Heinrich Himmler & the SS

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

H E I N R I C H   H I M M L E R   &   T H E   S S 
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

The Himmler Family
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was the Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party.
As Chief of the German Police and later the Minister of the Interior, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo (Secret State Police).


Himmler as a Boy
Heinrich Himmler was born in Munich to a Roman Catholic Bavarian middle-class family.
His father was Joseph Gebhard Himmler, a secondary-school teacher and principal of the prestigious Wittelsbacher Gymnasium.
His mother was Anna Maria Himmler (maiden name Heyder), a devout Roman Catholic.
He had an older brother, Gebhard Ludwig Himmler, who was born on 29 July 1898, and a younger brother, Ernst Hermann Himmler, born on 23 December 1905.

Himmler and his Brothers
Heinrich was named after his godfather, Prince Heinrich of Bavaria of the royal family of Bavaria, who was tutored by Gebhard Himmler.
In 1910, Himmler attended Gymnasium in Landshut, where he studied classic literature.

Himmler's father was the principal of the Gymnasium.
Young Heinrich did well in his schoolwork. Also, at the behest of his father, Himmler kept a diary from age 10 until age 24. He enjoyed chess, harpsichord, stamp collecting, and gardening.

Throughout Himmler's youth and into adulthood, it has been suggested that he was never at ease in interactions with women.
Himmler's diaries (1914–1918) show that he was extremely interested in war news.
He implored his father to use his royal connections to obtain an officer candidate position for him.
His parents eventually gave in, allowing him to train (upon graduation from secondary school in 1918) with the 11th Bavarian Regiment.
In 1918, the war ended with Germany's defeat, thus ending Himmler's aspirations of becoming a professional army officer.
The Young Himmler
From 1919-1922, Himmler studied agronomy at the Munich Technische Hochschule following a short-lived apprenticeship on a farm and subsequent illness.
Himmler's Dueling fraternity.
In his diaries, he claimed to be a devout Roman Catholic, and wrote that he would never turn away from the Roman Church - although he was also a member of a dueling fraternity.
From late 1923 to early 1924, however, Himmler's reading included books on spiritualism, second sight, astrology, telepathy and the like. Himmler was interested also in herbalism, rural life and agriculture - he was rather a "back-to-nature", "New Age" sort of man. His activities and growing beliefs led him to renounce his once strong faith in the Catholic Church by the summer of 1924.
Himmler had already been moving nationalist circles and was associated with the Germanenorden (a secret society which established lodges based on those of freemasonry) and its offshoot the Thule Society, which had also inspired the birth of the German Workers Party (which was to be taken over by Adolf Hitler and become the National Socialist Workers Party). The Thule Society was named after the Ultima Thule, the alleged birthplace of the Germanic race - members had to prove racial purity for at least three generations - and it was there where he made contact with Dietrich Eckart (see right below).
Himmler's theology was Ariosophy, Theozoologie and Gnosticism, combined with his own religious dogma of racial superiority of the Aryan race and Germanic Meso-Paganism, developed partly from his interpretations of folklore and mythology of the ancient Teutonic tribes of Northern Europe.
During this time, he was again obsessed with the idea of becoming a soldier.
When Himmler joined the Nazi Party in 1925, he was already a member of the Thule society, which believed in the greatness of German history, reaching back to the year 9AD, when the Teutonic tribes defeated the Roman army.
It promoted the superiority of the Aryan race, an ancient northern European people.These ideas formed the basis of Nazi racial philosophy that was to have such an impact on history.

Himmler at the Munich Putsch
Dietrich Eckart
He wrote that if Germany did not soon go to war, he would go to another country to seek battle.

In 1923, Himmler took part in Adolf Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch (see left), serving under Ernst Röhm.
In 1926, he met his future wife in a hotel lobby while escaping a storm.
Margarete Siegroth (née Boden) was seven years his senior, divorced, and Protestant.
On 3 July 1928, the two were married.
During this time Himmler worked unsuccessfully as a chicken farmer.
They had their only child—Gudrun—on 8 August 1929. Himmler adored his daughter, and called her Püppi (English: "dolly").
Margarete later adopted a son, in whom Himmler showed no interest.
Heinrich and Margarete Himmler separated in 1940 without seeking divorce.
At that time, Himmler became friendly with a secretary, Hedwig Potthast, who left her job in 1941 and became his mistress.
He fathered two children with her: a son, Helge (born 1942), and a daughter, Nanette Dorothea (born 1944).
Himmler was also very interested in agriculture and the "back to the land" movement.
He and his wife had romantic ideals of making a farming life.
He joined the Artamanen society, a sort of idealistic back-to-the-land youth group, but mixed with racist ideology.
He became one of the leaders of this movement. Through this movement, he also apparently met Richard Walther Darré, who would later work in the RuSHA (race and resettlement office) of the SS.

'Meine Ehre heißt Treue'

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

T H E   S C H U T Z S T A F F E L

Himmler and Röhm
The Schutzstaffel, translated to 'Protection Squadron' or 'defence corps', abbreviated SS -  or  with stylized "Armanen" sig runes) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP.
It began at the end of 1920 as a small, permanent guard unit known as the "Saal-Schutz" (Hall-Protection) made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for Party meetings in Munich.
Later in 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit which had by then been reformed and renamed the "Schutz-Staffel".
Under Himmler's leadership (1929–45), it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the largest and most powerful organizations in the Third Reich.
However, the SS was more than simply a bodyguard or an adjunct to the police force  for the SS structure was originally formed as a magic order.
Up until 1940, every SS commissioned officer was to take a special course in the runic magic.
The emblem  is a double rune Sigel (see above) which is well known as a victory symbol.
The mystics say that it was the runic magic that paved the way for the Third Reich.
Himmler joined the SS in 1925 as an SS-Führer (SS-Leader).
His NSDAP number was 14,303 and his SS number was 168.

'Meine Ehre Heist Treue'
(My Honour is my Loyalty)
The SS grew from a small paramilitary unit to a powerful force that served as the Führer's "Praetorian Guard", the Nazi Party's "Protection Squadron" and a force that, fielding almost a million men (both on the front lines and as political police), managed to exert as much political influence in the Third Reich as the Wehrmacht.
The motto of the SS was 'Meine Ehre heißt Treue'  - (My honour is my loyalty).

Himmler's first leadership position in the SS was that of SS-Gauführer (District Leader) in Bavaria.
In 1927, he became Deputy–Reichsführer-SS, with the rank of SS-Oberführer, and upon the resignation of SS commander Erhard Heiden, in 1929, Himmler was appointed Reichsführer-SS (Reichsführer was, at that time, simply a title for the National Commander of the SS).
At that time, the SS had 280 members and was merely an elite battalion of the much larger Sturmabteilung (SA).
Over the next year, Himmler began a major expansion of the organization and, in 1930, he was promoted to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer.

Reinhard Heydrich
By 1933, the SS numbered 52,000 members.
The organization enforced strict membership requirements ensuring that all members were of Hitler's Aryan Herrenvolk ("Aryan master race").
Himmler (see right) and his deputy Reinhard Heydrich (see left) began an effort to separate the SS from SA control.
Black SS uniforms replaced the SA brown shirts in July 1932 and by 1934 enough quantities were manufactured for general use by all.
In 1933, Himmler was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer. This made him an equal of the senior SA commanders, who by this time loathed the SS and envied its power.
Himmler, Hermann Göring, and General Werner von Blomberg agreed that the SA and its leader Ernst Röhm posed a threat to the German Army and the Nazi leadership.
Röhm had socialist and populist views, and believed that the real revolution had not yet begun.
He felt that the SA should become the sole arms-bearing corps of the state.
This left some Nazi, military and political leaders believing Röhm was intent on using the SA to undertake a coup.

Persuaded by Himmler and Göring, Hitler agreed that Röhm had to be eliminated.
He delegated this task to Reinhard Heydrich, Kurt Daluege, and Werner Best, who ordered Röhm's execution (carried out by Theodor Eicke) and other senior SA officials, plus some of Hitler's personal enemies, (like Gregor Strasser and Kurt von Schleicher), on 30 June 1934, in what became known as the Night of the Long Knives.
The next day, the SS became an independent organization responsible only to Hitler, and Himmler's title of Reichsführer-SS became the highest formal SS rank.
He launched a massive recruitment campaign that took the SS from fewer than than three hundred members in 1929 to ten thousand in 1931.
Once the SS had grown, Himmler began its transformation into a "racial elite" of young Nordic males.

RuSHA Odal Rune
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Richard Walther Darré
This was to be accomplished by a new bureaucracy in the SS, the 'Race and Settlement Office' of the SS (Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt-SS) known as RuSHA.
Himmler named SS Obergruppenführer Richard Walther Darré to lead the organisation, which determined if applicants were racially fit to be in the SS.
This brought about a sudden campaign meant to educate the new applicants about their Nordic past through weekly classes taught by senior RuSHA graduates using the periodical 'SS-Leitheft'.

On 1 January 1932, Reichsführer-SS Himmler appointed him chief of the newly established SS Race and Settlement Main Office (Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt or RuSHA).

Reichsnährstand Emblem
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Darré was given the rank of SS-Gruppenführer. The RuSHA was a department which implemented racial policies and was concerned with the racial integrity of the members of the SS.
In his religious views, Dárre would belong to the Pagan occult faction within the NSDAP.
Darré's works were primarily concerned with the ancient and present Nordic peasantry - the ideology of 'Blut uind Boden' (Blood and Soil): within this context, he made an explicit attack against Christianity.
In his two main works ('Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der Nordischen Rasse', (Peasants as the Source of Nordic Nobility) Munich, 1927 and 'Neuadel aus Blut und Boden' (The New Nobility of Blood and Soil), Munich, 1930), Darré accused Christianity, with its "teaching of the equality of men before God," of having "deprived the Teutonic nobility of its moral foundations", the "innate sense of superiority over the nomadic tribes".
In 1933, Darré became Reich Minister of Food and Agriculture succeeding resigned DNVP leader Alfred Hugenberg, and Reichsbauernführer (usually translated as Reich Peasant Leader, though the word Bauer also denotes Farmer), serving from June 1933 to May 1942. He was instrumental in founding the Nazi Reichsnährstand corporation as part of the Gleichschaltung process. Darré campaigned for big landowners to part with some of their land to create new farms, and promoted the controversial Reichserbhofgesetz.
He developed a plan for "Rasse und Raum" ("race and space", or territory) which provided the ideological background for the Nazi expansive policy on behalf of the "Drang nach Osten" ("Drive to the east") and of the "Lebensraum" ("Living space") theory expounded in Mein Kampf. 

The Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt-SS (SS Race and Settlement Main Office), (RuSHA), was the organization responsible for "safeguarding the racial 'purity' of the SS" within the Third Reich.
One of its duties was to oversee the marriages of SS personnel in accordance with the Aryan ideology of the NSDAP.
The RuSHA would only issue a permit to marry once detailed background investigations into the racial fitness of both prospective parents had been completed.
The RuSHA was founded in 1931 by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and Richard Walther Darré, who later rose to the rank of SS-Obergruppenführer.
It was an SS office.
Blut und Boden
In 1935, it was upgraded to an SS Main Office.
Under its first director, Darré, it propagated the Völkisch ideology of 'Blut und Boden' (Blood and Soil).
Darré was dismissed by Himmler in 1938, and he was succeeded by SS-Gruppenführer Günther Pancke, SS-Gruppenführer Otto Hofmann in 1940, and SA-Gruppenführer Richard Hildebrandt in 1943.
The RuSHA was created to monitor Himmler's 1931 order that the marital decisions of unmarried SS men should be supervised by the Nazi state.
SS men would thereafter have to apply for a marriage permit three months before getting married so that the parents of the fiancée could be investigated to ensure her racial purity.
With time RuSHA's power progressively grew in scope and other organizations came under its umbrella, such as the Ahnenerbe.
In December 1935 Himmler ordered the RuSHA to establish the Lebensborn network of maternity homes, whose purpose was "to accommodate and look after racially and genetically valuable expectant mothers."
Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the RuSHA worked in partnership with VOMI in the "Germanization" of captured territory, monitoring of settler welfare, and the plantation of ethnic Germans in areas designated for settlement by the SS, particularly in occupied Ukraine.
This involved in part, the resetting of Germans in the Nazi occupied Eastern territories and ejecting the native families from those lands.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

H I M M L E R   &   T H E   G E R M A N   P O L I C E

On 20 April 1934, Göring transferred authority over the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei)—the Prussian secret police—to Himmler, who was also named chief of all German police outside Prussia.
On 22 April 1934, Himmler named Heydrich the head of the Gestapo as well as the SD.
On 17 June 1936, Himmler was named Chief of German Police after Hitler announced a decree that was to "unify the control of Police duties in the Reich".
The actual powers granted to him were some that were previously exercised by the ministry of the interior.
It was only in 1943, when Himmler was appointed Minister of the Interior, that the transfer of ministerial power was complete.
In September 1939, following the outbreak of World War II, Himmler formed the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA: Reich Main Security Office) wherein the SiPo (Gestapo and Kripo) along with the Sicherheitsdienst (SD: security service) became departments under Heydrich's command therein.

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Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler

On 13 April 1934, Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer-SS, ordered the 'Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler ' to be renamed "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler".
Himmler inserted the SS initials into the name to make it clear that the unit was independent from the SA or army.
In late June, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was called into action for the first time. Stabschef-SA Ernst Röhm began to push for greater power for his already powerful SA.
Hitler decided that the SA had to be put in its place, and ordered Himmler and Hermann Göring to prepare their elite units, Himmler's Leibstandarte and Göring's Landespolizeigruppe General Göring, for immediate action.

Sepp Dietrich
Ernst Röhm
The LSSAH formed two companies under the control of Jürgen Wagner and Otto Reich, and these formations were moved to Munich on 30 June.
Hitler ordered all SA leaders to attend a meeting at the Hanselbauer Hotel in Bad Wiessee, near Munich.
On 30 June, Hitler joined Sepp Dietrich and a unit from the Leibstandarte and travelled to Bad Wiessee to personally command Röhm's arrest.
This action succeeded in effectively controlled the SA, removing Röhm's threat to Hitler's leadership.
In recognition of their actions, both the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and the Landespolizeigruppe General Göring were expanded to regimental size and motorized.
In addition, the SS became an independent organization, no longer part of the SA.
As the SS swelled with new recruits, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler represented the pinnacle of Hitler's Aryan ideal.
Strict recruitment regulations meant that only those deemed sufficiently Aryan—as well as being physically fit and National Socialists - would be admitted.
The Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler provided the honour guard at many of the Nuremberg Rallies, and in 1935 took part in the reoccupation of the Saarland.
The Leibstandarte was in the vanguard of the march into Austria as part of the Anschluss, and in 1938 the unit took part in the occupation of the Sudetenland.
By 1939 the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was a full infantry regiment.

SS Uniform

Black was seen as sombre and authoritative.
The black-white-red color scheme was characteristic of the German Empire, and was later adopted by the NSDAP.
Further, black was popular with fascist movements: a black uniform was introduced by the blackshirts in Italy before the creation of the SS.
There was a traditional reason, as well.
Just as the Prussian kings' and emperors' life-guard cavalry (Leibhusaren) had worn black uniforms with skull-and-crossbones badges, so would the Führer's bodyguard unit.
As with many more formal military uniforms, these SS uniforms were tailored to project authority, and foster respect. 
During the war, the German clothing factory that eventually became the international menswear powerhouse Hugo Boss produced thousands of SS and other uniforms.

The SS can trace its origins to several early Freikorps and NSDAP formations, among them the Erhardt Naval Brigade, Stahlhelm, and most significantly the Sturmabteilung (SA), of which the SS was originally a subordinate organization.
The very first SA uniforms and insignia were paramilitary uniforms which incorporated parts from World War I uniforms to include such features used by other Freikorps formation such as high boots, daggers, and the kepi hat.
The 8-man Stabswache (staff guard), Hitler's bodyguard, soon renamed the Stosstrupp (shock troop), also adopted in May 1923 the death's head and oak leaf as a means of insignia, both of which were already deeply rooted in European military history.
In 1924, while the NSDAP was legally banned following the Munich Hall Putsch, Frontbann (underground SA) leader Gerhard Roßbach located a large store of war-surplus brown denim shirts in Austria, originally intended for tropical uniforms.
When the SA (which included the nascent SS) was re-founded in 1925 following Hitler's release from prison, these brown shirts were issued as uniforms.
The only insignia was the swastika armband, except for the handful of men constituting the Stosstrupp's successor, the Schutzkommando ("protection command"), who continued the use of the Totenkopf pinned to cap or collar.
In mid-1925, the Schutzkommando was renamed the Sturmstaffel (storm squadron) and in December the Schutzstaffel (SS) (protection squadron), and in the following year adopted its first recognizable rank insignia system which was used mainly by senior SS personnel at major rallies, with the rank and file of the SS, like the rest of the SA, still wearing a variety of brown shirts or paramilitary uniforms with no recognizable insignia.
By 1927, the Sturmabteilung had greatly increased its numbers and had standardized the "brown shirt" uniform which would thereafter be permanently associated with that group: shirt, tie, breeches, boots, and cylindrical kepi, all brown.
As the SS was at this time a small unit within the SA, SS personnel during this period likewise wore brown shirt uniforms but distinguished themselves as an elite among the SA by wearing black neckties and black kepis with Totenkopf and Party eagle badges.
Hitler's personal guard, known at this stage by the original SS name of Stabswache (later to be known as the "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler"), was also expressing its independence and increasing its size under the leadership of Sepp Dietrich.
The Stennes Revolt of August 1930, in which members of the SA attacked the Berlin party Gau headquarters which was defended by the SS, had profound consequences for the SA and its relationship to its subordinate organization.
In an open letter to Berlin SS leader Kurt Daluege, Adolf Hitler proclaimed SS Mann, deine Ehre heißt Treue ! ("SS soldier, your honour is called loyalty !").
Subsequently, 'Meine Ehre heißt Treue' ("My honour is my loyalty") was adopted by the SS as its motto.
Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler
More significantly, Hitler cashiered SA head Franz Pfeffer von Salomon and assumed the position of Oberste SA-Führer personally, and simultaneously promoted both Himmler and Daluege to the new rank of SS-Obergruppenführer. Daluege was the SS leader of Northern Germany while Himmler controlled southern SS units out of Munich while serving as the National Leader for the SS; this move had the effect of rendering the loyal SS practically independent of the suspect SA, since Himmler and Daluege now outranked all SA commanders.
In 1932, the SS introduced the black uniform, designed by Karl Diebitsch (later to become an SS-Oberführer) and graphic designer SS-Sturmhauptführer Walter Heck.
The shirt remained brown as a nod to the SA, of which the SS was still nominally a part, but all else was black from high boots to the new military-style peaked cap, aside from the red armband.
SS men were also issued black wool greatcoats for inclement weather, which similarly carried the armband, epaulette and collar patches.
Around this time a belt buckle featuring the motto 'Meine Ehre heißt Treue' in its design was produced by the Overhoff firm to replace the SA buckle.
In 1933, the  runes insignia was introduced which would eventually become known as the symbol for the entire SS.
The first use of the SS runes was as a unit insignia limited only to members of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler which had transferred their headquarters from Munich to Berlin and had replaced the Army Chancellery Guard to become Hitler’s main protectors.
It was at this time that the Leibstandarte moved from being a "paramilitary" formation to "military", equipped with rifles, bayonets, and steel helmets.
Their SS runes unit collar patch was to be worn on the right side of the tunic collar.
The adaptation of this particular unit insignia was largely the work of Sepp Dietrich who on 4 November 1933, declared the unit an independent formation and, although a part of the SS, answerable to Hitler alone.

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M A S T E R   P L A N   E A S T

After being appointed Commissioner for the Strengthening of the German Race, Himmler set to work with Konrad Meyer on developing a plan for three large German colonies in the eastern occupied territories.
Leningrad, northern Poland and the Crimea would be the focal points of these colonies intended to spread the Aryan race.
The Crimean colony was called Gotengau, or “Goth district” in honor of the Crimean Goths who had settled there and were believed to be Aryan ancestors of the Germans.
Himmler estimated Aryanization of the region would take twenty years, first expelling all the undesirable populations, then re-distributing the territory to appropriate Aryan populations.
In addition to changing the demographics of the region, Himmler also intended to plant oak and beech trees to replicate traditional German forests, as well as plant new crops brought back from Tibet.
To achieve the latter end, Himmler ordered a new institution set up by the Ahnenerbe and headed by Schäfer.
A station was then set up near the Austrian town of Graz where Schäfer set to work with seven other scientists to develop new crops for the Reich.
Himmler presented Master Plan East to Hitler and received approval in July, 1942.
Full implementation of the plan was not feasible because of the ongoing war, but a small colony was in fact founded around Himmler’s field headquarters at Hegewald, near Kiev.


Die Quelle des Lebens Verein - Lebensborn - (Fount of Life Society) was founded on December 12, 1935, in part as a response to declining birth rates in Germany, in order to promote the policies of Nazi eugenics in an attempt to produce the very best Aryan children.

Located in Munich, the organisation was partly an office within the Schutzstaffel (SS) responsible for certain family welfare programmes.
The purpose of the programme was to provide incentives to encourage Germans, especially SS members, to have more children.
On September 13, 1936, Himmler wrote the following to members of SS:

'The organization "Lebensborn e. V." serves the SS leaders in the selection and adoption of qualified children. The organisation "Lebensborn e. V." is under my personal direction, is part of the race and settlement central bureau of the SS, and has the following obligations:
(1) aid for racially and biologically-hereditarily valuable families.
(2) the accommodation of racially and biologically-hereditarily valuable mothers in appropriate homes, etc.
(3) care of the children of such families
(4) care of the mothers
It is the honourable duty of all leaders of the central bureau to become members of the organisation "Lebensborn e. V.".'

In 1939, membership stood at 8,000 , of which 3,500 were SS leaders.
The Lebensborn office was part of SS Rasse und Siedlungshauptamt (SS Office of Race and Settlement) until 1938, when it was transferred to Hauptamt Persönlicher Stab Reichsführer-SS (Personal Staff of the Reich Leader SS), i.e. directly overseen by Himmler.
Leaders of Lebensborn e. V. were SS-Standartenführer Max Sollmann and SS-Oberführer Dr. Gregor Ebner.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton
It is sometimes thought that Himmler developed the idea for this experiment in "accelerated evolution" during his short-lived career as a chicken farmer in the early 1920s.
But, in actuality, Himmler was a member of an occult group called the 'Artamen', which drew its inspiration from both esoteric and "racial hygiene" sources.
In the Nineteenth Century, Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote a novel called 'Vril, or The Coming Race', which imagined humanity taking charge of its own evolution and developing "the new race."
Madame Blavatsky
Elena Petrovna von Hahn Blavatsky, better known as Madame Blavatsky, elaborated on the idea in her two-volume book, 'Die Geheimlehre' (The Secret Doctrine).
Once installed at Hitler's right hand, and subject to Hitler's influence, Himmler,  started up a flurry of  projects, of which the Lebensborn was only one.
The occult purpose of the Lebensborn was to provide boys who would eventually be sent to the 'Burgs' (see below)
The stated purpose of the society was to care particularly for unmarried mothers of good blood made pregnant by SS or police officers, and to allow them to have their children in private.
These children were then placed with SS families who wanted to adopt a child, or efforts were made to induce the father to shoulder his responsibilities and marry the girl.
Stories spread later that Lebensborn maternity homes were little more than 'stud farms' where SS officers could meet suitable pure-blooded girls to propagate for the Reich, or, as the word went, 'to present the Führer with a child.'
At first the Lebensborn was under the Rasse-und- Siedlungshauptamt (Race and Settlement Main Office), Sippenamt (Family and Clan Office) division.
Initially, the programme served as a welfare institution for wives of SS officers; the organisation ran facilities—primarily maternity homes—where women could give birth or get help with family matters. Furthermore, the programme accepted unmarried women who were either pregnant or had already given birth and were in need of aid, provided that both the woman and the father of the child were "racially valuable".

Later, such facilities also served as temporary homes, orphanages, and as an adoption service.
When dealing with non-SS members, parents and children were usually examined by SS doctors before admittance.
The first Lebensborn home (known as 'Heim Hochland') opened in 1936 in Steinhöring, a tiny village not far from Munich.
The first home outside of Germany opened in Norway in 1941.
While Lebensborn e. V. established facilities in several occupied countries, activities were concentrated around Germany, Norway and the occupied north-eastern Europe, mainly Poland.
The main focus in occupied Norway was aiding children born by German soldiers and Norwegian women; in north-eastern Europe the organisation, in addition to services provided to SS members, engaged in the movement of children, mostly orphans, to families in Germany.
Lebensborn e. V. had facilities, or planned to, in the following countries (some were merely field offices):
Germany: 10
Austria: 3
North-eastern occupied Europe (Poland): 3
Norway: 9 (or as many as 15)
Denmark: 2
France: 1 (February, 1944 - August, 1944) - in Lamorlaye
Belgium: 1 (March, 1943 - September, 1944) - in Wégimont, municipality of Soumagne
Netherlands: 1
Luxembourg: 1
About 8,000 children were born in Lebensborn homes in Germany, and another 8,000 in Norway.
Elsewhere, the total number of births was much lower.

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'Meine Ehre heißt Treue'

Letters of the historical runic alphabet and the modern Armanen runes have been used by Völkisch and neo-Völkisch groups that associate themselves with Germanic traditions, mainly the Sigel, Eihwaz, Tyr, Odal and Algiz runes.
The fascination that runes seem to have exerted on the Natioanl Socialists can be traced to the occult and Völkisch author Guido von List, one of the important figures in Germanic mysticism and runic revivalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
In 1908, List published in 'Das Geheimnis der Runen' ("The Secret of the Runes") a set of 18 so-called "Armanen Runes", based on the Younger Futhark, which were allegedly revealed to him in a state of temporary blindness after a cataract operation on both eyes in 1902.

The runic insignia of the Schutzstaffel (known in German as the SS-Runen) were used from the 1920s to 1945 on Schutzstaffel flags, uniforms and other items as symbols of various aspects of Völkisch ideology and Germanic occultism and mysticism.
They also represented virtues seen as desirable in SS members, and were based on völkisch mystic Guido von List's Armanen runes.

The sig rune (or Siegrune) symbolised victory (sieg).
In its original form as the s-rune of the Younger Futhark, it represented the sun; however, von List reinterpreted it as a victory sign when he compiled his list of "Armanen runes".
It was adapted into the emblem of the SS in 1933 by Walter Heck, an SS Sturmhauptführer who worked as a graphic designer for Ferdinand Hoffstatter, a producer of emblems and insignia in Bonn.
Heck's simple but striking device consisted of two sig runes drawn side by side like lightning bolts, and was soon adopted by all branches of the SS – though Heck himself received only a token payment of 2.5 Reichsmarks for his work.
The device had a double meaning; as well as standing for the initials of the SS, it could be read as a rallying cry of "Victory, Victory!".
The symbol became so ubiquitous that it was frequently typeset using runes rather than letters; during the Nazi period, an extra key was added to German typewriters to enable them to type the double-Sig logo with a single keystroke.

The Eif rune is a rotated version of the Eihwaz rune.
During the early years of the SS it was used by Hitler's personal adjutants, such as Rudolf Hess.

The Ger rune was used to symbolise the communitarian ideal of the SS. The 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, a Waffen-SS unit, adopted the rune as a variant of its divisional insignia.

The Hagall rune was widely used in the SS for its symbolic representation of "unshakeable faith" in Völkisch philosophy, as Himmler put it.
It was used in SS weddings as well as on the SS-Ehrenring (death's head ring) worn by members of the SS. It is roughly similar to the Haglaz rune of the Younger Futhark, which stood for "hail", but it was modified by von List for his Armanen runes.
List considered it to be the "mother rune" of his runic alphabet and envisaged it as a representation of a hexagonal crystal.

The Lebensrune or "life rune" was used by the Lebensborn e. V., the SS body responsible for the Lebensborn programme which supported the "racially, biologically, and hereditarily valuable families" of SS members and other "Aryans".
This interpretation of the "man" rune is not based on List, but it occurs as early as the 1920s in the literature of Germanic mysticism and occultism, and it came to be widely used within the NSDAP and the Third Reich, e.g. in official prescriptions for the various uniforms of the Sturmabteilung.
The Yr rune came to be seen as the "life rune" inverted and interpreted as "death rune" (Todesrune) During the World War II era, these two runes came to be used in obituaries, and on tomb stones, as marking birth and death dates, replacing asterisk and cross symbols (* for "born", ✝ for "died") conventionally used in this context in Germany.

The Odal rune symbolised several values of which were of central importance to Völkisch ideology.
It was adopted from the Elder Futhark rune.
During the Second World War it was used by the 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen, as well as the SS-Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt, which was responsible for maintaining the racial purity of the SS.

 The use of the Opfer rune - which, like the Eif rune, is a rotated version of the Eihwaz rune - preceded the National Socialists, as it was first adopted after 1918 by the Stahlhelm war veterans' movement that eventually merged with the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA).
The symbol was adopted by the NSDAP after 1923 to commemorate the party members who died in Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch.

The Todesrune is the inverted version of the Lebensrune or "life rune".
It was based on the Yr rune, which originally meant "yew".
It was used by the SS to represent death on documents and grave markers in place of the more conventional † symbol used for such purposes.

The Tyr rune followed the design of the Tiwaz rune, named after Týr, the god of single combat, victory and heroic glory in Norse mythology. Its association with war meant that the SS thought of it as the "Kampf" or battle rune, symbolising military leadership.
The SS commonly used it in place of the Christian cross on the grave markers of its members.
It was also used by graduates of the SA Reichsführerschule, which trained SS officers until 1934; they wore it on their upper left arms.
It was adopted as an emblem by the 32nd SS Volunteer Grenadier Division 30 Januar, which was assembled from the members of SS schools in January 1945, as well as by the SS Recruitment and Training Department.

Other Occult Symbols Used by the SS

 The Wolfsangel ('wolf hook') was used as a heraldic symbol alluding to a wolf trap, and is still found on the municipal arms of a number of German towns and cities.
It was adopted by a fifteenth-century peasants' uprising, thus acquiring an association with liberty and independence.
The NSDAP adopted the symbol during its early years and it was subsequently widely used by the SS, including by units such as the 2nd SS Division Das Reich.

A variant of the Wolfsangel was used by the Weer Afdeelingen, the paramilitary wing of the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands and the 34th SS Volunteer Grenadier Division Landstorm Nederland, which was raised from Dutch National Socialists.
The Heilszeichen symbols appeared on the SS "death's head" ring and were used to symbolise good fortune and succes.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012


Credited retrospectively with being the founder of "Esoteric Hitlerism", and certainly a figure of major importance for the officially sanctioned research and practice of mysticism by a Nazi elite, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, more than any other high official in the Third Reich was fascinated by pan-Aryan (i.e., broader than Germanic) racialism, and by certain forms of Germanic neopaganism.
Himmler's capacity for rational planning was accompanied by an "enthusiasm for the utopian, the romantic and even the occult."
It also seems that Himmler had an interest in astrology.
He consulted the astrologer Wilhelm Wulff in the last weeks of the Second World War.
(One detailed but difficult source for this is a book written by Wulff himself, 'Tierkreis und Hakenkreuz', published in Germany in 1968.

That Walter Schellenberg (see left) had discovered an astrologer called Wulf is mentioned in Hugh Trevor-Roper's The Last Days of Hitler.)

Although Himmler did not have any contact with the Thule Society, he possessed more occult tendencies than any other Nazi leader, although he was not privy to Hitler's ultimate aims with regard the Übermensch - although he was involved in the preparations for the Übermensch which involved the creation of the Herrenrasse
The German journalist and historian Heinz Höhne, an authority on the SS, explicitly describes Himmler's views about reincarnation as occultism.

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Badge of the Society of Jesus
The historic example which Himmler used in practice as the model for the SS was the 'Society of Jesus', since Himmler found in the Jesuits what he perceived to be the core element of any order, the doctrine of obedience and the cult of the organisation.
The evidence for this largely rests on a statement from Walter Schellenberg in his memoirs (Cologne, 1956, p. 39), but Hitler is also said to have called Himmler "my Ignatius of Loyola".
As an order, the SS needed a coherent doctrine that would set it apart. Himmler attempted to construct such an ideology, and to this purpose he deduced a "Germanic tradition" from history.
In a 1936 memorandum, Himmler set forth a list of approved holidays based on pagan and political precedents which was meant to wean SS members from their reliance on Christian festivities.
The Winter Solstice, or Yuletide, was the climax of the year.
It brought SS folk together at candlelit banquet tables and around raging bonfires that harked back to German tribal rites.

The SS-Julleuchter was both an award and trophy of the German Schutzstaffel that was presented to members of the SS from approximately 1936 until 1944.
Manufactured by the Allach porcelain company, the SS Julleuchter was presented to any SS member who participated in a Nordic pagan-based holiday, such as the winter solstice.
Heinrich Himmler originally had the intention to make the Julleuchter a standard gift to all SS members and there were no criteria attached to its presentation.
For reasons which are not entirely clear, by the start of World War II, the Julleuchter had begun to be viewed as an SS decoration, and was entered as such in SS service records once the Julleuchter had been presented.
However, as the SS-Julleuchter was considered "non-portable" (much like the Luftwaffe Honor Goblet), there was no outward display on an SS uniform indicating its presentation.
Made of unglazed stoneware, the Julleuchter was decorated with early pagan Germanic symbols.
ts common design is originally based on artifacts found at an archeological dig in/ around Haithabu (Hedeby), and is attributed to the Frisians who once settled there.
Himmler said, “I would have every family of a married SS man to be in possession of a Julleuchter. Even the wife will, when she has left the myths of the church find something else which her heart and mind can embrace.”
Production numbers for Julleuchter in 1939 alone were 52,635, probably the largest production for any single item produced at the Porzellan Manufaktur Allach.

Allach - Fencer
The porcelain factory Porzellan Manufaktur Allach was established as a private concern in 1935 in the small town of Allach, near Munich, Germany.

In 1936 the factory was acquired by the SS.
Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS who was known for his obsession with Aryan mysticism, saw the acquisition of a fine porcelain factory as a way to establish an industrial base for the production of works of art that would be representative, in Himmler's eyes, of truly Germanic culture.
Allach porcelain was one of Himmler’s favorite projects and produced various figurines(soldiers, animals, etc.) to compete in the small but profitable German porcelain market.
Allach - Decorative Plate
High-ranking artists were locked into contract.
The program of the factory included over 240 porcelain and ceramic models. 
Prof. Karl Diebitsch, was an Obersturmbannführer in the Waffen-SS, and Himmler’s personal referent on art. Prof. Theodor Kärner was (besides Diebitsch) one of Germany’s most prestigious artists in porcelain arts.
Kärner also worked with the Meissen, Rosenthal, and Hutschenreuther companies.

In 1937 Himmler's personal staff began to plan a cultural framework designed to replace Christianity, a project that led to the opening of the 'Deutschrechtliche Institute' at the University of Bonn the following year which researched into Germanic pre-history.
Himmler also set himself to constantly improve the solstice celebrations that he felt had the deepest significance, and designed special SS wedding ceremonies.
Himmler was the Grand Master of a coven of 12 SS men. - He was the 13th member.
He conducted numerous black magick rituals at Wewelsburg Castle which were conducted in the utmost secrecy.
They included necromancy (communication with the dead).
Wewelsburg had many powerful occult symbols.
In 1945, under orders from Himmler, Wewelsburg was blown up to keep it from the invading armies, however, some of the castle survived and much has been restored.
The symbol of the Black Sun is seen in many places and one room is designed much like Stonehenge.
True Paganism is known for its emphasis on the Sun.
SS men were strongly discouraged from participating in Christian religious ceremonies of any kind and were actively encouraged to formally break with the Church.
Pagan religious ceremonies took the place of Christian ones.
Winter Solstice ceremonies replaced Christmas and starting 1939 the word “Christmas” was forbidden to appear on any official SS document. In addition the Summer Solstice was formally celebrated.
These ceremonies were celebrated the old way with sacred fires, and torch lit processions.
Weddings and baptisms were replaced by SS rituals and gradually the entire Christian liturgical rubric was in the process of being replaced by a completely pagan version.
Even the Hitler Youth were not immune.
A so-called “Nazi Primer” published during the war contains many examples of pagan ideology and anti-Christian sentiment designed for its youthful readership.
Himmler’s dream was to create, out of the SS, a new religion based on the pagan elements of what he perceived to be the original, Ur-Aryan religion of Ancient India and Europe.
Himmler set up a school of occultism in Berlin, and many of the leading ranks of the Totenkopf SS, the Sicherheitsdienst and the Gestapo were ordered to attend courses in meditation, transcendentalism and magic.
It was in this establishment that Himmler was persuaded to found the Ahnenerbe, the Nazi Occult Bureau.
The Ahnenerbe incorporated the membership of Crowley's Templar Order, the Vril, and the Thule Gesellschaft into the Black Order of the SS.
The Ahnenerbe was at first independent, it later became the ancestral heritage branch of the SS (see above).
Headed by Dr. Hermann Wirth, it was dedicated primarily to archaeological research, but it was also involved in proving the superiority of the 'Aryan race' and in occult practices.

A great deal of time and resources were spent on researching or creating a popularly accepted “historical”, “cultural” and “scientific” background so the ideas about a “superior” Aryan race could be publicly accepted.

For example, an expedition to Tibet was organized to search for the origins of the Aryan race.
To this end, the expedition leader, Ernst Schäfer, had his anthropologist Bruno Beger make face masks and skull and nose measurements.
Another expedition was sent to the Andes.

D A S   S C H W A R T Z E   K O R P S

The official newspaper of SS was Das Schwarze Korps ("The Black Corps"), published weekly from 1935 to 1945. In its first issue, the newspaper published an article on the origins of the Nordic race, hypothesizing a location (Thule or Atlantis ?) near the North Pole similar to the theory of (Hermann Wirth see left).

Also in 1935, the SS journal commissioned a Professor of Germanic History, Heinar Schilling (see right), to prepare a series of articles on ancient Germanic life.
As a result, a book containing these articles and entitled 'Germanisches Leben' (German Living) was published by Koehler & Amelung of Leipzig with the approval of the SS and Reich Government in 1937.
Three chapters dealt with the religion of the German people over three periods: nature worship and the cult of the ancestors, the sun religion of the Late Bronze Age, and the cult of the gods.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
According to Heinar Schilling, the Germanic peoples of the Late Bronze Age had adopted a four-spoke wheel as symbolic of the sun "and this symbol has been developed into the modern swastika of our own society [i.e., Nazi Germany] which represents the sun."
Under the sign of the swastika "the light bringers of the Nordic race overran the lands of the dark inferior races, and it was no coincidence that the most powerful expression of the Nordic world was found in the sign of the swastika".
Very little had been preserved of the ancient rites, Professor Schilling continued, but it was a striking fact "that in many German Gaue today on Sonnenwendtage (solstice days) burning sun wheels are rolled from mountain tops down into the valleys below, and almost everywhere the Sonnenwendfeuer (solstice fires) burn on those days."
He concluded by saying that "The Sun is the All-Highest to the Children of the Earth".

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

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