German spy agency acknowledges employing Himmler’s daughter in the 1960s
The daughter of Heinrich Himmler was employed by Germany’s intelligence service in the 1960s, despite remaining a fervent Nazi until her last breath, it has been revealed.
Gudrun Burwitz, known by some as the “Nazi Princess”, and who died at the age of 88 last month in Munich, had worked for Germany’s BND spy agency as a secretary from 1961 to 1963, Germany’s Bild newspaper reported on Friday.
"The BND confirms that Ms. Burwitz was a member for a few years until 1963 under an assumed name," Bodo Hechelhammer, the head of the BND’s history department, confirmed on Friday.
"The timing of her departure coincided with the onset of a change in the understanding and the handling of employees who were involved with the Nazis," he said.
Up until now, the BND has been unable to speak about the role Ms Burwitz played, due to its policy of not commenting on active or former employees, Mr Hechelhammer added.
Himmler is regarded by historians as one of the most powerful Nazis. Second to Hitler, he commanded the SS and was the sinister chief architect of the Holocaust, during which six million Jews were murdered.
Ms Burwitz, who was active in far-right extremism and who attended and spoke at Nazi marches, was one of the few “Nazikinder” to remain fiercely loyal to her father throughout her life.
Ms Burwitz, Himmler’s only legitimate child, was 16 when her father killed himself with a cyanide pill to evade capture and execution by British forces.
At just 12 years old, Ms Burwitz visited Dachau concentration camp with her father. While there she allegedly wrote in her diary: “Today we went to the SS concentration camp at Dachau. We saw everything we could … We saw all the pictures painted by the prisoners. Marvellous. And afterwards we had a lot to eat. It was very nice.”
In recent years, Ms Burwitz was heavily involved with Stille Hilfe (Silent Help), an organisation that supported arrested, condemned and fugitive SS members. Her time in this organisation was what led her to be named by some as the “princess of Nazism”.
Germany has come under criticism in recent years for its lenient treatment of far-right extremists after the second world war, with some historians suggesting that many retained positions of power and authority in the security services of West Germany.
The BND security service was founded in 1956 by Reinhard Gehlen, a former Nazi military intelligence commander, who led it until 1968.
It has been suggested that under his influence, employees may have used their power to protect far-right sympathisers such as Ms Burwitz.
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In recent years Germany has been attempting to come to terms with its Nazi past and with the postwar treatment of former Nazis. In 2013, the trial of the far-right National Socialist Underground group, which killed ten people between 2000 and 2007, uncovered lingering racist attitudes within the country’s domestic spy agency, and prompted reforms.
Earlier this week, a German court in Detmold sentenced 89-year-old Ursula Haverbeck, dubbed the “Nazi Grandma” by German media, to 14 months in prison for denying the Holocaust.
Under German law, denying the Holocaust constitutes incitement of racial hatred and can now carry a prison sentence of up to five years.