Never before has the history of the
SS— the Nazi
been given in such an easy-to-digest form, woven around the life and career of SS chief Heinrich Himmler. Avoiding the usual dry chronological recital of facts, G. S. Graber reveals
known how the
aspects of the SS not widely
before now: the SS rituals;
SS also functioned as a business
and how the key SS men (Himmler, Heydrich, Eichmann and others) operated within the SS— and
often against each other.
Throughout the narrative
historical points in the history of the
Europe; the Kristallnacht; the
nation of Heydrich; the suppression
(continued on back flap)
Book Club Edition
HISTORY OF THE SS G. S.
McKay Company, New York
1978 by G.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this
book, or parts thereof, in any form, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.
Manufactured in the United States of America
To my wife Phyl,
The Man on
Consolidation, Growth, and Internal Strife
The The The The
The SS as a Business Corporation The SS Abroad before the War The Last Days of Reinhard Heydrich The Occupation of Europe Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto The SS after July 20, 1944 Adolf Eichmann the NCO as Visionary Heinrich Himmler— the End of the Road The SS and Human Behavior The SS in History The SS Since the War
16 17 18
of Black over
Occupation of Germany Predators
Appendix: Organizational Structure of SS Index
24 45 59 74 88 96 104 116 129 135
154 162 175
188 195 201
204 213 219
the time of the capitulation of Germany there were half a million men, the greater part of them foreigners, wearing the insignia of the SS on their German uniforms. In addition to the Armed SS there were tens of thousands of office employees who belonged to the General SS and there were hundreds of high-placed German officials who belonged to the Honorary SS. Among the activities of the SS there were offices whose concern was Germanic archaeology and ancestral research, other offices devoted to forging foreign banknotes, collecting information on alchemy and astrology, institutes for the cultivation of medicinal herbs and wild rubber roots. The SS also controlled a mineral water and a porcelain factory, numerous .
nightclubs in foreign capitals and a publishing firm.
Alibi of a Nation.
HISTORY OF THE SS
THE MAN ON THE MOTORCYCLE On
February 25, 1924, a man in his early twenties heavily muffled was to be seen roaring on a secondhand Swedish motorcycle from one village to another in Lower Bavaria. He had a against the cold,
slightly receding chin,
was of medium
apart from a slightly mongoloid quality about his features,
tinguishable from thousands of lower-middle-class officials you might
have come across in any German town of the time. He could have been standing behind a bank counter, he might have studied your income tax returns, or he could have been a teacher at the local school. His name was Heinrich Himmler, and he was to become the most notorious mass murderer of all time. Presently he was doing his bit
and taking himself very seriously indeed in the procnumber of institutions and people. He abhorred the Jews, he could not abide Freemasons, he conveyed a profound hatred for capitalism, almost matched by his intense aversion to Bolshevism. What he was for was not so easy to discern. One group which almost certainly captured his enthusiasm was the peasantry. He never really understood town life, and what he knew of it for his country ess.
repelled him. timeless,
against a large
contrast, the picture of the noble peasant at his
simple work was irresistibly attractive to Himmler.
something about herbs, and
learned things from their cultivation which were to influence him in his later theories
on human breeding.
he got home at the end of the day, he wrote in his diary: "23 February, speeches in Eggmuhl, Lanwaid, and Birnbach. 24 February, discussions in Kelheim and Saal followed by individual enlightenment. 25 February, lecture in Rohr, one and a half hours."
Himmler was born of 2
Hildegardstrasse on October
an apartment on the second floor 7,
1900. His father, Gebhard
his living as a private tutor
and numbered among
students Prince Heinrich of Wittelsbach of the reigning Bavarian
HISTORY OF THE
royal family. In a pedantic, self-effacing letter to the prince, the elder
Himmler announced among other things that his new son weighed The prince responded politely, gave permission for the baby to be named after him, and accepted the role of godfather. However trivial such a gesture may appear in retrospect, at the time there is no doubt that the young Heinrich had the Estabseven pounds, three ounces.
lishment very firmly on his side.
Heinrich by two years while, Ernst, the youngest, was born in 1905.
great deal of speculation has occurred about the nature of
Himmler's family conscious,
In an age replete with investigation of the sub-
not surprising that any attempt to explain Heinrich
Himmler should be larded with psychological
amateur psychologists have been given very little to go on. There is nothing in Heinrich Himmler's background to explain why he should have developed into a monster. Almost out of pique, one biographer, Gerald Reitlinger, has described Himmler's family life as "depressingly normal." It was certainly normal, but why this should be depressing throws more light on the biographer than it does on Himmler.
In fact, such reports of Himmler's father that have been gathered
that he was a relatively genial man, something of a pedant who, most teachers of his time, spent considerable energy in relating to his students the benefits of hard work. He sported a small goatee beard, and surviving photographs display a definite twinkle in his eyes. His library contained a great number of works on German history—evidently a subject which absorbed him. No doubt he passed this interest on to his sons. Himmler's mother was a shadowy figure, devoutly Catholic and firmly entrenched in middle-class values. If you do not know that you are going to become famous or infamous, there is no reason to maintain a family record to lighten the work of future historians. Thus the only source material on the young Heinrich Himmler are the diaries he kept, and these do not create a continuous record. He started a diary on August 23, 1914, about six weeks before his fourteenth birthday. But intervals between entries became longer and longer. He would start again, usually announcing that it was typical of his inherent laziness and self-indulgence that he had permitted such long gaps to occur. It was only by accident that these diaries ever came to light. In the heyday of souvenir hunting which appears to have constituted the main activity of the American GFs at the cessation of hostilities in 1945, one soldier found them in Himmler's villa at Gmund on the like
The Man on
came to the attention of them home together with
Tegernsee, a lake in Bavaria. Their existence
an American intelligence
mementos of his war career. There they sat until 1957, possibly shown with some pride to house guests after dinner. Then, in 1957, the ex-intelligence officer came into contact with an American historian who, not surprisingly, pounced on this "find" and persuaded the owner to deposit the diaries at the Hoover Institute. The historian has described the diaries in the following way: "They consist of six cheap, soft-covered notebooks of varying size. The first covers 23 August 1914 to 26 September 1915 and has some isolated shorthand notes for 1916. The second covers 1 August 1919 to 2 February 1920. It contains, in a rear pocket, a number of keepsakes: other
girls, an ice-rink ticket, a guitar ribbon and an unused theater ticket. The third notebook covers 1 November 1921 to 12 December 1921. Other periods are 12 January 1922 to 6 July 1922 and 11 to 25 February 1925." The documents reveal some clues to Himmler's formative years. By the time the First World War broke out, the Himmler family had moved to Landshut, a town to the northeast of Munich. Heinrich's
snapshots of unidentified inscribed with a date,
diary of the period of the war.
of references to the progress
Sometimes he would simply copy down information gar-
nered from the official Army bulletins or the fuller reports in the newspaper to which the family subscribed, the Miinchner Neueste Nachrichten. Such personal asides as he would interpose consisted of passages condemning the local citizenry of Landshut for not showing sufficient enthusiasm for the war. He also repeatedly expressed profound regret that he was too young to join the Army. When his brother Gebhard, the elder by two years, enlisted in the Landsturm in 1915, Himmler wrote, "Oh, if only I were as old as that and could go
He nagged at his father. Surely he could pull some Court to expedite Heinrich's entry into the Army. The father succumbed to his son's entreaties, and in late 1917 Heinrich Himmler entered the Second Bavarian Infantry Regiment, the Von der Tann. Meanwhile Prince Heinrich had been killed in action and Himmler's father received a letter from the Court which informed him that "The J. N. Oberndorffer Bank, 18 Salvatorstrasse, Munich, has been instructed to send you 1000 5% Germa...