Reichsfuhrer-SS, head of the Gestapo and the Waffen-SS, Minister of the Interior from 1943 to 1945 and organizer of the mass murder of Jews in the Third Reich, Heinrich Himmler was born in Munich on 7 October 1900. The son of a pious, authoritarian Roman Catholic schoolmaster who had once been tutor to the Bavarian Crown Prince, Himmler was educated at a secondary school in Landshut. He served as an officer cadet in the Eleventh Bavarian Regiment at the end of World War I, later obtaining a diploma in agriculture from Munich Technical High School where he studied from 1918 to 1922.
After working briefly as a salesman for a firm of fertilizer manufacturers, the young Himmler joined a para-military, nationalist organization and participated in the Munich Beer-Hall putsch of November 1923 as standard-bearer at the side of Ernst Rohm, Secretary to Gregor Strasser and his deputy district leader in Bavaria, Swabia and the Palatinate, he was also acting propaganda leader of the NSDAP from 1925 to 1930.
After marrying in 1927, Himmler returned to poultry farming for a time but was singularly unsuccessful in the business of raising chickens. In January 1929, he was appointed head of Hitler's personal bodyguard, the black-shirted Schutzstaffel (SS), at that time a small body of 200 men which was subsequently to become under his leadership an all-embracing empire within the Nazi State.
Elected in 1930 to the Reichstag as Nazi deputy for Weser-Ems, Himmler concentrated on extending SS membership--which reached 52,000 by 1933--and securing its independence from control by Rohm's SA, to which it was initially subordinated. He organized the Security Service (SD) under Reinhard Heydrich, originally an ideological intelligence service of the Party, and together the two men ensured that the Nazis consolidated their power over Bavaria in 1933.