The Private Heinrich Himmler: Letters of a Mass Murderer

Edited by Katrin Himmler and Michael Wildt. Translated by Thomas S. Hansen, Ph.D and Abby J. Hansen, Ph.D
Available from St. Martin's Press

At the end of World War II, it was assumed that the letters of Heinrich Himmler were lost. Yet sixty years after Himmler's capture by British troops and subsequent suicide, the letters mysteriously turned up in Tel Aviv and, in early 2014, excerpts were published for the first time by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot providing a rare, if jarring, glimpse into the family life of one of Hitler's top lieutenants while he was busy organizing the mass extermination of the Jews. It was generally held that Himmler, once appointed head of the SS, blended seamlessly into the Nazi hierarchy. The image that emerges, however, is more subtle. Himmler is seen here as a man whose observations can often be characterized by their unpleasant banality; a man whose obsession with family life ran alongside a brutal detachment from all things human, a serial killer who oversaw the persecution and extermination of all Jews and other non-Aryans, and those opposed to the regime. His letters remove any doubt that he was the architect of the Final Solution, and a man who was much closer to Hitler than many historians previously thought. The letters in this edition were arranged by Katrin Himmler, the great-niece of Heinrich and Marga Himmler while Michael Wildt, a renowned expert on the Nazi regime, provides historical context to the letters and their author. The entire work was translated by Thomas S. Hansen and Abby J. Hansen.

Katrin Himmler is Heinrich Himmler's great-niece, a writer and political analyst. She is the author of The Himmler Brothers: A German Family History.

Michael Wildt is an internationally recognized author who specializes in the Third Reich, his books include An Uncompromising Generation: The Nazi Leadership of the Reich Security Main Office.

Thomas S. Hansen, Ph.D. and Abby J. Hansen, Ph.D. are a translating team. In 2012 they published the Centennial Edition of Thomas Mann's Death in Venice.