Among the Nazi leaders, Heinrich Himmler was, as Richard Breitman observes in this ground- breaking study, an easy man to underestimate- short, pudgy, near-sighted, chinless. Yet Himmler holds a peculiarly memorable place in the roster of Nazi war criminals: he was the man most closely associated with the creation and operation of the Final Solution, the programme of formal mass murder responsible for the deaths of six million Jews in death camps. Thus, to understand the Holocaust it is first necessary to understand Himmler, and it is this THE ARCHITECT OF GENOCIDE at last permits us to do. Drawing on thousands of published and unpublished sources- ranging from the Nuremburg War Crimes trial records to papers held in the Central State Archives of the October Revolution of the Ukrainian SSR in Kiev- Breitman shows us the man himself, growing from unlikeable boyhood to be the perfect bureaucrat, seemingly the antithesis of the mad policies he espoused. At the same time, with unchallengeable authority, he presents us with the hitherto mysterious and much- debated facts about the origins of those policies, establishing among other things that before the war, Himmler had plans to murder all German Jews who would not- or could not- leave the country and that as early as 1939, Himmler was considering the use of gas chambers and crematoriums.
The Final Solution is undoubtedly the greatest atrocity that mankind has ever witnessed. Whilst many of us may naively believe that Hitler was the primary culprit, Breitman throws light on the full extent that Himmler played in this genocide. Through exhaustive research, tracing his childhood through to his role in the Nazi party to his eventual suicide, a clearer, more sinister, portrait of Himmler is revealed. For a race that idealised the true Aryan as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed athlete, Himmler did not fit the mould. Yet within a short time, he managed to rise through the Nazi ranks and ultimately plan the annihilation of the Jewish race. For a man who was meticulous in his work, Himmler went out of his way to make sure that he left little incriminating evidence. Through dogged research Breitman pieces together the life of Himmler. This book is not intended for light reading but rather for anyone who strives to know more about this dark period. (Kirkus UK)