Reinhard Heydrich (Germany, 1904-42)

Reinhard Heydrich

Figure 1.--Here we see Reinhard Heydrich with his wife Lina von Osten in 1934 shortly after the NAZIs had seized power. They lived in Munich. In an unremarkble domestic scene, he is offering a ball to his youngest son who seenms more interested in eating. It was during 1934 that Heydeich was at the center of the Night of the Long Knives which essentilly solidified the NAZI hold on power. Source: Bundesarchiv, Koblenz.

The 20th Century saw its shares of historical villans. Reinhard Heydrich has to be close to the top of the list. Reinhard Heydrich saw himself as a military man. He was, however, cashiered by the Navy. He was disdainful pf politics. H looked on the NAZIs which by 1930 had become the largest party in Germany, with particular disdain. The NAZI Brown shirts (SA) had given the NAZI Party a reputation of bar-room brawlers, looked down on my many educated Germans. Under his wife influence, however, his attitude began to change. Then a friend who was also a NAZI suggested that he apply for an impotant position that had become available, the director of security. Heydrich joined the NAZI Party (June 1931). Heydrich's friend told him told him that the opening was in the SS--a very different group than the SA. Himmler put Heydrich in charge of the SS security sevice--the SD. His assignment was to prevent spying from the opposition and collect useful information on the NAZI's political foes. He was also assigned to find disent within the Part. He soon was also collecting useful information on party members and allies as well. He began compiling this information by hand on index cards. At first he did this work himself. The NAZIs were not yet in power and resources were limited. He had no staff and even had to borrow a typewritter for his own use. White Hitler worked to seize power, Heydrich labored builduing the SD. Heydrich, is today known to the world as "The Hangman". He is considered by most to be the architect of the Holocaust. Adolf Eichmann is often seen as the director of the Holocaust. Eichmannwas in fact was primarily the administrator working on logistical problems. It is Heydrich more than any other single individual who planned the Holocaust and set the machinery of industrial killing in motion. Only his assasination by British agents prevented him from seeing it through to fruition. And he would have been central to plans being prepared for the Slavs. He was beginning plans for an ethnic cleaning operation in Czechoslovakia aimed at deporting the Czechs. Heydrich at the time of his death was the third most powerful individual in NAZI Germany and in all liklihood if he had lived and the NAZIs had won the War would have been the second Führer.

Parents

Bruno Heydrich was a cultured man who sang secular songs and composed music, but was only moderately successful. There were rumors, apparently unfounded, that he was Jewish and Bruno believed that these rumors made it impossible to achieve musical acclaim. Instead he ran a convertory. He apparently blamed the Jews rather than abti-Semites for his lack of success. Thus Reinhard grew up in an anti-Semitic environment. Despite his anti-Semitism, he accepted many Jewish students in his conservatory. Apparently many Jewish parents wanted their children tolear musical instrument--a higher proprtion than the average German family. Thus it would have been bad business to turn away so many paying clients. Reinhard's mother Elizabeth Kranz was a devout Catholic. She also had a musical background coming from a cultured Dresden family.

Childhood

Reinhard Tristan Heydrich was born in Halle an der Salle, a town in central Germany (1904). Coming from a musical family, Reynard was giving musical names. Reyhard was an opera hero, Tristan from a Wagner opera, and Jugen the fouder of a consevatory. The family had social standing. Reinhard had a privlidged middle-class boyhood. [Gerwarth] e notice hiim with his two siblings at about 6 years of ae wearing aLittle Lord Fauntlroy suit. Indeed, the young Reinhard showed some promise with the violin. He was rather frail as a boy and teased by boys at school. His high-pitched voice was another factor. Despite the fact that he was blond, some children taunted him for being Jewish. It is not clear why this began. Perhaps it was his father's dark hair and willingness to teach many Jewish students in the conservatory. Reinhard's reaction was to become a loner, he withdraw from personal relationships and became very competitive in both academics and athletics. The experience alos seems to have itensified his anti-Semitism. Here it might seem strange to the modern reader that Heydrich would hate the Jews when his tormentors were non-Jewish boys. But the workings of hate are not logical. (Goering had a similar experience as a boy.) Rumors of Jewish ancenstry continued even during his SS careeer. His father, as was the case of many committed NAZIs, was an ardent German nationalist. He suceeded in instilling patriotic ideas in his three children. The father was, however, largely apolitical until after World war I. Their father ran a very strict household. As youths, their father had Reinhard and his younger brother, Heinz, engage in mock fencing duels.

Education

Reinhard was a very intelligent boy. He excelled at his studies and was particularly good at science. He atteded the Reformgymnasium, in part because of his interest in science.

World War I

As with many NAZI officials, World War I played an important role in Heydrich's life. He had led a commfortable life until the War. Conditions in Germany deteriorated after the War. Reinhard was only 14 years old when the War ended and was not involved in the fighting. He seems to have accepted the charge of many right-wing Germans that the Jews and Communists were responsible for Germany's defeat. Many students could no longer afford to attend his father's consevatory. Reinhard at age 15 joined the Maracker Freikorps, one of the right-wing paramilitary groups battling with the Communists. Afterwards he joined a home defense force and the Deutscher Schutz und Truzbund, a virulentky nationalist and anti-Semitic group. On the whole, however, he showed a disdain for politics.

Navy Career

Reinhaed on a vacation with his parents to the Baltic saw some German navy ships. He was very impressed and it was at this time he conceived of a career in the navy. His parents were very surprised as they had assumed that he would become a concert violinist. He began his naval training at age 18 in the Kiel Naval Dockyards (1922). His naval training was very difficult. He was tall and gangly, again making him the butt of taunts from other cadets. His violin and failure to join in drinking and smoking further alienated him. To make matters worse, his arrogance alienated the non-commissioned personnel involved with the training. His first commander wast Captain Cannaris who was idealized by his men for his war record and character. The two began to socialize despite their many differences. This was primarily because Cannaris' wife also loved music and played the violin. She held informal concerts in her home and Heydrich was routeinly invited. Because many high-ranking naval officers were invoted to these events, Heydrich began to gain social acceptance in naval circles that he had previously failed to achieve. Heydrish was promoted to first lieutenant (1928) He worked in naval intelligence. His carrer was, however, destroyed because of a personal incident involving one of his girl friends (1931). He had spurned a girl who then had a nervpus breakdown. Her father was a senior naval consultant. His complained to Admiral Raeder that Lt. Heydrich had attemoted to seduce his daughter. The charge resulted in an Honors Court. The officers involved may have as much been influenced with Heydrich's arrogance as the details of the complaint. They found that his conduct was not that expected on the part of a naval officer. He was discharged from the Navy a few months short of becoming elligible for a pension (April 1931).

Marriage (1931)

Heydrich had numerous affairs with women. Then he met Lina von Osten, and after two dates proposed to her. She at first did not take the proposal serriously and wanted to date more to get to know each other. He was determined, however, and convinced her. The fact that he had been seing another woman ruined his naval career. Heydrich married von Osten (December 1931). The couple had two sons. Here we see them with the youngest boy in 1934 (figure 1). Himmler and SA Chief Ernst Rohm were the godfathers of their first child, Klaus. I'm not sure what happened to the boys after the War. The marriage was to have a desisive influence on Heydrich. His wife was a NAZI with strongly nationalistic and anti-Semitic beliefs. She was a very ambotious woman and interested in success and relentlessly pushed her husband.

NAZI Party

Not only was Heydrich disdainful pf politics, he looked on the NAZIs which by 1930 had become the largest party in Germany, with particular disdain. The NAZI Broown shirts (SA) had given the party a reputation of bar-room brawlers, looked down on my many educated Germans. Under his wife influence, his attitude began to change. Then a friend who was also a NAZI suggested that he apply for an impotant position that had become available, a director of security. Heydrich joinedthe NAZI Party (June 1931). Heydrich's friend told him told him that the opening was in the SS--a very different group than the SA.

Heinrich Himmler

The job interview was Heydrich's first contact with Himmler. Himmler gave him a view minutes to write out how he would design a security sevice. Heydrich had little background in such operations, but had worked for 3 years in naval intellgence. He had thought the opening was a kind of communications job. It's unclear just what Heydrich wrote, but Himmler chose him for the job. Heydrich's nordic looks and military background were probably important factor's in his selection. This was the beginning of a complicated professional relaionship. Himmler never fully trusted Heydrich, but found him a useful and efficient suborfinate. He attwmpted to prevent direct contacts with Hitler. Heydrich had little respect for Himmler, but found him a useful avenue for power.

SS Security Service--the SD

Himmler put Heydrich in charge of the SS security sevice--the SD. His assignment was to prevent spying from the opposition and collect useful information on the NAZI's political foes. He was also assigned to find disent within the Part. He soon was also collecting useful information on party members and allies as well. He began compiling this information by hand on index cards. At first he did this work himself. The NAZIs were not yet in power and resources were limited. He had no staff and even had to borrow a typewritter for his own use. White Hitler worked to seize power, Heydrich labored builduing the SD.

NAZI Seizure of Power (December 1933)

Heydrich's operation changed dramatically after the NAZIs seized power (December 1933). Heydrich received promotions and acquired a staff. After the burning of the Reichstag, the NAZIs began arresting Communists and forced through the Enabling Act giving Hitler dictarorial power.

Bavarian Base

Himmler and Heydrich had anticipated being brought to Berlin when Hitler seized power. Instead both remained in Munich. Heydrich retained his position as chief of the SD, but was appointed chief of Munich's political police. Such appointments were criticalto the NAZIs in the first months. Most Germans did not think that the NAZIs could retain power. Control of the police was critical. Control of the Munich police put Heydrich in the position of acting against political opponents in Bavaria. Working closely with Himmler, concentration camps were established. The most important in the forst year was Dachau. Here behind barbedwire completely controlled by the SS, arrested political opponents were taught what opposition to the regime meant. Only a few were killed. Mist were released after a few months to spread the word of what continued opposition would mean. Political oposition in Bavaria was destroyed.

Suppression of the SA (June 1934)

The SS was still a relatively small operation in 1933 and early 34. The principal NAZI Party firce was the SA. It was essentially a Party army, larger than the army and commanded by one of Hitler's longest and closest associates--Ernst Rohm. It was Rohm as an army captain that had assigned Hitler to spy on the NAZIs a small radical right-wing group that had been founded before Hitler joined. The SS was growing in importance. The SA's intelgence service had been closed down in 1932, largely due to Heydrich's efficency. The SA was still, however, the dominant Party force. In part, because of the SA's size and potential as well as its bully boy reputation, it was feared by the Wehrmacht which SAW it As An unrully armed gang. This was the critical point for Hitler. The use of the police to arrest opponents and the terror in tghe concentration camps had successfully intimidated the political opposition. President Hidenberg's death removed the one man who could stand upnto him. Now the Wehrmacht was the only force in Germany that coukd effectively oppose him. The Wehhrmact was divided. Some looked disdainfully at Hitler and many did not want to get involved in politics. Some officers were sympathetic to Hitler's ultra nationalism and the expanding arms program. The dominant issue for many high ranking officers, however, was the SA. In the end a deal was struck. It was a difficult decession for Hitler. Himmler and Goering played a key role by giving Hitler forged documents showing Rohm was plotting with the French. Himmler had ordered Heydrich to have the forgeries prepared. Heydrich complied despite tghe fact that he had a personal relationship with Rohm who was the godfather to one of his sons. Finally Hitler reached an agreement with the Wehrmacht. The SA would be defanged. Rome and his leiutenants would be removed and the SA reduced and disarmed. The SS was ordered by Hitler to arrest an execute Roen and his cloest associates. Himmler added some other NAZI opponents to the list. The operation is known as the Night of the Long Knives (June 30, 1934). Many SA leaders were found and killed at a resort--Bad Wisse. Rohm was arrested and given the opportunity to shoot himself. When he refused he was executed in his cell by the SS. In return, formal ceremonies were held throughtout Germany in which Wehrmacht officers swore a personal oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler.

Sports Enthusiast

Heydrich was interested in sport. His favorite was fencing and ghe had considrable skill. He placed well in SS tournaments. Hitler appointed him to the German Olympic Committee and he was active in planning the 1936 Olympics. This brought him in contact with Hitler and can be seen in pictures of the Olympics sotting in Hitler's box.

The Abwer

heydrich and Admiral Canbaris renewed their relaionship in 1935. Cannaris had been appointed the commander of the Abwer, the intelligence servive of the military. As commanderv of the SD, Heydrich was the chief of the principal civilian intelligence service. The Abwehr targets were primarilly foreign militaries whike tge SD was primarilky interested in domestic opposition. With the outbreak of the War and the formation of the RSHA, Heydrish gradually begin to pusue overseas operations.

German National Police Force

Heydrich ammassed tremendous police power. There was no national German police force when the NAZIs seized power (1933). German based on the arrangements reached upon unification in 1871 was a federal system. Each of the constituent states had their own separate police force. Hitler wanted a unified German police force. Here Hitler's two most poerful lieutennts vied for power. Himmler controlled the Bavarian police, but Göring controlled the Prussian police. Prussia was the most important state in Germany. I am not sure of the details, but Himmler by 1936 had succeeded in getting the nod to head the new national German police force--the Gestapo or state security police. Himmiler gave Heydrich control of the ??? and Border Police. Thus Heydrich now had command of vast resources to build his security system and secret files on virtually every German of importance. He would eventually control Criinal Police (Kripo), the SS Security Seriuce (SD), and the Gestapo. The German police was reorganized before Worlkd war II and Heydrich was appointed head of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA -- Reich Security Office). [Gerwarth] From these office he played a centrl role in the NAZI police state and in the planning for the Holocaust. The Holocaust as evil as it proved to be was just the beginning of the much larger plan to remake the ethnic map of Europe--Generalplan Ost. And Heydrich with his police powers was at the ceter of the plans being devised.

Hitler Youth

It is often said of the Hitler Youth that the members were sources of information for the Gestapo. Some maintain that HJ members were even encouraged to turn in their parents. This may well be the case. I do not have, however, at this time on the details as to how this was carried out and how close the cooperation between the HJ and Gestapo was. I am sure there must have been instances where HJ boys provided information to the Gestapo, but the process may not have been the organized effort often assummed. Here we need more information.

Anti-Semitism

As the architect of the Holocaust, Hetdrich's beliefs about the Jews are of some historical importance. In fact, the sources of his anti-semitism or even the depth of his feelings are largely unknown. His home and school experiences and his attitudes concerning World War I are well documented. The depth of his fellings are not fully understood. It may be that his infalable beaureaucratic sence may have been a major factor. Heydrich was a man of modest abilities, but his one key ability was to sence what his superiors wanted , sometimes before orders even came, and effeciently provide it to them. Heydrich openly wrote about the Jews with predictable NAZI hate-filled cant. It also might have rflected rumors of Jewish ancestry which followed him even to the SS. In fact Himmler in 1932 even ordered an official investigation which absolved him of any Jewish ancestry. What we do not know, however, is to what extent he really believed it or was instead simply saying the poltically correct right thing in the Third Reich. It may well be that Heydrich understanding Hitler's hatred of the Jews planned and executed the Holocaust primarily to further his career.

The Holocaust

Heydrich's initial attitude as an SS officer toward what was termed the "Jewish Question" was emmigration. He met with German Jewish leaders promoting emmigration. Heydrich attempted to control the violence associated with Kristallnacht (November 1938). The orders to the police were, "Whatever actions occurred should not endanger German lives or property; synagogues could be burned only if there was no danger to the surrounding buildings. Healthy, nonelderly adult Jewish males were to be seized first, and concentration camps notified." [Breitman, p. 53.] Heydrich played a key role in planning actions against Austrian, Sudeten, and then Czech Jews in the period between the Ancscluss (March 1938) and the onset of World War II (September 1939). During this period, the focus was not on extermination, but rather stealing the property of the Jews and emmigration. Heydrich to facilitate this ordered the creation of a Council of Jewish Elders to serve as a conduit foor SS orders. The Elders were held personally responsible for carrying out the orders. Failure to comply would subject them to "the severest measures." {Gilbert, p. 89.] Heydrich at the time of Krisllnacht stated at a meeting that simply placing restrictions on Jews was not a sufficent policy. Instead Gemabny had to completely get rid of them (November 12, 1938). There must have been meetings between Hitler and Reich Marshal Hermann Göring concerning the fate of the Jews. Himmler almost certainly was involved, although there is no information availble on these meetings or what was discussed. Hitler seems to have given Goering responsibility for solvuing the "Jewish question". We do know that Goering ordered Heydrich to solve the Jewish problem" by "emigration and evacuation" (January 24, 1939). [Breitman, p. 59.] It is currious that Göring gave the order and not Himmler. It must be understood that in 1939 that Goering as commander of the Luftwaffe had emense prestige. Although Rudolf Hess was the Deputy Führer, Goering was seen as the second most powerful man in the Reich. Göring also created an agency for Jewish emigration and placed it under Heydrich. Hedrich eventually came to believce that the 'Jewish question' could not be solved by emmigration. It is unclear if it was just the numbers that convinced him. We suspect that at some point he realized tht killing Jews was key to raiing his star in Hitler's eyes. About 200,000 German Jews had emmigrated, but because of the Anschluss and the seizure of Czecheslovakia, there were more Jews in the Reich and NAZI-controlled teritory than when the NAZIs seized power in 1933. After the success in the West and the defeat of the French, Heydrich wrote to the Reich Foreign Secretary Joachim von Ribbentrop that emigration no longer be seen as a sollution and that "A territorial Final Solution has thus become necessary." [Fleming, p. 44.] Not only did Heydrich change his mind about emmigration, he eventually prohibited emiigration so that more Jews could be killed, referring to the "Final Sollution" (May 1941).

World War II (August 31, 1939)

Predictavly Himmler turned to Heydrich for a secret operation to launch World War II. Hitler need some cover for the operaions against Poland. Most Germans in 1939 did not want another War--especially the older generation. Himmler ordered Heydrich to stage an attack on a German radio station near the Polish border (August 31, 1939). Polish speaking SS members made an inflamatory broadcast. Concentration camp inmates were dressed in Polish uniforms and then shot--providing evidence of a Polish attack. Hitler speaking in the Reichbstag the next day to announce the invasion of Poland announced "Germany has finally retuned fire". The incident thus allowed Hitler to claim that he did not start the War. Many Germans believed him. It also required a modicum of international cover, although few outside Germany believed thevNAZI account.

Poland (September 1939)

The first NAZI targets in Poland was not the Jews, but Polish intellecutals. Himmler ordered Heydrich to prepare for the invasion of Polan (Summer 1939). SS Killing squads called Einstatzgruppen were organized by Hedrich. Most of the commanders came from Heydrich's SD. I do not know in what detail Himmler gavevHeydrichbhis orders. Heydrich was not involved in the military operations in Poland, but as commander of the SD he had carefully prepared a plan to extinguish Polish natiinality. SD Eisarzgruppen arrested intelectuals, artists, teachers, government ifficuals, priests, and others. Many were sumarily shot. Jews were also killed, but at this stage they werevnot the principal target. Others were killed in new concentration camps which were erected throughout Poland. Heydrich described the thought behind these operatuions, ""We have had to be hard. We have had to shoot thousands of leading Poles to show how hard we can be." [MacDonald, p. 43.] Admiral Cannaris as head of the Abwer received reprts of what was happening in Poland. Cananaris was appauled by the actions and went to Keitel asking that Hitler intervene. Keitel explained that approaching Hitler on the matter would be an end to his carrerr.
In 1941,

Opperation Barbarossa (June 1941)

Once Hitler decided on invading the Soviet Union, Heydrich oversaw a greatly expanded and more muderous Eisatzgruppen operation. About half of the Einsatzgrupen invoplved with Barbarossa were drawn from the various SS security/police fiorces. I am not sure who gave him orders on this or to what extent the plans were developed by him based on what he knew to be Hitler's desires. Few details are available, but sometime proavly in early 1941, Hitler and ordered that the policy of emmigration be changed to muder. As a result, the Eisatzgruppen was ordered to follow the front-line combat troops to murder as many Jews as possible. Heydrich over saw the organization and training of thre Eisatzgruppen (A, B, And C). To Hitler the Soviet Jews were an especial anatema. Not only were the Jews, but he saw them as the central force behind Bolshevism. (He also saw them as the central force behind American capitalism.) Thus the goal was to eliminate them as quickly as possible and the fog of war offered the perfect opportunity.

Fighter Pilot

Heydrich has taken up flying in the mid-1930s and had become a competent pilot. For his vacation in 1941 he flew fighter missions on the Eastern Front. At this point the Soviets Air Force had mostly opsolete planes, including some biplanes. Luftwaffe pilots amassed large numbers of kills. Heydrich was shot down behind Soviet lines and German special forces had to rescue him. The incidebnt is almost unbelievable that the chief NAZI intelligence officer would endanger himselfg flying fighter missions and putting himself in a position that he might be taken prisoner. Hitler grounded him.

Control of the Holocaust

Himmler is generally seen in the popular mind as the mastermind of the Holocaust. There is no doubt he was a cebntral figure. Less attention has been given to the foles of Görong and Heydrich. No one knows when Hitler first decided on the murder of European Jews. Nor do we know who he discussed this with before deciding or when he gave the orders to carry out the killings. We do not precisely know Himmler's role. Hitler appears to have given the order verbally to Goering. The first document ordering the Holocaust was a memorandum from Goering to Heydrich. As Heydrich was not in Goering line of command, it is curious why the order came from Goering and not Himmler. This suggests Hitler gave the order Goering. Here again it is not clear why Hitler did not give the order to Himmler. It appears, however, that Heydrich wanted the command knowing that few accomplishments would increase his esteem in Hitler's eyes. Some historians believe that Heydrich in fact wrote the memo and with his secret files was able to convince Goering to sign it. Göring 's interest in the assignment and attitude toward transferring it to Heydrich are unknown. Goering's influence after the failure of the Luftwaffe over England had declined. Heydrich on the other hand was a rising star in the NAZI ferament. What is known is that the memo gave Heydrich the authority to kill European Jews.

Preparations for the Holocaust

The Holcaust was an operation that touched on the responsibilities of many German ministries and operations (railroads, Reich Bank, Reich Interior Ministry, Four-Year Plan office, Reich Justice Ministry, Office Government General, Foreign Ministry, Reich Chancellery, the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, the Race and Settlement Main Office, the Reich Security Main Office, a well as the Security Police and SD It was Heydrich knowing that the Jews were an obsession with Hitler, who played a key role in ensuring that the SS would be the agency to coordinate and carry out the Holocaust. Heydrich was especially active in supervising experiments to determine the most efficent killing process. He also was at the center of organizing the Einsatzgruppen in the Soviet Union and the experience there convinced Heydrich that changes were needed in the killing process. He oversaw experiments with gas vehicles. Gassing experiments with Zyklon-B were conducted at Auschwitz (September 1941). The results helped Heydrich reach the conclusions that gassing with Zyklon-B was the most effient killing process. The first death camp was Chemo in occupied Poland beginning the industrial phase of the Hilocaust (December 1941) although the otger death camos were not fully opperational until mid-1942. Until then NAZI efforts uin the occupied countries were primarily aimed at robbing the Jews of their property and concentrating them in gettoes and concentration camps. One the death camps in Poland were ready, systematic deportation in largevnumbers could begin.

Wanssee Conference (January 1942)

The Holocaust to Heydrich was primarily a logistical challenge. The Wansee Conference has often been seen as a planning meeting. It was not. The Hollocaust had lonf since been planned and was already well underway. The Wansee Conference was a coordinaring meeting to make sure thevarious Reich ministries understood their responsibilities and to ensure that the process proceeded as efficently as possible. Heydrich and other NAZI officials saw the mass killing of Jews in the Soviet Union during the summer and fall of 1941 as being conducted in a disjointed and uncoordinate fashion. Himmler became concerned about the psychological impact on SS members of personally killing Jews, especially women and children. Now that the NAZIs contolled virtually all of western Europe and millions of Jews, it was felt that a coordinated plan was needed to efficently execute the "Final Sollution". The SS was the principal tool, but the killing of millions necesitated the cooperation of many different Government agencies. The was originally scheduled for December 9, 1941, but had to be postponed because of the stuningly successful Russian offensive in front of Moscow and after Pearl Harbor, Hitler's declaration of war on America. The meeting was finally held on January 20, 1942 in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. The meeting was a secret sesion attended by 15 senior NAZI officials. The purpose was to coordinate the "Final Sollution"-the murder of 11 million Europen Jews. that had already began in Poland and the Soviet Europe. The decission to murder the Jew had already been taken. The Conference was to coordinate and immplement that decission.

Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia

Heydrich had described himself as the "garbage man of the Reich" because of all the unsavory assignments he had been given. He wanted his own territory to administer. The head of the SS Frank in Bohemia and Moravia (western Cezechoslovakia) had been submitting reports that the Reich Protector Von Neurath was poorly administering Protectorate. It was very important to the NAZI war effort. About 40 percent of the tanks and 60 percent of the trucks used on the Eastern Front were manufactured there and it had the advantage of being beyond the range of Allied bombers, at least in 1942-43. The Czech resistance had sponsored strikes and sabatoge that was having some impact on war production. Heydrich seized the opportunity to push for the position and Hitler approved it (December 1941). Heydrich upon arrival closed the synaggoes, declared a state of emergency, established a curview, and intensified operations afainst the resistance, rounding up suspected leaders. Daily executions increased. And the deportation of Czech Jews to Poland was sped up. He also expanded actions against the black market, even if Germans were unvolved. The actions had the desired affect. War production increased to normal levels. Rations were increased for war workers. The position as Protector gave him a position in wgich he reported directly to Hitler and not throufh Himmler. Hitler was very pleased with the reports hevgotvfrom Heydrich.

Rising Star

Heydrich's role in the Holocaust and his success in Bohemia and Moravia made him a rising star in the NAZI ferament. Although Hitler had grounded him, flying fighter missions on the Eastern Front must have impressed Hitler. Not only had he impressed Hitler, but as the holder of secret files on every German of note, including NAZIs, he was greatly feared by even the most prominent NAZIs. He even began to move against the Abwer. In a meeting with Cannaris, the Admiral conceeded a demand by Heydrich over a dispute with the SD. As the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, it is believed that Heydrich was prepating plans for the Germinization of the Protectorate and the deportation of the Czechs east so it could be incorporated into the Reich. Heydrich at the time of his death was the thitd most powerful individual in NAZI Germany and in all liklihood if he had lived and the NAZIs had won the War would have been the second Führer..

Plans to Assassinate Heydrich

Edouard Nenes, thevhead of rhe Czech Government in exile because of he reports of Heydrich's activitoes, conceived of the idea of assainating him. Fear of reprisals against the Czechs caused him to back away later. The British, however, picked up the idea. Heydrich wound up being the highest-ranking NAZI official assasinated during the War. It is unclear just whu the British were so interested in killing Heydrich. His role in the Holocaust would be reason enough, but does not appear to be why the British focused on him. Some hisrorians believe it was fear that Heydrich was threatening Cannaris and the Abwer. By this time Cannaris was both providing information to the Allies, but also providing disinformation to Hitler. He had previously ruined Hitler's effort to bully Franco into letting German troops attack Gibralter through Spain (1940). The British had turned Abwer agents in Britain (Double Cross) and this proved to be very useful in confusing the Germans about D-Day. The British may have been concerned if Heydrich took over Abwer operations that ongoing operations might be reevaluated.

The Assasination (May 1942)

Alber Speer who was expanding his role in war production visited Heydrich just before his assasination to discuss issues concerning the Protectorate's production. Speer was shocked with the lack of security surrounding Heydrich it what was essentially an occupied country. Heydrich assured Speer that "his Checks" would never harm him. The British trained Check agents (Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik) staged their assault as Heydrich was traveling to the air port in an open unguarded car (May 27, 1942). He was heading to Belin on a meeting concerning the Geminization of the Protectorate. He was not immnediayely killed and immediately taken to the Prague Bulkova hospital, In fact Himmler came to see him and chided him on his lack of security. Heydrich replied, "fate will decide whenever it wants". He was expected to survive, but died of blood poisoning because of the infection of the wound (June 4). The NAZIs staged the most elaborate funeral in the history of the Reich. Himmler delivered the principal funeral address (June 9). Hitler also spoke and recognized Heydrich's contribution to NAZI Germany.

Reprisals

Even before Heydrich's dearth, the reprisals began. Goebels layed the assaination at the hands if Jewish terrorists. The SS arrested 500 Berlin Jews. Jews in Sachsenhausen were shot. The deportation of Jews to the Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor death camps was named "Operation Reinhard". The NAZI reprisals on the Czecks were severe. The best known is the distruction of Lidice, a village outside of Prague. The SS not only killed the men and boys, but many of the women and children. Bolond children were taken into the Lebensborn orogram. The buildings were blown upand the ruble bulldozed. Croups were planted on the site and the name of Lifice removed from NAZI maps. The German reponse was collective responsibility andca disproprinate response. The NAZIs murdered about 3,000 other Czechs (M+ay-June 1942).

Sources

Breitman, Richard. The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991).

Fleming, Gerald. Hitler and the Final Solution (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984).

Gerwarth, Robert. Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich (2011), 336p.

Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1985).

MacDonald, Callum. The Killing of Reinhard Heydrich (New York: The Free Press, 1989).

Toland, John. The Last 100 Days (New York: Random House, 1966).






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Created: February 20, 2004
Last edited: 11:45 AM 10/28/2012