Cover image for The strange death of Heinrich Himmler : a forensic investigation
The strange death of Heinrich Himmler : a forensic investigation
Thomas, W. Hugh (Walter Hugh), 1935-
Uniform Title:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2002.

Physical Description:
xii, 276 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Originally published: SS-1 : the unlikely death of Heinrich Himmler. London : Fourth Estate, 2001.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DD247.H46 T45 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



On 22 May 1945, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the Allies celebrated the capture of the most important member of the Nazi hierarchy, Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler. The SS leader was arrested and interrogated but committed suicide in Allied custody by ingesting poison from a capsule concealed in his mouth. Then he was buried at a secret site on Lüneberg Heath. But Himmler did not rest in peace, if Himmler it was who was buried there.Months later the British disinterred, re-examined, and cremated his body. Yet in 1946 MI6's most talented, if treacherous, agent, Kim Philby, was still not convinced that the story of Himmler's death made any sense at all. Philby realized that a man of Himmler's organizational genius, a plotter of great intricacy and sophistication who recognized Germany's inevitable defeat as early as 1943, was unlikely to have just blundered into the arms of the Allies. What really happened?Hugh Thomas set out to answer Philby's question and uncovered a maze of corruption, high finance, political gambles, and international intrigue. The Strange Death of Heinrich Himmler unearths not just Himmler's grave, but reveals secrets that have long remained buried, and shadowy figures who would rather stay that way.

Author Notes

Hugh Thomas is a surgeon and forensic expert of international repute. His first book, The Murder of Rudolf Hess , caused a worldwide furor. His second book, Hess: A Tale of Two Murders , precipitated a six-month Scotland Yard inquiry which saw its report immediately suppressed. His most recent book, The Murder of Adolf Hitler , was published in nine different countries.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Internationally acclaimed forensic expert Thomas (author of The Murder of Adolf Hitler, 1996) provides a riveting investigation, with a heavy dollop of speculation, that nevertheless leaves many unanswered questions about what really happened to Reichsfuhrer Himmler after the collapse of Germany in May 1945. The conventional story was that after being captured by British forces while he and a group attempted to cross a bridge to escape southern Germany, Himmler was incarcerated; and during an interrogation session, he bit down on a poison capsule that he had secreted in his mouth and promptly died. Thomas makes a very strong case that the prisoner in this scenario was not, in fact, Himmler, but rather a man named Heinrich Hitzinger. Himmler was aware that Hitzinger bore a very strong resemblance to him, and the author suggests that Himmler had Hitzinger stand in for him, while he himself escaped elsewhere. But what, then, actually happened to Himmler? British records in the case are sealed until 2045, so we may have to wait until then for the full story. Allen Weakland.

Library Journal Review

Himmler, the most important member of the Nazi leadership to be captured by the Allies, was reported to have committed suicide on May 23, 1945, while in British custody. Thomas questions the facts and makes a strong case for doubting the report. The body examined by British military authorities may not have been Himmler's, and there seems to be sufficient reason to suspect a cover-up. The carefully presented case is based on thorough research in the surviving documents and interviews with some of the people originally involved. No definite conclusions can be reached, however. Some crucial evidence has apparently disappeared, and other items will not be made public until the year 2045. The writing is generally clear and easy to follow, even with the great amount of detail presented. The author is an experienced forensic investigator who understands how to use the available facts and the importance of not jumping to conclusions. This is a worthy book for fans of Thomas's Murder of Adolph Hitler (1996). For public and academic libraries with strong World War II collections. Edward Gibson, Lincoln Univ. Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.