A grimly compelling study of Hitler’s SS and Gestapo chief who masterminded the attempted extermination of the Jewish race in Europe.
Peter Padfield explores Himmler’s mind through his diaries, letters, ordinances and speeches, and suggests that the roots of his sadistic career lay in his appearance and physique which fell far below that of the ‘Aryan’ warrior idealized by the Nazis; his complementary fantasies of being hard and ruthless were realized through the systems of repression and mass murder he created and controlled.
A believer in the myth of a former ‘Aryan’ master race unpolluted by interbreeding with inferior peoples, he took charge of resettling eastern Europe with a new ‘Aryan’ aristocracy. His SS men were selected for ‘racial’ appearance and pure ancestry, and were encouraged to propagate with similarly select women.
A politician of guile, he amassed such power that at the end he was the one man who could have toppled Hitler before Germany went down to defeat. That he shrank from this is the measure of his essentially subordinate character.
“Padfield stalks an elusive figure and defines him better than any effort to date.”
“The biography is a convincing collection of evidence that serves up sometimes numbing detail in a clear, unobtrusive style.”
“A thorough, conscientious and compulsively readable investigation.”
A.L. Rowse, Sunday Telegraph