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Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler accepts the well wishes of SS police officers on the occasion of his birthday at SS headquarters in the Hegewald bei Zhitomir compound.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 60390

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    Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler accepts the well wishes of SS police officers on the occasion of his birthday at SS headquarters in the Hegewald bei Zhitomir compound.
    Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler accepts the well wishes of SS police officers on the occasion of his birthday at SS headquarters in the Hegewald bei Zhitomir compound.

The man speaking with Himmler is a member of the Ordnungspolizei.  Pictured in the center SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Josef Tiefenbacher.


    Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler accepts the well wishes of SS police officers on the occasion of his birthday at SS headquarters in the Hegewald bei Zhitomir compound.

    The man speaking with Himmler is a member of the Ordnungspolizei. Pictured in the center SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Josef Tiefenbacher.
    Kurt Alber
    1942 October 07
    Hegewald bei Zhitomir, [Ukraine; Zhitomir] USSR
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of James Blevins
    Event History
    Hegewald bei Zhitomir was Heinrich Himmler's headquarters in the Ukraine. Located on a former Soviet airbase between Zhitomir and Vinnitsa on the Teteriv and Gryva Rivers, the Hegewald compound was run by over 100 SS officers and 1,000 SS police. It contained an airport, cemetery, bunkers, banquet rooms, elegant houses, and an office and private quarters for the Reichsfuehrer-SS. Himmler was stationed at Hegewald at various times between July 24, 1942 and the summer of 1943. The compound was destroyed by retreating SS police forces in November and December, 1943.

    [Sources: Razesberger. Franz (former Zhitomir SIPO SD chief). testimony, 18 July 1961 before the Landesgericht Wien (Vienna) 20, Nr. 5774/60, NV 21/61, 155-58 (available in USHMM archives).]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: James Blevins
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2003.405.1.1 (blue album)/p. 7

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Joseph (Sepp) Dietrich (1892-1966) commanded the Sixth SS Panzer Army during World War II. Born into a Bavarian peasant family on May 28, 1892 in Hawangen, Dietrich spent his early years working in hotels and public houses. He joined the police after service in World War I as a paymaster sergeant. He even spent a stint with the Oberland Freikorps. In 1923, Dietrich joined the SA. He joined the NSDAP in 1928 and by 1930 he was a Reichstag representative for Lower Bavaria. Soon afterwards he was made an SS-Brigadefuehrer. Dietrich was responsible for setting up the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (LAH), the Berlin SS guard staff charged with protecting Hitler. He was promoted to SS-Obergruppenfuehrer for his participation in executions of high SA officers in Munich during "cleansing" actions. The LAH joined with units of the Waffen-SS to form a combat unit. On July 4, 1934 he was made General of the Waffen-SS and assigned to the Prussian State Council. Hitler looked highly upon Dietrich for his ruthlessness, military valor, and punishing character. He served as commanding general of the First SS Panzerkorps serving in Poland, France, Greece, Russia, Austria, and Hungary. He was awarded the Diamond Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on December 31, 1941 and the Brillianten to Oak Leaves in 1944, but Dietrich proved to be a mediocre military strategist at best. While serving as Commander of the Sixth SS Panzer Army he shared responsibility for the Malmedy massacre of almost a hundred US prisoners of war during the Ardennes Offensive. He was also held responsible for atrocities in the Kharkov-Kherson district in 1941-43 while acting as a divisional commander. In May of 1945, the American Seventh Army captured Dietrich. Because of questions of procedure raised by his defense, his life sentence was reduced to twenty-five years. He was secretly pardoned on October 22, 1955, but he was soon sentenced to eighteen months for his role in the murder of Ernst Roehm. He was released in February of 1959 due to health concerns and died of a heart attack in 1966 while in Ludwigsburg.

    [Sources: Wistrich, Robert. "Who's Who in Nazi Germany." MacMillan, 1982; Zentner, Christian. "Encyclopedia of the Third Reich." MacMillan, 1991.]

    Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945), Reichsfuehrer-SS, head of the Gestapo and the Waffen-SS, and Minister of the Interior of Nazi Germany from 1943 to 1945. Himmler, born in Munich, was the son of a pious Catholic schoolteacher. After graduating high school he joined the army in 1917, where he served as an officer cadet in the Eleventh Bavarian Regiment. After World War I Himmler studied agriculture at the Munich School of Technology from 1918 to 1922. He then worked briefly as a fertilizer salesman and a chicken farmer. In the early 1920s he became involved with the fledgling Nazi party and participated in the Munich Beer-Hall putsch of November 1923, serving as standard-bearer at the side of Ernst Roehm. Between 1926 and 1930 Himmler was the acting propaganda leader of the NSDAP. After marrying Margarete (Marga) Boden in 1928, he returned briefly to poultry farming, but was economically unsuccessful. Just over a year after his marriage, his daughter Gudrun was born. Unable to bear him any more children, Margarete adopted a boy, but Himmler showed him little interest, preferring to lavish his daughter with expensive gifts. As his marriage began to deteriorate, Himmler's visits to the family home in Gmund am Tegernsee became so few that Gudrun was often flown to Berlin so her father could spend a few hours with her. Meanwhile, Himmler became romantically involved with his secretary, Hedwig Potthast, who bore him a much-wanted son, Helge. In 1929 Himmler was appointed head of the SS, Hitler's personal guard, and the following year, was elected to the Reichstag as the Nazi deputy from Weser-Ems. Immediately after the Nazi takeover of power in 1933, Himmler became police president in Munich and head of the political police in Bavaria. This gave him the power base to expand the SS and secure its independence from Roehm's SA (Storm Troopers), as well as to organize the SD (Security Service) under Reinhard Heydrich. In September 1933 Himmler was made commander of all political police units outside Prussia, and in April 1934, head of the Prussian police and Gestapo. By June 1936 Himmler had won control of the political and criminal police throughout the Third Reich by virtue of his positions as Reichsfuehrer-SS and head of the Gestapo. In his pursuit of ever more effective means to put down political opposition, he set up the first concentration camp at Dachau in 1933. Himmler was inspired by a combination of fanatic racism and philosophical mysticism. His obsession with racial purity led to the institution of special marriage laws that encouraged the procreation of children by perfect Aryan couples, as well as the establishment of the Lebensborn (Fountain of Life) centers at which girls, selected for their Nordic features, coupled with SS men. In furtherance of his racial goals, Himmler also recruited Aryans of different nationalities into the Waffen-SS. He envisioned the creation of a pan-European order of knighthood owing allegiance to the Fuehrer alone. The outbreak of World War II allowed Himmler to pursue the other side of his program, namely the elimination of Jews and other so-called "sub-humans." In October 1939 he was appointed Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of German Nationhood and given full control over the annexed section of Poland. He immediately set out to displace the Polish and Jewish population of this area with ethnic Germans from the Baltics. By the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Himmler controlled all the organs of police and intelligence, the political administration in the occupied territories, and (through the SS) the concentration camp system in Poland. When he was made Minister of the Interior in 1943, he gained jurisdiction over the courts and the civil service as well. Himmler ruthlessly utilized these powers to exploit Jews, Slavs, Roma, and others for slave labor, to shoot and gas millions of Jews, and to subject thousands to forced abortions, sterilization and pseudo medical experimentation. After the failed attempt on Hitler's life in July 1944, Himmler's position was further enhanced when he was appointed chief of the Reserve Army and commander of Army Group Vistula. Near the end of the war, however, Himmler became convinced of Germany's imminent defeat and made several overtures to the Allies. He sanctioned the "Blood for Trucks" negotiations in Budapest, ordered the halt to the mass slaughter of Jews, tried to initiate peace negotiations with the Allies through Count Folke Bernadotte, permitted the transfer of several hundred camp prisoners to Sweden, and proposed the surrender of the German armies in the West while continuing the battle in the East. Hitler was enraged by this betrayal and stripped Himmler of all his offices. Following the German surrender, Himmler tried to escape by assuming a false identity, but was arrested by British troops. Transferred to Lueneberg, Himmler committed suicide by poison capsule on May 23, 1945 before he could be brought to trial.

    [Source: Wistrich, Robert. Who's Who in Nazi Germany. New York, Macmillan, 1982, pp.138-42.]
    Record last modified:
    2005-02-22 00:00:00
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