Heinrich Himmler: Key Dates
October 7, 1900
Heinrich Himmler is born in Munich, Germany.
Himmler graduates from high school in Landshut.
Himmler receives his degree in agriculture from the Technical University in Munich.
Himmler joins the Nazi Party.
November 9, 1923
Himmler marches in the Beer Hall Putsch against the German government.
Himmler marries Margarete Boden.
Adolf Hitler appoints Himmler Reichsführer SS, chief of the SS.
Himmler creates the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst; SD) of the Nazi Party.
Himmler establishes the SS Race and Settlement Office, which determines eligibility for entry into the SS and establishes the SS as a so-called racial elite.
The Nazis obtain control of the German state with the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor.
March 9, 1933
Himmler is appointed provisional president of police in Munich.
Himmler obtains command of all state political police departments in Germany and centralizes them within the Secret State Police (the Gestapo).
June 17, 1936
Adolf Hitler appoints Himmler Reichsführer SS and Chief of German Police. Himmler is now commander of all German police.
September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland, starting World War II.
September 27, 1939
Himmler joins the Security Police and the SD and creates the Reich Security Main Office, the agency which will be entrusted with coordinating the annihilation of the European Jews.
October 7, 1939
Adolf Hitler appoints Himmler Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of German Ethnic Stock. This appointment gives Himmler leading authority to plan and implement population policy in German-occupied Poland.
Hitler, Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich and other top personnel reach the decision to physically annihilate the Jews of Europe.
June 22, 1941
Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union. SS and police authorities supported by the military and by local auxiliaries begin to systematically shoot Soviet Jews.
July 16, 1941
Hitler entrusts Himmler with exclusive responsibility for security and race and settlement operations in the occupied Soviet Union, underpinning his authority to plan and implement population policies, including the physical annihilation of the European Jews.
July 31, 1941
Reich Marshall Hermann Göring authorizes Himmler's deputy, Heydrich, as chief of RSHA, to coordinate a “complete solution of the Jewish Question.”
December 1941–Summer 1942
As the elimination of Jewish communities in the Soviet Union continues, Himmler's subordinates—with his authorization—construct and put into operation five killing centers in German-occupied Poland to annihilate the European Jews
Hitler appoints Himmler Minister of the Interior.
Hitler appoints Himmler commander-in-chief of Army Group Upper Rhine.
April 28–29, 1945
Himmler attempts to transmit an offer of surrender to the commander-in-chief of the Allied forces. When Hitler hears of the attempt, he strips Himmler of all his offices and orders his arrest.
April 30, 1945
Hitler commits suicide.
May 7, 1945
Nazi Germany signs a surrender document.
May 20, 1945
Russian soldiers capture Himmler and turn him over to the British.
May 23, 1945
Himmler commits suicide.
Critical Thinking Questions
- Explore how challenges to ethical behavior and leadership played out in the context of the Holocaust. How do these challenges confront us today?
- In what ways did the SS coordinate the activities of German and foreign police agencies to persecute perceived "enemies of the state"?
- How can knowledge of the events in Germany and Europe before the Nazis came to power help citizens today respond to threats of genocide and mass atrocity in the world?