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The Himmler Brothers

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This book is a remarkable document - it seems quite apparent that the 1939-1945 years of the family tree should have been expunged but Katrin seems to want to explain that history is what happened and this is why these three brothers took the paths they did. Come down the travelators, exit Sainsbury's, turn right and follow the pedestrianised walkway to Crown Walk and turn right - and Coles will be right in front of you. It took courage and imagination for Katrin to confront the assumptions and half-truths that had taken root in the family .

He brought his brothers and family down with him and the book shows how self delusion can mask the most horrible of crimes against humanity. Despite the opportunity to take her spouse's surname, she chose to keep the name Himmler, rather than deny her heritage. It should be read not only by anyone who is interested in the history of the period but also by everyone who doesn't want to see it repeated.

Her book traces the lives of the three Himmler brothers (the eldest was Gebhard Himmler), the sons of a respected secondary school headmaster in Munich. Her great-grandfather was a Headmaster and he and his wife look kindly German people who lived through to the 1930s where they were convinced that Hitler would be good for Germany.

Himmler is one of the protagonists of the television documentary Hitler's Children (in German: "Meine Familie, die Nazis und Ich") [4] of the Israeli director Chanoch Zeevi about descendants of the Nazi elite, amongst them Rainer Höss. She interweaves each brother's story of their journey as a soldier during World War I through to their involvement in the Nazi Party and their work during the war. Perhaps it is too easy to say that in their ageing years, they were probably duped quite easily into that way of thinking.She decided to investigate and, using documents, letters and interviews, she uncovered the story her family had kept hidden. For her this was a turning point: she realised once and for all just how deeply her grandfather and her great-uncle Gebhard were in thrall to their brother's murderous racial policies. Her grandfather had joined the Nazi Party in November 1931, well before Heinrich became eminent enough to inspire or bully his brothers into signing on.

Katrin Himmler’s cool but meticulous examination of the Himmler story reveals – in all its dark complexity – the gulf between the ‘normality’ of bourgeois family life and the horrors perpetrated by one member. Yes', she stammered, at which there was a deathly hush in the classroom and the teacher, embarrassed and unsure, quickly moved the lesson on. From these cultural imperatives, the journey to those of the National Socialists was quite logical and frighteningly brief. I bought this book having seen the author on a television programme about the family members of the most notorious Nazis.I commend her for moving forward and telling the back story to Himmler that no one other then a relative could possibly tell.

Impelled by a request from her father, Ms Himmler began her journey believing her family's narrative. She has taken part in several documentary films, like ‘Heinrich Himmler – Portrait of a Mass Murderer’ by Michael Kloft, Germany 2008; ‘Love History’ by Klub Zwei (Simone Bader and Jo Schmeiser), Austria 2010; and ‘Hitler’s Children’ by Chanoch Ze’evi, Israel 2011. It is written by the great-niece of Heinrich Himmler who suspected that her grandfather, Ernst, Heinrich’s younger brother, was not as innocent as the family would have liked to think. I found her revelations about other members of the Himmler family who were also loyal, card carrying Nazi's to be very interesting as well.

This is a very well-written and profoundly honest story of the family of a monster - but an ordinary man who lived in extraordinary times.

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