In Brief

Heinrich Himmler: what love letters reveal about Nazi leader

SS leader referred to himself as a 'beast' and 'wild man' in letters that fuelled his sexual fantasies

HIDDEN love letters from Heinrich Himmler to his wife have shed new light on one of the most powerful Nazi leaders, who was directly responsible for the Holocaust.

The letters were reportedly found by a US soldier who looted the Himmler family home in Bavaria shortly after the Second World War and have been kept hidden for years by a collector of Nazi memorabilia in Israel. Historians in Germany have spent the last three years studying the letters, along with photographs and memos, which are now being serialised by the Die Welt newspaper.

The often cheerful letters to his wife Marga are at odds with Himmler's role as head of the SS, overseeing the systematic murder of around six million Jews. In one typically banal reference to the biggest death camp run by the Nazis, he says: "I'm going to Auschwitz. Kisses, your Heini."

Himmler does not go into detail about his crimes of persecution and murder. But both he and his wife often share their deep anti-Semitism in the 700 letters between them. In one, Marga complains about "miserable Jews" and the "Jew pack", to which he replies: "Don't get angry about the Jews, good woman, I can help you."

After hearing that Germany had invaded Russia in June 1941, requiring Himmler's presence at the side of Adolf Hitler in Poland, Marga wrote to her husband: "There is still caviar left in the fridge. Take it."

The academics who authenticated the correspondence for Die Welt said that Himmler often referred to himself as a "beast" and a "wild man" in his letters to Marga, which apparently fuelled the sexual fantasies of them both. "My black soul thinks of only the most impossible things," she wrote to him in 1928.

Himmler addressed his letters to his "small, sweet, beloved wife" and later, "beloved mummy".

In 1938 he began a long-term affair with his secretary Hedwig Potthast, but went on the run in 1945 and committed suicide with a phial of cyanide hidden in his mouth after being caught by a British patrol.

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