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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who was this Man?, February 6, 2012
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This review is from: Heinrich Himmler: A Life (Kindle Edition)
"Nothing in Himmler's childhood and youth, .... would suggest that someone with clearly abnormal characteristics was growing up there." So writes the author which only deepens the mystery of the man. Longerich describes Himmler as brusque, disengaged with personal predilections, aversions, and diverse quirks. These 'traits' permeated the SS and other Nazi organizations and departments under his control. The author likens the SS "towards that of a modern service industry" which speaks to Himmler's need to please but on his terms.

Something must have been lacking in Himmler's family because he built his own when he constructed the SS. It was his "clan" (he also called it a nation, tribe, community) and at its core was racial selection based on an entirely new and comprehensive interpretation of "the supposedly Germanic core of German history". The author believes that Himmler suffered from a severe attachment disorder that impacted all of his personal relationships helping to explain why he favored the orderly attributes of soldiers and military life even when he had never fought or led on the battlefield.

Most telling Longerich writes, "Himmler himself needed symbols and insignia, myths and shrines, festivals and rituals, both to orientate himself as well as to give sensuous expression to his fantasy world and to be able to share it with others, even if imperfectly." The man created a bizarre theme park for himself that became the well-known instrument of evil. I have often wondered when Nazi leadership gathered if they all did not look at each other in the ever-changing and varied uniforms and not register to a degree how silly the whole thing was ... the symbolism of the regime would be comedic if not so chilling.

Himmler has come across as more omnipotent than Hitler, more cunning than Goebbels, more influential than Bormann, and exceedingly more capable than the lot (except towards the very end when he receives responsibility for battle). It has not helped that a great deal of fiction and film portray him as all knowing, masterful, and brilliant. Without a doubt this is a comprehensive work on Himmler, however, I took most away from the Prologue and the Conclusion where Longerich tries his best to understand the man rather than only detail his deeds.
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