Apart from Hitler, perhaps no one typified the evil of Nazism more so than Reinhard Heydrich. Cold, calculating, arrogant and brutal, he is a figure whose hands-on approach to dealing with perceived enemies of Germany made him author of some of the worst crimes ever perpetrated by man.

Tall, slender with smooth blond hair and a somewhat high pitched voice, he joined the SS in the early 1930’s, and quickly rose through the ranks with cutthroat efficiency, running the SS intelligence service, the Sicherheitsdienst or SD. In this office, he helped orchestrate notable events which defined Hitler’s policies by purging suspected political rivals in what became known as The Night Of The Long Knives in 1934, and terrorizing Jews in the Crystal Night pogrom of 1938.



Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich

When the war broke out, Heydrich headed the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) of which all security agencies fell under. Per his orders, after German forces swept through Europe the SD and Gestapo carried out the infamous ‘night and fog’ decree, whereby persons suspected of being enemies of the Reich were arrested discretely, never to be heard from again.

It is as an architect of the Holocaust though, where Heydrich’s evil came to the fore.

As early as September1939, he cabled a message to Einsatzgruppen (Special Action Groups) following German forces in Poland on how to round up Jews for Ghetto placement and seizure of their property and businesses. Later, these groups would murder en masse some 2 million Jews as they advanced through Russia.

Just two months later, he sent another cable defining how so called ‘Untermenschen’ (subhumans) were to be deported on trains to concentration camps.