Today on May 21, 1945, Soviet forces capture Heinrich Himmler while fleeing for his life.
Heinrich Himmler was the Reichsführer of the notorious Schutzstaffel (SS Division) and the Gestapo. As a close member of Hitler’s inner circle, he became one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany. Among all of his evil actions, he is ultimately remembered for being the chief architect of the Holocaust. Its estimated more than six million Jews were mercilessly killed under his direction. By early 1945, it was evident that Germany would eventually lose the war. Hitler ordered the self destruction of Germany and the Nazi government faced imminent collapse. Chaos erupted around the country as the Allied forces raced toward Berlin.
Himmler continued to behave normally in front of Hitler, however behind his back, he was secretly making preparations for post-war life. Without any consent, he tried to open a line of communication for peace talks with the allies. Upon hearing the news of his betrayal, Hitler dismissed him from all of his duties and ordered his arrest. As a result, the remaining fragments of the inner circle quickly rejected Himmler. Likewise, the Allies were eager to capture him so that he could stand trial for his atrocious crimes. So on May 11, he headed south to Friedrichskoog with a small group of loyal comrades. Mostly ill-prepared for such a grand escape, he did manage to forge an I.D. and bank account under the false name of Sergeant Heinrich Hitzinger.
Without any firm plans or destination in mind, his entourage slowly withered away. While traveling through Luneburg, Himmler and his two aides were detained at a checkpoint by former Soviet POWs. Unaware of their identities, they were transferred to a British interrogation camp after two days. Heinrich Himmler suddenly confessed his true identity as the standard interrogation procedure began. He was subsequently moved to a more secure location. While being examined by a doctor, he refused to open his mouth and suddenly bit into a cyanide pill. Himmler collapsed onto the fall and died within fifteen minutes. The body was buried in an unmarked grave nearby and remains elusive to this day.