The man with the Iron Heart. Biography of Reinhard Heydrich by Nancy Dougherty.

ARRSE Rating
5.00 star(s)
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich, a man, who in 13 years went from being an unemployed naval officer who had been cashiered by a court of honour and ejected from the navy in disgrace to a man who was the technocratic murderer of millions in Europe.

This author, the late Nancy Dougherty, who died in 2013 has written a book (edited and a forward plus afterword written by Christopher Lehman-Haupt) which is quite fascinating as it takes the reader into the dark heart of the highest reaches of Nazi Germany and the many people in positions of power within the SS and SD/SiPO.(Security Service/Security Police) (Sicherheitsdienst /Sicherheitspolizei). This book contains interviews with Lina Heydrich and some of the protagonists in the SS. Organisations that would have tentacles not just in Germany but eventually across occupied Europe. A man who was recruited by Himmler as his intelligence chief in error as he thought Heydrich's naval career was in intelligence not his true position in communications. He formed the SD as the security service for the Nazi party which was slowly promoted to the security service of the state. And by the outbreak of WW2 he controlled the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). He was a man who also with a photographic memory and a driven work ethic. He was cashiered for a 'lack of honour' regarding an engagement to marry and at the same time, he met Lina von Osten, whom he went on to marry. She was a supporter of the Nazi party and pushed Heydrich to apply to Himmler for a position within the SS.

Heydrich was born in Halle in Germany to a family that was devoted to the arts, namely music led by his father Bruno, who owned a conservatoire and was himself a composer of music. Heydrich, in growing up decided to enter the naval service even though he had no family history of service at sea. He was a tall rather wiry man, who was an accomplished fencer and sportsman far more closely aligned with the 'Aryan ideal' than many others around him. He was of an awkward disposition did make friends easily and in fact, was somewhat of a loner during his service. He did meet and was in effect 'sponsored' by one Captain Canaris, an officer deeply embedded within the intelligence world with whom he would collaborate in later years when he was promoted to Admiral and head the Abwher (German Military Intelligence). Heydrich also flew as captain in the Luftwaffe flying missions until he was shot down in Russia and managed to evade his potential captors.

Heydrich was an intriguer with a photographic memory and a prodigious work ethic who would have made Machiavelli and the Borgia's seem almost amateurish. He recruited into the SD, young radical intellectuals, his ‘bright young things’ many of who held high educational attainment such as doctorates. These he turned into mass killers by posting them to special commandos (Einsatzgruppen) when the war started in Poland and later Russia in 1941 before returning them to other duties. Heydrich was at the very centre of such operations as the Night of the Long Knives colluding with Goering in the decapitation of the SA (Sturmabteilung) Storm Troopers culminated with the murder of Rohm and his compatriots, then moved on to the removal of Blomberg and Fritsch from the Wehrmacht. His activities did not stop there, moving through the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland's and on to the point of the invasion of Poland. Whilst at the same time at home in Germany he was responsible for monitoring the people of the country, in particular when he gained control of the Gestapo from Goering. The one thing he never gained control of was the concentration camps, but he did set up political police offices within them. Eventually, he gained control over police forces across Germany as a subordinate to Himmler. He was intimately involved in Kristallnacht or Night of the Broken Glass in 1938 when a multitude of Jewish businesses and Synagogues across Germany were looted and burnt and hundreds of men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. When the Reich Security Main Office was formed his power was consolidated into his office. He even set up a fully bugged brothel in Berlin Salon Kitty, which was frequented by many of the higher members of society, giving many an opportunity to indulge in blackmail.

I have in this review stated he was a technocratic murderer, he never physically got blood on his hands, unlike his subordinates. He chaired the Wannsee Conference early in 1942 using an order from Goering to bring about the 'Final solution to the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe'. He drew together some 15 people all of who held high office in Germany and the occupied territories and many had doctorates. They outlined the murder of the Jews in Europe and all those they looked on as racial inferiors.

Whilst he chaired the Wannsee conference in 1942, he was also the Reichprotector of Bohemia and Moravia. His task was to produce a populace subservient to German rule and maintain war production. This he achieved through the carrot and stick method, executing resisters and hostages but at the same time allowing increases in food rations for workers and the use of cultural events as a reward. His hubris was probably his downfall, not having an escort into Prague from his residence at Jungfern-Breschen as well as his predictability in his journey. The assassination attempt was nearly a failure, due to a jammed weapon but was retrieved by the use of a hand grenade. Heydrich was wounded, taken to hospital and operated on, and then his care was handed to Himmler’s personal surgeon Gebhardt. Some suspicion was aroused when Heydrich suddenly died, had he been murdered, as a man who had far too many enemies at the higher reaches of the Third Reich and knew too many secrets?

Following his death, his widow Lina continued to live at Jungfern-Breschen until March 1945 when she and many others made for Bavaria, she was interned for a short period by the Americans as the wife of a Nazi leader, but soon made her escape back to her home in Northern Germany where she continued to live until her death, turning her home into a small pension to make a living. She applied for a war widow’s pension, refused at the first attempt but granted at the second attempt. Lina Heydrich was certainly not your average high Nazi functionaries wife, she had opinions and thoughts and was afraid of stating them, in a time and place where women were very much second-class citizens.
Heydrich was a man who inspired fear and loathing and no love for him as a person. He was suspected of having files on many high members of the Party SS and the armed forces, if not Hitler and Himmler as well. He was suspected of having 'Jewish blood' in him though this was never proven and the files from Himmler have never been found and were probably destroyed at the end of WW2. Heydrich's files after his assassination were never found either. Many have speculated that one day he would actually succeed Hitler as Führer, he was certainly on his way as he was probably at the time of his assassination about to be named Reichs protector of France, he was ruthless enough to accomplish that goal.

As an aside to this book, the late Philip Kerr who also recently died wrote the Bernie Gunther series of books, well you can see some plot lines within this book.

This book was published in the USA under the title The Hangman and his Wife.

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diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
Stick it on the burning pile alongside the rest of the Nazi filth.
An interesting view, learn from history, so you may not repeat it. I suggest that you read the book and come to a decision. Would you have said the same about a book on Beria?

There is a view, where one burns books, you eventually burn humans.
 
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich, a man, who in 13 years went from being an unemployed naval officer who had been cashiered by a court of honour and ejected from the navy in disgrace to a man who was the technocratic murderer of millions in Europe.

This author, the late Nancy Dougherty, who died in 2013 has written a book (edited and a forward plus afterword written by Christopher Lehman-Haupt) which is quite fascinating as it takes the reader into the dark heart of the highest reaches of Nazi Germany and the many people in positions of power within the SS and SD/SiPO.(Security Service/Security Police) (Sicherheitsdienst /Sicherheitspolizei). This book contains interviews with Lina Heydrich and some of the protagonists in the SS. Organisations that would have tentacles not just in Germany but eventually across occupied Europe. A man who was recruited by Himmler as his intelligence chief in error as he thought Heydrich's naval career was in intelligence not his true position in communications. He formed the SD as the security service for the Nazi party which was slowly promoted to the security service of the state. And by the outbreak of WW2 he controlled the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). He was a man who also with a photographic memory and a driven work ethic. He was cashiered for a 'lack of honour' regarding an engagement to marry and at the same time, he met Lina von Osten, whom he went on to marry. She was a supporter of the Nazi party and pushed Heydrich to apply to Himmler for a position within the SS.

Heydrich was born in Halle in Germany to a family that was devoted to the arts, namely music led by his father Bruno, who owned a conservatoire and was himself a composer of music. Heydrich, in growing up decided to enter the naval service even though he had no family history of service at sea. He was a tall rather wiry man, who was an accomplished fencer and sportsman far more closely aligned with the 'Aryan ideal' than many others around him. He was of an awkward disposition did make friends easily and in fact, was somewhat of a loner during his service. He did meet and was in effect 'sponsored' by one Captain Canaris, an officer deeply embedded within the intelligence world with whom he would collaborate in later years when he was promoted to Admiral and head the Abwher (German Military Intelligence). Heydrich also flew as captain in the Luftwaffe flying missions until he was shot down in Russia and managed to evade his potential captors.

Heydrich was an intriguer with a photographic memory and a prodigious work ethic who would have made Machiavelli and the Borgia's seem almost amateurish. He recruited into the SD, young radical intellectuals, his ‘bright young things’ many of who held high educational attainment such as doctorates. These he turned into mass killers by posting them to special commandos (Einsatzgruppen) when the war started in Poland and later Russia in 1941 before returning them to other duties. Heydrich was at the very centre of such operations as the Night of the Long Knives colluding with Goering in the decapitation of the SA (Sturmabteilung) Storm Troopers culminated with the murder of Rohm and his compatriots, then moved on to the removal of Blomberg and Fritsch from the Wehrmacht. His activities did not stop there, moving through the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland's and on to the point of the invasion of Poland. Whilst at the same time at home in Germany he was responsible for monitoring the people of the country, in particular when he gained control of the Gestapo from Goering. The one thing he never gained control of was the concentration camps, but he did set up political police offices within them. Eventually, he gained control over police forces across Germany as a subordinate to Himmler. He was intimately involved in Kristallnacht or Night of the Broken Glass in 1938 when a multitude of Jewish businesses and Synagogues across Germany were looted and burnt and hundreds of men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. When the Reich Security Main Office was formed his power was consolidated into his office. He even set up a fully bugged brothel in Berlin Salon Kitty, which was frequented by many of the higher members of society, giving many an opportunity to indulge in blackmail.

I have in this review stated he was a technocratic murderer, he never physically got blood on his hands, unlike his subordinates. He chaired the Wannsee Conference early in 1942 using an order from Goering to bring about the 'Final solution to the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe'. He drew together some 15 people all of who held high office in Germany and the occupied territories and many had doctorates. They outlined the murder of the Jews in Europe and all those they looked on as racial inferiors.

Whilst he chaired the Wannsee conference in 1942, he was also the Reichprotector of Bohemia and Moravia. His task was to produce a populace subservient to German rule and maintain war production. This he achieved through the carrot and stick method, executing resisters and hostages but at the same time allowing increases in food rations for workers and the use of cultural events as a reward. His hubris was probably his downfall, not having an escort into Prague from his residence at Jungfern-Breschen as well as his predictability in his journey. The assassination attempt was nearly a failure, due to a jammed weapon but was retrieved by the use of a hand grenade. Heydrich was wounded, taken to hospital and operated on, and then his care was handed to Himmler’s personal surgeon Gebhardt. Some suspicion was aroused when Heydrich suddenly died, had he been murdered, as a man who had far too many enemies at the higher reaches of the Third Reich and knew too many secrets?

Following his death, his widow Lina continued to live at Jungfern-Breschen until March 1945 when she and many others made for Bavaria, she was interned for a short period by the Americans as the wife of a Nazi leader, but soon made her escape back to her home in Northern Germany where she continued to live until her death, turning her home into a small pension to make a living. She applied for a war widow’s pension, refused at the first attempt but granted at the second attempt. Lina Heydrich was certainly not your average high Nazi functionaries wife, she had opinions and thoughts and was afraid of stating them, in a time and place where women were very much second-class citizens.
Heydrich was a man who inspired fear and loathing and no love for him as a person. He was suspected of having files on many high members of the Party SS and the armed forces, if not Hitler and Himmler as well. He was suspected of having 'Jewish blood' in him though this was never proven and the files from Himmler have never been found and were probably destroyed at the end of WW2. Heydrich's files after his assassination were never found either. Many have speculated that one day he would actually succeed Hitler as Führer, he was certainly on his way as he was probably at the time of his assassination about to be named Reichs protector of France, he was ruthless enough to accomplish that goal.

As an aside to this book, the late Philip Kerr who also recently died wrote the Bernie Gunther series of books, well you can see some plot lines within this book.

This book was published in the USA under the title The Hangman and his Wife.

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Does it say much about his personal life? His wife and children for example?

He was brave, a good leader and manager. All things to be admired...
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
Does it say much about his personal life? His wife and children for example?

He was brave, a good leader and manager. All things to be admired...
Is says far more of his work than his family and his wife in interviews with the author obviously had places she didn't want to go.
 
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