rest until we have rooted out Christianity.”
Quote #6: “Perhaps we shall also have to hold in check other coloured peoples who will soon be in their certain prime, and thus preserve the world, which is the world of our blood, of our children and of our grandchildren.
Quote #7: “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 Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler. And you should be happy to be allowed to work with us.”
Quote #8: “Today, Germany is on the borders of Europe everywhere.”
Commentary on Himmler’s Quotes: These quotes, in themselves, reveal the evil that lie behind Nazi ideology. As overseer over the Nazi concentration camps, Himmler embodied the worst of humankind; adhering strongly to racism and hatred.
Were your surprised by any of these facts about Himmler?
To this day, Heinrich Himmler remains one of the most studied figures of World War Two, given his connection to both the Holocaust and the Nazi concentration camps that claimed millions of lives. As testimonies and eyewitness accounts continue to be uncovered by historians, the wealth of information about Himmler and his crimes continues to grow; giving scholars an unprecedented view into the true nature of Nazi Germany and its heinous crimes against humanity.
Suggestions for Further Reading:
Longerich, Peter. Heinrich Himmler. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Manvell, Roger. Heinrich Himmler: The Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo. New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007.
Padfield, Peter. Himmler. London, England: Thistle Publishing, 2013.
Williams, Max. Heinrich Himmler: A Photo History of the Reichsfuhrer-SS. United Kingdom: Fontill Media Limited, 2014.
"Heinrich Himmler." Wikipedia. August 21, 2018. Accessed August 21, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Himmler.
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© 2018 Larry Slawson