Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-054-16, Reinhard Heydrich.jpg
as SS-Gruppenführer in 1940
Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia
Acting Protector
In office
29 September 1941 – 4 June 1942
Appointed byAdolf Hitler
Preceded byKonstantin von Neurath
(Protector until 24 August 1943)
Succeeded byKurt Daluege
(Acting Protector)
Director of the Reich Main Security Office
In office
27 September 1939 – 4 June 1942
Appointed byHeinrich Himmler
Preceded byPost created
Succeeded byHeinrich Himmler (acting)
President of the
International Criminal Police Commission
In office
24 August 1940 – 4 June 1942
Preceded byOtto Steinhäusl
Succeeded byArthur Nebe
Director of the Gestapo
In office
22 April 1934 – 27 September 1939
Appointed byHeinrich Himmler
Preceded byRudolf Diels
Succeeded byHeinrich Müller
Personal details
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich

(1904-03-07)7 March 1904
Halle an der Saale, German Empire
Died4 June 1942(1942-06-04) (aged 38)
Prague-Libeň, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
(now Prague, Czech Republic)
Political partyNational Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP)
Lina von Osten (m. 1931)
RelativesHeinz Heydrich (brother)
Military service
  • The Hangman[1]
  • The Butcher of Prague[2]
  • The Blond Beast[2]
  • Himmler's Evil Genius[2]
  • Young Evil God of Death[3]
  • The Man with The Iron Heart[4]
Years of service1922–1942
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsSee service record section

Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich (k/; German: [ˈʁaɪnhaʁt ˈtʁɪstan ˈɔʏɡn̩ ˈhaɪdʁɪç] (About this soundlisten); 7 March 1904 – 4 June 1942) was a high-ranking German SS and police official during the Nazi era and a main architect of the Holocaust. He was chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD). He was also Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor (Deputy/Acting Reich-Protector) of Bohemia and Moravia. He served as president of the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC, later known as Interpol) and chaired the January 1942 Wannsee Conference which formalised plans for the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question"—the deportation and genocide of all Jews in German-occupied Europe.

Many historians regard Heydrich as the darkest figure within the Nazi regime;[5][6][7] Adolf Hitler described him as "the man with the iron heart".[4] He was the founding head of the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service, SD), an intelligence organisation charged with seeking out and neutralising resistance to the Nazi Party via arrests, deportations, and murders. He helped organise Kristallnacht, a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938. The attacks were carried out by SA stormtroopers and civilians and presaged the Holocaust. Upon his arrival in Prague, Heydrich sought to eliminate opposition to the Nazi occupation by suppressing Czech culture and deporting and executing members of the Czech resistance. He was directly responsible for the Einsatzgruppen, the special task forces that travelled in the wake of the German armies and murdered more than two million people by mass shooting and gassing, including 1.3 million Jews.

Heydrich was critically wounded in Prague on 27 May 1942 as a result of Operation Anthropoid. He was ambushed by a team of Czech and Slovak soldiers who had been sent by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile to kill the Reich-Protector; the team was trained by the British Special Operations Executive. Heydrich died from his injuries a week later. Nazi intelligence falsely linked the Czech/Slovak soldiers and resistance partisans to the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. Both villages were razed; all men and boys over the age of 16 were shot, and all but a handful of the women and children were deported and killed in Nazi concentration camps.

Early life

Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich[8] was born in 1904 in Halle an der Saale to composer and opera singer Richard Bruno Heydrich and his wife, Elisabeth Anna Maria Amalia Heydrich (née Krantz). His father was Protestant and his mother was Roman Catholic. His two forenames were patriotic musical tributes: "Reinhard" referred to the tragic hero from his father's opera Amen, and "Tristan" stems from Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Heydrich's third name, "Eugen", was his late maternal grandfather's forename (Professor Eugen Krantz had been the director of the Dresden Royal Conservatory).[9]

Heydrich's family held social standing and substantial financial means. Music was a part of Heydrich's everyday life; his father founded the Halle Conservatory of Music, Theatre and Teaching and his mother taught piano there.[10] Heydrich developed a passion for the violin and carried that interest into adulthood; he impressed listeners with his musical talent.[11]

His father was a German nationalist who instilled patriotic ideas in his three children, but was not affiliated with any political party until after World War I.[12] The Heydrich household was strict. As a youth, he engaged his younger brother, Heinz, in mock fencing duels. He excelled in his schoolwork—especially in science—at the "Reformgymnasium".[13] A talented athlete, he became an expert swimmer and fencer. He was shy, insecure, and was frequently bullied for his high-pitched voice and rumoured Jewish ancestry.[14] The latter claim earned him the nickname "Moses Handel."[15]

In 1918, World War I ended with Germany's defeat. In late February 1919, civil unrest—including strikes and clashes between communist and anti-communist groups—took place in Heydrich's home town of Halle. Under Defense Minister Gustav Noske's directives, a right-wing paramilitary unit was formed and ordered to "recapture" Halle.[16] Heydrich, then 15 years old, joined Maercker's Volunteer Rifles (a paramilitary Freikorps unit). When the skirmishes ended, Heydrich was part of the force assigned to protect private property.[17] Little is known about his role, but the events left a strong impression; it was a "political awakening" for him.[17] He joined the Deutschvölkischer Schutz und Trutzbund (National German Protection and Shelter League), an anti-Semitic organisation.[18]

As a result of the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, hyperinflation spread across Germany and many lost their life savings. Halle was not spared. By 1921, few townspeople there could afford a musical education at Bruno Heydrich's conservatory. This led to a financial crisis for the Heydrich family.[19]

Heydrich as a Reichsmarine cadet in 1922
Other Languages
беларуская: Райнгард Гайдрых
Bahasa Indonesia: Reinhard Heydrich
македонски: Рајнхард Хајдрих
Bahasa Melayu: Reinhard Heydrich
Nederlands: Reinhard Heydrich
norsk nynorsk: Reinhard Heydrich
português: Reinhard Heydrich
Simple English: Reinhard Heydrich
slovenčina: Reinhard Heydrich
slovenščina: Reinhard Heydrich
српски / srpski: Рајнхард Хајдрих
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Reinhard Heydrich
українська: Рейнгард Гейдріх
Tiếng Việt: Reinhard Heydrich