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Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich was one of Hitler's most ruthless Nazis and second in importance only to Heinrich Himmler in the Nazi SS organization and the principle planner of the Final Solution. There was even talk of his one day succeeding Adolf Hitler.

At a villa on the shores of a suburban Berlin lake called the Wannsee, mid-level bureaucrats from a number of Nazi agencies assembled
January 20, 1942, at the request of Heydrich. Heydrich and his boss, Heinrich Himmler were in the process of assuming leadership in the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, i.e., the murder of Europe's Jews by the Nazis.

This meeting was a part of that process, as bureaucratic coordination would be required for the massive efforts to be undertaken throughout Europe to kill the 11,000,000 Jews described in the document. The Nazis ultimately succeeded in killing six million of Europe's Jews, with hundreds of thousands already dead by the time of this meeting.

By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon-B began at Auschwitz in occupied Poland, where extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with some estimates running as high as three million persons eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and burning.

The ever-ambitious Heydrich had achieved favored status with Hitler and was appointed Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia in former Czechoslovakia and set up headquarters in Prague. Soon after his arrival, he established the Jewish "model" ghetto at Theresienstadt.

In 1942 Heydrich was assassinated in Prague and the Nazis destroyed an innocent Czech village - Lidice - to avenge the assassination. On June 9, just five days after Heydrich's death, ten truckloads of the Security Police came and quickly surrounded the village. No one was allowed to leave - a 12 year old boy and a peasant woman were shot as they tried to escape. All the men and boys over 16 years old, 172 in all, were rounded up and locked in a barn. They were shot the next day in groups of ten, which lasted from dawn until 4 in the afternoon. 19 men who were working in the mines during the shooting were also rounded up and sent to Prague where they were killed.

The women as a whole fared better than the men, but still faced cruel situations. Seven of the women were taken to Prague where they were shot. The rest, numbering 195, were sent to the Ravensbrück KZ camp in Germany. 49 of the women died - 7 by gassing, and the rest from cruel treatment.

The children, 90 in all, were taken to a KZ camp at Gneisenau. They were selected according to the "racial experts" and distributed to German people with new German names to be raised as their own. The village itself was completely destroyed - it was burned, the remains dynamited, and bulldozed so that no structure was left standing.

Lidice became a symbol of Nazi barbarism.

 


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