Heinrich Himmler und die Herrenrasse
An Exploration of Himmler’s Racial Ideology
World War II Proposal
Frederick William I, King in Prussia in the early 18th century, was fascinated by giants. He scoured the European continent for suitably large behemoths to form a new military unit that met his expectations, of which he would become extraordinarily protective. Though not successful, William would also attempt to breed together those whom he saw as worthy genetic stock in an attempt to create both super soldiers and a stronger German. Some centuries later, in the era of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or National Socialist German Worker’s Party, Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutzstaffel, would pursue a comparable goal.
Aryanism, in the Nazi sense, meant a race of superior human beings—a master race. It was a state of human existence that could be achieved through a system of breeding those thought to be pure, purging the dirty races (delousing in Himmler’s terms), and learning about the history of the Nordic peoples and their destiny to once again rule the Earth. This paradigm required a bureaucracy aimed at archeology and theorizing on cultural topics, as well as one that enforced the dogma; Himmler established the Ahnenerbe in 1935, responsible for experiments and expeditions—expeditions meant to find Atlantis, the missing link, and other legendary artifacts; the Rasse- und Siedlungshauptam, or RuSHA, in 1931, responsible for the safeguarding the master race’s purity; and of course, the Schutzstaffel was the perfect paramilitary organization to brutalize the enemies of the project, as well as to gain Himmler’s projects the regime’s approval.
Himmler was obsessed with German, or Aryan, racial purity and other elements of 19th century mysticism and the occult. This fascination was so deeply ingrained in his own ideology that it shaped the Nazi’s regime in Germany and ultimately led to a barbaric, but well-organized, answer to the Jewish Question.
Secondary sources concerning the Second World War are so readily available that to even doubt their existence or availability is laughable. Coming to terms with which of them is worthy of further reading, and can be used as a reliable source, is much more perilous. Countless pop culture relics relating to werewolf-Nazis, Nazisplotation a la The Night Porter, and other further manner of Hammer-Horroresque historical rewrites pollute the literature. These tend to focus on Adolf Hitler as an obsessive occultist, and over-exaggerate his interest in what became Himmler’s own mania. These sources will need to be reliable to proceed, and the best place to start—even before Himmler—are in the well-received biographies of Hitler written by Ian Kershaw, published in 1998 and 2000. These, though dated, do provide a very good starting point for references to other reliable and well-researched works on the Nazi regime. For example, Kershaw (at a later time) praised Peter Longerich’s 2012 work, Heinrich Himmler. Longerich covers, in nearly a thousand pages, the man that was Himmler. It reveals, to a degree celebrated by Kershaw, the depths of depravity which was Himmler’s mind. It also contains a multitudinous variety of sources from which to draw. To a lesser degree of detail, Peter Padfield’s Himmler from 1990 also gives the full account of Himmler’s life and includes details on his eugenic system. Essential to this paper is Heather Pringle’s 2006 book, The Master Plan, which goes into depth on Himmler’s spiritual, scientific, and pseudoscientific interests—from Aryanism to the search for the literal Hammer of Thor and its modernization in the form of Atomic Power.
Primary sources related to this topic are especially interesting particularly because they come from Himmler, Hitler, and those closest to them. This avenue requires further exploration, and many primary sources are sited in the aforementioned secondary sources on the topic. However, at the moment, Hitler’s 1927 book, Mein Kampf has been consulted, as well as Felix Kersten’s The Kersten Memoirs 1940-1945. Kersten gives an account of Himmler’s views on religion, race, and other pertinent topics. Also of interest are Himmler’s letters and speeches, which should provide valuable information. This area of primary sources has yet to be fully plumbed.
The Nazis and their esoteric endeavors provides any researcher with a challenge: why and how did these people explore such realms, and to what extent did Himmler’s mad fantasy have an impact on the regime’s policies as a whole? The answer, undoubtedly, is horrible, frightening, and intensely interesting. Himmler’s views of racial purity must be explored further in a way not usually approached by writers on the subject—with poise, actual research as opposed to speculation and self-serving and wild embellishment, and well-documented evidence.
Himmler, Heinrich, Katrin Himmler, Michael Wildt, Thomas S. Hansen, and Abby J. Hansen. The Private Heinrich Himmler: Letters of a Mass Murderer.
Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Mariner Books, 1999.
Kershaw, Ian. Hitler. Stuttgart: Dt. Verl.-Anst., 1998.
——. Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution. Jerusalem: International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem, 2008.
Kersten, Felix, Constantine FitzGibbon, and James Oliver. The Kersten Memoirs, 1940-1945. New York: Macmillan, 1957.
Longerich, Peter, Jeremy Noakes, and Lesley Sharpe. Heinrich Himmler. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Padfield, Peter. Himmler: Reichsführer-SS. London: MacMillan, 1990.
Pringle, Heather Anne. The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust. New York: Hyperion, 2006.