Born the middle child of three in Munich, Germany to devout Catholics Joseph Gebhard Himmler and Anna Maria Himmler (née Heyder). His father Joseph, was a teacher and principal of the prestigious Wittelsbacher Gymnasium.
Himmler was named after his godfather, Prince Heinrich of Bavaria of the Royal House of Wittelsbach. A gifted student, but socially introspective and poor at sport-- a fact that would have deeply upset his father--Instead, young Himmler's hobbies were chess, stamp collecting, gardening and playing the harpsichord.
Obsessed in the nature of war and politics, Himmler convinced his father to get him into the officer training school in spite of his failure at physical standards for such a role. He graduated within a short period before the end of World War I in 1918 and never saw action.
In 1919, at the age of 19, Himmler decided to become a Jesuit priest enrolling at the Munich Technische Hochschule during the troubles of the brief Bavarian Soviet State and subsequent street battles. It is during this time that Himmler through his influential Catholic family would have come in close contact with Archbishop Pacelli (Pope Pius XII), the Papal Nuncio in Munich.