Heinrich Himmler: Family



Figure 1.--Here the adoring father is pictured with his daughter Gudrun at a sportsfestival in 1938. One of the most perplexing questions about the perpetrators of NAZI attrocities is the tenderness they often showed for their own families. Click on the image for a discussion.

Himmler met Margarete Boden for the first time in Bad Reichenhall (1926). They married July 3, 1928. He returned to poultry farming to support his new family, but failed. The increasing success of the NAZIs brought him back to the movement. The Himmlers had one child--a daughter Gudrun (Burwitz) (1929- ). We do not know how much his wife knew about his work and to what degree he confided in her. She seems to have viewed him essentially as a policeman. We do know that Himmler adored Gudrun and the two were very close. He called her Püppi (Dolly). Margarete adopted a son, but her husband showed no particular interestin him. The Himmler's separated (1940). They did not, however, obtain a divorce. Hitler would not approved of a divorce. The reasons for the separation are unclear, but are probably related to his frierndship with a secretary--Hedwig Potthast. She left her job and became his mistress (1941). Himmler had two children with her. There was a son, Helge (1942- ) and a daughter, Nanette Dorothea (1944- ). We are not sure if Hitler was aware of the family problems. He was very prudish about just matters and actually intervened when Propaganda Mimister Goebels nearly split with his wife. Press reports have suggested that Gudrun as an adult after the War became involved with Neo-NAZI groups. She is very reclusive and avoids the press. It is known that she played an important role in Stille Hilfe (Silent Help), a charity which aideds Germans charged with war crimes. This has included men like Klaus Barbie -- "the Butcher of Lyons" and Erich Priebke who killed Italian civilians. [Hall]

Beer Hall Putsch (1923)

Himmler joined the Nazi Party (August 1923). He was given Party number 14,303. He was a member of Röhm's SA paramilitary unit and this involved Hitler's abortive Beer Hall Putsch. He was questioned by the police after tge Pursch was put down. The police did not, however, charge because of insufficient evidence. He did lose his job ano not was interested in giring him as an agronomist. He was forced to move back in with his parents in Munich. Frustrated by hiscgrowing list of failures, he became ever more irritable, aggressive, and opinionated. He alienated friends and family by constantly ranting about radical, far-fetched ideas. He moved away fron the Church which especill

Marriage

Himmler met Margarete Boden for the first time in Bad Reichenhall (1926). They married July 3, 1928. She was 7 yers older and more financialy stable than him. We suspect he was adopting his father's well-tried example of social climbiung. Margarete was a nurse. She shared his interest in herbal medicine and homoeopathy, with more actual knowledge. She was also part owner of a small private clinic. His political activity with the NAZIs provided little income. He returned to poultry farming to support his new family, but failed.

Return to the NAZIs

The increasing success of the NAZIs brought him back to the movement. He never left the vement, but the failure of his business ventures caused him to resume fykk

Gudrun

the Himmlers had one child--a daughter Gudrun (Burwitz) (1929- ). We do know that Himmler adored Gudrun and the two were very close. He called her Püppi (Dolly). Press reports have suggested that Gudrun as an adult after the War became involved with Neo-NAZI groups. She is very reclusive and avoids the press. It is known that she played an important role in Stille Hilfe (Silent Help), a charity which aided Germans charged with war crimes. This has included men like Klaus Barbie -- "the Butcher of Lyons" and Erich Priebke who killed Italian civilians. [Hall]

Family Knowledge

We do not know how much his wife knew about his work and to what degree he confided in her. Margarete was not politically sophisticated. She seems to have viewed him essentially as a policeman.

Foster Son

The Himmlers became foster parents to a boy named Gerhard von Ahe, the son of an SS officer who had died before the war. Margarete was left to raise him mostly on her own. Her husband showed no particular interest in him.

Family Life

After the NAZIs seized power, Himmler as Reuch-Führer SS, the Himmlers were able to live a confortable family life. Family snapshots show an idyllic family life with outings into the country. One snapshot shows hin tebderly hilding Margarete hand while blond, pigtailed Gudrun picks flowers. Other photographs show him feeding a fawn and bathing in Lake Tegernsee located near their home. [Welt am Sonntag] He refers to Margarete as 'my sweet, beloved litte woman'. Amid tender words are jarring anti-Semitic comments. Both Himmler and Margarette were staunch anti-Semites. Happy family scenes like this were reported over and over again in NAZI Germany. One obsever desribes how "The private writings with his family enable us to compare between somene who lives a seemingly normal life in private, while at the same time he is a mass murderer in public life." [Gertner] And as in some other cases, it does not sem to have bothered his beloved Gudrun.

Separation

The Himmler's separated (1940). They did not, however, obtain a divorce. Hitler would not approved of a divorce.

Mistress

The reasons for the separation are unclear, but are probably related to his frierndship with a secretary--Hedwig Potthast. She left her job and became his mistress (1941). Himmler had two children with her. There was a son, Helge (1942- ) and a daughter, Nanette Dorothea (1944- ). We are not sure if Hitler was aware of the family problems. He was very prudish about just matters and actually intervened when Propaganda Minister Goebels nearly split with his wife. Unlike Frau Goebbeks, Frau Himmiler does not seem to have personally sought Hitler's intervention.

Sources

Gertner, Haim. Director of Yad Vashem Archives Division.

Hall, Allan. "How Himmler's daughter helps Nazi death-camp guard beat justice," Scottsman.com (November 2, 2007).

Welt am Sonntag These photographs and a range of paper and letters were found by U.S. Army soldiers in asafe in Himmler's home afer the War (May 1945). They were never before published. They were eventually obtained by Vanessa Lapa. She has used them for a 2014 documentary.






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Created: 10:06 AM 4/28/2010
Last edited: 5:50 PM 9/4/2014