Heinrich Himmler

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Related to Heinrich Himmler: Rudolf Hess, Hermann Goering, Rudolf Heß

Himmler, Heinrich

Himmler, Heinrich (hīnˈrĭkh hĭmˈlər), 1900–1945, German Nazi leader. An early member of the National Socialist German Workers' (Nazi) party, Himmler took part in Adolf Hitler's “beer-hall putsch” of 1923, and in 1929 Hitler appointed him head of the SS, or Schutzstaffel, the party's black-shirted elite corps. When Hitler came to power he made Himmler head of police in Munich and then chief of the political police throughout Bavaria. After the party purge of June, 1934, which eliminated Ernst Roehm, head of the SA, or Nazi militia, Himmler's SS became the major police organ of the state. In 1936, Himmler was named chief of the German police; this brought him formal control over the Gestapo, the secret police that had been set up in 1933 by Hermann Goering. From his preeminent position Himmler terrorized his own party hierarchy as well as all German-held Europe, establishing and overseeing concentration camps and ordering incarceration and death for millions, particularly after the beginning of World War II. A superb bureaucrat and one of the most cold-blooded of the Nazi leaders, he was a fanatic racist. In Aug., 1943, he became minister of the interior, and after putting down the conspiracy against Hitler in July, 1944, he was the virtual dictator of German domestic policy. In Apr., 1945, just before Germany's defeat in World War II, Himmler secretly attempted to negotiate German surrender, hoping to save himself. Upon hearing of this, Hitler expelled him from the party. Himmler attempted to escape, but was arrested by British troops in May, 1945, and committed suicide by swallowing poison.


See biographies by W. Frischauer (1953), R. Marvell and H. Fraenkel (1965, repr. 1972), B. F. Smith (1971), and P. Longerich (2012).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Himmler, Heinrich


Born Oct. 7, 1900, in Munich; died May 23, 1945, in Lüneburg. One of the major war criminals of fascist Germany.

As a member of fascist bands after World War I (1914-18), Himmler took part in the suppression of the workers’ movement in Germany. He was a participant in the putsch in Munich in November 1923. In 1929 he became chief of the SS. After the seizure of power by the Hitlerites in 1933, Himmler was first head of the political police of Munich, then of Bavaria, and later of all Germany; in 1936 he became chief of the Gestapo. From 1943 he was Reich minister of the interior and from 1944, commander of the German Home Forces. Himmler was one of the principal organizers of the brutal terror against antifascists, of the concentration camp system, and of the mass extermination of the innocent civilians of the territories occupied by Hitler’s armies. After fascist Germany’s capitulation in 1945, he attempted to hide but was arrested and subsequently committed suicide.


Niurnbergskii protsess nad glavnymi nemetskimi voennymi prestupnikami, Sb. materialov, vols. 1-7. Moscow, 1957-61.
Rozanov, G. L. Germaniia pod vlast’iu fashizma (1933-1939 gg.). Moscow, 1964.
Bartel, W. Deutschland in der Zeit derfaschistischen Diktatur 1933-1945. Berlin, 1956.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Himmler, Heinrich

(1900–1945) architect of the “Final Solution” to exterminate Jews. [Ger. Hist.: Hitler]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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