The title of Reichsführer was first created in 1926 by Joseph Berchtold. In 1929, Heinrich Himmler became Reichsführer-SS and referred to himself by his title instead of his regular SS rank. Under Himmler, Reichsführer-SS became the highest rank of the SS and was considered the equivalent of a Generalfeldmarschall in the Wehrmacht.
After Himmler's attempts to open peace talks with the Allies in April 1945, Adolf Hitler stripped Himmler of all titles, including Reichsführer-SS, and appointed Karl Hanke to the office in his will. Hanke held the office for a matter of days before his own capture in May 1945. The office went defunct with Germany's surrender.
Reichsführer-SS in In the Presence of Mine Enemies
Heinrich Himmler spent his term building the office of Reichsführer-SS into the second-most powerful position in the Greater German Reich after that of the Führer. However, Himmler was the only Reichsführer-SS to eventually ascend to the office of the Führer.
In 2011, the incumbent Reichsführer-SS, Lothar Prützmann, launched a putsch against reform-minded Führer Heinz Buckliger. While Prützmann was able to hold Buckliger under house-arrest, and temporarily install Odilo Globocnik as führer, the putsch failed within 24 hours. Prützmann committed suicide, and the SS' powers were dramatically curtailed by the Wehrmacht.
Reichsführer-SS in The War That Came Early
When the Committee for the Salvation of the German Nation killed both Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler in April 1944, Himmler's right-hand man, Reinhard Heydrich very briefly assumed the title of Reichsführer-SS during the civil war that followed. Some worried that he might even assume the mantle of Führer, but the Committee for the Salvation of the German Nation ultimately prevailed.
Other Reichsführer-SS in Turtledove's work
In addition to the above, Heinrich Himmler appears, or is referenced, as the incumbent Reichsführer-SS in Worldwar, The Man With the Iron Heart, Joe Steele (and its source story), and "Zigeuner". In Iron Heart and Joe Steele, his death and the abolition of the office occur the same way as in OTL. In "Zigeuner" he is incumbent at the end of the work. In Worldwar, the Nazi Party continues ruling Germany down through the ages, implying that Himmler had successors, but none are named.
- Last Orders, pg. 326, HC.
- Ibid., pg. 314.