Himmler (1900-1945), Heinrich

27 February, 2009
Bovy Daniel

With Hitler, Göring and Heydrich, Himmler was one of the architects of the Holocaust. He also was the initiator of concentration camps and of racial organizations like Lebensborn and Ahnenerbe. He was member of the NSDAP in 1924 and quickly became close to Hitler. He was appointed head of the SS in 1929, of the Gestapo in 1934 and then supreme leader of the police in 1936. He organized repression, stalked opponents of the regime as well as Jews and opened concentration camps placed under control of his police. Up to 1938, Himmler played only a secondary role in the persecution of Jews. Things changed with the beginning of the war. In 1939, Himmler created the Reich Security Main Office. The Sipo (security police) and the SD (security service) were now under his sole authority. The same year, he was also appointed by Hitler as Reich Commissar for the strengthening of the German people. In 1940 Himmler proposed to deport Jews to colonized African countries like Madagascar. His position was strengthened by Hitler who let Himmler and the RSHA play a more important role. The year 1941 was crucial because it marks the acceleration towards the Final Solution. The different HSSPF (Higher SS Police leaders, like Krüger) and the SSPF (SS police leaders like Globocnik) placed under Himmler’s direct authority were essential links necessary for the execution of mass murders. During the summer of 1941, Himmler decided to build the Auschwitz concentration camp. At the same time, he also probably decided to kill the Jews living in the General Government (occupied Poland). In August, Himmler continued to look for other places that would fit as death camps. He also investigated about killing methods. In 1942, Hans Frank’s progressive lost of influence allowed Himmler to take decisions and to put them into practice. When Heydrich died in June 1942, Himmler involved himself more in the killing processes. Historians generally consider that the Final Solution found sharper formal outlines in spring 1942. On July 19, 1942 when he was in Lublin for an inspection, Himmler ordered Krüger to deport all Jewish population from the General Government until the end of 1942. In his letter, Himmler mentioned that the General Government would not be the only one concerned and that the measures would be applied to all occupied territories. On October 6, 1943, in his second speech held in Posen, Hitler declared to his officers that he found a clear solution to the problem constituted by mothers and children: “We came to the question: How is it with the women and children? I decided to find a clear solution here as well. I did not consider myself justified to exterminate the men - that is, to kill them or have them killed - and allow the avengers of our sons and grandsons to grow up in the form of their children. The difficult decision had to be taken to make this people disappear from the earth”. In 1944, he became leader of the replacement army but lacked intelligence in the military strategy. Later, he was dismissed by Hitler because he wanted to negotiate with the Allied forces. He committed suicide the day after the British made him prisoner in 1945.


Himmler, H., 1978, Discours secrets, : Gallimard.

Breitman, R., 1971, The Architect of Genocide. Himmler and the Final Solution, London: Bodley Head.

Cite this item

Bovy Daniel, Himmler (1900-1945), Heinrich , Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, [online], published on: 27 February, 2009, accessed 27/04/2020, http://bo-k2s.sciences-po.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/en/document/himmler-1900-1945-heinrich, ISSN 1961-9898
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