A diary of high-ranking Nazi Heinrich Himmler discovered in a Russian military archive is being published in Germany by Bild. The 1,000-page document sheds light on the routinely evil everyday activities of the head of the SS and Holocaust supervisor.
Bild daily launched the publication of selected excerpts from Himmler’s diary on Tuesday.
The diary, arranged in the form of a calendar, bears dates and contains information about meetings and military decisions made by and in the presence of the SS chief.
The diary covers two different periods, pre-war 1938 and the crucial war years of 1943 and 1944.
The records contain memos about meetings with over 1,600 people, including Adolf Hitler, with whom Himmler met extensively towards the end of war, the Times reports after obtaining access to the publication.
Over the last 70 years the document remained unnoticed in Russia, before finally being discovered at the Military Archive in Podolsk, a city near Moscow.
The authenticity of the diaries has been verified by experts of the German Historical Institute, a state institution in Moscow, which thoroughly analyzed the records and compared them with Himmler’s other documents and known facts.
“The importance of these documents is that we get a better structural understanding of the last phase of the war,” the Times quotes the institute’s director Nikolaus Katzer as saying. The information presented in the diary is “rather dry and not very meaningful,” yet provides numerous new details significantly expanding the big picture.
“It is therefore a very important and significant testimony,” Katzer said.
Damian Imoehl, the journalist who helped Bild get the diaries, says the scariest thing about Himmler is his bureaucratic ordinariness.
In an eerily human way, Himmler regularly contacted with his wife and daughter, and could spend an evening watching a film or playing cards.
“One day he starts with breakfast and a massage from his personal doctor, then he rings up his wife and daughter in the south of Germany and after that he decides to have 10 men killed or visits a concentration camp,” Imoehl said.
The diaries contain facts of mass murder in Nazi death camps going along with banquets and dinners with high-ranking SS officers.
For example in August 1941, while witnessing the extermination of Jews outside Minsk, the capital of Belarus, Himmler nearly fainted when the brain matter of one of the victims sprayed on to his coat.
On another occasion, on February 2, 1943, while inspecting the Sobibor death camp to see the efficiency of gassing people with diesel engines, Himmler agreed to wait for 400 women and girls to be brought from Lublin to see the mass murder effects for himself. The very same evening, according to the diaries, he attended a “banquet” with SS officers.
Himmler was particularly proud of the guard dogs at the Auschwitz death camp, boasting they are “capable of ripping apart everyone but their handlers.”
“Heinrich Himmler is a beast full of contradictions,”Britain’s Daily Mail cites Dr. Matthias Uhl of the German Historical Institute as saying.
“On one hand, he was the ruthless issuer of death sentences made in passing and the planner of the Holocaust. On the other hand, he was a hypocritical carer for his SS elite, his family, friends and acquaintances.”
Himmler was captured by British soldiers in northern Germany after producing forged papers. After being exposed in British custody, he committed suicide on May 23, 1945, biting a capsule with cyanide hidden in his tooth.