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Casinos and genocide: Himmler’s diaries

The SS commander’s diaries, in which his staff recorded his daily routine, are being released after 71 years in Russia’s archives.

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At 10:00am, SS Commander Heinrich Himmler ordered a massage. At 2:00pm, he had lunch. At 9:00pm, he had a working meeting in which he was told that Polish officers, then allied with the Nazis, were refusing to fight. A half hour later, he ordered their execution.

Thus was how Himmler, the second most important man in the Third Reich, spent his January 3, 1943, according to his diary.
Heinrich Himmler (Photo: Realworks)
This was his daily routine: combination of meetings and leisure activities interspersed amongst atrocities, as the German tabloid Bild, inter alia, reported that his diaries record. The diaries were not personally written by the SS commander; rather, they records kept by his staff. There are around a thousand pages summarizing Himmler’s daily activities in 1938 and from 1943 to 1944.

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They reveal a shocking portrait of a man whose routine included regular, shocking, and horrific orders. The diaries were kept in Russia’s archives for 71 years after they were seized in Berlin at the end of the war. The excerpts released on Tuesday are from the preface of a book that is to be published soon.

The diaries include visits to concentration camps like Buchenwald and the Warsaw Ghetto, as well as features of Himmler’s life that are shockingly mundane, such as family meals and visits to a casino.

By Benjamin Tobias

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