Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich n. 1 ( 7 of March of 1904 – 4 of June of 1942 ) was a senior Nazi officer during World War II , and one of the main architects of the Holocaust .

At the height of his career he held the rank of SS – Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei and was head of the Central Security Office of the Reich (RSHA) – an organization that grouped the Gestapo , KriPo , and SD – . He was also Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia – the present Czech Republic. Heydrich was also president of the International Criminal Police Organization (then known as Interpol ) and head of the Gestapo in the run-up to World War II. Heydrich was one of the main organizers of Nazi repression in occupied Europe .

Many historians consider him as the darkest figure within the Nazi elite. Adolf Hitler described him as “the man with the iron heart”. 1 As a result of its repressive actions throughout his career he was known by various nicknames: El Verdugo , 2 the Butcher of Prague 3 and the Beast Rubia . 3

He was the founding leader of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), an intelligence organization charged with seeking and neutralizing resistance to the Nazi Party through arrests, deportations and assassinations. He was also one of the organizers of Kristallnacht , a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on the night of 9 to 10 November 1938. The attacks were carried out by the troops of Asalto SA And by civilians, and were an omen of what would happen during the later contest. In Eastern Europe he was directly responsible for the Einsatzgruppen , the special commandos accompanying the German Armies in their advance and proceeded to the murder of a million people – including Communists, intellectuals and Jews – through mass murder. In late 1941, after his arrival in Prague as Reichsprotektor , Heydrich sought to eliminate opposition to the Nazi occupation by suppressing Czech culture , as well as the deportation and execution of members of the Czech resistance .

Heydrich was attacked in Prague on May 27, 1942 by a commando Czechoslovak who had received special training from the British and had been sent to Prague by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile to assassinate Reichsprotektor . Heydrich died as a result of a sepsis caused by his wounds a week later. Nazi intelligence falsely linked the commanders with the towns of Lydice and Ležáky . In revenge for the murder of Heydrich, Lydia was completely razed to the ground; All men and adolescents over 16 years of age were executed, and the remaining inhabitants (women and children) were deported and then killed in Nazi concentration camps .

Early years

Heydrich 4 was born in 1904 in Halle an der Saale , son of the composer and opera singer Richard Bruno Heydrich and his wife Elisabeth Anna Maria Amalia Krantz. His mother was Catholic. 5 His first two names had a deep musical and patriotic connotations: “Reinhard” referred to the tragic hero of one of the operas of his father, Amen , and “Tristan” was one of the best known works of Richard Wagner , Tristan und Isolde . The third name Heydrich, “Eugen” was the name of his maternal grandfather (Professor Eugen Krantz had been director of the Royal Conservatory of Dresden ). 6

Heydrich was born into a family of high social standards and considerable economic means. Music was part of the day-to-day life of Heydrich; His father founded the Conservatory of Music and Theater in Halle and his mother taught piano there. 7 Heydrich developed a passion for the violin and maintained that interest until adulthood; Used to impress listeners with his musical talent. Referring to Fig.

His father was an enthusiastic German nationalist who instilled patriotic ideas in his three children, although it was not affiliated with any political party until after the First World War . 9 The Heydrich household was strict. In his youth he had with his younger brother, Heinz , numerous mock duels with fencing . Heydrich turned out to be a very intelligent student and emphasized during the stage of studies – especially in sciences – in the “Reformgymnasium”. 10 He also revealed himself as a talented athlete, and became an expert swimmer and fencer. 8 Yet he was also a shy boy, and was frequently harassed in school by his sharp voice and by his supposed Jewish background. 11 This last statement earned him the nickname “Moses Handel.” 12

In 1918 the First World War ended with the defeat of Germany. At the end of February 1919 numerous riots took place – including numerous strikes and clashes between communists and anti-communist groups – in Heydrich’s hometown. Under the leadership of the then Defense Minister, Gustav Noske , a right-wing paramilitary unit was set up to “recapture” Halle . 13 Heydrich, who was then 15 years old, joined the “Volunteer Rifles Maercker” (which in fact was the first unit Freikorps ). When the skirmishes were over, Heydrich was part of the forces assigned to protect private property. 14 Little is known about his true role at the time, but events left a strong impression on him; This constituted a “political awakening” for him. 14 He joined the Deutschvölkischer Schutz und Trutzbund , a nationalist and deeply anti-Semitic organization. fifteen

As a result of the conditions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles , there was a deep hyperinflation in Germany, and many of them lost their lifelong savings. Halle was not spared this economic crisis. In 1921, few inhabitants of the city could afford a musical education in the Conservatory of Bruno Heydrich. This led the Heydricha family to a financial crisis. 16

Naval career

In 1922 Heydrich joined the German Navy ( Reichsmarine ), taking advantage of security, rigid military structure, and the future pension offered by the post. He became a naval cadet at Kiel , Germany’s most important naval base. On 1 April 1924 he was promoted to the top midshipman ( Oberfähnrich zur See ) and sent to the officer school of the Naval Academy Mürwik of Flensburg – Müwik . 17 In 1926 he was promoted to lieutenant Leutnant zur See and was assigned as signal officer to the Schleswig-Holstein battleship , then the flagship of the German North Sea Fleet. With the promotion came also greater recognition. He received good evaluations from his superiors and had few problems with other crew members. 1 of July of 1928 was promoted to the rank of ensign of frigate ( Oberleutnant zur See ). The increase in rank fueled greater ambition and arrogance. 18

Heydrich however became famous for his innumerable love affairs. In December 1930 he attended a dance at a rowing club where he met Lina von Osten . Both quickly fell in love and soon publicly announced their commitment to marriage. By then Lina was already an enthusiastic follower of the Nazi Party ; Had attended a party meeting in 1929. 19 In 1931 Heydrich was charged with “improper conduct for an officer and gentleman” for having broken an earlier pledge of commitment he had made to another woman whom he had met six months earlier Of the engagement with Lina von Osten. 20 Admiral Erich Raeder , commander-in-chief of the Reichsmarine , expelled Heydrich from the Navy in April of that same year. The dismissal left Heydrich completely devastated, as he found himself without future career prospects. 21 Despite what happened remained committed to marriage and married Lina in December 1931. 22

Career in the SS and the Gestapo

In 1931 the leader of the Schutzstaffel (SS), Heinrich Himmler , established a division of counterintelligence within the SS. At that time the SS were in full expansion and needed qualified personnel. According to the advice of an acquaintance of his, Karl von Eberstein , which in turn was a friend of Lisa von Osten, Himmler Heydrich agreed to interview for a potential job, but at the last minute decided to cancel the meeting. 23 Lina ignored the message, prepared Heydrich’s suitcase and sent it to Munich. Eberstein went to pick up Heydrich at the central railway station and took him to Himmler. 23 He asked for his ideas for a hypothetical development of the SS intelligence service, and was so impressed that he immediately hired Heydrich. 24 25 Although the starting salary of 180 Reichsmarks was low, Heydrich decided to accept the job, partly because the family of his wife supported enthusiastically the Nazi movement, and partly because he was attracted to the almost military and revolutionary position character. 26 At first had to share office and secretary with a fellow SS, but by 1932 and won 290 Reichsmarks per month, a salary that he described as “comfortable”. 27 As their power and influence increased during the 1930s, their salary increased considerably: by 1938 their salary had increased to 17,371.53 Reichsmarks per year (the current equivalent of over € 75,000). 28 Heydrich joined the Nazi Party with the number 544.916 and the SS with the number 10.120. 29 n. 2 Later he would receive Totenkopfring from Himmler for his services rendered.

On August 1, 1931 Heydrich began his work as head of the new intelligence service. 25 established his office in the Brown House , the headquarters of the Nazi Party in Munich. By October it had already created a network of spies and informers for the purpose of collecting intelligence and obtaining information that could later be used as blackmail to achieve political objectives. 31 The information on thousands of people was recorded in chips and stored in the Casa Parda. 32 On the occasion of Heydrich’s wedding in December, Himmler promoted him to the rank of SS-Surmbannführer (major). 33

In 1932 the enemies of Heydrich began to spread rumors about his supposed Jewish antecedents. 34 Wilhelm Canaris said he had obtained photocopies proving that Heydrich had Jewish ancestors, although such photocopies never came to light. The Nazi Gauleiter Rudolf Jordan was also another who claimed that Heydrich was not a pure Aryan. 34 Within the Nazi organization such innuendos could be very damaging, even to someone like the head of the party’s counter-espionage service. Gregor Strasser transferred these allegations to Nazi Party racial expert Dr. Achim Gercke , who investigated Heydrich’s genealogy. 34 Gercke reported that Heydrich was “of German origin and free from any trace of Jewish blood.” 35 He insisted that these rumors were unfounded. 34 But even with this report, Heydrich privately ordered SD member Ernst Hoffman to continue investigating and dissipating all these rumors. 3. 4

Gestapo and SD

In mid-1932, Himmler appointed Heydrich as head of the renowned Security Service – the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). 25 Heydrich’s counterintelligence service grew into an effective machine of terror and intimidation.

In January of 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany , and through a series of decrees 36 ended up becoming Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor of the Reich). 37 The first concentration camps which originally had been created for interning opposition politicians were established in 1933, shortly after Hitler was appointed Chancellor. By the end of the year more than 50 fields had already been established. 38 While Hitler consolidated his absolute power in German, Himmler and Heydrich wanted to control the forces of the political police of the 17 German states. First they did it in Bavaria : in 1933, Heydrich reunited some of his SD men and together they broke into the police headquarters in Munich, taking over the police through intimidation tactics. Himmler became the chief of the Munich police and Heydrich became the commander of Department IV, the political police. 39 After Bavaria, they were taking care of the police of other federal states.

Hermann Göring had founded the Gestapo in 1933 as a police force strictly circumscribed to Prussia . When Göring transferred to Himmler all his authority on the Gestapo in April of 1934, immediately it became an instrument of terror under the control of the SS. 40 Himmler named Heydrich leader of the Gestapo on April 22, 1934. 41 On June 9, 1934, Rudolf Hess officially declared the SD as a Nazi intelligence service. 42

Crushing of the SA

At the beginning of April 1934, at the request of Hitler, Heydrich and Himmler began to write a dossier on the leader of the Sturmabteilung (SA), Ernst Röhm , in an effort to eliminate an opponent of the political leadership of the National Socialist movement. At this point, the SS were still part of the SA, which was the first paramilitary organization to be created and which at that time had about three million members. 43 The SA had long since become a threat to the Nazi leadership. Under Hitler’s direction, Heydrich, Himmler, Göring and Viktor Lutze drew up lists of those to be liquidated, beginning with seven high-ranking SA leaders and many others. On the night of June 30, 1934, the SS and the Gestapo acted in a coordinated manner, carrying out mass arrests that lasted for the next two days. Röhm was executed without trial, as was the majority of the remaining leaders of the SA. 44 Purging would later be known as the ” night of the long knives “. Lutze would be named new leader of the SA and the old militia was turned into a mere organization sport and of training. Four. Five

With the SA crushed, Heydrich began to reorganize the Gestapo into an instrument of terror. He improved his personal token system, creating categories of criminals with color coded card. 46 The Gestapo had the authority to arrest any citizen under suspicion that he could commit a crime, and the definition of crime was at the choice of the Gestapo. The Law of the Gestapo, passed in 1936, gave the police the right to act extra-judicially. This led to the use of the term Schutzhaft – “preventive custody” – a euphemism to refer to being able to imprison people without any legal procedures. 47 The courts were allowed to investigate or interfere with police investigations. From then on it was considered that the Gestapo was acting legally as long as it took the direction of the police operations. People were arbitrarily arrested, and subsequently victims could be sent to concentration camps or even killed. 38

Himmler began to develop the concept of a Germanic religion and wanted SS members to leave the Church. At the beginning of 1936, Heydrich left the Catholic Church. His wife, Lina, had already done it a year earlier. Heydrich not only felt that he could no longer be a member; Even came to consider that the political power of the Church and its influence were a danger to the state. 48

Consolidation of police forces

On 17 June 1936 all the police forces in Germany were reorganized and unified after the appointment of Himmler as head of the German Police. With his appointment by the Fuehrer, Himmler and his deputy, Heydrich, became two of the most powerful men within the internal administration of Germany. 49 Himmler immediately reorganized the police into two groups: the Ordnungspolizei (OrPo), composed of all uniformed police forces at the national level and the municipal police, and the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo), composed of the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) and the Kriminalpolizei ( KriPo). 50 At that time, Heydrich was the head of the SIPO and SD. Heinrich Müller became chief of operations for the Gestapo. 51

Heydrich was assigned to assist in the organization of the Summer Olympic Games to be held in Berlin in 1936. The games were used by the Nazis to promote the propaganda purposes of the National Socialist regime. “Goodwill” ambassadors were sent to those countries considering a boycott of the games. The last anti – Semitic violence was banned during the time that lasted games, and even came to prevent the distribution of copies of the famous anti – Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer . 52 53 For his participation in the success of the games, Heydrich was awarded the Deutsches Olympiaehrenzeichen or the Olympic Games Badge.

In January 1937 Heydrich addressed the SD in the collection and secret analysis of public opinion and in the writing of reports on his investigations. 54 The Gestapo then carried out house searches, arrests and interrogations, in order to verify the exercise of control over public opinion. 55 In February 1938, when Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg resisted Hitler’s proposal that Austria would join Germany, Heydrich stepped up the pressure on Austria with the organization of Nazi rallies and distribution in Vienna propaganda that emphasized The common Germanic blood of the two countries. 56 The resulting tension left the Austrian government impotence, and created a favorable climate for the Nazis. During the call Anschluss , 12 of March of 1938, Hitler declared the unification of Austria with the Nazi Germany. 57

In mid-1939 Heydrich created the so-called Stiftung Nordhav , a foundation whose mission was to obtain real estate for the SS and the Security Police, and use them as either dwellings or vacation spots. 58 Villa Wannsee, which had been acquired by the Stiftung Nordhav in November 1940, 59 would be the site chosen to host the Wannsee Conference (January 20, 1942). During this conference, some of the leading Nazi officials discussed and formalized plans for the deportation and extermination of all Jews living in the territories under German occupation, as well as those Jews living in neutral countries or not yet conquered by Germany . 60 This action was to be coordinated by all the representatives of the Nazi State who attended the meeting. 61

On September 27, 1939, the SD and the SiPo (which in turn was composed of the Gestapo and the KriPo) were integrated into the new Reich Central Security Office ( Reichssicherheitshauptamt , RSHA), which immediately came under the control of Heydrich as its first director. 62 On 1 October was awarded the title of Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD (CSSD) or “Chief of the Security Police and SD”. 63Heydrich also became president of the ICPC (later known as Interpol ) on 24 August 1940, 64 and its former headquarters moved from Vienna to Berlin. At the height of his professional career, he was promoted to the rank of SS- Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei on September 24, 1941. 29

Purges of the Red Army

In 1936, Heydrich became aware that a senior Soviet officer was plotting to overthrow Joseph Stalin . Feeling the opportunity to strike a blow to both the Soviet Army and Admiral Wilhelm Canaris of the German intelligence service , Heydrich decided to unmask the Soviet officers involved. 65 discussed the matter with Himmler and both in turn reviewed the matter with Hitler, who showed interest. The Führer approved Heydrich’s plan immediately. 66 Letters and documents falsified by Heydrich’s SD, involving Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky and other commanders of the Red Army, were turned over to the NKVD . 65 Shortly after came the so – called ” Great Purge ” of the Red Army, on the orders of Stalin. While Heydrich himself believed for the rest of his life that he had successfully deceived Stalin and led him to execute or cease more than 35,000 members of the officer corps, in recent times the importance of Heydrich’s action has been nuanced by some historians . 67 Some have suggested that actually would have received documentation that Heydrich was actually misinformation sown by Stalin himself to legitimize his purges of Soviet High Command. Others argue that Soviet military prosecutors did not use counterfeit Nazi documents against accused generals during their secret trial, but were based on false confessions ripped from the accused. 68

Decree “Night and mist”

By the late 1940s German armies had conquered most of western Europe. The following year, the SD of Heydrich was given the responsibility to carry out the decree Nacht und Nebel (Night and mist). 69 According to the decree, “persons who endangered the security of Germany” would be detained in the most discreet manner: “under the protection of night and fog.” 70 For each prisoner, the SD had to fill out a questionnaire in which personal information, the country of origin and details of their crimes against the Reich appeared. This questionnaire was placed in an envelope with a seal with the inscription “Nacht und Nebel” and presented to the Central Security Office of the Reich (RSHA). In the “Central Archive of Prisoners” ( WVHA ), as in many other concentration camps archives, these prisoners would be given a special “hidden prisoner” code, unlike the code used with prisoners of war, felons , Jews, Gypsies, etc. The decree remained in force after Heydrich’s death. The exact number of people who disappeared while in force has never been accurately established, but is estimated at about 7,000. 71

New posts

Beginning of the contest

When Hitler asked for a pretext to justify the invasion of Poland in 1939, Himmler, Heydrich and Heinrich Müller planned operation flag false which was given the codename Operation Himmler . According to his plans, the operation involved a false attack on the German radio station Gleiwitz on August 31, 1939. Heydrich devised the plan and toured the site, which was a short distance from the Polish border. In Polish military uniforms, 150 German troops also carried out numerous attacks along the border. Hitler used this deception as an excuse to carry out his invasion. 72 73

Despite his service in the SS, Heydrich enlisted and was prepared as a pilot, reaching the rank of most of the Luftwaffe . Until July 22, 1941 he intervened in about 100 combat missions, participating in the campaigns of Norway and the Soviet Union. Just a month after the invasion of the USSR, on July 22, 1941 his plane was hit by Soviet anti-aircraft fire. Heydrich was forced to make an emergency landing behind the enemy lines. He escaped from a Soviet patrol and contacted the German avant-garde. 74 After this, Hitler ordered him back to Berlin to resume his duties in the SS. 75

Role in the Holocaust

Telegram of 1938 in relation to the Kristallnacht , signed by Heydrich
Letter from Göring to Heydrich concerning the Final Solution of the Jewish Question

Historians consider Heydrich as the most fearsome member of the Nazi elite. 76 77 78 Hitler came to say that he was “the man with the iron heart.” 1He was one of the leading architects of the Holocaust during the first years of the war, responding solely to the orders of Hitler, Göring, Himmler and all matters relating to deportation, imprisonment, and extermination of the Jews.

Heydrich was also one of the organizers of the Kristallnacht , a pogrom against the Jews of all Germany that took place the night of 9 to 10 November 1938. That night, Heydrich sent a telegram to several important departments of the SD and The Gestapo, helping to coordinate the pogrom to different groups and organizations: SS, SD, Gestapo, uniformed police ( OrPo ), SA, members of the Nazi Party, and even fire departments. The text spoke of allowing the burning and destruction of Jewish enterprises and synagogues, and ordered the confiscation of all “archival material” from all Jewish communities’ centers and synagogues. The telegram ordered that “in all districts so many Jews – especially the rich – should be arrested as long as they could be relocated to detention centers … Immediately after the arrests were made, certain Concentration camps should be consulted to relocate these Jews as quickly as possible. ” 79 20,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps in the days following the pogrom; 80 historians consider Kristallnacht as the beginning of the Holocaust.

At the beginning of World War II, under Himmler’s instructions, Heydrich formed the Einsatzgruppen (“operative groups”) that would accompany the German Army vanguards as they advanced along the front lines. 81 On 21 September 1939, Heydrich sent a teletype on the “Jewish question in the occupied territories” to the heads of all Einsatzgruppen with instructions to gather the Jews for subsequent relocation in ghettos, formation of Judenräte (Jewish councils ), he ordered a census, and promoted plans Aryanization for businesses and Jewish – owned farms, among other measures. N. 3 The Einsatzgruppen followed the army during their advance by Poland to implement their plans. Two years later they would return to do so during the invasion of the Soviet Union, in charge of concentrating Jews and killing them either by firing squads or by gassing trucks. By the end of the war, the Einsatzgruppen had murdered more than a million people, of whom 700,000 had been murdered in Soviet territory. 82 Heydrich, however, ensured the safety and welfare of certain Jews, as was the case with Paul Sommer, the German former fencing champion that Heydrich had known in his time before the SS. He also protected the Polish Olympic fencing team that had competed in the 1936 Summer Olympics 83

“By order of the Reichsführer-SS , the residence without the possession of an identification card will be punished with the death”.
-Heydrich, November 1939 84

On November 29, 1939, he issued a cable on the “Evacuation of the New Eastern Provinces,” detailing the deportation of persons by railroad to concentration camps, and giving instructions on the December 1939 census, which would be the basis upon which Such deportations would be carried out. 84 In May 1941 Heydrich developed several regulations with the Quartermaster General Eduard Wagner for the upcoming invasion of the Soviet Union which ensured that the Einsatzgruppen and the Army would cooperate in the murder of Soviet Jews, in addition to intellectuals, political commissars and cadres of the Party Communist . 85

On October 10, 1941, Heydrich was the highest ranking officer at a RHSA meeting in Prague on the “Final Solution”, n. 4 during which the deportation of 50,000 Jews from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia to the ghettos discussed Minsk and Riga . Given his position, Heydrich played a decisive role in carrying out these plans given that his Gestapo was already ready to organize deportations in the West and his Einsatzgruppen were already carrying out mass killings in the East. 86 Officials who were present also discussed the possibility of catching 5,000 Jews from Prague during “the following weeks” and handing them over to Einsatzgruppen commanders Arthur Nebe and Otto Rasch . The establishment of ghettos was also planned in the Protectorate, which would ultimately lead to the construction of the Theresienstadt concentration camp , where 33,000 people would later be killed. Tens of thousands more passed through this camp on their way to death in the extermination camps of Eastern Europe. 87 In 1941 Himmler named Heydrich “responsible for implementing” forcible transfer of 60,000 Jews from Germany and Czechoslovakia to the Ghetto Litzmannstadt (Łódź) in occupied Poland.

Already on July 31, 1941, Hermann Goering had written to Heydrich to ensure the cooperation of the administrative heads of various government departments in the implementation of the authorization Endlösung der Judenfrage (Final Solution to the Jewish Question ) in the territories under German Control . 88 On January 20, 1942, Heydrich presided over a meeting – the so-called Wannsee Conference – in which the plan was discussed. 89 According to historian Donald Bloxham, throughout the discussion on the development of the Final Solution, Heydrich “just dedicated a thought of hatred of Jews” and instead concentrated their efforts on the scale of its “supranational task.” 90

Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia

See also: Czech resistance to Nazi occupation
Heydrich ( left ) next to Karl Hermann Frank in the Castle of Prague in 1941.

On September 27, 1941, Heydrich was appointed Reichsprotektor Acting Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (part of Czechoslovakia incorporated into the Reich on March 15, 1939) and took over the territory. The previous Reichsprotektor , Konstantin von Neurath , continued as titular head of the territory, but was sent “on leave” because Hitler, Himmler and Heydrich thought their “soft focus” had promoted the anti-German sentiment among Czechs and encouraged resistance anti -Walem through strikes and sabotage. 91 After his appointment, Heydrich confessed to his helpers: “We are going to Germanize the Czech vermin”. 92

Heydrich came to Prague with the task of enforcing the law, fighting against resistance to the Nazi regime, and maintaining production quotas for Czech engines and weapons, the manufacture of which was very important for the German war effort. 91 Heydrich regarded the area as a stronghold of the German people and condemned the Czech resistance as “stabbed in the back.” To carry out his objectives Heydrich demanded a racial classification of those that could and could not be Germanized . He later explained: “turning this Czech garbage into Germans must give way to methods based on racist thinking.” 93 Heydrich began his government terrorizing the population: 92 people were executed within three days of their arrival in Prague. Their names appeared on posters throughout the occupied region. 94 Almost all means through which the Czechs could publicly express their culture were closed. 93 According to Heydrich’s estimation, between 4,000 and 5,000 people were arrested in February 1942. Those who were not executed were sent to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp , where only 4% of Czech prisoners survived contest. 94 In March 1942, more raids against cultural, patriotic, military and general organizations against the Czech intelligentsia eventually led to resistance to almost total paralysis. Although small, disorganized cells survived from Ústřední vedení odboje domácího (ÚVOD) – controlled by the government in exile – only communist groups were able to function in an efficient and coordinated way (although they had also been arrested). 94 Terror also served to paralyze the resistance between Czech society, with public and widespread retaliation against any action of resistance to German rule. 94 The brutal policies Heydrich during those months earned him earn the nickname “Butcher of Prague”. 95

As Reichsprotektor in office, Heydrich applied the so-called “stick and carrot” policy. 96 The work was reorganized on the basis of the German Labor Front . Heydrich used the equipment confiscated to the Czech organization Sokol to organize events and spectacles destined to the workers. 97 Free rations of food and shoes were distributed, pensions were increased, and (for a time) on Saturdays they became non-working days. Even for the first time in its history was established unemployment insurance for the Czechs. 96 The black market was severely repressed. All those related to the black market or resistance were tortured and executed. Heydrich called them “economic criminals” and “enemies of the people”, which was worth increasing their support among the population. In general, conditions in Prague and the rest of the Czech territories were relatively peaceful during Heydrich’s tenure, and industrial production increased markedly. 96 However, all these measures could not hide the scarcity of products and the increase in inflation; There were reports that discontent was high. 97

The Czech labor force was exploited as forced labor by the Nazi authorities. 97 After the arrival of Heydrich in Prague, more than 100,000 workers were taken from their work “unfit” and were recruited by the Ministry of Labor. By December 1941, the Czechs could be called at any time to work anywhere in the Reich. Between April and November 1942, some 79,000 Czech workers were brought in this way to do work in Nazi Germany. Also, in February 1942, the working day was increased from eight to twelve o’clock. 98

Despite public displays of goodwill he made towards the Czech population, Heydrich in private left no doubt about his true ultimate goal: “This whole area will one day be definitely German, and the Czechs should expect nothing from here.” Eventually, two-thirds of the Czech population were to be expelled to regions of Russia or exterminated after Nazi Germany won the war. Bohemia and Moravia faced a direct annexation to the German Reich. 99 Heydrich was, to all intents and purposes, a military dictator of Bohemia and Moravia, despite being Reichsprotektor “on duty”. His changes in the structure of the government left President Emil Hacha and his cabinet virtually powerless, with no real role or importance. Against the advice of some Nazi officials, Heydrich often drove alone in an open-top car, a sign of the confidence he had in the occupation forces and the effectiveness of his government. 100


Death in Prague

Main article: Anthropoid Operation
The Mercedes-Benz convertible in which Heydrich was mortally wounded, after the attack.

In London, the Czechoslovak government-in-exile decided to eliminate Heydrich. Agents Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík led the team chosen for the operation. Trained by the British Special Operations Directorate (SOE), on 28 December 1941 both officers returned to the Protectorate and parachuted from a Handley Page Halifax . During the following months they lived in hiding, preparing the murder of the Reichsprotektor . 101

By May 27, 1942 Heydrich had planned to meet Hitler in Berlin. The German documentation of the time suggests that Hitler intended to transfer Heydrich to occupied France , where the French resistance was gaining more ground. 102 Heydrich would have to pass through an area where the highway Dresden-Prague joins a road leading to the bridge Troja. This section, located in the Prague suburb of Libeň , was a good location for the attack because drivers had to slow down by a sharp turn. When the vehicle reached the area Heydrich, while slowed, Gabčík said his goal with a submachine gun Sten , but was blocked and can not be fired. Instead of ordering his driver to speed up, Heydrich ordered him to stop and tried to face the attackers. Kubiš then threw a bomb (a modified anti-tank mine) to the back of the car when it stopped altogether. The explosion wounded Heydrich and Kubiš. 103

Postage stamp with the mask of Heydrich (1943).

When the smoke cleared, Heydrich emerged suddenly with his weapon in his hand; Chased Kubis and tried to respond to the attack. Heydrich went after him for some distance, but began to feel weak as a result of shock and collapsed. He sent his driver, Klein, to chase Gabčík on foot. In the ensuing shooting, Gabčík shot Klein on one leg and managed to escape to a safe house of resistance. Heydrich, still with the pistol in his hand, grabbed the wounded area, which was bleeding profusely. 104

A Czech woman came to the aid of the Reichsprotektor and beckoned to a delivery van, passing by to stop. Heydrich initially stood in the driver’s cabin, but soon complained that the movement of the van was causing him pain, so he was placed in the back of the van and taken to the emergency room of Bulovce Hospital. 105Heydrich had suffered severe injuries on his left side, with major damage to his diaphragm , spleen and lung. He had also fractured a rib. A doctor, Slanina, compressed the wound in the chest, while another doctor, Walter Diek, tried unsuccessfully to extract the splinters. It was immediately decided to operate. The surgical intervention was carried out by Diek, Slanina and Hohlbaum. Heydrich received numerous blood transfusions and splenectomy . The wounds of the chest, left lung and diaphragm were debrided and subsequently closed. 105 Himmler ordered another doctor, Karl Gebhardt , who moved to Prague to take over health care. Despite having a fever, Heydrich’s recovery seemed to be progressing well. Theodor Morell , Hitler’s personal physician, suggested the use of Sulfa (a new antibacterial drug), but Gebhardt rejected this idea, thinking that Heydrich recover. 106 Everything seemed to indicate that he was recovering. On 2 June Himmler went to Prague and visited Heydrich in the hospital, still convalescing. 107

After Himmler’s visit, he soon fell into a deep coma and never regained consciousness. He passed away on June 4, probably around 04:30. He was 38 years old. The subsequent autopsy concluded that the cause of his death had been septicemia . According would comment Bernhard Wehner , an officer of the Kriminalpolizei that investigated the assassination of Heydrich facial expression when he died revealed the “mystery completely perverted spirituality and beauty, as a cardinal of the Renaissance “. 108


After an elaborate funeral in Prague on June 7, 1942, Heydrich’s coffin was mounted on a train to Berlin, where a second ceremony was held in the new Reich Chancellery on June 9. During the ceremony, Himmler recited a compliment. 109 Hitler attended the ceremony and won several awards including Heydrich the highest degree of the German Order , the medal of the Order of the Blood , the wound badge in gold and the Cross of War Merit 1st class With swords – placing them on the coffin. 110 Although Heydrich’s death was widely used by Nazi propaganda, Hitler privately Heydrich blamed his own death:

Since they are an opportunity not only for a thief but also for a murderer, such heroic gestures as driving in a non-armored convertible vehicle or walking on the streets with little vigilance are damn stupid, which does not serve the Homeland or a apex. That a man as irreplaceable as Heydrich was exposed to an unnecessary danger, I can only condemn him as something stupid and stupid. 111

Heydrich was buried at the Invalidenfriedhof in Berlin, a military cemetery. 112 At present the exact place of his burial is unknown – a temporary wooden sign disappeared when the Red Army entered the city in 1945 and was never replaced, so that Heydrich’s tomb has not become a rallying point For neo-Nazis . 113 A photograph of the funeral of Heydrich shows Crowns and mourners could be in Section A, which borders the north wall of the Invalidenfriedhof and Scharnhorststraße in the front of the cemetery. 113 A recent biography of Heydrich also locates his grave in Section A. 114 Hitler had provided for Heydrich a monumental tomb (designed by the sculptor Arno Breker and the architect Wilhelm Kreis ), but due to the change of course of the war for Germany, It never came to be built. 113


Main article: Lídice

Heydrich’s assailants hid in safe houses and later took refuge in the Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius , an orthodox church in Prague. After being betrayed by a member of the resistance, who revealed to the Germans their location, 115 the church was surrounded by about 800 members of the SS and the Gestapo. Several Czechs were killed, and the rest hid in the crypt. The Germans attempted to expel the members of the resistance with firearms, tear gas and by means of floods of the crypt. Finally, the Germans entered the interior with explosives. The Czechs preferred to commit suicide rather than to fall prisoners in the hands of the Germans. All those who had aided the commanders and the resistance were killed by the Germans, including Bishop Gorazd , who is now venerated by the Orthodox Church. 116

Lidice after being destroyed by the Germans (June 1942).

Enraged by Heydrich’s death, Hitler ordered the arrest and execution of 10,000 Czechs at random. But after several consultations with Karl Hermann Frank , he moderated his response. The Czech lands constituted an important industrial zone for the German Army, and the indiscriminate killing of its inhabitants could reduce the productivity of the region. 117 Hitler ordered a swift investigation. The intelligence falsely related the murderers to the localities of Lydice and Ležáky . A Gestapo report stated that Lidice, located 22 km northwest of Prague, was suspected of being a hiding place for the assailants because several officers of the Czech Army in exile in England came from this locality, and in addition the Gestapo had Discovered a radio transmitter of resistance in Ležáky. 118 On June 9, after several conversations with Himmler and Karl Hermann Frank, Hitler ordered a brutal retaliation. 119 More than 13,000 people were arrested, deported , and imprisoned. On the morning of 10 June, all males over 16 years of the Lídice and Ležáky populations were killed. All Ležáky’s women were also killed. 115 With the exception of four, all women of Lidice were immediately deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp (the four women not deported were initially pregnant; – the Nazis forced them to abort in the same hospital who had died Heydrich and then sent To the concentration camp). Some children were chosen to be Germanized , and the remaining 81 were killed in gassing trucks at the Chełmno extermination camp . Both towns were burned down and even the ruins of Lídice were razed to the ground. 120 121 At least 1,300 people were thus massacred after Heydrich’s death. 122 123

Heydrich was replaced in front of the RSHA by Ernst Kaltenbrunner in 1943, 112 while Kurt Daluege replaced to him like Reichsprotektor adjunct. After Heydrich’s death, the decisions taken during the Wannsee conference were carried out. The first three camps of death , designed to carry mass murder without any legal process, were established in Treblinka , Sobibór , and Bełżec . The project was named Operation Reinhard in honor of Heydrich. 124

Heydrich’s widow won the right to receive a state pension as a result of a series of lawsuits against the West German government in 1956 and 1959. It was ruled that she was entitled to a substantial pension because her husband had been a German general Dead in action. The West German government had refused to pay any pension for Heydrich’s role in the Holocaust. 125 The couple had four children: Klaus (born 1933 and died in a car accident in 1943), Heider, born in 1934; Silke, born in 1939; And Mars, born shortly after her father’s death in 1942. 126 Lina wrote memoirs, Leben mit einem Kriegsverbrecher (Living with a War Criminal), which were published in 1976. 127 She would remarry and died in 1985. 128

Summary of his career

Personality and relationships

Heydrich’s leadership style was to use fear to in turn derive obedience and respect. He was a serious person, never friendly or jovial, who cultivated a martial attitude. He exercised daily and took painstaking care of his appearance, and expected his subordinates to do the same. 129 He had few close friends, and was a person who was suspicious of everything, distrustful of most other senior officers of the SS. Himmler was an exception; Heydrich offered him a blind obedience and was seen as a “true SS man” for his devotion. Himmler’s own motivations for trusting Heydrich lie in part in Heydrich’s lack of interest or ambition to take his place (something Heydrich himself had told Himmler and others on more than one occasion). 130

Heydrich only developed close relations within the circle of the security forces of the SS and always in the more strictly professional scope. The leader of the Gestapo, Heinrich Müller , was one of those cases, and it seems that Heydrich came to trust him. Absolute loyalty to Adolf Eichmann to his person impressed Heydrich, and was one of the reasons why he named his secretary for the Wannsee Conference . Herbert Kappler , who was appointed commander of all SS security forces in Rome, was said to have been a “protégé.” 131 The SS personnel favored by Heydrich, especially those who attended the Wannsee Conference, had features similar to those of Heydrich: absolute devotion to the SS, lack of remorse for brutal or genocidal orders, and above all , Personal loyalty to Heydrich in his capacity as commander of the security forces. Not all his subordinates, however, had their confidence: Heydrich showed a great aversion and distrust towards Arthur Nebe and Walter Schellenberg , perhaps for the independence with which they acted and their own personal ambitions. 132

At the time it was commented that Heydrich despised the SS-Totenkopfverbände , the unit of officers and guards of the Concentration Camps, and that he kept a particular contempt for Theodor Eicke , whom he referred to as an “ambitious dwarf.” 133 Heydrich did not appreciate and / or trusted Oswald Pohl , and the commandant of Auschwitz , Rudolf Hoess , considered him a “bully uneducated”. 133Within the senior management of the SS, Heydrich maintained good relations with Karl Wolff . However, years later he would say that he had always been careful with Heydrich, since according to Wolff, Heydrich seemed to be waiting for an opportunity to act against Himmler and antagonize him. Within the Allgemeine-SS , Heydrich maintained relations with some of the most powerful leaders of the Police and SS, like Friedrich Jecklen . Heydrich maintained contact with him, but cautiously, especially after Jeckeln had several crashes and serious disagreements with Himmler in the late 1930s and early 1940s 130

The security and police officers selected to administer Operation Reinhard camps came from Heydrich’s closest professional contacts. It was said that Heydrich had very good opinion of Odilo Globocnik and Christian Wirth . In his other sphere of responsibility, that of governor of the Czech Protectorate, Heydrich behaved coldly towards Karl Hermann Frank , whom he did not really know. 134

Service history

Heydrich’s time in the SS was a mix of rapid promotions, reserve commissions in the regular Armed Forces, and front-line combat services. During his 11 years with the SS, Heydrich rose rapidly and from private to the rank of general SS. He also held the rank of Major of the Luftwaffe , and on several occasions participated in combat missions, until Hitler ordered him to return to Berlin and to resume his tasks in the SS. 75 His service record also credits him with the rank of Lieutenant of the Navy in the reserve, although during World War II Heydrich had little contact with this military branch. Heydrich received numerous military and Nazi character awards, including the German Order , 135 Order of Blood , 109 Gold Party Badge , Badge Luftwaffe pilot , and Iron Cross of 1st and 2nd Class. 136