The Rise of Heinrich Himmler (Fall 2012)

During the Holocaust genocide, millions of Jews were murdered and forced to work until their deaths. Heinrich Himmler worked alongside Hitler during World War Two and throughout the Holocaust as Reichsfuhrer-SS, the highest position in the SS. As the man who would succeed Hitler if anything happened to him, Himmler was responsible for much of the Nazi Party’s success. Starting at the bottom, Himmler worked his way through the ranks focusing on propaganda, recruiting Nazi soldiers, leading German police forces, setting up the first concentration camp, and was responsible for the schematics of the Holocaust (Wikipedia). Himmler advanced through the hierarchy of the Nazi Part ranks, making him one of the most important figures in Germany during World War Two and the Holocaust time period.

Himmler was born into a financially stable family who also had connection with the Bavarian royal family (Jewish Virtual Library). Because of this connection, Himmler’s father was able to get him enlisted with the Eleventh Bavarian Regiment of Germany during World War One. Himmler was ecstatic to be involved in the war; however, he did not have the opportunity to play the role he would have liked. Himmler was unable to fight on the front line due to his lack of physical strength. As a child, Himmler struggled with sports and anticipated on working out often, but he was still mostly known for being a book worm.

Himmler’s intelligence paved the path for a college education at the Technical University of Munich where he would study agriculture (Death Camps Info). In college, Himmler held antisemitic views, but his views were nowhere near as strong as they were towards the end of his reign. Himmler was involved in a fencing fraternity in which the president was Jewish. Although Himmler was anitsemitic, he still held a respectful relationship with the fraternity’s president. It was not until Himmler joined the Nazi Party did his views became more radical.

With the stress of hyperinflation in Germany, Himmler’s parents stopped funding his education, leaving Himmler to finish obtaining his degree on his own money. Frustrated with his financial situation and his inability to find a job pertaining to his agriculture degree, Himmler put more efforts toward the Nazi Party. Due to his involvement in the Nazi Party, Himmler lost his office job; he also could not find a career in agriculture, forcing him to go through a downward spiral in life. Angry and even more opinionated than before, Himmler replaced the religion he was raised on, Catholicism, with Germanic mythology which shared many of the same views the Nazi Party held (Wikipedia).

Himmler continued to advance within the Nazi Party, being in charge of tasks in Bavaria. Himmler was responsible for giving speeches and promoting Nazi propaganda with literature (BBC History). When Himmler joined the Schutzstaffel (SS) as a district leader, Himmler proposed an idea to Hitler asking him to accept the idea of changing the SS into a loyal, powerful, and racially pure elite unit. Hitler was convinced and promoted Himmler to Deputy Reichsfuhrer. Himmler was very successful in this; he convinced many new to join the SS. The party grew more than ten times the size in about one year, increasing the party from 290 men to 3,000.

After von Hindenburg’s death, Hitler rose to head of state; thus creating more opportunities for Himmler to prosper. One of these opportunities was Himmler’s advancement to Chief of Munich police (Jewish Virtual Library). This was an important role with World War Two approaching. Himmler was also able to establish the SS Race and Settlement Main Office (Wikipedia). Now in control of the forces in Munich, Himmler used the SS Race and Settlement Main Office to fulfill his idea to Hitler of creating a racially pure elite force. Himmler examined the racial background and genetic history of the SS men. The men considered pure were strongly encouraged to produce at least four children; Himmler would also use other attempts to create a superior SS. Himmler’s efforts were rewarded when he was eventually given control of all German police outside of Prussia.

Continuing to work his way through the ranks in the Nazi Party, Himmler finally advanced to the highest SS rank, Reichsfuhrer-SS. However, with the great power, Himmler had to carry out tasks that may not have been so pleasant. Ernst Rohm, a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung (SA), was the one who had convinced Himmler to join the Nazi Party in the first place. However, due to hostility toward the SA, Hitler told Himmler that Rohm had to be killed.

While Germany is building its Nazi army, after being restricted in doing so by the Treaty of Versailles, the Germans were responsible for the pushing factor of World War Two. Before invading Poland, Himmler and two other men, Heydrich and Muller, two high ranking SS men who worked alongside with Himmler, devised a corrupt plan in order to make Poland look bad; the plan was called “Operation Himmler.” The Germans dressed in Polish uniforms and advocated for aggression against the Germans; this deceiving plan was used to justify the invasion of Poland. After the invasion, Himmler was given control over annexed areas, and within a year, he had a million Poles and about 300,000 Jews forced away to live elsewhere (BBC History). Later, Himmler reestablished the Einsatzgruppen, an SS task force, and led the task force to invade the Soviet Union. The invasion was horrendous with many Jews and other people opposing Nazis being killed. Nearly 500,000 Soviet prisoners of war were murdered in Nazi concentration camps.

The Nazi concentration camps were graves for many people that were discriminated against by the Nazis; the man responsible for them was Heinrich Himmler. The first concentration camp was set up in Dachau in 1933; by 1941, there were ten concentration camps (Wikipedia). Prisoners of the Holocaust were isolated from the outside world, brutally beaten, forced to carry out laborious tasks, and were used as lab rats in medical experiments. The Holocaust was not strictly forced labor; the Nazis took advantage of the abundance of people they had and tried to enhance science and technology through medical experiments. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor, conducted many experiments on the Jews; such as testing the amount of pressure a person can withstand by placing them in pressure chambers, testing drugs on the Jews, freezing them, attempting to change eye color with the use of chemicals, amputations, and other surgeries; unfortunately, the extent of Dr. Mengele’s experiments will not be known because Dr. Otmar von Verschuer destroyed all of the records that were sent to him. Although the experiments can be horrific, the results of some of his experiments could have been helpful in advancing medical technology.

One of the main people responsible for the genocide of millions of Jews was Henreich Himmler. Himmler was also the man who came up with the less bloody tactics in murdering people. Himmler attended a mass shooting of 100 people, and was surprisingly unable to handle the amount of blood he had seen and vomited (History Learning Center). Alternate killing methods such as the gas chambers were then brought about. The Holocaust was an implementation of the “Final Solution” that Hitler came up with which is to exterminate all Jews and create a superior race; Himmler was the man who oversaw that the Final Solution was in progression (BBC History). The extermination of millions of people was based off of religion. During the genocide was the first time Jews were considered to be a race rather than a religion making it a history force of both new ideas and religion/philosophy. Himmler and the Nazis, with their strong anti-Semitic views, blamed the Jews for Germany’s problems and adopted beliefs of the Christian anti-Semitism.

Himmler’s dedication of creating a superior race through the use of eugenics was important role in Germany during the Holocaust and World War Two period. As another science history force, Himmler was able to apply his degree in agriculture and his knowledge in farming to try selective breeding. As mentioned earlier, Himmler was obsessed with trying to create a superior Nordic race. Along with encouraging the pure SS men to have many offspring, Himmler used eugenics. Himmler created a program called Lebensborn in which Himmler used unmarried, racially pure women and paired them up with SS men strictly to impregnate them (History Learning Site). Himmler did not care about the women’s integrity because his mind was set on creating a dominate race. Himmler believed it to be a patriotic duty for women to get pregnant by SS men before they left for the war.

The 20 July Plot provided an opportunity for Hitler to gain even more respect from Hitler. Claus von Stauffenburg and German army officers tried to assassinate Hitler. When the plot failed, Hitler was furious. Himmler had over 5,000 people arrested and more than 4,900 were killed. Himmler’s plan to seek revenge on those who tried to kill his Fuhrer was a failure; however, the plan still gained Himmler more respect from Hitler and resulted in Himmler becoming more powerful in the SS. Himmler was appointed to Head of Reserve Army and was also named as Hitler’s successor.

Himmler spent the majority of his life working in the Nazi Party after a failed attempt to become an agronomist. Through his many years, Himmler was able to work his way up from the bottom and gain many leadership positions within the party. Himmler was even named Hitler’s successor and held the highest rank in the SS; however, not everything lasts forever. When a counter attack on the Soviets failed, Hitler became enraged and blamed Hitler for the failure and ended Himmler’s tenure. From there, the relationship between Hitler and Himmler quickly went downhill. Himmler tried to propose a peace treaty with the Allies. Himmler had tried negotiating with the Western Allies to form an alliance against the Soviet Union (Britannica). Hitler found out about Himmler’s negotiations, and he ordered for the arrest of Himmler. Afraid, Himmler ran away in the disguise of a Gestapo agent with a shaved moustache and an eye patch (Death Camps Info). Eventually Himmler was captured, but before they could do anything, Himmler bit a vial of cyanide that he had been hiding in his mouth. Doctors tried to detoxicate Himmler, but the poison had killed him within twelve minutes. Himmler had worked hard to gain his leadership positions within the Nazi party, but it all quickly ended in a suicide. Although Himmler was an evil political figure working alongside with Hitler, he was a genius who contributed his life and hard work to Germany during his time period. If it were not for Himmler and the schemes he devised, the Holocaust would have been very different.


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