"The Handwriting of a Mass Murderer" is how Germany's Die Welt newspaper bills its eight-part series featuring excerpts of Heinrich Himmler's personal letters accompanied by family photos, which are reportedly being published for the first time.
(An English-language version is here.)
The excerpts, published this weekend, come from roughly 700 letters that Himmler, leader of the Nazis' notorious, black-uniformed SS corps, wrote to his wife, Margarete — a nurse he called his "dear, precious woman." In later letters, while Himmler was having an affair with his secretary who eventually bore him two daughters, he addressed his wife as "Dear Mommy."
In the letters, Himmler does not describe in any detail his role in the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities committed during World War II. But Die Welt editors say his writings show the intimate thoughts of a "clearly cold, feeling-less, self-righteous bureaucrat" who orchestrated the mass extermination of millions of Jewish men, women and children.
For example: In a letter sent to his then-fiancée in June 1928, Himmler wrote to Margarete: "You have to fight with these wretched Jews because of the money...Don't get frustrated over the Jews, good lady — If only I could help you."
Die Welt says he was referring to Margarete selling her share of a private clinic in Berlin to a fellow occupant of the building, who was Jewish.
Himmler's letters belong to the family of Israeli film director Vanessa Lapa. Editors at Die Welt say she approached them three years ago and that the letters' authenticity was independently verified by historians.
Lapa is expected to debut a documentary on Himmler next month at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Die Welt says two U.S. soldiers originally found the letters inside a safe in Himmler's home in Bavaria. He committed suicide toward the end of World War II.