Himmler – The Decent One
BBC Four - 9pm
Who's in it?
Footage both disturbing and surreal brought us into the inner world of Heinrich Himmler, in this queasy analysis of the Holocaust’s chief architect.
In a nutshell
If ever there was a living rebuke to the idea of a Nazi superman, it was Heinrich Himmler, a gerbil-faced man who – despite the magnitude of his evil – never shook off the air of a lowly office drone playing dress up. And this was the contradiction explored last night, in a film which placed the two Himmlers – sadistic mastermind, petty cartoon grump – in parallel. Of course, there have been plenty of programmes about him before, but the novelty of this approach threw his dual nature into new light.
The title, “decent one” referred to his almost comically ignorant obsession with “decency” while at the same time attempting the eradication of a race. Preachy and uptight, telling family members to do the right thing and live in a respectable manner, Himmler could have made a serviceable sitcom dad if it wasn’t for the madness he was unleashing elsewhere. And that was the ultimate value of this documentary, which used Himmler’s own words – from diaries and letters – to cut him down to size.
What's the verdict?
Chronicling his love entanglements and silly little arguments (at one point he had a row with his other half about attending a Hitler rally), this was a film which underscored the classic line about the banality of evil. They don’t come much more banal or evil than Himmler.