7.10.1900 - 23.05.1945 German Nazi leader and chief of police

The son of a pious, authoritarian Roman Catholic schoolmaster who had once been tutor to the Bavarian Crown Prince. Himmler served as an officer cadet in the Eleventh Bavarian Regiment at the end of World War I, later obtaining a diploma in agriculture from Munich Technical High School where he studied from 1918 to 1922. After working briefly as a salesman for a firm of fertilizer manufacturers, the young Himmler joined a paramilitary, nationalist organization and participated in the Munich Beer-Hall putsch of November 1923 as standard-bearer at the side of Ernst Rohm, Secretary to Gregor Strasser. Both Rohm and Strasser were mentors to the young firebrand Hitler, but they too became victims of Hitler's paranoia and were later imprisoned and executed for dissension. He joined the Nazi Party in 1925, and in 1929 was made head of the SS (Schutzstaffel, protective force), which he developed from Hitler's personal bodyguard into a powerful Party weapon.

He also directed the secret police (Gestapo), and initiated the systematic liquidation of Jews. In 1943 he became minister of the interior, and in 1944 commander-in-chief of the home forces. Himmler was in fact the chief architect for the "final solution", the extermination of all European Jews. It was Himmler's master stroke that he succeeded in indoctrinating the SS with an apocalyptic 'idealism' beyond all guilt and responsibility, which rationalized mass murder as a form of martyrdom and harshness towards oneself. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Himmler's notorious speech on October 4th, 1943 to the SS Group Leaders in Poznan, Germany. Here is a quoted excerpt from that speech that emphasizes his belief in the final solution:

"We Germans, who are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude to animals, will also adopt a decent attitude to these human animals, but it is a crime against our own blood to worry about them and to bring them ideals."

Himmler once said that it didn't matter that ten thousand Russian women died while digging a ditch. It was more important that the ditch was dug to the required specifications and the job to be completed in the allotted time schedule. In April 1945 he was captured by the British army and was scheduled to stand trial with the other German leaders as a major war criminal, but on May 23, 1945 he committed suicide shortly after his arrest by swallowing a poison pellet which he had hidden in his mouth. In a gesture to forever dishonor and condemn their past lives, most Nazi war criminals were cremated and their ashes thrown into German rivers or other common places. Such is reputed to be the disposal of Himmler's body, but the actual whereabouts of his ashes or their disposition remain a mystery to this day. (bio by: Ron Greenberg)