10 Facts About Reinhard Heydrich — The Butcher of Prague

Sometimes referred to as ‘the hangman’ or ‘the blond beast’, Reinhard Heydrich was a senior figure in the Nazi regime who will always be remembered for the heinous role he played in the Holocaust.

1. Heydrich was described by Adolf Hitler as ‘the man with the iron heart’.  Most historians agree that he was a dark and sinister figure amongst the ranks of the Nazi elite.

Adolf Hitler and Heydrich

Heydrich stood behind and to the side of Hitler in this photo (Vienna, 1938).

2. In 1922, Heydrich’s military career started as a Naval Cadet at Kiel.  By 1928 he had been promoted to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant.

3. During 1932, Himmler appointed Heydrich as Chief of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) which was the intelligence agency of the SS.

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Himmler and Heydrich both in the left of this photo (1939).

4. Heydrich was one of the organisers of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.  Along with others he received an award to celebrate the role he played in making the games a success. 

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The Berlin Olympic Stadium in 1936.

5. Heydrich was one of the organisers of the infamous Kristallnacht persecution of Jewish people, property and business during November 1938.

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Damage to Jewish businesses following Kristallnacht.

6. During World War Two, Heydrich was responsible for the organisation of mass executions in newly occupied European countries.

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The killing of Jewish people in the Ukraine (1942).

7. During 1939, Heydrich established task forces (Einsatzgruppen) to round up Jewish people for placement into ghettos. In doing so it is estimated that by the end of the war the soldiers involved in this process had killed around 1 million people (700,000 in Russia alone).  

8. During 1941 Heydrich was appointed as Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia (Czechoslovakia). In this role, he established a cruel dictatorship which resulted in a significant loss of life.

9. By 1942, under Heydrich’s leadership, it is estimated that around 4,500 Czech people had either been executed or arrested. Those who were arrested were mainly sent to Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.

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The liberation of Mauthausen by American soldiers.

10. Heydrich died in 1942, following injuries he sustained during an assassination attempt by British trained operatives whilst he was travelling to Berlin for a meeting with Hitler.

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Postage stamp in commemoration of Reinhard Heydrich, released in 1943.

Paul is a History Teacher at Clydebank High School. He graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with an LL.B (Hons) in 2005, before graduating from the University of Glasgow with an MA in Historical Studies during 2009. Afterwards, whilst training to be a teacher, he gained a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Strathclyde. His current interests include Scottish Industrial History, Nazi Germany and World War One.