Heinrich Himmler

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In 1939 Himmler masterminded Operation Himmler (also known as Operation Konserve or Operation Canned Goods), arguably the first operation of World War II in Europe. It was a false flag project to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany, which was subsequently used by Nazi propaganda to justify the invasion of Poland.

Before the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 (Operation Barbarossa), Himmler prepared his SS for a war of extermination against the forces of "Judeo-Bolshevism". Himmler, always glad to make parallels between Nazi Germany and the Middle Ages, compared the invasion to the Crusades. He collected volunteers from all over Europe, especially those of Nordic stock who were perceived to be racially closest to Germans, like the Danes, Norwegians, Swedes and Dutch. After the invasion, Ukrainians, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonian volunteers were also recruited, attracting the non-Germanic volunteers by declaring a pan-European crusade to defend the traditional values of old Europe from the "Godless Bolshevik hordes". Thousands volunteered and many thousands more were conscripted.

In the Baltic states many natives were willing to serve against the Red Army due to their loathing of their oppression after the occupation by the Soviet Union. These men were conscripted into the Waffen-SS. Employed against Soviet troops, they performed acceptably.[21] Waffen SS recruitment in Western and Nordic Europe collected much less manpower, though a number of Waffen-SS Legions were founded, such as the Wallonian contingent led by Léon Degrelle, whom Himmler planned to appoint chancellor of an SS State of Burgundy within the Nazi orbit once the war was over.

In 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler's right hand man, was assassinated near Prague after an attack by Czech special forces supplied by British Intelligence and the Czechoslovak rebellion. Himmler immediately carried out reprisal, killing the entire population, including women and children, of the village of Lidice.

Interior Minister

In 1943, Himmler was appointed Reich Interior Minister, replacing Frick, with whom he had engaged in a turf war for over a decade. For instance, Frick had tried to restrict the widespread use of "protective custody" orders that were used to send people to concentration camps, only to be begged off by Himmler. While Frick viewed the concentration camps as a tool to punish dissenters, Himmler saw them as a way to terrorize the people into accepting Nazi rule.

Himmler's appointment effectively merged the Interior Ministry with the SS. Nonetheless, Himmler sought to use his new office to reverse the party apparatus's annexation of the civil service and tried to challenge the authority of the party gauleiters.

This aspiration was frustrated by Martin Bormann, Hitler's private secretary and party chancellor. It also incurred some displeasure from Hitler himself, whose long-standing disdain for the traditional civil service was one of the foundations of Nazi administrative thinking. Himmler made things much worse still when following his appointment as head of the Reserve Army (Ersatzheer, see below) he tried to use his authority in both military and police matters by transferring policemen to the Waffen-SS.

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