Historical story

The fawn beast. All the crimes of Reinhard Heydrich

Adolf Hitler used to say that he was one of the best National Socialists. In terms of humanity, however, he was the worst of the worst. A fanatic Nazi and a ruthless careerist. Such was Reinhard Heydrich - the architect of genocide and organizer of the Holocaust.

If we were to compile a list of the worst criminals in history, Reinhard Heydrich, a Nazi dignitary and one of the main architects of the Holocaust, would be at the forefront. His cynical character and complete lack of remorse favored the organization of mass murders. He was so hated by his contemporaries that justice reached him even before the end of the war.

Seducer and careerist

Reinhard Heydrich was born in 1904. In his youth, he showed extraordinary intelligence and musical talent, most likely inherited from his father Richard - a composer and opera singer. However, he did not decide on this direction of development. In 1922 he joined the German Navy. He served there for 9 years. His promising career collapsed due to a secret romance. As a result of the peer trial, the would-be admiral was expelled from service .

Before that, Heydrich had already proposed. His chosen one - after only a few days of acquaintance! - was Lina von Osten. The circumstances of losing their job did not prevent the happy couple. Lina and Reinhard spent over a decade together and had four children.

Lina Heydrich followed him faithfully until Reinhard's death.

After his career in the Navy, Heydrich looked for a new position. Probably convinced by his wife, he concluded that the chances of a quick promotion are only in the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) . In 1930, this organization celebrated its first significant election success. It won around 18% of the vote and 107 seats in the Reichstag, making it the second largest power in parliament.

Heydrich joined the ranks of the party in 1931, taking Nazi ideology as his own. Soon after, he was arranged to meet one of Hitler's closest associates. Their conversation influenced not only the fate of the newly minted Nazi himself, but also the entire history of the Third Reich.

Murderous duo

"You have 20 minutes" - these were the words of the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, to Heydrich. During this time, Reinhard had to introduce to his interlocutor how he would organize the intelligence service in the SS. His speech must have made a great impression on the Nazi dignitary, because from that moment their close cooperation began.

Heydrich was even referred to as "Himmler's man". He himself became the head of the Security Service (SD). His tasks included compiling lists of party enemies, organizing blackmail, creating groups of "invisible agents" and looking for "hooks" on inconvenient people both inside and outside the party.

When the Nazis seized power in Germany in 1933, Heydrich's career took off. The cumulative moment occurred in 1934. Hitler then ordered the murder of the leadership of the Assault Troops (SA), which were accused of inciting the Nazis to revolt against the Chancellor. It was the SD manager who prepared the documents that were to certify the betrayal of the SA leader Ernst Röhm .

This contribution to the "night of the long knives," as the murder of SA members was called, further brought him closer to Himmler. From then on, the two Nazi officials were inseparable. And as it turned out later, participation in the criminal intervention was only a prelude to what Heydrich would do during the war.

Heydrich, to serve Hitler and Himmler, prepared evidence of treason against the head of the SA, Ernst Röhm.

An advocate of terror

The outbreak of the global conflict undoubtedly helped to reveal the worst face of Heydrich. Immediately after its outbreak, he headed a criminal organization called Einsatzgruppen (Operational Groups). These units moved behind the front lines. They exterminated everyone who was even suspected of being hostile to Germany. Their victims included both Jews and surviving veterans of the Greater Poland Uprising, communists and representatives of the intelligentsia.

The Einsatzgruppen units weren't the only ones Heydrich controlled. He also headed the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA). The Office comprised both Einsatzgruppen units and the notorious Gestapo. Thus Himmler's trusted man had placed the entire apparatus of terror . And that was not the end of the nomination.

In September 1941, Adolf Hitler appointed his associate, who was gathering more and more prestigious titles, the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. Heydrich replaced Konstantin von Neurath, who reportedly was "too gentle" with the Czechs.

Heydrich, as Himmler's trusted man, became head of the Reich Security Main Office.

The new protector certainly did not make the mistake of his predecessor. From the moment of his arrival, boundless terror prevailed in the areas handed over to the management. Executions, forced labor and Germanization were on the agenda. Heydrich soon had to pay for all these crimes, but before it happened, he started implementing another criminal concept. It was the "final solution" of the Jewish question.

The architect of genocide

Heydrich had an obsessive attitude towards the Jews. From the beginning of the war, he undertook various activities aimed at them. He became practically the main organizer of the Holocaust. When the Nazis devised a gas killing system in mid-1941, the Einsatzgruppen under their command tested the killing in this way first.

A tendency to unrestrained cruelty was also noticed in the head of the RSHA by higher-ranking Nazi dignitaries. And when it was decided to work out a plan for the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question," they immediately turned to him.

Decisions regarding the "final solution" were made in a beautifully situated villa near Berlin.

The aim of the criminal operation was to get rid of all Jews from the areas covered by the German occupation. Thus, it covered as many as 11 million people. To work out the details of the operation, Heydrich decided to organize a conference. It was attended by representatives of the most important central "instances" and offices of the SS. In total, they were 15 qualified officials, active and fully committed to the Nazi ideology. What were Heydrich's intentions in the book "The Wannsee Conference. Road to Final Solution ” says Peter Longerich:

Heydrich's intention was to use the soon-to-be-won war to radically "resolve the Jewish question", that is, German control of the continent and gain living space for East from his point of view, they created the conditions for a "territorial solution" - with unequivocally fatal consequences. After the victory, all the Jews of Europe were to be deported "to the East" and put to death there through a combination of forced labor, unbearable living conditions and mass murder.

The meeting took place on January 20, 1942 in the beautifully situated Wannsee Conference House on the outskirts of Berlin. The protocol of the conference has been preserved to this day. It was written by Adolf Eichman, a member of the Gestapo and a war criminal. Based on his notes, Longerich described the topics of discussion fought by Nazi officials:

As evidenced by the preserved protocol, a team has been gathered to establish a specific circle of people to lead this endeavor; At that time, they also talked about how to deport a total of eleven million people, use them for the heaviest forced labor, and kill those who would survive or otherwise be incapable of work. After the deliberation, breakfast was provided.

It was no secret that the deportations meant the extermination of the entire Jewish population in Europe. None of the 15 invited conference participants denied this idea. On the contrary, the invited representatives expressed their willingness to cooperate. It is also scary that the discussions organized by Heydrich took place in an almost idyllic atmosphere, and decisions regarding the deaths of millions of people were celebrated ... with breakfast.

To date, no document reflects the vision of the Holocaust more than the Wannsee Protocol. A few months after the conference, there was an escalation of the extermination policy of Jews within German reach. Everything was done under the watchful eye of Heydrich. Indeed, his strategy that the extermination would not begin until after the war was not adopted; nevertheless, he was instrumental in making the "final solution" one of the essential goals of Nazi politics.

Assassination attempt on Heydrich

On the morning of May 27, 1942, less than four months after the Wannsee conference, the car of the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia was driving through the Prague suburbs. Suddenly, two Czech partisans appeared at the bend. The first of them tried to shoot a Nazi dignitary, but his gun jammed. Unperturbed Heydrich, instead of running away, started shooting the attacker. Then the second partisan threw a bomb into the open car.

In retaliation for Heydrich's death, the Nazis murdered over 1,000 people. Adolf Hitler himself appeared at the funeral.

The blast broke Himmler's favorite ribs and severely damaged his spleen. Doctors were unable to save him. He died a few days later. How great his contribution was to the Nazi war machine is eloquent in the fury Hitler fell into at the news of his death. In retaliation, the Germans murdered all the inhabitants of the village of Lidice, not even sparing the children.

Heydrich's funeral in Germany was a colossal celebration. It was honored by the presence of the most important leaders, headed by the Fuhrer himself. Heinrich Himmler said during the speech:"You, Reinhard Heydrich, were a really good SS man." Actually. Nobody organized the genocide with the same accuracy and ruthlessness as he did.