already he reveals qualities in his nature which were to remain unchanged throughout his life. Although he enjoys a narrow social life with a small circle of friends, he instinctively avoids any human relationship that commits him too deeply. The force that drives him is what he believes to be his duty, and this leads him to work hard at his studies, and force his unhealthy body to succeed in the accepted exercises, such as swimming, skating and, above all, fencing. His conventionalism becomes in itself a kind of passion; he is gregarious without any real warmth, and he is only prepared to seek the companionship of girls on the understanding no passion enters into his relationship with them. He still attends Mass, and, in his spare time, practises shooting with Gebhard and Ludwig against the future when he can, once more, ‘wear uniform’. He is an ardent nationalist in politics, and seriously alarmed by events in the east.

The diaries lapse again between February 1920 and November 1921, and again between July 1922 and February 1924. The final phase of his life as a student followed much the same pattern, broken by minor military exercises as a reservist and clerical duties for a student organization known as Allgemeiner Studenten Ausschuss. His ambition to farm in the east has, however, changed; he considers Turkey now to be more suitable, and he travelled to Gmund, where he was later to establish his lakeside home on the Tegernsee, to meet a man who knew something of the prospects in Turkey. He is, however, still uncertain about his own character. In November 1921, in his twenty-second year, he writes: ‘I still lack to a considerable degree that naturally superior kind of manner (die vornehme Sicherheit des Benehmens) that I would dearly like to possess.’

His relations with girls are still platonic. He mentions meeting a girl from Hamburg on the train, and remarks in his diary that she was ‘sweet and obviously innocent and very interested in Bavaria and King Ludwig II’. His friend Ludwig, who worked in a bank, tells him that Kathe thinks he despises women, and Himmler says she is right. Then he adds:

‘A real man will love a woman in three ways: first, as a dear child who must be admonished, perhaps even punished, when she is foolish, though she must also be protected and looked after because she is so weak; secondly, he will love her as his wife and loyal comrade, who helps him fight in the struggle of life, always at his side but never dampening his spirit. Thirdly, he will love her as the wife whose feet he longs to kiss and who gives him the strength never to falter even in the worst strife, the strength she gives him thanks to her childlike purity.’

Although he mentions many girls in his diary, it is with increasing primness and resistance. He still attends church, and he moralizes after eating in a restaurant on how the beauty of the waitress will inevitably lead to her moral downfall and how, if he had the means, he would love to give her money to prevent her from going astray. He mentions a coolness, even a breach, in his relations with Frau Loritz and Kathe, whose ‘feminine vanity’ he considers a waste of his precious time. In May 1922 he notes in the diary how shocked he had been to see a little girl of three permitted by her parents to ‘hop round in the nude’ before his shocked gaze. ‘She ought at that age’, he says, ‘to be taught a sense of shame.’

The recollections of certain fellow students complete the portrait of Himmler in his youth that his diaries contain.5 He is remembered as being meticulous in his studies and awkward in his social relationships. He wore his rimless pince-nez even when duelling, he recited Bavarian folk poetry rather badly, he avoided association with girls except those who expected to be treated with formality and politeness, and he never made love like his fellow students where love was to be found. He told his brother Gebhard he was determined to remain chaste until marriage, however much he might be tempted. Yet he was socially ambitious, putting himself forward as a candidate for various student offices for which he seldom received more than an unflatteringly small number of votes. The student society in which he tried most to shine was the Apollo club, which had a cultured rather than a sporting or merely beer-swilling membership. The members of Apollo were mostly ex-service men and senior graduates, and the president of the society at that time was a Jew, Dr Abraham Ofner. Although Himmler, a junior member of Apollo, was studiously polite to Dr Ofner and the other Jewish members, he was already strongly anti-Semitic in feeling, and he joined in violent discussions as to whether Jews should not be excluded from the society. In politics he is remembered as inflexibly right-wing, a natural if not very efficient member of the Free Corps formed to oppose the Communist infiltration into post-war Bavarian administration. We are left with a picture of a small man, prosaic and platitudinous, concealing his shyness under a certain arrogance. He disguised his fear of seeming unable to fulfil the hot-blooded life of a student by displaying excessive diligence in his work and making it quite clear he was determined to take part in the various right-wing, militaristic movements of that unsettled time. His exactness of habit seems to amount to a mania, for he never ceases to record when he shaves, when he has his hair cut, even when he has a bath. All these experiences take their due place alongside the duelling and the military exercises, and the serious discussions of religion, sex and politics. He notes down the comparative beauty of his dancing partners with exactly the same calm, meticulous cataloguing that he shows when he notes the cutting of his hair or the shaving of his beard:

‘Dance. Was rather nice. My dancing partner was a Frau [lein] von Buck, a nice girl with very sensible opinions, very patriotic, no bluestocking and apparently quite profound… The girls were on average rather pretty, some close to beautiful… Mariele R. and I talked together for some time… Accompanied Fraulein von Buck home. She did not take my arm which, in a way, I appreciated… A few exercises, to bed.’

Himmler used his diary to castigate himself at those times when he seemed to fall short of his own very modest ideal. He complains that he talks too much, that he is too warm-hearted, and that he lacks self-control and a ‘gentlemanly assurance of manner’. He enjoys helping people, visiting the sick and, occasionally, assisting and comforting old people, going home to visit the family: ‘they think I’m a gay, amusing chap who takes care of things — Heini will see to it’, he writes in January 1922. It is plain that, like many people, he sought recognition and a place in his social and family circle by involving himself as much as he could in other people’s affairs. At the same time, a certain genuine kindness of heart has to be allowed him. But always he sought for popularity and for acceptance in student circles, though his primness of manner and his weak constitution, which prevented him from drinking beer without upsetting his stomach, led his fellow-students to look down on him and to make fun of his excessive diligence.

As a church-goer he remained regular in his habits at least until 1924, though the signs of religious doubt begin to appear much earlier in his diaries. ‘I believe I have come into conflict with my religion’, he writes in December 1919, ‘but whatever happens I shall always love God and pray to Him, and remain faithful to the Catholic Church and defend it even if I should be expelled from it.’ In February 1924 he is still attending church, but refers to his discussions of ‘faith in God, religion, doubts (immaculate conception, etc.), confession, views on duelling, blood, sexual intercourse, man and woman’. The subject of sex exceeds even religion in its attraction, no doubt because of his conviction that abstinence from intercourse was morally binding before marriage. He seems to have remained virgin until the age of at least twenty-six, and he evidently experienced the pangs of unsatisfied sexual desire. After one of his frequent discussions of sex with his friend Ludwig, the bank clerk, he wrote in February 1922:

‘We discussed the danger of such things. I have experienced what it is like to lie closely together, by couples, body to body, hot;… one gets all fired up, must summon all one’s reasoning. The girls are then so far gone they no longer know what they are doing. It is the hot, unconscious longing of the whole individual for the satisfaction of a really powerful natural urge. For this reason it is also dangerous for the man, and involves so much responsibility. Deprived as they are of their will-power, one could do anything with these girls, and at the same time one has enough to do to struggle with one’s self.’

Another tribulation was lack of money. He disliked increasingly being dependent on his family for his maintenance, though he learned how to eke out the allowances he received from his father, and measure most carefully his very modest expenditure on clothes and food. His letters to his parents that have been preserved show how he enumerated each small detail of what had to be done in the way of mending and repairs, as well as small needs for additional sums of money. His letters are always respectful, affectionate and formally gushing:

‘your dear birthday letter… the tie should be mended on the left-hand side… unfortunately I must ask you,

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