Gudrun Burwitz

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Gudrun Burwitz
Margaret and Gudrun Himmler.jpg
Gudrun Himmler (now Gudrun Burwitz) (right) with her mother at the Nuremberg Trials, 1945.
Born (1929-08-08) 8 August 1929 (age 84)
Munich, Bavaria, Germany (Weimar Republic)
Nationality German
Known for Stille Hilfe, Wiking-Jugend
Spouse(s) Wulf Dieter Burwitz
Parents Heinrich Himmler (deceased)
Margarete Siegroth (deceased)

Gudrun Burwitz (née Himmler) (born 8 August 1929) is the daughter of Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police (and from August 1943 onward, the Minister of the Interior) and Margarete Siegroth, née Boden. Gudrun was the only child of Himmler's marriage; her parents later adopted a son. In 1940, Heinrich Himmler started an affair with the secretary Hedwig Potthast with whom he had two children.[1]

Relation to father[edit]

Father Heinrich Himmler (centre) and the young Gudrun, visiting a concentration camp.

Heinrich Himmler adored his daughter and had her regularly flown to his offices in Berlin from Munich where she lived with her mother.[2] When she was at home he telephoned her most days and wrote to her every week. He continued to call her by her childhood nickname "Püppi" throughout his life.[3] She accompanied her father on some official duties.

Heinrich Himmler died in British captivity on 23 May 1945. She disputed that his death was a suicide from a concealed cyanide capsule, claiming that he was murdered.[2][4] After World War II she and her mother were arrested by the Americans and held in various camps in Italy, France and Germany. They were brought to Nuremberg to testify at the trials, and were released in November 1946.[5] Gudrun later bitterly referred to these years as the most difficult of her life, and said that she and her mother were treated as though they had to atone for the alleged sins of her father.[2]

She has never renounced the Nazi ideology and has repeatedly sought to justify the actions of her father, relative to the context of his time. People who know her say that Gudrun has created a "golden image" of her father.[6]

Nazi sympathies[edit]

She married the journalist and author Wulf Dieter Burwitz and had two children. She has remained active in the Nazi community (Neo-Nazism), and has since 1951 been a member of Stille Hilfe, an organisation providing support to arrested, condemned or fugitive former SS-members.[7] To place Gudrun's affiliation with this organization into additional context, Stille Hilfe assisted Klaus Barbie of the Lyon Gestapo; it once aided Martin Sommer, otherwise known as the 'Hangman of Buchenwald'; and "continues to support a Protestant old people's home in Pullach, near Munich".[8] In 1952, Gudrun helped to found Wiking-Jugend which was organised after the Hitler Youth model. She was a longtime friend of Florentine Rost van Tonningen (died in 2007), who was known in the Netherlands as "the black widow" and who was active in Nazi circles after the war.

For decades Gudrun Burwitz has been a prominent symbol and idol in Stille Hilfe. At various meetings, for instance the annual Ulrichsberg gathering in Austria, she enjoys the status of both a star and an authority. Oliver Schröm, author of a book about Stille Hilfe, has described her as a "flamboyant Nazi princess" ("schillernde Nazi-Prinzessin").[9]

Gudrun Burwitz has intensified the support for alleged Nazi war criminals in recent years.[6][7] This was particularly evident in the case of Anton Malloth, a supervisor of Theresienstadt concentration camp, who was extradited to Germany in 1988 and after a prolonged public trial was sentenced in 2001 to life in prison. She arranged his stay at a nursing home in Pullach at the southern outskirts of Munich from 1988 to 2001.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Andersen 2007:165
  2. ^ a b c Helm, Siegfried (1998). "Himmlers Tochter hilft den alten Gefährten". Berliner Morgenpost. Retrieved 5 October 2008. 
  3. ^ Peter Longerich, Heinrich Himmler: A Life, Oxford University Press, p. 468.
  4. ^ Bellinger, Joseph (2005). Himmlers Tod. Freitod oder Mord? Die letzten Tage des Reichsführers-SS (Himmler's death. Suicide or murder? The last days of the SS Reichfürher). Kiel: Arndt Verlag. 
  5. ^ Katrin Himmler, The Himmler Brothers, Pan Macmillan, 2012, p.275.
  6. ^ a b Sanai, Darius (1999). "The sins of my father". The Independent (London). Retrieved 5 October 2008. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b The Daily Mail Himmler's daughter aged 81: She works with neo-Nazis and helps SS officers evade justice, 17 June 2011
  8. ^ David Wingeate Pike, Spaniards in the Holocaust: Mauthausen, the Horror on the Danube (London: Routledge, 2000), 380.
  9. ^ Fabian Leber: Gudrun Burwitz und die „Stille Hilfe“: Die schillernde Nazi-Prinzessin; in: Der Tagesspiegel vom 10. Juni 2001 (In German)

References[edit]

  • Andersen, Dan H. Nazimyter—blodreligion og dødskult i Det Tredje Rige. Aschehoug 2007, ISBN 978-87-11-11847-4 (in Danish)
  • Lebert, Norbert, and Stephan. Denn Du trägst meinen Namen: das schwere Erbe der prominenten Nazi-Kinder. Goldmann Verlag 2002, ISBN 3-442-15188-0 (in German)
  • Lebert, Norbert, and Stephan. My Father's Keeper: Children of Nazi Leadership: An Intimate History of Damage and Denial, translated by Julian Evans. New York: Little, Brown, 2001. ISBN 0-316-51929-4
  • Pike, David Wingeate. Spaniards in the Holocaust: Mauthausen, the Horror on the Danube. London: Routledge, 2000.
  • Schröm, Oliver and Andrea Röpke. Stille Hilfe für braune Kameraden. Christoph Links Verlag 2001, ISBN 3-86153-231-X (in German)