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A biography of reinhard tristan eugen heydrich a high ranking german nazi official

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Nicknamed "The Blond Beast" by the Nazis, and "Hangman Heydrich" by others, Heydrich had insatiable greed for power and was a cold, calculating manipulator without human compassion who was the leading planner of Hitler's Final Solution in which the Nazis attempted to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe. His father founded the Halle Conservatory of Music and was a Wagnerian opera singer, while his mother was an accomplished pianist.

Young Heydrich trained seriously as a violinist, developing expert skill and a lifelong passion for the violin. As a boy, he lived in an elegant home with his family enjoying elevated social status. But young Heydrich also suffered as the target of schoolyard bullies, teased about his very high pitched voice and his devout Catholicism in the mostly Protestant town. He was also beaten up by bigger boys and tormented with anti-Jewish slurs amid rumors of Jewish ancestry in his family.

  • German historian Robert Gerwarth has stepped in to meet this need;
  • Young Heydrich trained seriously as a violinist, developing expert skill and a lifelong passion for the violin.

At home Heydrich's mother believed in the value of harsh discipline and frequent lashings. As a result, Heydrich was a withdrawn, sullen boy, unhappy, but also intensely self-driven to excel at everything. As he grew he excelled at academics and also displayed natural athletic talent, later becoming an award winning fencer.

Too young to serve in World War One, after the war at age 16 Heydrich teamed up with the local Freikorps, a right-wing, anti-Semitic organization of ex-soldiers involved in violently opposing Communists on the streets. He took delight in associating with these violently anti-Semitic groups to disprove the persistent, but false rumors regarding his possible Jewish ancestry.

The German defeat in World War One brought social chaos, inflation and economic ruin to most German families including Heydrich's. In March of 1922, at age 18, Heydrich sought the free education, adventure and prestige of a Naval career and became a cadet in the small, elite German Navy.

Once again, however, he was teased. Heydrich was by now over six feet tall, a gangly, awkward young man who still had the high, almost falsetto voice. Naval cadets took delight in calling him "Billy Goat" because of his bleating laugh and taunted with "Moses Handel" because of rumored Jewish ancestry and his unusual passion for classical music.

But the intense, driven Heydrich persevered and rose by 1926 to the rank of second lieutenant, serving as a signals officer attached to Intelligence under Wilhelm Canaris.

Reinhard Heydrich Biography: The First In-depth Look at a Nazi

The teasing and taunting soon gave way to resentment over the extraordinary arrogance of this young man who was already dreaming of becoming an admiral.

Heydrich also developed great interest in women and pursued sex with the same self-driven desire for achievement he applied to everything else. He had many sexual relationships and in 1930 was accused of having sex with the unmarried daughter of a shipyard director.

According to popular Nazi legend, as a result of his refusal to marry her, Heydrich was forced by Admiral Erich Raeder to resign his Naval commission in 1931 for "conduct unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman. Joins Nazi Party and the SS In 1931, at age 27, Heydrich joined the Nazi Party and became a member of the SS Schutzstaffelthe elite organization of black-coated young men chosen on the basis of their racial characteristics. During the interview Himmler posed a challenge to Heydrich by asking him to take 20 minutes and write down his plans for a future SS intelligence gathering service.

Himmler was impressed by Heydrich's Aryan looks, his self-confidence, and diligent response to the challenge and gave him the job.

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It began in a small office with a single typewriter. But Heydrich's tireless determination soon grew the organization into a vast network of informers that developed dossiers on anyone who might oppose Hitler and conducted internal espionage and investigations to gather information down to the smallest details on Nazi Party members and storm trooper SA leaders.

Heydrich also had a taste for gossip and maintained folders full of rumors and details of the privates lives and sexual activities of top Nazis, later resorting to planting hidden microphones and cameras.

The only stumbling block occurred as the old rumors surfaced about possible Jewish ancestry on his father's side of his family. Heydrich's grandmother had married for a second time after the birth of Heydrich's father to a man with a Jewish sounding name. Both Hitler and Himmler quickly became aware of the rumors which were spread by Heydrich's enemies within the Nazi Party.

Himmler at one point considered expelling Heydrich from the SS. But Hitler, after a long private meeting with Heydrich, described him as "a highly gifted but also very dangerous man, whose gifts the movement had to retain. Heydrich also suffered great insecurity and some degree of self loathing, exampled by an incident in which he returned home to his apartment after a night of drinking, turned on a light and saw his own reflection in a wall mirror then took out his pistol and fired two shots at himself in the mirror, uttering "filthy Jew!

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The total number of arrests were so high that prison space became a problem. An unused munitions factory at Dachau, near Munich, was quickly converted into a concentration camp for political prisoners.

Once inside Dachau, prisoners were subjected to harsh military style treatment and beatings. Stealing a cigarette could bring 25 lashes.

  1. He was appointed SS chief for Berlin in 1934, and when Himmler became chief of all German police forces in 1936, Heydrich took charge of the SD, the criminal police, and the Gestapo.
  2. These men, Wildt says, were convinced they were subject to "neither regulating norms nor any sort of moral code.
  3. Soon afterward, Hitler looked to increase the size of the German Reich at the expense of other nations, first targeting Austria then Czechoslovakia. He informed another girlfriend that he was breaking things off with her by merely sending her a copy of his engagement announcement.
  4. As a boy, he lived in an elegant home with his family enjoying elevated social status.
  5. During Kristallnacht in November 1938, Heydrich ordered the arrest of thousands of Jews by the Gestapo and the SS and their imprisonment in concentration camps. The teasing and taunting soon gave way to resentment over the extraordinary arrogance of this young man who was already dreaming of becoming an admiral.

Other punishments included suspension from a pole by the wrists, incarceration in a stand-up cell or dark cell, and in some cases death by shooting or hanging. The gates at Dachau bore the cynical slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" work sets you free.

Political prisoners who survived the 11 hour workday and meager amounts of food were frightened and demoralized into submission, then eventually released. After Dachau, large concentration camps were opened at Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, and Lichtenburg.

By April 1934, amid much Nazi infighting and backstabbing, Himmler assumed control of the newly created Secret State Police Gestapo with Heydrich as his second in command actually running the organization. As a result, the SA Brownshirts lost much of their influence and were quickly overtaken in importance by the black-coated SS. By 1937, any remnants of civilized notions of justice were thrown out as the police, especially the Gestapo, were placed above the law with unlimited powers of arrest.

Anyone could be taken into Schutzhaft protective custody for any reason and for any amount of time without a trial and with no legal recourse. A dictate from Hitler in October of 1938 stated: Some arrests were made under suspicion that a person might commit a crime in the future.

The average German could trust no one as anyone, even a family member, might be an informant working with the SD or A biography of reinhard tristan eugen heydrich a high ranking german nazi official.

All over Germany, Heydrich's SD and Gestapo agents used torture, murder, indiscriminate arrests, extortion and blackmail to crush suspected anti-Nazis and also to enhance the immense personal power of Heydrich, now widely feared throughout Germany. Many top Nazis even feared meeting him or being in his presence during the few official gatherings he attended. With his murderous glare, Heydrich could frighten even the most hardened Nazis.

Heydrich preferred to operate behind the scenes. He generally avoided publicity and was rarely seen in public, unlike Himmler. Photos of Heydrich usually show him peering suspiciously into the camera.

Reinhard Heydrich

Heydrich was also a friendless man whose only companions were senior SS subordinates who accompanied him during drinking bouts and womanizing at a few favored night spots. Those few women who resisted his advances could likely expect a visit from the Gestapo. International Espionage Heydrich was a master of intrigue and pulling strings behind the scenes, sometimes on an international scale.

His exploits included involvement in prodding Soviet leader Stalin into conducting a purge of top Red Army generals in 1937 by supplying evidence to Soviet secret agents of a possible Soviet military coup against Stalin. In Germany, Heydrich had a hand in the downfall of two powerful, traditionalist German Army generals who had expressed opposition to Hitler when he announced his long range war plans in November, 1937.

War Minister, Werner von Blomberg and Commander in Chief of the Army, Werner von Fritsch, were disgraced by framed-up attacks on their personal character and forced out, thus eliminating their influence. Following their dismissal, Hitler himself assumed the position of commander in chief of the German Army. Soon afterward, Hitler looked to increase the size of the German Reich at the expense of other nations, first targeting Austria then Czechoslovakia.

In Austria, Himmler and Heydrich worked behind the scenes to encourage pro-Nazis there to spread unrest and commit sabotage. This office had the sole authority to issue permits to Jews wanting to leave Austria and quickly became engaged in extorting wealth in return for safe passage. Nearly a hundred thousand Austrian Jews managed to leave with many turning over all their worldly possessions to the SS. A similar office was then set up back in Berlin. As Hitler turned his attention toward Czechoslovakia, Heydrich encouraged the Nazification of ethnic Germans to spread political unrest in the area bordering Germany the Sudetenland.

On October 1, 1938, under the threat of German invasion, the Czech government gave up the Sudetenland to Hitler. On Heydrich's order, 25,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps. In January of 1939, Heydrich helped destabilize Czechoslovakia by inciting unrest in the eastern province of Slovakia and also sent in a sabotage squad to cause panic. In March, after representatives of France and England failed to challenge him at Munich, Hitler gambled and sent in the German Army to 'protect' Czechoslovakia from the crisis which the Nazis themselves had deliberately created.

And by now, nearly a hundred concentration camps of various sizes had sprung up throughout the Reich. As a prelude to the invasion, Heydrich had engineered a fake Polish attack on a German radio station at Gleiwitz, Germany, a mile from the Polish border, thus giving Hitler an excuse for military retribution. RSHA After the invasion of Poland, Heydrich was given control of the new Reich Main Security Office RSHA which combined the SD, Gestapo, Criminal Police, and foreign intelligence service into an enormous, efficient, centralized organization that would soon terrorize the entire continent of Europe and conduct mass murder on a scale unprecedented in human history.

In Nazi occupied Poland, Heydrich vigorously pursued Hitler's plan for the destruction of Poland as a nation. First Einsatz Groups Heydrich then formed five SS Special Action Einsatz Groups to systematically round up and shoot Polish politicians, leading citizens, professionals, aristocracy, and the clergy.

Poland's remaining people, considered by the Nazis to be racially inferior, were to be enslaved. German-occupied Poland had an enormous Jewish population of over 2 million persons. On Heydrich's orders, Jews who were not shot outright were crammed into ghettos in places such as Warsaw, Cracow, and Lodz.

Overcrowding and lack of food within these walled-in ghettos led to starvation, disease, and the resulting deaths of half a million Jews by mid 1941. As the German Army continued its advance deep into Soviet territories and the Ukraine, the Einsatz groups followed, now aided by volunteer units of ethnic Germans who lived in Poland, and volunteers from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and the Ukraine.

At his trial in Nuremberg after the war, Otto Ohlendorf, commander of Einsatzgruppe D, described the method. They were requested to hand over their valuables and shortly before execution, to surrender their outer clothing.

The men, women, and children were led to a place of execution, which in most cases was located next to a more deeply excavated antitank ditch. Then they were shot, kneeling or standing, and the corpses thrown into the ditch. Competition even arose as to who posted the highest numbers. In the first year of the Nazi occupation of Soviet territory, over 300,000 Jews were murdered. By March of 1943, over 600,000 and by the end of the war, an estimated 1,300,000.

After nearly fainting, he frantically yelled out for the firing squad to quickly finish off those who were only wounded. After this Himmler ordered the Einsatz commanders to employ a more humane method of extermination by using mobile gas vans. These trucks fed their exhaust into a sealed rear compartment containing 15 to 25 persons, usually Jewish women and children. However this method was judged unsatisfactory due to the small numbers killed and the subsequent unpleasant task of having to remove the bodies.

Another Nazi extermination program, euthanasia of the sick and disabled in Germany, provided the SS with a better opportunity to experiment. They were disguised as a biography of reinhard tristan eugen heydrich a high ranking german nazi official rooms, but were actually hermetically sealed chambers connected by pipes to cylinders of carbon monoxide. The drugged patients were led naked to their deaths in the gas chamber.

Families were then falsely told the cause of death was medical such as heart failure or pneumonia. The minutes of that meeting, taken by Adolf Eichmann, have been preserved but were personally edited by Heydrich after the meeting using the coded language Nazis often employed when referring to lethal actions to be taken against Jews.

Heydrich also took cynical delight in forcing the Jews themselves to partially organize, administer, and finance the Final Solution through the use of Jewish councils inside the ghettos which kept lists of names and assets.

By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon B hydrogen cyanide began at Auschwitz in occupied Poland, where extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with estimates running as high as three million persons eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and burning.