“Goodbye” Heinrich Himmler – Died 23 May 1945
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler later appointed him Commander of the Replacement (Home) Army and General Plenipotentiary for the entire Reich’s administration (Generalbevollmächtigter für die Verwaltung). Himmler was one of the individuals most directly responsible for the Holocaust.
As a member of a reserve battalion during World War I, Himmler did not see active service. He studied agronomy in college, and joined the Nazi Party in 1923 and the SS in 1925. In 1929, he was appointed Reichsführer-SS by Hitler. Over the next 16 years, he developed the SS from a mere 290-man battalion into a powerful group with its own military, and, following Hitler’s orders, set up and controlled the Nazi concentration camps. From 1943 onwards, he was both Chief of German Police and Minister of the Interior, overseeing all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo (Secret State Police).
On Hitler’s behalf, Himmler formed the Einsatzgruppen and built extermination camps which resulted in the killing of some six million Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Romany people, and others such as homosexuals, political opponents and those considered asocial.
Late in World War II, Himmler took command of the Army Group Upper Rhine and the Army Group Vistula but failed to achieve his objectives and was replaced. Shortly before the end of the war, he attempted to open peace talks with the western Allies without Hitler’s knowledge. Hearing of this, Hitler dismissed him from all his posts in April 1945 and ordered his arrest. Himmler attempted to go into hiding, but was detained and then arrested by British forces once his identity became known. While in British custody, he committed suicide on 23 May 1945.