hauntingly dubbed as “The Hangman,” Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich was the third-in-command in the Nazi SS. He was Hitler’s key planner in his quest to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe. To know more about Reinhard’s life and his assassination, read on.
He was the leading planner for the “Final Solution”
Heydrich rose the Nazi ranks the old fashioned way, and eventually gained the personal approval of Hitler. He is widely considered to be the most cold blooded of the Nazi ranks (quite a title) — Hitler himself described him as having an “iron heart.” He founded the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the intelligence section of the SS. He took control of the State Secret Police, the gestapo. During World War II, he planned the “Final Solution,” which led to the creation of Polish ghettos, the forced deportation of German and Austrian Jews, and the creation of extermination camps.
He earned the nickname “The Butcher of Prague” for his brutality
In September 1941, Heydrich was appointed Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. As soon as he reached Prague, he made his presence known. In the first three days of his rule, he listed 92 names of people sentenced to death. By February 1942, five thousand people had been tried by Heydrich’s summary courts.
His arrogance helped Operation Anthropoid
Britain’s Special Operation Executive (SOE) devised Operation Anthropoid with the approval of the Czechoslovakian government-in-exile. The plan was to assassinate Heydrich before he was transferred to some restive part of Europe. Despite warnings by Himmler, Heydrich refused to travel with a bodyguard, wear a bulletproof vest, or even travel in a bulletproof vehicle. His extreme arrogance led him to believe that people were too fearful of his leadership to make an attempt on his life.
On May 27, 1942, Czech agents trained by British SOE, tried to fire at Heydrich’s open-topped car (yeah, he really didn’t heed warning) as it slowed on a tight bend on the way to Prague Castle, but the sub-machine gun jammed. One of the agents threw a bomb which landed outside Heydrich’s car and injured their target. Heydrich was brought to the hospital but suffered an infection after surgery and died a week later.