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  1. Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was born in Munich on 7 October 1900 into a conservative middle-class Roman Catholic family. His father was Joseph Gebhard Himmler (17 May 1865 – 29 October 1936), a teacher, and his mother was Anna Maria Himmler (née Heyder; 16 January 1866 – 10 September 1941), a devout Roman Catholic.

    • 1917–1918 (Army), 1925–1945 (SS)
    • Gudrun, Helge, Nanette
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    Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945) was the Reich Leader (Reichsführer) of the dreaded SS of the Nazi Party from 1929 until 1945. Himmler presided over a vast ideological and bureaucratic empire that defined him for many—both inside and outside the Third Reich—as the second most powerful man after Adolf Hitler in Germany during World War II. Given overall responsibility for the security of the Nazi empire, Himmler was the key and senior Nazi official responsible for conceiving and overseeing implementation of the "Final Solution," the Nazi plan to murder the Jews of Europe.

    Himmler was born into a middle-class, conservative Catholic family in Munich, Germany, on October 7, 1900. His father, Gebhard, taught at the Ludwig academic high school (Gymnasium) in Munich. In 1913, Himmler's family moved to Landshut, a town located about 40 miles northeast of Munich, after Himmler senior took the job of assistant principal of the Gymnasium in Landshut. As a youth, Himmler was fervently patriotic. During World War I, he dreamed of service on the front as an officer and, using his reluctant father's connections, left high school to begin training as an officer candidate on January 1, 1918. On November 11, 1918, however, before Himmler's training was complete, Germany signed the armistice that would end World War I. Himmler graduated from high school in Landshut in July 1919. After the restrictions imposed on Germany by the Versailles peace treaty dashed his hopes of joining the army (Reichswehr), he studied agriculture at the Technical University in Munich. There...

    In January 1929, Adolf Hitler, the Führer (Leader) of the Nazi party, appointed Himmler Reichsführer SS. The SS, which in 1929 totaled 280 men, was subordinate to the SA and had two major functions: to serve as bodyguards for Hitler and other Nazi leaders and to hawk subscriptions for the Nazi party newspaper, Der Völkischer Beobachter (The Race-Nationalist Observer). From this insignificant beginning, Himmler perceived an opportunity to develop an elite corps of the Nazi Party. By the time the Nazis seized power in January 1933, the SS numbered more than 52,000. Himmler also introduced two key functions to the SSthat related to the Nazi party's long-term core goals for Germany: internal security and guardianship over racial purity. After deploying his SS in April 1931 to crush a revolt by the Berlin SA against Hitler's leadership (inspiring the adoption of the SS motto, “My honor is loyalty”), Himmler created the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst; SD) in the summer of 1931. The S...

    A skilled organizer and a capable manager who understood how to obtain and use power, Himmler was the ideological and organizational driving force behind the rise of the SS. Moreover, he understood his SS men and knew how to secure their loyalty to his own person and to the concept of the Nazi elite to which they belonged. His ability to give his subordinates leeway to exercise initiative to implement Nazi policy was a significant factor in the murderous success of many SS operations. When he took over the SS, Himmler recognized the importance of internal security and determination of racial purity for the Nazi movement and successfully expanded the functions of the SS to meet these ideological and practical needs. Himmler understood the importance of police power separated from legal constraint and state supervision; he persuaded Hitler—over the arguments of powerful rivals in the party and the state—that fusion of SS and police would forge the instrument for the Nazi regime to ach...

    After the failure of the July 20, 1944, attempt to assassinate Hitler, Himmler toyed with the idea of negotiating a separate peace with the western Allies while continuing to fight the Soviet Union. During the winter of 1944-1945, he considered using concentration camp prisoners as a bargaining chip to initiate such negotiations. In April 1945, Himmler met with the representative of the World Jewish Congress in Stockholm, Sweden, Hilel Storch, to discuss openings for negotiations. In part because the Allies would not negotiate with a man so implicated in Nazi crimes, and, in part because Himmler could not quite separate himself from Hitler or the belief that somehow the Germans would win the war, his half-hearted feelers came to nothing. In April 1945, Himmler asked Count Folke Bernadotte, the Vice President of the Swedish Red Cross, to transmit an offer of surrender on the western front to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander-in-chief of the Allied forces. News of the offer...

  2. Heinrich Himmler. Heinrich Himmler was Reichsfuhrer-SS, head of the Gestapo and the Waffen-SS, Nazi Minister of the Interior from 1943 to 1945 and organizer of the mass murder of Jews in the Third Reich. Himmler was born on October 7, 1900 in Munich, Germany. The son of a pious, authoritarian Roman Catholic schoolmaster who had once been tutor ...

  3. Heinrich Himmler, known for his role in the implementation of the “Final Solution,” is remembered today for his heinous acts across Europe during World War II. A portrait of a young Heinrich Himmler. Courtesy of the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum. Heinrich Himmler was born on October 7, 1900 to a middle-class family in Munich, Germany.

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  4. Heinrich Himmler was a German Nazi military commander and close associate of Adolf Hitler. He rose to power during the ‘Second World War’ and is known as one of the men responsible for the ‘massacre of Jews,’ one of the most notorious holocausts in human history.

    • A Comfortable Upbringing
    • Joins The Nazi Movement
    • Nazi Extermination Camps
    • Growth of The SS
    • Nazis Expand Power
    • World War II
    • The Final Solution
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    Himmler was born in October 1900 in Munich, Germany, into a middle-class family. He was the second of three sons. His father, Gebhardt Himmler, was a schoolteacher. His mother, Anna Maria Heyder Himmler, was a homemaker. Gebhardt ruled over the family members with a stern hand, expecting excellence from each of the children in their schooling and other endeavors. When Himmler was thirteen years old, the family moved fifty miles away from Munich to Landshut, where Gebhardt became headmaster (principal) of a school. While Himmler was in high school, World War I(1912–18) raged across parts of Europe. The war raised Himmler's interest in military matters. When he graduated from high school, Himmler joined the Germany army and attended officer training school. However, just before he was to be commissioned an officer, Germany conceded defeat and the war ended. Himmler was discharged from his military responsibilities. After the war, Himmler went to work on a farm to learn about agricultu...

    In 1922, Himmler graduated from college and went to work for a fertilizer company. The following year, he began taking part in the activities of the newly established organization called the National Socialist German Workers' Party, or Nazis for short. He participated in Hitler's unsuccessful military revolt to gain power in Munich, Germany, in early November 1923, an event known as the Beer Hall Putsch. The Nazis were considered a politically radical group by the general public at the time, and Himmler lost his job due to his association with them. During the 1920s, the Nazis were recruiting soldiers from the paramilitary groups to form its own military organization known as the Slutzstaffen or Security Squad (SS). The primary purpose of the SS at first was to provide an elite bodyguard unit for Hitler and other party leaders. By 1925, Himmler was accepted as a member of the SS and began quickly rising through its ranks.

    The following concentration camps were constructed during World War IIwith special facilities to carry out mass murders against Jews and others considered undesirable by the Nazis. The estimated number of people killed at each camp is also given. Approximately 80 percent of those killed at these camps were Jews. All of these camps except Jasemovac and Maly Trostenets were located in Poland. They all were operated by German commander Heinrich Himmler's SS troops. 1. Auschwitz—1.1 million (the largest camp, first established in April 1940 as a concentration camp, with construction of extermination facilities begun in October 1941) 2. Belzec—500,000 (began operation on March 17, 1942) 3. Chelmno—152,000 (first death camp in operation on December 8, 1941, and continued until April 1943) 4. Majdanek—200,000 (operated from April 1942 to July 1944) 5. Sobibor—250,000 (operated from May 1942 to October 1943) 6. Treblinka—800,000 (operated from July 1942 to October 1943) 7. Jasenovac—600,000...

    When Himmler took command of the SS in 1929, it numbered only 280 members. It was a very small part of the regular German army, known as the SA (Sturmabteilung, or Stormtrooper in English). Through aggressively promoting his troops with Nazi leaders, Himmler was successful in building the SS and expanding its responsibilities. When the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany in 1933, the SS ranks had dramatically increased to 52,000 soldiers. The SS also reflected the strong racism of the Nazis. All SS troops had to project a certain physical appearance. They had to represent the ideal German as viewed by the Nazis: blond, blue-eyed, and physically strong. Nazis and other Germans referred to this model as the Aryan race. Not only did Himmler make sure the soldiers had the proper physical and racial characteristics, he also laid down the rules about whom the SS troops could marry. Himmler wanted to ensure the purity of the race by not allowing any contamination of undesired biological tr...

    Prior to 1933, the SS were considered a small supplementary force to the regular army. However, with the Nazis now in power, Himmler wanted to make the SS special. In late 1933, he introduced a major new uniform change for the SS. Instead of the SA brown shirts, the SS adopted fearsome-looking black uniforms. Himmler also rose in rank equal to regular SA commanders, a promotion resented by the other commanders. That same year, Himmler established Germany's first concentration campat Dachau, where political prisoners—people considered as opponents or threats to the Nazis—could be held. It would be the forerunner of what was to appear later across Europe. In early 1934, Hitler and the other Nazi leaders increasingly considered the traditional leadership of the regular German army, the SA, as a threat to Nazi rule. Hitler assigned Himmler and several other high-ranking party members to kill the commander of the SA, Ernst Rohm, and other senior SA officials. On June 30, 1934, Himmler an...

    World War II broke out in September 1939 when Hitler unleashed Germany's massive war machine consisting of the latest in armored vehicles, tanks, and combat aircraft together with very large, well-equipped ground forces, which quickly overran Poland. Hitler wanted more than a military occupation of Poland, he wanted to destroy Polish society and replace it with German society. Himmler and the SS were charged with the task of eliminating Polish society. Himmler oversaw the construction of more concentration camps, where those people considered by the Nazis to be undesirable could be rounded up and imprisoned. The targeted people included Jews, Roma, priests, homosexual males, political leaders, Communist party members, and any others the Nazis held a racial or religious prejudice against. Not only were these peoples considered political opponents, but also threats to the purity of the German race. Jews comprised such a large part of Polish society that the Germans needed to round the...

    During the 1930s the Germans under Hitler made life as unbearable as possible for German Jews to try to force them to leave the country of their own accord. Between 1933 and 1941, the number of Jews in Germany declined from 500,000 to 164,000. However, fewer countries were willing to accept more Jews in large numbers as time passed due to anti-Semitism in their societies. By late 1941, it was no longer effective to force Jews to leave. Millions of Jews were detained by the Germans, the highest concentration being in Poland. The Nazi leadership, including Himmler, decided the only option of eliminating the Jews was by mass extermination. They referred to this option as the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem. On January 20, 1942, Himmler's assistant, Reinhard Heydrich(1904–1942), led a meeting of Nazi leadership known as the Wannsee Conference. They were to decide how to carry out the extermination, or genocide (killing of an entire race or particular population of people). The resu...

    BOOKS

    Altman, Linda J. Hitler's Rise to Power and the Holocaust. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow, 2003. Breitman, Richard. The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution. New York: Knopf, 1991. Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1986. Hale, Christopher. Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley, 2003. Padfield, Peter. Himmler. New York: M...

    WEB SITE

    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. http://www.ushmm.org(accessed on December 11, 2006).

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