Shadowy Nazi support group still honours daughter of SS head

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 02, 2010 09:54 hrs

London: Stille Hilfe or Silent Aid - the world's only support group for mass murderers - has 25 to 40 members including Gudrun Burwitz, the daughter of Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS.

The group is working quietly to stop the extradition to The Hague of Klaas Carel Faber, 88, wanted by Dutch authorities to resume a life sentence for the wartime murders of 22 Jews and resistance fighters.

Although legal, the organisation operates in a moral grey zone.

In Germany it is illegal to publicly praise Adolf Hitler or the Nazi party. But it is known that Stille Hilfe members are fanatically devoted to him and have made it their life's work to provide a safe haven for his surviving followers.

A key member is the woman they refer to as the Nazi Princess, Himmler's daughter Gudrun Burwitz, who is now 81 but has devoted her life to both the memory of her father and aiding those who worked for him in death camps, in SS fighting units and in the administration of the terror apparatus that he oversaw.

She worshipped him and he her. She remembers him looking 'magnificent' in his crisp uniform, his hat sitting high on his head, his boots polished until she could see her reflection in them.

There is one snapshot in particular, taken at the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau outside of Munich that sums up her innocence. Burwitz is looked upon with adoration by her father and his SS servants. Yards away, people were beaten, starved, murdered and burned in the camp crematorium.

The child was not old enough at the time to know better. She is now, but she chooses to venerate her father and the men who served him. She lives somewhere in the Munich suburb of Furstenried. Her phone number is unlisted, the house registered under the name of a building association.

Burwitz devotes most of her life to a secret world, one that does not allow access to outsiders, especially journalists. When her father committed suicide in the Allied interrogation centre near Luneburg, on May 23, 1945, Gudrun was distraught when told the news.

Oliver Schroem, author of a book about Stille Hilfe, has described her as a 'dazzling Nazi princess, a deity among these believers in the old times'.

Burwitz is a revered figure. Carrying the blood of Himmler in her veins makes her almost a deity among the other members of Stille Hilfe. German journalists who write about Stille Hilfe and its clandestine activities remark on the extraordinary power Burwitz wields in the organisation.

Often quoted is the rally of neo-Nazis she attended in Ulrichsberg, northern Austria, several years ago where she made a rare appearance.

"They were terrified of her. All these high-ranking former officers lined up and she asked, "Where did you serve?" showing off her vast knowledge of military logistics," the Daily Mail quoted Andrea Ropke, a respected authority on neo-Nazism who attended the rally, as saying.

Burwitz does not deny her involvement with Stille Hilfe, describing herself in one of her rare interviews as simply one of the few members in a dying organisation.

"It's true I help where I can," she said.

"But I refuse to discuss my work."