Synopses & Reviews
Heinrich Himmler was an unremarkable looking man. Yet he was Hitler's top enforcer, in charge of the Gestapo, the SS, and the so-called Final Solution. We can only wonder, as biographer Peter Longerich asks, how could such a banal personality attain such a historically unique position of power? How could the son of a prosperous Bavarian Catholic public servant become the organizer of a system of mass murder spanning the whole of Europe?
In the first comprehensive biography of this murderous enigma, Longerich answers those questions with a superb account of Himmler's inner self and outward acts. Masterfully interweaving the story of Himmler's personal life and political career with the wider history of the Nazi dictatorship, Longerich shows how skillfully he exploited and manipulated his disparate roles in the pursuit of his far-reaching and grandiose objectives. Himmler's actual strength, he writes, consisted in redrawing every two or three years the master plans for his sphere of power. Himmler expanded that sphere with ruthless efficiency. In 1929, he took the SS-a small bodyguard unit-and swelled it into a paramilitary organization with elite pretensions. By the end of 1934 he had become Reich Chief of the Political Police, and began to consolidate all police power in his own hands. As Germany grabbed neighboring territory, he expanded the Waffen SS and organized the "Germanization" of conquered lands, which culminated in systematic mass murder. When the regime went on the defensive in 1942, Himmler changed his emphasis again, repressing any opposition or unrest. The author emphasizes the centrality of Himmler's personality to the Nazi murder machine-his surveillance of the private lives of his men, his deep resentments, his fierce prejudices-showing that man and position were inseparable.
Carefully researchedand lucidly written, Heinrich Himmler is the essential account of the man who embodied Hitler's apparatus of evil.
"[S]upremely enlightening." --Jacob Heilbrunn, The New York Times Book Review
"Splendid" - The Sunday Telegraph
"Longerich's study of Himmler's banal evil promises to bear the standard." --The Village Voice
"A masterpiece." --Richard J. Evans, author of The Coming of the Third Reich
"Peter Longerich, already the author of a distinguihed history of the Holocaust, has written a biography that tells us everything that the world could ever need to know about this most terrible, yet dreery, of Hitler's creatures....an authoritative record."--Max Hastings, NYORB
"A remarkable and wholly fascinating new book by Peter Longerich, a German historian who is among the world's leading scholars of the Holocaust and the Third Reich." --Jewish Journal
As head of the SS, chief of police, 'Reichskommissar for the Consolidation of Germanness', and Reich Interior Minister, Heinrich Himmler enjoyed a position of almost unparalleled power and responsibility in Nazi Germany. Perhaps more than any other single Nazi leader aside from Hitler, his name has become a byword for the terror, persecution, and destruction that characterized the Third Reich. His wide-ranging powers meant that he bore equal responsibility for the repression of the German people on the home front and the atrocities perpetrated by the SS in the East. Yet, in spite of his central role in the crimes of the Nazi regime, until now Himmler has remained a colourless and elusive figure in the history of the period.
In this, the first-ever comprehensive biography of the SS-Reichsfuhrer, leading German historian Peter Longerich puts every aspect of Himmler's life under the microscope. Masterfully interweaving the story of Himmler's personal life and political career with the wider history of the Nazi dictatorship, Longerich shows how skilfully he exploited and manipulated his disparate roles in the pursuit of his far-reaching and grandiose objectives. In the process, he illuminates the extraordinary degree to which Himmler's own personal prejudices, idiosyncrasies, and predilections made their mark on the organizations for which he was responsible - especially the SS, which in so many ways bore the characteristic hallmarks of its leader, and whose history remains both incomplete and incomprehensible without a detailed and intimate knowledge of its deeply sinister commander-in-chief.
About the Author
is Professor of Modern German History at Royal Holloway University of London and founder of the College's Holocaust Research Centre. He has published widely on the history of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, including Holocaust: The Nazi Murder and Persecution of the Jews
, also published by Oxford University Press, which is widely recognized as the standard account of the Nazi machinery of mass murder and the steps by which it unfolded.
Table of Contents
Abbreviatons and Glossary
Part I: Himmler's Early Years
1. Childhood and Youth
2. The Student of Agriculture
3. Struggle and Renunciation
4. A New Start in Lower Bavaria
5. The Party Functionary
6. Reichsfuhrer SS
Part II: Inside the Third Reich
7. The Take-Over of the Political Police
8. From Inspector of the Prussian Gestapo to Chief of the German Police
9. The State Protection Corps
Part III: The Order
10. Ideology and Religious Cult
11. Himmler's Leadership Style
12. Himmler as Educator
13. The SS Family
Part IV: Into War: Ambition and Disappointment
14. War Preparations and Expansion
15. War and Settlement in Poland
16. A New Racial Order
17. Repression in the Reich
18. Shifting Borders: The Year 1940
Part V: The Greater Germanic Reich: Living Space and Ethnic Murder
19. An Ideological War of Annihilation
20. From Mass Murder to the 'Final Solution'
21. The Murder of the European Jews
22. Settlement Policy and Racial Selection
23. The 'Iron Law of Ethnicity': Recruitment into the Waffen-SS
24. A Europe-wide Reign of Terror
Part VI: Downfall in Stages
25. A Turn in the War - A New Opportunity?