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Mueller, Heinrich°

MUELLER, HEINRICH° (1900–?), last chief of the *Gestapo. Mueller joined the Bavarian police after serving as a much decorated NCO pilot during World War I. He had a specific expertise in Leftist movements, communist and Marxist, which became ever more valuable as the Nazis came to power and targeted these groups. When the Nazis came to power, *Heydrich was appointed Bavarian police chief and retained him as an expert on communism in the Bavarian political police even though Mueller in this period was not a Nazi but a member of the Bavarian Volkspartei. Mueller in 1933 joined the *SS and the SD (secret police), but became a Nazi Party member only in 1939. When Heydrich took charge of the Gestapo in 1936, Mueller, who had become one of his top aides, went with him to Berlin. He soon became chief of the executive of the office (Main Branch II). When the Security Police (Sipo) was organized, he was appointed chief of its political police section and, in effect, head of the Gestapo. He earned his stripes with the "Night of the Long Knives," the attack on Ernst Rohm. He continued to impress his superiors with the suppression of all organized opposition to the Nazi regime, which was, among other factors, due to Mueller's efficiency and ruthlessness, which included the application of torture on his victims. Mueller was involved in the hoax whereby "Polish" attacks on Germany served as a pretext for the outbreak of World War II. On Sept. 27, 1939, Mueller was appointed chief of Office IV of the *RSHA (Reich Security Main Office). Besides being responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war and an untold number of political prisoners, Mueller was one of the key figures of the "Final Solution" (see *Holocaust, General Survey). *Eichmann's IVB 4 Section was part of his office and Eichmann his subordinate. Mueller participated in the *Wannsee Conference, representing the Gestapo, where the "Final Solution" was coordinated. In June 1942 he ordered that the evidence of the Einsatzgruppen murders be destroyed. As the war drew to a close, he opposed all efforts to spare Jews. He punished brutally those involved in the 1944 plot against Hitler, including personal friends such as Arthur Nebe. He made every effort to remain in the background throughout his career. Ruthless and efficient, he preferred to work in the shadows. Last seen in Hitler's bunker on April 29, 1945, he succeeded in quietly disappearing when the Third Reich collapsed. There were rumors that he was killed by the Russians or that he was in Brazil, rumors also that he was the enforcer among the Nazis who escaped. Clearly, he eluded capture.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

H. Hoehne, Der Orden unter dem Totenkopf (1967); Institut fuer Zeitgeschichte, Gutachten des Instituts fuer Zeitgeschichte, 1 (1958), 169, 219, 232, 297; G. Reitlinger, Final Solution (19682), index; IMT, Trial of the Major War Criminals, 24 (1949), index. R. Hilberg, Destruction of the European Jews (1961. 1985, 2003), index. J. Delarue, The Gestapo (1964). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Aronson, Reinhard Heydrich und die Fruehgeschichte von Gestapo und SD; idem, Beginnings of the Gestapo System: The Bavarian Model in 1933 (1969); H.H. Wilhelm, "Heinrich Muller, in: I. Gutman (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (1990).