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March 7th

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6.1.2 - Heinrich Himmler (1900 - 1945)

Head of the SS, the Black Order of the Nazi elite: narrow-minded, prudish, sexually inhibited; married a blond- haired blue-eyed Valkyrie named Margarete Boden, secluded at his Dahlem villa while he produced two daughters by his secretary Hedwig Potthast.

A superb bureaucrat and one of the most cold-blooded of the Nazi leaders, he was a fanatic racist. He is the one man most directly responsible for the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, being a fanatic heterosexualist, and at the same time, a fanatic anti-homosexualist.

Born in Munich, Germany, to a strict Roman Catholic father, after an uneventful upbringing and schooling and a brief period in the army at the tail end of the First World War, he obtained a diploma in agriculture in 1922. Along with many others who had served in the armed forces during the War, the defeat and subsequent social turmoil in early phases of the Wiemar Republic drew him to involvement with right-wing nationalist groups.

Himmler worked as a salesman for a firm of fertilizer manufacturers before joining a para- military organization in Adolf Hitler's "Beer-Hall Putsch" in November of 1923, and joined the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party = Nazi) in 1925.

1927 he was just a poultry farmer. But in January 1929 Hitler appointed him Reichsführer of the SS (the SchutzStaffel), the party's black-shirted elite corps. When Hitler came to power he made Himmler head of police in Munich and then chief of the political police throughout Bavaria. His power base in the party, and hs appointment as leader of the SS, were the source of his subsequent huge influence in the Third Reich.

In 1930, he was elected to the Reichstag as Nazi Deputy for Weser-Ems. Himmler was given control over both the political police, which later became the Gestapo; and over the Prussian police in 1933- 1934.

Himmler set up the first concentration camp in Dachau in 1933.

After the party purge of June, 1934, which eliminated Ernst Röhm, head of the SA, the brown-shirts or Nazi militia, and also crushed the para-military SA, Himmler's SS became the major police organ, and dominant organization, of the state.

In 1936, Himmler was named Chef der Deutschen Polizei (chief of the German police); this brought him full control over the Gestapo, the secret police that had been set up in 1933 by Hermann Goering. In June of 1936, a power-thirsting Himmler becomes Reichsführer of the SS. He had prepared for action by reorganizing the entire state police into three divisions. The political executive, Division II, was directly responsible for the control of "illegal parties and organizations, leagues and economic groups, reactionaries and the Church, freemasonry, and homosexuality."

Himmler personally favoured the immediate "extermination of degenerates," but he was empowered to order the summary execution only of homosexuals discovered within his own bureaucratic domain. Civilian offenders were merely required to serve out their prison sentences (although second offenders were subject to castration).

From his preeminent position Himmler terrorized his own party hierarchy as well as all German-held Europe, establishing and overseeing concentration camps and ordering incarceration and death for millions, particularly after the beginning of World War II.

In 1936, Himmler found a way around this obstacle. Following release from prison, all "enemies of the state"-including homosexuals-were to be taken into protective custody and detained indefinitely. "Protective custody" (Schutzhaft) was an euphemism for concentration camp internment. Himmler gave special orders that homosexuals be placed in Level Three camps-the human death mills described by Neudegg. These camps were reserved for Jews and homosexuals.

The Gestapo was the agent of the next escalation of the campaign against homosexuality. Ex-chicken farmer Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuhrer SS and head of the Gestapo, richly deserves a reputation as the most fanatically homophobic member of the Nazi leadership. In 1936, he gave a speech on the subject of homosexuality and described the murder of Ernst Rohm (which he had engineered) in these terms:

"Two years ago...when it became necessary, we did not scruple to strike this plague with death, even within our own ranks." Himmler closed with these words: "Just as we today have gone back to the ancient Germanic view on the question of marriage mixing different races, so too in our judgment of homosexuality -- a symptom of degeneracy which could destroy our race -- we must return to the guiding Nordic principle: extermination of degenerates."

By early 1937 gay men were being purged from his SS troups at the rate of merely one a month, but in that year Himmler gave a speech branding homosexuals as mentally diseased, effeminate, cowardly, liars, traitors, irresponsible and disloyal.

In his address to the Bad Tölz conference to the SS Group Commanders on February 18th, 1937, he ordered that gay SS men should be routed out, stripped of rank, expelled, court martialed, and imprisoned for the duration allowed by Paragraph 175. In a particularly convoluted piece of Nazi logic, Heinrich Himmler put homosexuality under the ideology of racial theory and racial purity. Drawing upon the fact that Germany had lost over 2 million men during WWI, thus creating a serious imbalance in the reproductive sex ratio, he added an estimated 2 million homosexuals who had doubled the imbalance. Never mind the fact that they were not going to procreate anyway, Himmler proceeded to use those facts as a rationale for bringing homosexuality under Nazi racial policy. Portions of that speech follow:

"If you further take into account the facts that I have not yet mentioned, namely that with a static number of women. We have two million men too few on account of those who fell in the war, then you can well imagine how this imbalance of two million homosexuals and two million war dead, or, in other words a lack of about four million men capable of having sex, has upset the sexual balance sheet of Germany, and will result in a catastrophe.

"I would like to develop a couple of ideas for you on the question of homosexuality. There are those homosexuals who take the view: what I do is my business, a purely private matter. However, all things which take place in the sexual sphere are not the private affair of the individual, but signify the life and death of the nation, signify world power or 'swissification.'

"The people which has many children has the candidature for world power and world domination. A people of good race which has too few children has a oneway ticket to the grave, for insignificance in fifty or a hundred years, for burial in two hundred and fifty years....


Therefore we must be absolutely clear that if we continue to have this burden in Germany, without being able to fight it, then that is the end of Germany, and the end of the Germanic world...."

After likening the homosexual who was killed and thrown into a peat bog to the weeding process in a garden, Himmler continued his tirade:

Himmler"...In the SS, today, we still have about one case of homosexuality a month. In a whole year, about eight to ten cases occur in the entire SS. I have now decided upon the following: in each case, these people will naturally be publicly degraded, expelled, and handed over to the courts. Following completion of the punishment imposed by the court, they will be sent, by my order, to a concentration camp, and they will be shot in the concentration camp, while attempting to escape. I will make that known by order to the unit to which the person so infected belonged. Thereby, I hope finally to have done with persons of this type in the SS, and the increasingly healthy blood which we are cultivating for Germany, will be kept pure."

Translated in Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wipperman, The Racial State: Germany 1933-1945 (New York, 1991), pp. 192-93.

This was accompanied by private instructions to his generals:

"After serving the sentence imposed by the court, they will, on my instructions, be taken to a concentration camp and there shot while attempting to escape."

When, in 1940, his masseuse/confidant, Felix Kersten, mentioned that many scholars had concluded that Prussian King Frederick II (the Great) may have been gay, Himmler responded:

"[People] should bow in silence before his greatness ... if a dozen so-called proofs were put before me, I would brush them aside ... because my feelings tell me that the man who won for Prussia its place in the sun could not have had any of the tendencies of these homosexual weaklings. ... The homosexuals must be entirely eliminated."

A curious result of Himmler's efforts was the capture of the Danish foreign minister P. Munch's homosexual son Ebbe Munch in January 1940 in a Hamburg gay den. He was threatened with capital punishment by Himmler who at once realized the extortionist bargaining chip. The foreign minister had secret meetings the 15th and 17th of March 1940 in Rostock with the Germans preparing their invasion of Denmark the 9th of April. The report of the negotiations was transported by a German bomber-plane, which parachuted the message on Danish territory. After the almost bloodless (11 Danes killed - in WW2 a total of 1.000 died every hour) occupation the son was returned to Denmark as a free man.

In 1941 Himmler sent a confidentail circular to the SS generals and to the police:

"Any member of the SS or police who engaged in indecent behaviour with another man or permits himself to be abused by him for indecent purposes, will, regardless of age, be condemned to death and executed. In less grave cases, a term of not less than six years' penal servitude or imprisonment may be imposed."

By "indecent behaviour" Himmler included not only copulation but also "touching the body of the other person, even when fully clothed, also the act of kissing." This decision was welcomed by both Goebbels and by SS Central Office Chief Gottlob Berger. In 1942 the Reich Ministry of Justice publicly adopted the death penalty for homosexuals.

Himmler was also directly responsible for much of the anti-gay propaganda drummed into the masses. For example, he enlisted the help of scholars to prove that the "noble" race of ancient Germans solved the problem by drowning homosexuals in bogs and fens.

Over the next two years, an intricate network of informants was developed. School children were encouraged to inform on teachers they suspected of homosexuality, employers on employees and vice versa. Homosexuals who were arrested were used to create lists of homosexuals or suspected homosexuals. The clear intention was to identify every homosexual in Germany and move them to concentration camps.

Himmler clearly recognised that these strategies would not solve the sexual imbalance problem in Germany. Instead, the purpose of the plan was, in Himmler's own words, to "identify" the homosexual and remove them from society. He still needed a rationale for exterminating them. As in the case with the Gypsies , Himmler fell back on "medical science" as the solution to the homosexuality problem.

Professor Eckhardt of Berlin University, the German authority on legal history in Nazi period, said:

"In assessing the racially pernicious sympton of degeneracy known as homosexuality, we must revert to the Nordic principle that degenerates should be exterminated."

After bein Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of German Folkdom, in August of 1943, he became Reich Minister of the Interior, and after putting down the conspiracy against Hitler in July, 1944, he was the virtual dictator of German domestic policy.

In April of 1945, just before Germany's defeat in World War II, Himmler secretly attempted to negotiate German surrender, hoping to save himself. Upon hearing of this, Hitler expelled him from the party. Himmler attempted to escape, but was arrested by British troops in May, 1945, and committed suicide by swallowing poison.

Heinrich Himmler was one of the most ruthless henchman Hitler had. He ordered the deaths of millions, beginning with the 'blood purge' in 1934 and ending with the systematic killings of Jews in World War Two concentration camps.

Today he is believed to be the head cohort in coordinating the Reichstag fire, after following Hitler's orders. The Reichstag building was the democratic party's headquarters. On February 27, 1933, in hopes of disrupting the proceedings going on that evening, Himmler and the rest of the SS he commanded snuck into the building through the heating tunnels and place gas bombs throughout. The Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels blamed the fire on the Communists. This gave the Nazis an excuse to bring down the Communist Party by search and seizures, arrests, and killings, using the excuse that they were withholding evidence from the fire.

He was the leadership of the Waffen SS, a powerful and destructive para-military organization in Germany. Himmler was the mainstay of the fulfillment of Hitler's anti-semitic views in the term coined "The Final Solution". He was the man to create the first concentration camp in Dachau, and was the right hand of Hitler to expand these horrific prisons.

In a perverse irony, non-German gays were not incarcerated. Since Himmler believed that homosexuality destroyed societies, he thought it "beneficial" to allow Polish, French, and other non-German gays to remain implanted in their respective cultures-so long as they did not seduce German males.

Himmler was a small, humble-looking man who did not seem the type to aid in the destruction of other nations, so that the superior nation of Germany (with a superior race) could take over Europe. Himmler had great pride for his nation, yet also believed in the superior race, termed the "Aryan" race. He believed any race which was different from Aryan decent, was a sub-race with sub-humans as that race's followers. Therefore, since he also believed these sub-humans were inferior to German blood, these people were to work to death, or simply be killed.

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