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Old 07-09-2022, 08:34 PM   #24 (permalink)
Trollheart
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III: The Bride Wore Black: Till Death Do We Part

Despite his initial aversion to, one could almost say revulsion at, women, Himmler was not immune to the arrows of Cupid, and he duly fell in love. In one of those not-so-funny twists Fate likes to play on us, her name, though Margarete Concerzowo, was Marga, so close to Goebbels’ Magda that there’s only one letter in the difference. The owner of a nursing home in Berlin, she was into homoeopathic cures and herbal remedies, and interestingly, was a Pole, which surely gave her a good chance of having some Jewish ancestry? Seven years his elder, she was as calculating and dedicated to order as he was, and they were accordingly married in 1928, moving out into the suburbs of Berlin. In this smallholding they kept hens, and I would posit that it may have been from this that the idea of Himmler having been a chicken farmer was later born.

Marriage seemed to improve Himmler’s prospects. Their first, and only, child was born a year later, a daughter they called Gudrun (which I think, but I’d have to check, is the name of a heroine or at least figure out of German mythology, maybe something to do with Sigrid or Siegfried?) and soon after Hitler himself appointed him to the top job in the Munich branch of the SS, making him Reichsfuhrer. Despite, again, the grand title, Himmler still had little power, the real power residing of course in Berlin. But it wouldn’t be long before his reach extended to the German capital, and he became the overlord of the SS. Under his leadership, it would become a check on, and quickly the destruction of the rowdier, less disciplined and hated SA, and lead to the execution of the man who had once been his mentor and friend.

But for now, he had managed a promotion, which must have filled him with pride. Despite its not being the biggest step up - and surely he had ambitions to go further - it was still an improvement, and at worst it brought in more money for him and his small family. Marga had sold her nursing home in order to buy their little house in Waldtrudering, and so had no income, leaving the family dependent on what her husband earned, with the slightly added revenue from the small farm. Himmler would never be rich, though despite his father’s ambitions to the contrary, it doesn’t look as if he ever wanted to be. He did crave power though, and recognition, and respect, and these he would obtain, even if the respect was born out of sheer, naked fear.

Himmler had met, or been made aware of such dark influential figures in Germany as Rudolph Höss, later commandant of Auschwitz, Dr. Viktor Brack, who would go on to run his euthanasia programme, and Alfred Rosenberg and Walther Darré, two men most responsible for the idea of Aryan superiority and the master race. It would be their theories which would lead to Himmler’s philosophy guiding the development of the SS and feed into the general idea of the ubermensch robbed and twisted, as we have already seen, from the writings of Nietzsche. Darré joined Himmler’s staff in 1931 to set up the Race and Settlement Office, which was basically research into how many Germans and Europeans were “racially pure", setting down rules as to the treatment of those seen as ethnically questionable.

Hitler quickly began to see that his instinct had been right, and that Himmler was the man to shake up the SS, which under its previous leader had in fact decreased in membership. Under the guidance of Heinrich Himmler, it would swell from a few hundred to thousands in only three years, and by 1931 its original purpose as Der Fuhrer’s bodyguard would be sidelined - though the SS would always fanatically protect Hitler - to allow them to become a more elite fighting force, a sort of, as Himmler (and probably Hitler too) saw it, battle knights. Himmler set about making membership of the SS a privilege, something to be worked for, and something only the very best of the best (read, most fanatical and dedicated Nazis) could achieve. Their code of conduct was stricter than almost that of a Puritan, with total loyalty demanded to Hitler, an almost suicidal mentality (few if any SS were ever captured alive or surrendered) and an ingrained sense of superiority even to other Germans.

As the Nazi party would soon do, Himmler ensured he had control over every aspect of his soldiers’ lives, including how and who they could marry. The eternal misogynist, the last thing Himmler wanted was for his perfect soldier to breed with impure women, so the intended wives of SS men had to pass a test, as did they, and could only be joined on the very strictest and exacting grounds. He called this his Marriage Law. In part, it stated that

‘Every S.S. man who aims to get married must procure for this purpose the marriage certificate of the Reichsführer S.S.

S.S. members who though denied marriage certificates marry in spite of it, will be stricken from the S.S.; they will be given the choice of withdrawing.

The working-out of the details of marriage petitions is the task of the Race Office of the S.S.

The Race Office of the S.S. directs the Clan Book of the S.S., in which the families of S.S. members will be entered after the marriage certificate is issued.

The Reichsführer S.S., the manager of the Race Office, and the specialists of this office are duty bound on their word of honour to secrecy.’


In other words, if you were in the SS and wanted to marry a girl whom either Himmler or his Race and Settlement Office did not approve of, you had two choices: marry her anyway and quit (or be dismissed from) the SS, or find another bride the Reichsfuhrer agreed was suitable. Needless to say, this meant no SS man could even dream of marrying a girl who had even a drop of Jewish blood in her veins (though as I note, Himmler may have broken that edict himself), nor any other deemed “unacceptable” to the SS chief. I really don’t know, but I wouldn’t be all that surprised if they didn’t have to sign something promising to enroll any sons they had in the SS when they came of age too. Wouldn’t put it past them.

What is unquestionably clear is that Himmler - and Hitler, who of course supported, encouraged and endorsed Himmler’s methods and rules for the SS - was intent on creating a master race which would grow out of the sterile root of his organisation, spread and engulf all of Germany, and then all of Europe, eventually covering the world, assuming Hitler won the war. As I often remark caustically, it seems hilariously hypocritical to me (not meaning to make light of such horrible racism and eugenics of course) that men who were in no way the apex of humanity would deign to try to drive, even force and shape the evolution of man. Hitler was short and suffered later in life from Parkinson’s Disease, and was not even German. Himmler was short-sighted, with little capacity for emotion and a poor sex drive, Goring was fat and overweight, indulgent and had a bad leg, in addition to being a morphine addict, and Goebbels was hardly a prime example of “Aryan purity” either. In fact, much as I hate to give him any credit, if anyone exemplified the kind of ideal man that Himmler and Hitler wished to propagate, it was Reinhardt Heydrich. At least he looked the part, and following Darré’s blueprint for the perfect Nordic man, he had little interest in culture, was unquestioningly obedient to his masters, cruel and cold, and thankfully killed before he could rise any further in the ranks.

He met Himmler at the beginning of June 1931, having been recommended by one of his staff. The Reichsfuhrer of the SS had an important role for Heydrich to play, one that his ice-cold dedication to duty and his almost casual brutality suited perfectly. He wanted the young leutnant to set up a secret department within the SS, a sort of internal affairs deal which would spy on even Party members, and would especially concentrate on the SA, to which, at this time, his SS was still subservient, despite its power and standing. Heydrich would become, perhaps unbeknownst to Himmler, a silent threat to his own position, a force to be reckoned with, a man whose ambitions were so massive and daring that it is believed he was even mounting an attempt at a coup to remove Hitler from power and replace him, before he was assassinated in 1942, putting an end to his plans, and perhaps saving Himmler from a similar fate.

Insidiously, Heydrich made himself so indispensable to Himmler that he all but became his right hand man, running the SS with him, and helping him to transform it from a small force of about 400 men under the overall banner of the SA into a fighting force of 30,000 which, by 1932, was still only less than a third of the strength of the SA. In 1931 Hitler had requested Ernst Rohm return from self-imposed exile in Bolivia to lead the SA, fearful of the trouble they were causing him as he attempted to get right-wing industrialists and politicians on-side as he laid his plans to take power. With Rohm’s return Himmler was reminded uncomfortably of his subordinate status in the overall structure of the SA. His old friend did not necessarily interfere in Himmler’s running of the SS, but he made sure that the Reichsfuhrer was under no illusion that he was autonomous in any way.

After Rohm’s murder, Himmler undertook a study from 1934 to 1935 in which he checked and evaluated the calibre of the membership of the SS. He was aware that originally a lot of mostly wealthy or aristocratic young men had joined up in the belief that the organisation was more like a men’s club, a social recreation deal that allowed them to mix with the sort of people they wanted to mix with, and gave them the added prestige of being in the elite force. Put simply, many had joined up just because they liked the idea of wearing the uniform. They enjoyed being in the SS, but were not committed to it. Himmler wanted only the most fanatical, loyal and dedicated men in his corps, and so those who were seen as being there for other reasons, those who were playing at being soldiers, using their membership to impress the girls, or could otherwise be shown not to be “true” SS men, were kicked out. This in the end amount to about sixty thousand men, a large figure, though as the Nazis gained power it would become a tiny percentage of the overall membership in time.

As he would do throughout his career in the Reich, Himmler was winnowing the chaff, separating the men from the boys, and ensuring that only the best of the best of the best were accepted into the SS. This would radically change its image to those outside of the organisation, as well as create an almost mythical aura about it, comparable to, as Himmler had intended, a brotherhood of knights, to which everyone wanted to belong, but of which only the most select were allowed to be part.

With the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor in January 1933, and the subsequent fire at the Reichstag building, following which the new Chancellor passed the Enabling Act, basically suspending all rights and turning Germany into a police state with himself as its head, things began to move fast, but around, not with, Himmler. Everyone seemed to ignore him, despite his perceived power as head of the SS. Rohm in particular detailed the SA to remove the Catholic Conservative government in Munich on March 8, completely bypassing Himmler, while Goring set up the concentration camps which would soon become synonymous with Himmler, in Prussia, without any consultation with the SS Reichsfuhrer. As Minister of the Interior for Prussia, Herman Goring had taken charge of the local police force, dismissing all those he deemed disloyal and installing his own men, and creating within the force a special, secret corps which went under the mundane-sounding Berlin Police Bureau 1A. It would later change its name to Geheime Staatspolizei, and Germany, and the world, would come to know and fear and hate it by its English translation.

Gestapo.
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