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Heinrich Himmler's Death

Heinrich Himmler

The life and death of Heinrich Himmler:

He earned a place in history as one of the most brutal mass murderers of all time. This right-hand man to Germany's Adolph Hitler in World War II was the architect of the Holocaust and the head of the dreaded SS. Captured after the war, he took the coward's way out by committing suicide.

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was born into a Roman Catholic family in Munich. His father Gebhard was a teacher and his mother Anna Maria was a devout Catholic.

Heinrich Himmler childhood photo

Himmler was the second of two sons with an older brother named Gebhard and a younger brother called Ernst.

Heinrich Himmler with his brothers

His father was deputy principal at the grammar school he attended and Himmler was a good student. However, he had poor health, suffering with stomach problems.

His father's connections helped him to begin training with the Landshut Cadet Corps in 1915 and he was accepted as an officer candidate.

Heinrich Himmler with the Landshut Cadet Corps

World War I ended while he was still in training and after the war, Himmler studied Agronomy – which entails growing and using plants for food and fuel.

In his early years he regularly associated with Jews with little incident, but over time became increasingly negative towards them. This set the stage for his participation in Hitler's "Final Solution" - the extermination of the Jews. First as a member and later as the leader of the dreaded SS and Gestapo, Himmler was the individual who planned and built the death camps.

He felt shooting the Jewish prisoners would damage the psyche of his German soldiers and that he had to find a less personal way to do it. So Himmler came up with the idea of using poison gas at places like Auschwitz…


…and the other concentration camps, like Dachau.


He married Margarete Bowden in 1927. She was seven years older than he was and they had a daughter named Gudrun.

Heinrich Himmler with his wife and daughter

Himmler also had a mistress need Hedwig Potthast...

Hedwig Potthast

…and wrote her love letters, like this one.

Heinrich Himmler love letter

Heinrich and Hedwig had two children together - a son and a daughter. Both his wife and mistress remained loyal to Himmler. Daughter Gudrun…


…claims she was mistreated at the post-war Nuremberg trials and remained devoted to her father's memory.

Although Himmler and Hitler did not socialize much…

Heinrich Himmler with Hitler

…he was a leading Nazi and directed the killing of 6 million Jews, up to 500,000 Romani people. All told, his victims totaled an estimated 11 to 14 million people.

When Himmler realized the war was lost he tried to negotiate with the Allies, but this drew Hitler's attention and Himmler was thrown out of the Nazi hierarchy and ordered arrested. Himmler tried to go into hiding but was arrested by some former Soviet POW's and was turned over to the British. But Himmler committed suicide by biting down on a cyanide capsule and he was dead in fifteen minutes.

Heinrich Himmler dead

The British took a movie to show the enemy was really dead.

This death mask was made of Heinrich Himmler…

Heinrich Himmler death mask

…whose remains were buried in an unmarked grave, location unknown, near Luneberg, Germany.

"Der Spiegel" magazine described him in 2008 as one of the most brutal mass murderers in history and the architect of the Holocaust.

Heinrich Himmler on cover of TIME magazine