SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler 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 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 October 7, 1900, as the son of a secondary school instructor and strict Roman Catholic. 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. In 1925 he 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.
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 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.
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 on the behalf of the highest authority in the Third Reich - Adolf Hitler.
In 1941, Himmler summoned Rudolf Hoess, SS Commandant of the largest killing center ever created, the death camp Auschwitz. He 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. Bormann 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. The offer was made by Himmler and orchestrated by his intelligence chief, Walter Schellenberg.
But the arrangement was aborted after the first trainload of 1,700 left Germany - Hitler ordered the plan halted immediately.
Heinrich Himmler fled Berlin after the German surrender in the disguise of a discharged Gestapo agent with moustache shaved and wearing an eye patch.
After being captured by the Allies, Himmler committed suicide by biting a vial of cyanide that he had hidden in his mouth. The doctors attempted to remove the poison from his stomach by causing him to vomit, but with no success. After a 12-minute long death throes, he died.
Three days later, the British buried anonymously his remains somewhere in a forest near Lüneburg ..
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