I’m watching the documentary “The Decent One” about Heinrich Himmler.
On a basic level, “The Decent One” is a biographical documentary. Lapa traces the roots of Himmler’s anti-Semitism to his days at college, a period when the future Nazi zealot routinely discussed “the Jewish question” with fraternity brothers, and felt simultaneously attracted and repelled by “slutty but stunning Jewish girls” he encountered in taverns and elsewhere. Himmler later courted and eventually married Margarete, a woman seven years his senior, who lovingly nicknamed him “Heinie,” swapped playfully flirtatious letters with him, and complained only whenever a “naughty” movement — National Socialism — kept them apart.
Evidently, truth really can be stranger, and more darkly comical, than fiction. At one point, Marga (as Himmler calls her) writes: “Why are you going to a Hitler rally when you know what he will say?” Himmler patiently replies: “I must go to Hitler rallies, because I organize them and am jointly responsible for them.” Later, he pointedly reminds her: “I can’t always be as ‘good’ as you want me to be.”
Even as Marga insists she knows “so little about politics,” despite her own casual anti-Semitism, Himmler continues his methodical evildoing as one of Hitler’s most enthusiastic lackeys. He writes of visiting the first concentration camp in Dachau, “the new home for 5,000 Communist and Social Democrat nuisances,” and remains ever receptive to suggestions for more efficient ways to eliminate Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other undesirables on a massive scale.
I hate to confess it, but Himmler’s attitude to homosexuality, apparently, mirrors Judaism’s. He says in the doc: “All sexual matters…are no longer private. They are a matter of life and death for the nation. I’ll give a real life example. Department Head X is homosexual and is looking for an assistant from the young clerks. He won’t choose someone based on his merits. He won’t look for the best legal mind. He will select another homosexual. These people can recognize their own kind from across a room. Homosexuality undermines the state’s achievements and destroys its foundations. Sadly, we don’t have it as easy as our forefathers. They only had to deal with a few cases of perversion.”
* I have an Orthodox therapist friend who during graduate school was asked to read anti-Semitic literature (I don’t know which kind) for a week and she reported to me that within an hour or two of studying it, it all started making sense. That frightened her to death and when the experiment was over, she never went back to that stuff but powered on with her Judaism.