Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Himmler family

Frau Himmler, a political scientist, is the great-niece of Heinrich Himmler, head of Hitler’s SS and mastermind of the concentration camp system that murdered millions of Jews.

She is married to an Israeli whose family was confined to the Warsaw ghetto, which was burned to the ground by troopers acting on her great-uncle’s orders.

Sometime soon her son will have to be told of the 20th-century tragedy that is part of his heritage. Katrin Himmler, 38, has tackled the problem by writing an account of the family which she will give to her son as soon as he is old enough to read.

She has used the stories of her extended family to produce a fresh portrait of the SS chief who became the Third Reich’s second most powerful man.

Die Bruder Himmler (The Himmler Brothers) published by Fischer Verlag, shows Himmler as a member of a normal German family, loved, respected and admired by his relatives who were aware of at least some of his crimes. It supplies the missing link between the man — the lover, hypochondriac and chicken farmer — and the monster.

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