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Documents on the alleged silencing of Heinrich Himmler

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The Guardian

Wednesday May 5, 1999

'I tell her that her husband has committed suicide'

Ann Stringer met Margherita Himmler at the end of the war. This is an extract of the recently unearthed interview

Margaret and GudrunI VISITED Margherita Himmler, wife of the most hated man in the world, after Hitler, naturally. She has been interned by the allied authorities and now lives in a luxurious villa in the suburbs of Rome. With her is her 15-year-old daughter, Gudrun.

An expression of stiff coldness emanates from all her being. Not a movement of her face, no lowering of her eyes or eyebrows, no gesture of the hands marked, during all of the interview, the manifestations of any particular emotion or revealed any repentance.

She sits in an armchair with her legs crossed, her hands nobly extended, her head erect and her cold, light-blue eyes immovably fixed on me. Up to this moment she has not known the fate of her husband. As she suffers from heart trouble, the allied authorities have up to now not told her that the sanguinary chief of the Gestapo, captured by the troops of the Fifth Army, went to his death by crushing between his teeth a capsule of poison.

I tell her the news. She receives my words with the same indifference as if I had announced the death of the household cat. Then, interrupting what I was saying, she begins to talk about the last conversation she had with her husband.

'I was near Munich and he was in Berlin. He called me by telephone. It was during last summer.' I try to lead the conversation back to the subject I had been questioning her on, and ask her if she knows the manner by which Himmler died and if she has been informed that he has been buried in a common grave.

But Frau Margherita is not moved: no surprise, apparently no interest. I have the impression of being before the most inhuman phenomenon of indifference and coldness which I have ever encountered. I then ask her if she knew the activities of her husband in his capacity of chief of the secret police. She answers 'certainly'.

'And do you know the opinion which the world holds of him?' 'I also know this,' she answers. 'But I also know that before the war my husband was held by many in the highest consideration.' 'And after the war? Don't you think that he became the man most deeply hated by humanity?' She shrugs her shoulders a little and says: 'Perhaps, it is the destiny of all policemen to have heaped on them the hate of man, and my husband was a policeman.'

And in pronouncing these last words there seemed to come to the surface from the coldness of her voice a strange sense of pride. I ask her if she knows that the Allies had given Himmler the first place on the list of war criminals, and she answers me drily: 'My husband? How could that be when the Führer was Hitler?'


Website comment: The above appears to be a translation of an interview published in the Rome newspaper Il Giornale del Mattino, Jul 4, 1945; the interview was conducted in Cine Città by UP writer Ann Stringer (PRO file WO.208/12603). See too in the same file CSDIC/200/MU/15/X-22, the brief interrogation of Frau Himmler and her daughter, May 24, 1945.

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