If the man who led the Nazi Party and was the brain behind the atrocities that resulted in the death of approximately six million European Jews and at least five million prisoners of war could describe you as “the man with the iron heart,” then you’re really something. So when Hitler described high-ranking SS and police officer Reinhard Heydrich as that, we know that we should expect the worst. Of all the possible reasons that he could’ve died, the reason for his death was for sure unexpected: Horsehair.

Darkest Figure of the Nazi Regime

Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich was born in Halle an der Saale in 1904 to an opera singer and composer dad Bruno Heydrich and her mom, Elisabeth Anna Maria Amalia Heydrich. Music and wealth were part of Heydrich’s everyday life. His father founded the Halle Conservatory of Music, Theatre, and Teaching, where her mother taught piano. There was no surprise that the young Heydrich became inclined toward music and developed a passion for the violin until his adulthood.

His involvement with politics began after World War I, during civil unrest when communists and anti-communists would always clash in his hometown in Halle. At the age of 15, he joined Maercker’s Volunteer Rifles, and even when the conflicts ended, he was assigned to protect private properties, which he considered his “political awakening.” Soon, he became part of the National German Protection and Shelter League (Deutschvölkischer Schutz- und Trutzbund), which was an anti-semitic organization.

Chief of the Reich Security Main Office

Heydrich’s military path led him to become the Reich Security Main Office chief, who oversaw the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD. He was one of the main facilitators of the Holocaust and other related atrocities. His beliefs and actions, plus his prominent position with the Axis, earned him many haters and enemies who wanted him dead.