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Himmler's diary reveals daily life of Nazi mass murderer

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Himmler's diary reveals daily life of Nazi mass murderer
Heinrich Himmler (left) with Adolf Hitler. Photo: DPA.
11:11 CEST+02:00
Massages, moonlight strolls and mass murder: the recent discovery of Heinrich Himmler's personal wartime diary gives a new look into the notorious Nazi's daily life.

“Dining in the casino of security police, meeting with Colonel, drive through the ghetto,” reads one entry by Heinrich Himmler on January 9th 1943 as he visited the Warsaw Ghetto, the largest of all Jewish ghettos in Nazi territory and the site of a famous uprising that same year.

The 1,000-page diary of Himmler is providing a detailed new glimpse into the life of the SS leader after it was recently discovered within the Central Archive of the Russian Defence Ministry near Moscow.

German newspaper Bild has been publishing details of the entries since the German Historical Institute (DHI) reported the finding.

As one of Hitler's right-hand men, Himmler organized concentration camps and was an architect of the systematic extermination of Jews across Europe.

The diary, created using a typewriter, contains some 1,600 names and shows how carefully Himmler took notes of his everyday life.

“We can now say exactly on which day between 1943 and 1945 Himmler had met with someone, and with whom, in what place, and who was in his closest circle of power,” said DHI historian Matthias Uhl.

Head of the DHI, Professor Nikolaus Katzer, said that the diary helps to “precisely reconstruct certain decision processes and certain constellations of people in the Nazi regime,” which he added was the biggest gain for this research.

Many documents from Hitler's reign during the Second World War were seized by the Russian Red Army. Himmler's diary from 1941 to 1942 was discovered in a Russian archive in 1991.

The German institute has been working with the Russian CAMO archive to digitize the 2.5 million pages from the German military during that time, and aim to publish the documents online.

They aim to have Himmler's diary published in two volumes by the end of 2017.

But first comes the task of sorting through all of Himmler's entries, from the dry and mundane to more important historical meetings. For example, the SS leader wrote of his frequent massages from his personal physician Felix Kersten, and referred to his wife and daughter as “Mami and Püppi”.

Historians also know that Himmler had an affair and two children with his secretary Hedwig Potthast. The researchers believe that his meetings with her are referred to innocuously but frequently in his diary as “inspection” or “en route”.

He also wrote of playing card game Doppelkopf (double head) as well as curling and watching the stars at night.

Himmler was a savvy networker too, according to the researchers.

“It's particularly impressive the large number of contacts he had and how he tried to hold close to him important authorities in the party, government, military and industry,” said Uhl.

Professor Katzer said the most disturbing part of the diary was how Himmler unflinchingly maintained both personal events and murderous commands simultaneously.

“This shows what a monstrosity he was,” Katzer said.

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