Heydrich (1904-1942), Reinhard

26 February, 2009
Bovy Daniel

SS general, head of the Reich Security Service (RSHA), Heydrich was the coordinator of the Wannsee conference and one of the most important Nazis in charge of the Final Solution. From the creation of the Einsatzgruppen till his death, Heydrich was the executive arm of the exterminating “H”: Hitler-Himmler-Heydrich. In 1939, the Einsatzgruppen created by him constituted the prelude to the mass assassination of Jews: they were responsible for the death of 60,000 people. On September 21, 1939, Heydrich opened the first ghettos and considered the different possibilities for a Jewish deportation, but the idea of forced emigration gave way to another kind of response to the “Jewish question”. The Einsatzgruppen continued to kill massively and the Germano-Sovietic conflict accelerated the mass killing process. At the end of 1941, the Einsatzgruppen started the massacres and gassing operations took place at Chelmno. In September 1941, Heydrich – he was then Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia – exuded terror: two months after he was appointed in his new functions and executed 400 Czechs. On January 20, 1942, Heydrich headed the Wannsee conference that was supposed to smooth the tensions between the people concerned by the Final Solution (it now concerned all European Jews), to be sure that no technical problem would slow down its execution and last but not least, to solve the problem of the Mischlinge (people having mixed blood). On May 27, 1942, shortly after he had declared in front of the chiefs of the Security Police in Paris that a death sentence had been pronounced against all European Jews, an attack perpetrated at Lidice by Czech partisans wounded him critically. Heydrich died a few days later. The Nazi reprisal consisted in destroying the village of Lidice and many inhabitants were condemned to death. In the context of denazification, Lina, Heydrich’s widow, was condemned in 1949 as partner in crime – she shared her husband’s ideas – but was rehabilitated in 1951. She received an allowance as victim of war although she practiced a severe negationism repeating that her husband “had nothing to do with all that happened”. She also organized a meeting point for former Nazis at the hotel she owned on the Fehmarm Island.

Husson, E., 2008, Heydrich et la solution finale. Paris: Perrin.

Cite this item

Bovy Daniel, Heydrich (1904-1942), Reinhard , Mass Violence & Résistance, [online], published on: 26 February, 2009, accessed 17/02/2021, http://bo-k2s.sciences-po.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/en/document/heydrich-1904-1942-reinhard, ISSN 1961-9898
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