Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Look Back At The Assassination Of Reinhard Heydrich


R.C. Jaggers at the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence offers a piece that looks back on the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.

On the twenty-ninth of May, 1942, Radio Prague announced that Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, was dying; assassins had wounded him fatally. On the sixth of June he died.

Though not yet forty at his death, the blond Heydrich had had a notable career. As a Free Corpsman in his teens he was schooled in street fighting and terrorism. Adulthood brought him a commission in the German navy, but he was cashiered for getting his fiancée pregnant and then refusing to marry her because a woman who gave herself lightly was beneath him. He then worked so devotedly for the Nazi Party that when Hitler came to power he put Heydrich in charge of the Dachau concentration camp. In 1934 he headed the Berlin Gestapo. On June 30 of that year, at the execution of Gregor Strasser, the bullet missed the vital nerve and Strasser lay bleeding from the neck. Heydrich's voice was heard from the corridor: "Not dead yet? Let the swine bleed to death."

In 1936 Heydrich became chief of the SIPO, which included the criminal police, the security service, and the Gestapo. In 1938 he concocted the idea of the Einsatzgruppen, whose business it was to murder Jews. The results were brilliant. In two years these 3,000 men slaughtered at least a million persons. In November of that year he was involved in an event that in some inverted fashion presaged his own death. The son of a Jew whom he had deported from Germany assassinated Ernst von Rath in Paris. In reprisal Heydrich ordered a pogrom, and on the night of November ninth 20,000 Jews were arrested in Germany.

In 1939 the merger of the SIPO with the SS Main Security Office made Heydrich the leader of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt. In this capacity he ordered and supervised the "Polish attack" on Gleiwitz, an important detail in the stage setting for the invasion of Poland on September first. It was he who saw to it that twelve or thirteen "criminals" dressed in Polish uniforms would be given fatal injections and found dead on the "battlefield." It was probably he who chose the code name for these men--Canned Goods.

At this time Bohemia and Moravia had already been raised from independent status to that of Reichsprotektorat, with Baron von Neurath, Germany's now senile former foreign minister, designated the Protector--of the Czechs from themselves, presumably. But a greater honor was in store for them. On 3 September 1941 von Neurath was replaced by SS Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich. The hero moved into the Hradcany Palace in Prague and the executions started, 300 in the first five weeks. His lament for Gregor Strasser became his elegy for all patriotic Czechs: "Aren't they dead yet? Let them bleed to death."

He had come a long way in thirty-eight years. The son of a music teacher whose wife was named Sarah, Reinhard had gone on trial three times because of Party doubts about the purity of his Aryan origin. Now, as chief of the RSHA, which he continued to run from Czechoslovakia, he was Hangman to all occupied Europe. His power was such that he could force Admiral Canaris to come to Prague and at the end of May, 1942, sign away the independence of the Abwehr and accept subordination to the Sicherheitsdienst. It was his moment of sweetest triumph. A few weeks later he was dead, and Himmler pronounced the funeral oration calling him "that good and radiant man."

So much for the story we all know, and on to questions left unanswered by it. Who were Heydrich's assassins? Who could successfully plan his death? Was the motive simply revenge for suffering? How was it accomplished? And the hardest question of all, was it a good thing? Here, for the first time, are the answers to all these but the last, and on that question stuff for pondering.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

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