Who was Heinrich Himmler?

Heinrich Himmler was a leading member of the Nazi Party, one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany, and a chief architect of the Holocaust (1938). Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (German Federal Archives)

As Reichsführer (National Leader) of the SS, Heinrich Himmler was by the end of World War II the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany. He was responsible for conceiving and directing the implementation of the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”. The German secret police, security police, and criminal police all reported to him through his chief lieutenants Reinhard Heydrich and Ernst Kaltenbrunner. He also oversaw and controlled the vast Nazi concentration camp system, including the economic exploitation of prisoner labor as a means of extermination.

On October 4, 1943, he told a group of SS generals with respect to “the annihilation of the Jewish people” that: “this page of glory in our history has never been written and will never be written…. We had the moral right, we were obligated to kill this people which wanted to kill us.”

At the end of the war, he tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with the Allies, and even met with a representative of the World Jewish Congress in April 1945. Himmler committed suicide on May 23, 1945, while in British captivity.