|Born||7 Mar 1904|
|Died||4 Jun 1942|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseReinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich was born in Halle an der Saale near Leipzig to Bruno Heydrich, a musical composer and an opera singer, and Elizabeth Kranz, and pianist. The musical influence developed him into a life-long violin enthusiast. Regarding his ancestry, it is still debated today whether he was of Jewish descent based on some evidence that one of his grandparents was Jewish.
ww2dbaseIn 1919 Heydrich joined a far-right para-military organization that positioned itself against Jews and Communists, then in 1922 joined the German Navy. In 1926, he was discharged with conduct unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman after a series of sexual liaisons. In 1931, he was referred to Heinrich Himmler for the job to direct a counter-intelligence division of the SS, and was given the position after a twenty-minute interview. In this role he developed a card-file system on all people who could pose a threat to the Nazi Party. The job itself warranted a very small pay and he was by no means an influential figure of the party at this time, but it would soon grow to be much larger. After being renamed the SD, the future parent organization of the Gestapo, Heydrich built his relationship with Adolf Hitler during the German leader's rise in the 1930s. With the well-developed card-file system his organization was called upon to provide Hitler with intelligence on political opponents. The SD later rendered similar services during the "Night of the Long Knives" purge. After this time, Hitler often viewed Heydrich as one of his potential successors. He was also credited for supplying Josef Stalin with intelligence to support a similar purge in Russia.
ww2dbaseAt the time when Germany invaded Poland in Sep 1939, Heydrich served in the Luftwaffe as an Iron Cross-decorated pilot. His last air mission was on 22 Jul 1941 when his ME Bf 109E-7 fighter was damaged by Russian anti-aircraft fire. He had to make an emergency landing shortly after and returned to Germany safely, but was forbidden to fly again as his capture could be of severe consequences due to his intimate knowledge of German operations (though he did fly one more mission several months after the incident).
ww2dbaseOn 20 Jan 1942, Heydrich chaired the Wannsee Conference where his "final solution of the Jewish problem" was approved by Hitler. He oversaw the construction and design of many early concentration camps and was one of the main architects of the Holocaust. However, his record of atrocities against Jews dated long before 1942. On 9 Nov 1938, 25,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps during Kristallnacht. His SS Einsatz groups had also long been terrorizing the Jewish population in Poland and Russia. "In a time of barbarity, Reinhard Tristan Heydrich, 'the Hangman,' stood out as one of the cruelest and most brutal mass murderers in Nazi Germany", as noted by Shira Schoenberg.
ww2dbaseOn 27 Sep 1941 Heydrich was appointed the virtual head of the puppet state Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, ruling the territory above the authority of the local Czechoslovakian president and prime minister. While in Czechoslovakia he arrogantly rode in open-roof vehicles, and that arrogance caught up with him on 27 May 1942. On that morning, he left his home in Panenské Břežany for his office at the Prague Castle without his usual escort. British MI6-trained Czech soldier Jozef Gabčík and a small group of others ambushed his sedan. Gabčík attacked the sedan with a Sten submachine gun but the gun jammed at the wrong moment. Instead, he threw an anti-tank grenade at the car; the grenade failed to enter the car, but the shrapnel seriously injured Heydrich. Upon hearing the news Hitler immediately sent his best doctors to Prague to save his potential successor, but despite the best efforts Heydrich died of septicemia a week later. Conspirators of the assassination were tracked down by Gestapo agents and committed suicide after a fierce firefight, and an awful reprisal ensued against Czechs took place in the Prague area. One episode of such reprisal took place at the village of Lidice, where 172 men and boys ages 16 and above were rounded up and executed on 10 Jun 1942, while the remaining were sent to concentration camps; the village was destroyed by explosives then leveled.
ww2dbaseSources: Jewish Virtual Library, Spartacus Educational, Wikipedia.
Last Major Revision: Jan 2006
Reinhard Heydrich Timeline
|7 Mar 1904||Reinhard Heydrich was born.|
|20 Apr 1934||Heinrich Himmler appointed Reinhard Heydrich the head of Gestapo in Prussia, Germany.|
|24 Dec 1938||German SS leader Reinhard Heydrich advised Gestapo leaders to investigate reasons for arrests, as there were now more prisoners than the space available in concentration camps.|
|31 Jan 1939||German SS leader Reinhard Heydrich ordered that Jews can only be released from protective custody if they present documents for emigration, and that Jews who were being committed to a concentration camp a second time would be committed to concentration camps for life.|
|21 Sep 1939||Reinhard Heydrich authorized the formation of Jewish ghettos in Poland, each governed by a Judenrat (Jewish Council); the ghettos were to be formed in large Polish cities with access to major railroads. He also authorized the formation of Einsatzgruppen.|
|27 Sep 1939||Reinhard Heydrich was appointed the head of Reichssicherheitshauptamt.|
|30 Sep 1939||Reinhard Heydrich became the leader of new Reich Main Security Office, RSHA.|
|17 Oct 1939||Reinhard Heydrich ordered all Gypsy populations to cease travelling or face a concentration camp.|
|17 Jul 1941||Reinhardt Heydrich ordered the four SS Einsatzgruppen under his command to exterminate Jewish and Roma communities in his sphere of influence.|
|31 Jul 1941||Reinhard Heydrich received instructions from Hermann Göring to prepare the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish question, Endlösung.|
|29 Sep 1941||Reinhard Heydrich was named Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia.|
|10 Oct 1941||Reinhard Heydrich ordered the town of Terezín (German: Theresienstadt) to be converted into a camp-ghetto for deported German, Austrian, and Czechoslovakian Jews. He placed Adolf Eichmann and Rolf Günther in charge of establishing this camp-ghetto.|
|30 Oct 1941||Reinhard Heydrich appointed Siegfried Seidl the commandant of the camp-ghetto soon to be known as the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.|
|20 Jan 1942||SS-Gruppenführer Heydrich hosted the Wannsee Conference at a villa in the suburbs of Berlin, Germany to discuss the Final Solution.|
|27 May 1942||Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich departed his home in Panenské Brežany for his office at the Prague Castle in Prague, Czechoslovakia in the morning without his usual escort. British-trained Czech soldier Jozef Gabcík and others attacked his car at Liben, seriously wounding Heydrich with a grenade.|
|4 Jun 1942||Reinhard Heydrich passed away.|
|9 Jun 1942||SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich's funeral took place on this date.|
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Winston Churchill, 1935