When we die we all leave an impression on this world, most people leave a lasting impact on their friends and family, some fade away into insignificance and a small number of individuals have managed to change the world and leave a lasting impact still felt in the 21st century, this is due to their actions- for better or worse.
Good morning everyone, my name is Claire and today I will be discussing Reinhard Heydrich. Himmlers Evil genius, The Hangman, known as the Butcher of Prague by the Czech Republic, The Blonde Beast by his own comrades, and described by Hitler himself as a highly gifted but also very dangerous man.
In order to evaluate someones significance we must first have a grasp on their life and their actions- so lets go back to the start.
Reinhard Heydrich was born on the 7th march, 1904 in German city named Halle to devout Catholic parents Bruno and Elizabeth. His father was a talented musician and founded and ran the music conservatory in the town.
Their family were extremely musical and Reinhard was trained on the violin and piano as a child. His parents hoped for him a promising career utilising his musical talent, but much to their dismay Reinhard would later choose to pursue a career in the German military forces instead.
As a Child and Teenager Reinhard enjoyed life as a member of a family with elevated social status. Despite this, he was often bullied by other children as he was a devout Catholic in a mostly Protestant town, had a very high-pitched voice and was also tormented with anti-Semitic slurs due to false rumours of Jewish ancestry in his family fuelled by a surname belonging to his Grandmothers second husband which was a common German-Jewish name at the time (Suss).
Whilst there are some sources that say Reinhard had caring and nurturing parents, Other sources suggest that his mother believed in hard discipline and that as a result Reinhard was often lashed.
Reinhard excelled in everything he tried his hand at, from academics and music to sports, and this motivation and precision was a trait that would provide him with many successes in the German military and Nazi Party later in his life.
After the first world war the Heydrich family found themselves heavily affected by the economic ruin and inflation, and in 1922, at the age of 18 Reinhard became a cadet in the German Navy, seeking the free education and prestige it would provide.
Whilst in the Navy, Heydrich suffered more teasing as his voice was still high pitched, he had a perceived odd obsession with classical music and rumours of his supposed Jewish ancestry began to once again make the rounds.
Despite this, Heydrich rose the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1926, and served as signals officer gathering intelligence.
However, his career in the German military came to an end in 1931, after he was forced to resign due to conduct unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman after his hobby for womanising had placed him in the middle of a scandal.
Reinhard joined the Nazi Party in the same year, at the age of 27, and became a member of the secret organisation Schutzstaffel (SS) which was initially created to provide protection for the Nazi Partys leader Adolf Hitler. Reinhards attention to detail and his strong Aryan looks landed him an interview with Reichsfuherer-SS Henrich Himmler for the role of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) Chief in June of 1934.
Heydrich was tasked with running the SD, the new intelligence service for the SS focusing on espionage and gaining intelligence. He grew the SD from a single roomed operation to a complex organisation, keeping tabs on several groups of people. The SD monitored and collected information on Communists, Social Democrats, Jews, Trade unions and even some Nazi Party members.
The SD very quickly became a success and Heydrich worked his way up in the Nazi Party, earning the rank of SS Major in December of 1931, followed by the rank of SS Colonel with sole control over the SD in July of 1932. He was promoted to SS Brigadier General in 1933 at the age of 29, and also took command of the Gestapo in July of 1934. Heydrichs rapid successes did not sit well with everybody, and the rumours of his heritage returned to haunt him once again. Both Adolf Hitler and Heidrich Himmler, were aware of the rumours and the possible complications that keeping Heydrich in the Nazi party could cause, however Hitler described Heydrich as
a highly gifted but also very dangerous man, whose gifts the movement had to retain…extremely useful; for he would eternally be grateful to us that we had kept him and not expelled him and would obey blindly.”
In the leadup to the war the Nazis were preparing for conflict not only with the rest of Europe, but also against the Jews. Jewish children were expelled from public school, facilities and housing became segregated into Jewish and Non-Jewish sections and business were beginning to be sold to Aryan Germans for extremely low and unjust prices. Mass deportations were occurring, and majority of Jewish passports were banned.
As this hatred was festering and growing worse, Heydrich was talking to other Nazi officials and members of the SS and SD, organising what became known as the Kristallnacht or Night of Broken Glass which would occur on the 10th of November in 1938.
A translation of a telegram sent to local German officers by Heydrich regarding Kristallnacht, outlines the rules that those committing the attacks were to follow, including;
Only such actions may be carried out which do not threaten German lives or property (e.g., burning of synagogues only when there is no threat of fire to the surroundings).
. . .existing archival material is to be impounded by the police in all synagogues and offices of the Jewish community centres to prevent its destruction in the course of the demonstrations. . . . [This material] is to be turned over to the. . . offices of the SD.
As soon as the course of events during this night allows the assigned police officers to be used for this purpose, as many Jewsparticularly affluent Jewsare to be arrested in all districts as can be accommodated in existing detention facilities. For the time being, only healthy male Jews, whose age is not too advanced, are to be arrested. Immediately after the arrests have been carried out, the appropriate concentration camps should be contacted to place the Jews into camps as quickly as possible. Special care should be taken that Jews arrested on the basis of this instruction are not mistreated.
Kristallnacht was reported through Nazi propaganda as a spontaneous outbreak when in reality it had been meticulously planned and the orders had been delivered by Heydrich. This attack killed 100 Jews, destroyed 1,668 synagogues, with 267 of those being set alight. The Nazi leadership fined the Jews for the damage, and in the following days around 30,000 male Jews were sent off to concentration camps, as stipulated by Heydrich in the telegram sent to the officers.
Reinhard continued to serve the Nazi Party and on January 24, 1939 Hermann Goring authorized Heydrich to begin developing plans for how to punish the Jews, as the Nazi party believed that they were to be blamed for the problems that arose after World War 1. Germany invaded Poland in September of the same year which began the Second World War, and the German army gradually continued to invade and occupy countries for Lebensraum or living space.
In preparation for the invasion of Poland, Heinrich Himmler created the Einsatzgruppen, which were units of SS and other select police soldiers used as mobile killing units. These units were placed under Heydrichs control. Heydrich directed a campaign involving the arrest and execution of people that were deemed a threat to the success of the German invasions. These groups of people included Polish nationalists, the Roman Catholic clergy, Jews, and members of Polish intelligence. In the 3 months after the invasion of Poland, these units had murdered 50,000 Poles, of which 7,000 were Jews, all under the orders of Reinhard Heydrich. The Einsatzgruppen went on to assist in the invasion of the Soviet Union and murdered an estimated 1.5 million Jews in several operations.
In 1941 Hitler appointed Heydrich as the Acting Reich Protector for the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which is now the Czech Republic. The public were obviously not impressed after the invasion of their country, but they came to grow a fiery hatred for Heydrich, who they saw as particularly ruthless and brutal. Under Heydrichs rule, censorship was heavy, the public were told very little of the war, as they were a far way away from the war fronts. The underground radio communications with London were monitored and those who were resisting were promptly arrested or killed. The Germans effectively reduced the Czech resistance so significantly that it always ranked last in their periodic checks of the resistance strength in their occupied countries.
On January 20, 1942 the Wannsee Conference was held.
Heydrich convened the conference after Hitler authorised the European-wide plan for the annihilation of the Jewish population at an unknown point in 1941. The conference was not held to discuss whether these plans would be approved, but rather to figure out the specifics of the operation that had been drafted by Heydrich which was referred to as the Final Solution of the Jewish Question by those involved. The minutes from this conference were kept and would later be used as evidence during the Nuremberg Trials after the wars end as they included accurate details for the plans.
Heydrich explained at the conference that “Europe would be combed of Jews from east to west.” And gave the indication that around 11 million Jews would be affected by the plan. This figure not only included Jews living in the land occupied by Germany, but also those living in neutral countries and in the United Kingdom.
After Heydrichs plan was outlined at the Wannsee Conference there were new policies regarding The Final Solution that the Nazi Party implemented. This involved the development of the Nuremberg Laws, which helped to determine who was Jewish and provided legal framework which enabled the holocaust.
In June 1942, the same year as the conference, Heydrich died as a result of an infection caused by an assassination attempt. The assassination was carried out by Czech soldiers In Operation Anthropoid, which was devised by Britains Special Operations Executive (SOE). Heydrichs death enraged Hitler, and manhunts were launched in an attempt to find the assassins. They managed to say hidden for three weeks, and as they were found, those who werent already killed committed suicide, as a way to avoid torture. It was reported that 15,000 Czechs died in the aftermath, Hitler ordered the extermination of a village close to where the assassination was. The inhabitants were killed, bodies dug up and buildings bulldozed to totally erase the existence of the town. These drastic measures highlight how important Heydrich was in Nazi operations, Hitler obviously felt he had lost a key figure in his plans, if he was willing to invest soldiers and resources into avenging his death.
Despite the heavy casualties the public regarded it as a win, with one man, Alois Denemarek, who was friends with one of the assassins saying;
Of course it was worth it, killing Heydrich. Even though it cost the lives of my family, my brother, my mother, my father….
Heydrich is remembered as the Butcher of Prague in the Czech Republic, due to the number of people who were killed at his command and as a result of his actions.
As one of the main architects of the Holocaust, Heydrich is regarded as one of those responsible for the 6 million deaths that occurred doing the execution of final solution.
The Holocaust is regarded as one of, if not the largest genocide in human history. The Holocaust caused immediate pain, with families being torn apart and lives being lost, but also long term suffering that is still being felt in todays society. This extract is from a letter written by a girl named Hela, a Polish child who was sent to Auschwitz extermination camp in 1944.
My dear ones, keep this letter, it is perhaps the last one and perhaps you will show it one day to my dear mother. Tell her that I was with her in my thoughts until the last moment of my life. If my father should be rescued, take care of him and see to it that he does not do, God forbid, something stupid. Life without me will be unbearable for mother. I implore you, do whatever is still possible to rescue me. Thank you very much for everything you have done for me, most of all, thanks to mother. I conclude because my heart bursts with pain. Remember me
Heydrichs actions enabled and encouraged this to happen. Heydrich was the chair of the conference in which the way to execute millions of people was decided. He had already outlined his ideas and proposed method and used the conference as a way to discuss with other people the most effective way to murder masses of people. The impact of his actions and the hurt caused by his campaigns are still being felt to this day.
There have been several movies made detailing Reinhard Heydrichs significance in the Nazi Party and the effect of his actions, including;
The Man with the Iron Heart (2017)
Operation daybreak (1975)
The Assassination (1964)
These movies all highlight aspects of Heydrichs life and his contribution to the Nazi party and retell parts of the events that he caused or affected him. This in turn created a modern legacy for him. More immediately after his death there was an operation named in his honour- Operation Reinhard. Operation Reinhards purpose was to murder approximately two million Jews residing in a specific part of Poland occupied by Germany. This goes to show how his character is to be remembered, as such horrific schemes were named after Heydrich- with pride. Heydrich was extremely significant in the Nazi party and his leadership ultimately lead to the deaths and displacement of millions of people, as the main architect of the Holocaust and the authoritative figure of the SD, Einsatzgruppen, Gestapo and partly over the SS, giving commands to the lower ranking soldiers.
When they die, most people leave a lasting impact on their friends and family, some fade away into insignificance, and a small number of people- including Reinhard Heydrich have managed to change the world and leave a lasting impact still felt to this day, in this case not a positive one.
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When we die we all leave an impression on this world most. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/when-we-die-we-all-leave-an-impression-on-this-world-most-best-essay