Heinrich Himmler was born in October 1900. He joined the Nazi Party in its early days and participated in the Munich Putsch. After serving the party as a Propagandist, Himmler was appointed as head of the SS in 1929. Following the rise to power of the Nazi Party Himmler’s role quickly developed and led to him eventually being in charge of the State Police, the Gestapo, and the implementation of the Nazi’s racial policies.
Himmler: A timeline
1900 – October 7th. Himmler was born into a Middle Class family in Munich.
1918 – Himmler serves in the German Army.
1923 – Himmler joins the Nazi Party.
1923 – At the Beer Hall Putsch, Himmler acts as a standard bearer.
1925 – 1929 – Himmler combines a party role organising Propaganda in Bavaria with a job as a chicken farmer.
1925 – Joins the Schutzstaffel, at the time a battalion within the SA comprising 290 men.
1929 – Himmler is put in charge of the Schutzstaffel (SS).
1929 – Himmler is elected to the Reichstag.
1931 – Himmler oversees the creation of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office.
1933 – Placed in charge of the Police in Munich. The SS at this time numbered some 52,000 men.
1933 – Himmler is given the title SS-Obergruppenführer placing him at the same level of seniority as the SA leadership.
1933 – March. Under Himmler’s direction the first Nazi Concentration Camp, Dachau, is opened.
1934 – April 20th. The leadership of the Gestapo and control of the Police throughout Germany (excluding Prussia) was handed to Himmler.
1934 – Himmler oversees the Night of the Long Knives. He is soon given the title Reichsführer-SS, answerable only to Hitler himself.
1936 – June. All police forces within Germany are unified under Himmler’s control.
1939 – Along with other leading Nazi’s, Operation Himmler is conceived. The operation saw members of the SS posing as Polish soldiers to give a false justification for the Invasion of Poland.
1941 – Generalplan Ost (General Plan for the East) is commissioned. Himmler commented that, “It is a question of existence, thus it will be a racial struggle of pitiless severity, in the course of which 20 to 30 million Slavs and Jews will perish through military actions and crises of food supply.”
1941 – Upon the Invasion of the Soviet Union SS Troops in Einsatzgruppen rounded up political enemies of the the Nazi State, Soviet Prisoners of war and people they deemed to be racially impure. Many were killed by the Einsatzgruppen whilst others were sent to work as forced labourers in a chain of concentration camps that were established in the East.
1942 – In June Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated. This prompted Himmler to implement Aktion Reinhard, the establishment of the first Death Camps at Treblinka, Belzec and Sobidor.
1943 – In October, 1943, Himmler speaks publically about the extermination of the Jews in what are known as the Posen Speeches.
1944 – Following the faliure of the July Bomb Plot, Himmler oversees the arrest and execution of almost 5000 people who were deemed to be a risk to Hitler.
1945 – In January Himmler is given Military Command in charge of Army Group Vistula. His military inexperience was soon evident however and he was removed from this role in March.
1945, April. Himmler attempts to open peace negotiations with the Western Allies in the hope that they will join forces with the Wehrmacht to fight the Red Army. Upon hearing of these attempts, Hitler denounces Himmler and strips him of his positions. Himmler goes into hiding.
1945, May. Himmler is captured by British Troops. He commits suicide whilst in captivity.
It is quite difficult to really grasap the magnitude of the impact Himmler’s work had on Germany and Eastern Europe. Under his leadership the SS purged its own party and the army, creating a police state that ruled through fear. Organisations that he led were responsible for forced labour camps and the appalling conditions that inmates there were subjected to. It was under his leadership and direction that Einsatzgruppen were established to exterminate people in occupied territories and his decisions following the assassination of Heydrich that led to the development of camps solely designed to kill.
Hitler’s Henchmen: Heinrich Himmler