They provide a rare, jarring glimpse into the family life of one of Hitler's top lieutenants, a man responsible for the systematic murder of millions. They are accompanied by letters of his wife, and excerpts from diaries. They have been arranged and edited by his great-niece Katrin Himmler into an unsettling story of evil.
At the end of World War II, it was assumed that the letters of Heinrich Himmler were lost. Yet 60 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. 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 characterised 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.