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Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Nazi Germany. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler later appointed him Commander of the Replacement (Home) Army and General Plenipotentiary for the administration of the entire Third Reich (Generalbevollmächtigter für die Verwaltung). Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and one of the persons most directly responsible for the Holocaust.
As a member of a reserve battalion during World War I, Himmler did not see active service. He studied agronomy in college, and joined the Nazi Party in 1923 and the SS in 1925. In 1929, he was appointed Reichsführer-SS by Hitler. Over the next 16 years, he developed the SS from a mere 290-man battalion into a powerful group with its own military, and, following Hitler’s orders, set up and controlled the Nazi concentration camps. He was known to have good organisational skills and for selecting highly competent subordinates, such as Reinhard Heydrich in 1931. From 1943 forward, he was both Chief of German Police and Minister of the Interior, overseeing all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo (Secret State Police).
On Hitler’s behalf, Himmler formed the Einsatzgruppen and built extermination camps. As facilitator and overseer of the concentration camps, Himmler directed the killing of some six million Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Romani people, and other victims; the total number of civilians killed by the regime is estimated at eleven to fourteen million people. Most of them were Polish and Soviet citizens.
Late in World War II, Hitler charged Himmler with the command of the Army Group Upper Rhine and the Army Group Vistula; he failed to achieve his assigned objectives and Hitler replaced him in these posts. Shortly before the end of the war, realizing that the war was lost, he attempted to open peace talks with the western Allies without Hitler’s knowledge. Hearing of this, Hitler dismissed him from all his posts in April 1945 and ordered his arrest. Himmler attempted to go into hiding, but was detained and then arrested by British forces once his identity became known. While in British custody, he committed suicide on 23 May 1945.
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Head of the SS Heinrich Himmler (right), one of the chief architects of the Holocaust, speaks with an unidentified officer in Warsaw after German invasion of Poland, 1939.
Himmler and Hitler.
Heinrich Himmler in Graz, Austria during Hitler’s AustrianAnschluss referendum , April 1938.
Himmler with Goebbels and Mussolini.
Nazi Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, SA Brigadier Gen. Franz Ritter von Epp and Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler attending Reichs Veterans Day at Kassel, Germany, 4 June 1939.
Flag of the Polish 303 ‘Kosciuszko’ Fighter Squadron in german hands.
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler (left) talking with Reichsminister Joachim von Ribbentrop following the French armistice negotiations in Compiègne, northern France, 21 June 1940. In the centre is Himmler’s Chief of adjudant SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS Karl Wolff.
Himmler with Field Marshall Rundstedt, and Hitler.
Karl Wolff (3rd from left) with Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich and unidentified assistant at Obersalzberg, May 1939.
Hermann Göring, Wilhelm Keitel, Karl Dönitz, Heinrich Himmler, and Adolf Hitler.
Adolf Hitler (Führer und oberster Befehlshaber der Wehrmacht) walking in the snow alongside Heinrich Himmler (Reichsführer-SS und Chef der Deutschen Polizei) with aid of a walking stick at Berghof Berchtesgaden (Münich), 3 April 1944. Behind them were, from left to right: SS-Obersturmbannführer Fritz Darges (persönlicher SS Adjutant bei Adolf Hitler), SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef “Sepp” Kiermaier (persönlicher leibwächter bei Heinrich Himmler), unidentified, and SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Hermann Fegelein (Verbindungsoffizier der Waffen-SS zum Führerhauptquartier). This picture was taken during the daily walk to the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus (teahouse), a small building right across Hitler’s Berghof mansion (this teahouse should not be mistaken with the official teahouse on top of the Kehlstein mountain), then the car took him back to the Berghof.
Himmler and Hitler.
On the terrace of Berghof in the spring of 1943. From left to right: Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, SS-Brigadeführer Prof.Dr. Hugo Blaschke (behind Himmler), Gesandter Walther Hewel, and Reichsleiter Martin Bormann.
Party reception at Führerbau, 25 February 1939. From left to right: Adolf Hitler, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, wife of Heinrich Himmler (Margarethe Boden) and Heinrich Himmler.
An official visit of Heinrich Himmler in the Łódź Ghetto, Thursday, 5 June 1941
An official visit of Heinrich Himmler in BMW 355 at the Łódź Ghetto, Thursday, 5 June 1941. The grey-haired man is Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski. He was the “leader” of the Jewish community in the Lodz Ghetto (Litzmannstadt). There were a number of manufacturing enterprises in the ghetto. The German Wehrmacht had orders filled for uniform pieces and other things made by Jewish laborers. Himmler paid a brief visit to the ghetto in connection with the production taking place there. Visible also Himmler’s Chief Adjudant Karl Wolff; the man with his face peeking over the shoulder of the Political officer at the far left of the frame is Ghetto Administrator, Hans Biebow; and the man next to the driver could be Dr. Wilhelm Albert.
An official visit of Heinrich Himmler in the Łódź Ghetto, Thursday, 5 June 1941. The grey-haired man is Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski. He was the “leader” of the Jewish community in the Lodz Ghetto (Litzmannstadt). Visible also Himmler’s Chief Adjudant Karl Wolff. BTW, In 1987 someone rummaging in a second hand bookstore in Vienna came across a set of about 400 color slides. Upon examination, they turned out to be images of the Lodz ghetto, taken by Walter Genewein, the Nazis’ chief accountant.
This picture was taken by Walter Frentz and it showing Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and his entourage with local peasants whilst touring the operation zones of the Einsatzgruppen, Belorussia, 15 August 1941. In the center is SS-Hauptsturmführer Werner Grothmann (Chefadjutant von Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler), while at right is the translator (because Himmler and Grothmann did not speak Russian).
Modern Day Photos
Death mask of Himmler on display in the Imperial War Museum in London.
Off Color Photos
Wolff, Dollmann, Himmler, and Keitel.
Black and White Photos
Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler
Himmler in 1907
Himmler in 1929, photograph by Heinrich Hoffmann. Himmler had a habit of covering his chin.
Himmler in early SS uniform, with rank of Oberführer.
Heinrich Himmler in 1945.
Himmler with his wife Margarete and daughter Gudrun.
Himmler and Rudolf Hess at Dachau in 1936, viewing a scale model of the camp.
Karl Wolff, Jochen Peiper and Heinrich Himmler are received by Generalísimo Francisco Franco, Spain, October 1940.
Werner Grothmann (left) next to Heinrich Himmler in 1943.
Daluege (right) in 1939, shaking hands with Heinrich Himmler (left). Hans Frank is also standing between the two men.
Heinrich Himmler inspecting a tank of the 1st SS Division, Metz, September 1940.
Rudolf Heß, Heinrich Himmler, Philipp Bouhler, Fritz Todt and Reinhard Heydrich (from left), listening to Konrad Meyer at a Generalplan Ost exhibition, 20 March 1941.
Fritz Witt, Heinrich Himmler and Jochen Peiper with officers of the Waffen-SS Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, Greece, 1941.
Himmler and adjutants at a concentration camp.
Heinrich Himmler August Heissmeyer Reinhard Heydrich Karl Wolff Richard Walther Darre Quedlinburg 1936
Himmler and adjutants.
Himmler (front right, beside prisoner) visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp in 1936.
Himmler inspects a prisoner of war camp in Russia, circa 1941.
Kaltenbrunner with Himmler and Ziereis at Mauthausen in April 1941.
Sepp Dietrich, Heinrich Himmler , and Joachim Peiper at Metz in September 1940.
Himmler, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and other SS officials visiting Mauthausen concentration camp in 1941.
Heinrich Himmler, Donitz, and Keitel at the funeral of Colonel General Hans-Valentin Hube.
Otto Kumm (front row, left), Heinrich Himmler and other SS officers during a tour of Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, June 1941.
August Eigruber (on right) with Heinrich Himmler at Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.
August Eigruber (far left), Franz Ziereis (left), Himmler (front), Karl Wolff (right) and Franz Kutschera (far right) in KZ Mauthausen, April 1941.
Himmler’s corpse in Allied custody after his suicide by poison, 1945.
The stylised lightning bolts of the SS insignia were based on the Armanen runes of Guido von List.