5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent portrait
This biography of Himmler brings the radical Nazi movement to life. The rivalries and ruthlessness of the Third Reich is perfectly shown through the life of Heinrich Himmler. The books strength is how it manages to consistently web together the complex personality of Himmler and the events that led to his joining the radical Nazi party in its infancy. I found the early...
Published 12 months ago by Nadia
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and exhaustive but worth it.
This detailed, lengthy, well researched and scholarly book on the life of the architect of Hitler's SS elite is by no means a quick or easy read. It is aimed squarely at readers with an interest in the history of the Third Reich and is not perhaps best suited to the casual reader. It is detailed and intricate at times and some prior knowledge of characters, incidents and...
Published on 31 Mar. 2012 by marcoscu
Most Helpful First | Newest First
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent portrait,
This biography of Himmler brings the radical Nazi movement to life. The rivalries and ruthlessness of the Third Reich is perfectly shown through the life of Heinrich Himmler. The books strength is how it manages to consistently web together the complex personality of Himmler and the events that led to his joining the radical Nazi party in its infancy. I found the early chapters especially intriguing as it showed how Himmler went from a shy awkward schoolboy to being one of the most powerful people in Germany. A must read for anyone interested in the history of Nazi Germany and World War Two.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and exhaustive but worth it.,
This detailed, lengthy, well researched and scholarly book on the life of the architect of Hitler's SS elite is by no means a quick or easy read. It is aimed squarely at readers with an interest in the history of the Third Reich and is not perhaps best suited to the casual reader. It is detailed and intricate at times and some prior knowledge of characters, incidents and situated referred to is assumed.
That said the book is very well written and an entertaining read. At times it does get bogged down in details, so it seems to me, particularly in the early section which draws very heavily on Himmler's juvenile diary from which it quotes extensively and in detail.
Also, this is very much a political biography and we seldom see much of Himmler as a man, husband or father.
This is book has academic gravitas to it and and I am happy to accept the factual accuracy of everything within it, not a thing that can be said of very many works on the Nazi period. If you have the time and inclination to devote to a detailed and scholarly biography aimed more at professional historians than the the general reader then you will not be disappointed. This is a serious biography of one of the most feared,loathed and influential figures of the twentieth century and deserves serious study.
Masses of information and detail
Has an air of academic authority
Overly immersed in details at times
Gives little insight into the private man
Not suited to the casual reader
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Full of promise, but....,
As an avid amateur WW2 researcher I looked forward to reading this book. It got off to a good start, detailing Himmler's early family background and his just too late signing up in the Army during the end of the First World War. The author is pretty well versed about Himmler's psyche - almost a neo Freudian explanation in parts. The rise of Himmler through the ranks of the SS is clearly explained, particularly his flair for detailed bureaucracy.
The exposition of Himmler's obsession with the early roots of Aryanism, mixed with bizarre theories of world creation, is well written and highly readable. The author is not a military historian and unfortunately it does show throughout the book. There was a great opportunity to explore Himmler's leadership (or lack of it) of Army Group Vistula in the closing stages of WW2 but sadly this was missed altogether.
The book is strangely inconsistent at times. While you get an insight into Himmler the man, there is little about his wife and more so his lover. Himmler's relationship with Heydrich - fundamental to the latter's rise in the SS - is hardly discussed. In essence the book is the proverbial curate's egg: good in bits, not so good in others and some not even there.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heinrich Himmler - pedant or evil genius?,
This is a big book for scholarly study. It is not an easy read, and it is crammed with facts and very detailed information about the organisation of the SS, the Gestapo, the German Police, and about Himmler's rise and acquisition of more and more power within the Third Reich, yet it sometimes skirts over significant events (like the faked attack at Gleiwitz which precipitated the invasion of Poland). Himmler comes across as a boring sycophantic little pedant - albeit extremely powerful and exceptionally evil, with a pathological hatred of Bolshevism and Jews (which he equated together as the joint evils of the World responsible for the War). It is claimed he was a great organiser, but he spent much of his time organising and re-organising his evil empire with the intention of maintaining and augmenting his own sphere of power, not to make his organisation more efficient. None of his so-called resettlement plans came to anything, and his warped world view condemned millions to death, whilst he showed himself to be a coward by attempting to secure an armistice with the Allies on the Western Front to save his own skin when Germany's fate was sealed. Overall, a well researched and impressive biography about this bizarre little man who became the greatest mass murderer in history. A must read for scholars of Third Reich history. Helpful additional reading "The Himmler Brothers" by Katrin Himmler - this gives a more personal view of Himmler.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The mystery remains....,
This review is from: Heinrich Himmler: A Life (Kindle Edition)
As to how this portly, chinless non-achiever became a prime facilitator of mass-murder? He had an unexceptionable upbringing, and like many prominent Nazis had failed at one or two other careers before finding his niche in the party machine. Mr. Longerich goes to great lengths to describe Himmler's modus operandi when head of the SS, going into sometimes minute detail, but this reader came out none the wiser about why Himmler and others thought it was ok to deem whole races and nations as deserving of slaughter. There was hardly anything about Himmler's relationship with Hitler, and not much about his personal life after the first two hundred pages. It takes an effort of will to read a book about such a man anyway, and for all Mr. Longerich's undoubted diligence, I'm not sure it was worth the effort!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Himmler and the Holocaust,
The author is "One of the world's leading authorities on the Third Reich and the Holocaust".
This book makes that very clear.
It offers a somewhat facile and polemic psychological analysis of the early Himmler based on very good diary and writings references which is actually quite informative. Although I will make my own psychological conclusions based on the quite comprehensive information provided.
It offers prodigious information on Himmler's role in the Holocaust and persecution of the Jews and other races and peoples of Europe. The range of information and detail is excellent. Perhaps the only weakness is the author's inability to prove Hitler fully responsible for orders given in his name. I am sure readers will know that such proof is extremely elusive and this author does a fine job of connecting all the circumstantial evidence together.
Interwoven is a very detailed exposition of Himmler's rise to power within the Third Reich - his machinations and maneuverings, his success and failures. One learns a very great deal of how this weak man became so very powerful and also the day to day operations of the Nazi state apparatus.
These two parts of the book are truly five star and justify the purchase of the book.
However the Waffen-SS and Himmler's controlling role are only mentioned briefly and then mainly in connection with foreign Germanic recruitment.
The author is not expert in Military History and that shows throughout the narrative. The few references to the military aspects of the war show a strongly anglophile and rather limited view.
Also the book loses detail quickly after the time of the major killings connected with the Holocaust (the author's main period of expertise). Himmler's activities in 1944 are only explained in lesser detail. The published Goebbels' diaries are almost the only primary source material to explain the provided brief story of Himmler in 1945.
I can only suggest you acquaint yourself thoroughly with the hugely significant military role of the SS before reading this book. The Waffen-SS probably contributed far more to the huge death toll of World War 2 than the rest of Himmler's domain. They contributed so much to the prolongation of the war and to making it increasingly violent.
In summary, an excellent book on parts of Himmler's life but certainly not comprehensive.
Five star in parts but with a lot missing altogether.
Indeed, we await a complete biography of Himmler
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dry, but fifully interesting,
A rather dry, and at times leadely paced biography, this is nontheless fitfully fascinating. However the author spends too much time on Himmler's unremarkable conventionally dull childhood. He also rushes the ultimate downfall and death of Himmler. This and a pedantic interest in the mechanics of the SS at the expense of any cogent characterisation of Himmer or any of the Nazis, deadens the chilling effects of their crimes.
If you're interested in all things Nazi, well give this a whirl - but we must wait a little longer for the definitive biography.
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly,
A significant addition to the canon of work on the monstrous cabal at the head of the Third Reich. Probably the best analysis of Himmler's strange personality yet produced. It is always remarkable to see this unprepossessing physical specimen becoming RFSS, at the head of that most "Aryan" of forces. His genius for re-invention and organisation are clearly dissected.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
An excellent book that brings Heinrich Himmler 'alive'. He wasn't just the Reichsführer-SS; he was the SS. That is how the book portrayed him in my opinion. Prior to him joining the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party), the book is about, as one would expect, Heinrich Himmler the boy and then a young man. After his rise to become Reichsführer-SS, it is all about the SS; this being due to his utter devotion to the position he held and the organisation he controlled. As he seemed to immerse himself in that role it is natural that any biography of him would reflect that, so the above is certainly not meant as any criticism of the book.
An issue with the number of deaths of Ethnic German that occurred during the war (Page 428). Using a figure of 4,000 to 5,000 is basically, in my humble opinion, absurd. Perhaps this is an 'editing' problem?
An issue with the reasoning that the primary motive for the creation of the Volkssturm was the fear of rebellion on the home front and not the unconditional surrender terms insisted on by Churchill and Roosevelt (Page 713 to 714).
Surprised by the reference to 'thousands of attacks' by Werewolf units after the Allied occupation as I was under the impression that there were very few (Page 715).
I also found it surprising that it portrayed Himmler as not being as close to Hitler as I had previously assumed he would have been.
Interesting perspective in that the final solution of the Jewish problem was not just seen as coming about due to one order from Hitler or as a result of the Wannsee conference but 'through the interplay of guidelines from above and initiatives from below' (Page 541). Appears to my reading of the book to take an approach that is a synthesis of the functionalist and intentionalist views.
I found the Conclusion to be extremely interesting though will not comment on the contents but leave that to those who read the book.
I can highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn more about the man, the organisation and the events that occurred.
5.0 out of 5 stars Heinrich Himmler,
Excellent value.The book is bigger than i first thought and gives an in depth account from start to finish of Hitlers right hand man.A great addition to my library.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Heinrich Himmler: A Life by Peter Longerich