One black-and white photo shows Heinrich Himmler on an idyllic family outing, holding his wife's hand while his blond, pigtailed daughter is picking flowers. Others show the SS Nazi leader feeding a little fawn or taking a bath at Lake Tegernsee near his home in Bavaria.
The family-friendly, intimate scenes are part of a previously unseen collection of photos, recipe books and about 700 letters and notes believed to be written by Himmler, one of the Nazis most responsible for the Holocaust.
Excerpts from the collection appeared in seven full pages of the German paper Welt am Sonntag today. They contain large-sized images of Himmler surrounded by his family and excerpts from his love letters to wife Marga, calling her "my sweet, beloved little woman." The newspaper said the material is part of an eight-part series it plans to publish.
Welt said it was approached three years ago by Israeli film director Vanessa Lapa, whose family had the documents in its possession. Welt said the documents' authenticity has been independently verified by historians.
The paper said two US Army soldiers found the trove right at the end of the war in May 1945, inside a safe in Himmler's home in Bavaria.
Decades later, in the 1980s, the papers surfaced in Israel in the hands of Holocaust survivor Chaim Rosenthal. Welt says it is not clear how he obtained the papers. Rosenthal kept them until 2007, when he sold the documents to Vanessa Lapa's father, who then gave them to his daughter.
Lapa will debut a documentary she directed on the Himmler files at next month's Berlin International Film Festival.
Almost 70 years after the end of the Third Reich, the documents provide an unprecedented glimpse into the private life of Himmler and evidence of his radical anti-Semitism. Himmler's hatred of Jews was shared by his wife.
In their correspondence, they both often refer to Jews in derogatory terms and in a letter from June 21, 1928, Himmler writes to Marga: "Don't be upset about those Jews, good, good wife, if only I could help you." Ten years later, Marga writes in a diary entry on November 14, 1938, "Those Jews, when will that pack finally leave us so that we can enjoy our lives again," according to Sunday's Welt.
In the midst of World War II, when many Germans spent their nights at shelters hiding from the bomb raids of the Allied forces, the letters show the privileged life of the Nazis' top families.
Welt quotes from letters saying that Himmler was sending his family chocolate and cheese while the rest of the population was barely surviving on allotted food stamps.