Heinrich and Margarete Himmler
separated in 1940 without seeking divorce.
was also very interested in agriculture and the "back to the land" movement.
wife had romantic ideals of making a farming life.
joined the Artamanen society, a sort of idealistic back-to-the-land youth group, but mixed with racist ideology.
became one of the leaders of this movement.
Through this movement he
also apparently met Rudolf Höß, who would later preside over Auschwitz, and Richard Walther Darré, who would later work in the RuSHA (race and resettlement office) of the SS
Early SS: 1925-1934
Himmler joined the SS in 1925; his first position was that of SS-Gauführer (District Leader) in Bavaria.
In 1927, he
became Deputy-Reichsführer-SS, with the rank of SS-Oberführer, and upon the resignation of SS commander Erhard Heiden, in 1929, Himmler
was appointed Reichsführer-SS.
At that time, the SS
then had 280 members and was merely an elite battalion of the much larger Sturmabteilung (SA).
Over the next year, Himmler began a major expansion of the organization and, in 1930, he was promoted to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer (Reichsführer was, at that time, simply a title for the National Commander of the SS).
By 1933, the SS
numbered 52,000 members.
The organization enforced strict membership requirements ensuring that all members were of Hitler's Aryan Herrenvolk ("Aryan master race").
Himmler and his deputy Reinhard Heydrich began an effort to separate the SS from SA control.
In 1933, Himmler
was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer.
This made him an equal of the senior SA commanders, who by this time loathed the SS
and envied its power.
, Hermann Göring, and General Werner von Blomberg agreed that the SA and its leader Ernst Röhm posed a threat to the German Army
and the Nazi leadership.
Persuaded by Himmler
and Göring, Hitler
agreed that Röhm had to be eliminated.
On 20 April 1934, Göring formed a partnership with Himmler
Göring transferred authority over the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei), the Prussian secret police, to Himmler, who was also named chief of all German police outside Prussia.
On 22 April 1934, Himmler named Heydrich the head of the Gestapo.
On 17 June 1936, Himmler was named Chief of German Police after Hitler announced a decree that was to "unify the control of Police duties in the Reich".
Traditionally, law enforcement in Germany had been a state and local matter.
In this role, Himmler was nominally subordinate to Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick.
gained authority as all of Germany's uniformed law enforcement agencies were amalgamated into the new Ordnungspolizei (Orpo: "order police"), whose main office became a headquarters branch of the SS
gained only partial control of the uniformed police.
The actual powers granted to him were some that were previously exercised by the ministry of the interior.
It was only in 1943, when Himmler was appointed Minister of the Interior, that the transfer of ministerial power was complete.
With the 1936 appointment, Himmler also gained ministerial authority over Germany's non-political detective forces, the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo: crime police), which he merged with the Gestapo into the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo: security police) under Heydrich's command, and thus gain operational control over Germany's entire detective force.
This merger was never complete within the Reich, with Kripo remaining mainly under the control of its own civilian administration and later the party apparatus (as the latter annexed the civilian administration).
However, in occupied territories not incorporated into the Reich proper, Sipo consolidation within the SS line of command proved mostly effective.
In September 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, Himmler formed the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA: Reich Main Security Office) wherein the SiPo (Gestapo and Kripo) along with the Sicherheitsdienst (SD: security services) became departments under Heydrich's command therein.
Himmler oversaw the entire concentration camp system.
Once World War II began, however, new internment camps, which were not formally classified as concentration camps, were established over which Himmler and the SS
did not exercise control.
In 1943, following the outbreak of popular word-of-mouth criticism of the regime as a result of the Stalingrad disaster, the party apparatus, professing disappointment with the Gestapo's
performance in deterring such criticism, established the Politische Staffeln (political squads) as its own political policing organ, breaking the Gestapo's monopoly in this field.
during these years developed its own military branch, the SS-Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT), which later evolved into the Waffen-SS.
Even though nominally under the authority of Himmler
, the Waffen-SS developed a fully militarized structure of command and operationally were incorporated in the war effort parallel to the Wehrmacht
opened the first of these camps at Dachau on 22 March 1933.
He was the main architect of the Holocaust, using elements of mysticism and a fanatical belief in the racist Nazi ideology to justify the murder of millions of victims.
had similar plans for the Poles; intellectuals were to be killed, and he
believed most other Poles were to be only literate enough to read traffic signs.
On 18 December 1941, Himmler's
appointment book shows he
met with Hitler
The entry for that day poses the question "What to do with the Jews of Russia?", and then answers the question "als Partisanen auszurotten" (exterminate them as partisans").
In contrast to Hitler
inspected concentration camps.
As a result of these inspections, the Nazis searched for a new and more expedient way to kill, which culminated in the use of the gas chambers.
wanted to breed a master race of Nordic Aryans in Germany.
experience as a chicken farmer had taught him the rudiments of animal breeding which he
proposed to apply to humans.
believed that he
could engineer the German populace, through selective breeding, to be entirely "Nordic" in appearance within several decades of the end of the war.
On 4 October 1943, Himmler
referred explicitly to the extermination of the Jewish people during a secret SS meeting in the city of Pozna (Posen).
In 1939 Himmler
masterminded Operation Himmler, arguably the first operation of World War II in Europe.
Before the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 (Operation Barbarossa), Himmler
prepared his SS
for a war of extermination against the forces of "Judeo-Bolshevism".
, always glad to make parallels between Nazi Germany and the Middle Ages, compared the invasion to the Crusades.
collected volunteers from all over Europe, especially those of Nordic stock who were perceived to be racially closest to Germans, like the Danes, Norwegians, Swedes and Dutch.
Waffen SS recruitment in Western and Nordic Europe collected much less manpower, though a number of Waffen-SS Legions were founded, such as the Wallonian contingent led by Leon Degrelle, whom Himmler planned to appoint chancellor of a restored Burgundy within the Nazi orbit once the war was over.
immediately carried out a brutal reprisal, killing the entire population, including women and children, of the village of Lidice.
In 1943, Himmler
was appointed Reich Interior
Minister, replacing Frick, with whom he
had engaged in a turf war for over a decade.
For instance, Frick had tried to restrict the widespread use of "protective custody" orders that were used to send people to concentration camps, only to be begged off by Himmler
While Frick viewed the concentration camps as a tool to punish dissenters, Himmler
saw them as a way to terrorize the people into accepting Nazi rule.
sought to use his
new office to reverse the party apparatus's annexation of the civil service and tried to challenge the authority of the party gauleiters.
made things much worse still when following his
appointment as head of the Reserve Army
( Ersatzheer, see below) he
tried to use his
authority in both military and police matters by transferring policemen to the Waffen-SS.
threatening his power base, Bormann could not give him the opportunity fast enough, initially acquiescing in the policies, until furious protests broke out.
Then, Bormann came out against the scheme, leaving Himmler discredited, especially with the party, whose gauleiters now saw Bormann as their protector.
Unfortunately for Himmler