Friday 23 February 2018

Nazi leader Himmler's secret diaries reveal schedule of massages and mass murder.

Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler

Excerpts from Nazi SS leader Heinrich Himmler's diary show how mass murder was institutionalised and routine in Adolf Hitler's Germany.

Bild newspaper has been publishing extracts from the day planner, which was found in a Russian archive in 2013 and is being prepared for publication next year.

The service diaries, which cover 1938 and the crucial war years of 1943 and 1944, had been snatched by the Red Army towards the end of the war.

Extracts document the hour-by-hour schedule of the reviled SS chief, juxtaposing phone calls with his wife and daughter alongside writs of execution.

Several of them allude to massage appointments taken early in the day which could last up to hours.

The January 3 1943 entry shows Himmler ate a late breakfast followed by a massage, then spoke on the phone to his wife and daughter.

He ends his day ordering civilians in Poland to be executed in retaliation for a partisan attack on a police station, and the families of the policemen, who did not fight back, to be sent to concentration camps.

Sometimes he would relax by watching a film, or playing cards or he would just "gaze at the stars" in between meetings with Adolf Hitler and other senior Nazi officials in which the Holocaust was planned and carried out.

One entry on a visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp reads: "Took a snack in the café at the SS casino."

Damian Imoehl, the Bild reporter who tracked down the diaries, said he was struck by the impression they created of a man who was at once a doting father and a mass killer.

"The most interesting thing for me is that combination," he said.

"He was very careful about his wife and daughter, as well as his affair with his secretary. He takes care of his comrades and friends.

"Then there is the man of horror. One day he starts with breakfast and a massage from a personal doctor, then he rings up his wife and daughter in the south of Germany and after that he decides to have ten men killed or visits a concentration camp."

Nikolaus Katzer, the director of the German Historical Institute, said: "The importance of these documents is that we get a better structural understanding of the last phase of the war.

"It provides insight into the changing role of Himmler and insight into the SS elite and overall the entire German leadership."

Political theorist Hannah Arendt once famously called Himmler's underling Adolf Eichmann an example of the "banality of evil".

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