Icon by Sue LeeReinhard Heydrich (1904-1942)

Reinhard Heydrich was a former naval officer who joined the SS* in 1932, after his dismissal from the navy. He headed the SS Security Service ( SD ), a Nazi party intelligence agency. In 1933-1934, he became head of the political police, also known as the Gestapo and later of the criminal police, or the Kripo. He combined Gestapo and Kripo into the Security Police ( SIPO ). In 1939, Heydrich combined the SD and SIPO into the Reich Security Main Office. He organized the Einsatzgruppen* which systematically murdered Jews in occupied Russia during 1941-1942. In 1941, he was asked by Goering to implement a "Final solution to the Jewish Question." During the same year, he was appointed protector of Bohemia and Moravia. In January 1942, he presided over the Wannsee Conference*, a meeting to coordinate a "Final Solution." * On May 29, 1942, he was assassinated by Czech partisans who parachuted in from England. *

Reinhard Heydrich, architect of the Final Solution.


* SS - Abbreviation usually written with two lightning symbols for Schutzstaffel ( Defense Protective Units ). Originally organized as Hitler's personal bodyguard, the SS was transformed into a giant organization by Heinrich Himmler. Although various SS units fought on the battlefield, the organization is best known for carrying out the destruction of European Jewry.

* Einsatzgruppen - Battalion-sized, mobile killing units of the Security Police and SS Security Service that followed the German armies into the Soviet Union in June 1941. These units were supported by units of the uniformed German Order Police and auxiliaries of volunteers ( Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian ). Their victims, primarily Jews, were executed by shooting and were buried in mass graves from which they were later exhumed and burned. At least a million Jews were killed in this manner. There were four Einsatzgruppen ( A, B, C, D ) which were subdivided into company-sized Einsatzkommandos.

* Wannsee Conference - ( January 20, 1942 ) Lake near Berlin where the Wannsee Conference was held to discuss and coordinate the "Final Solution." It was attended by many high-ranking Nazis, including Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann.

Rabbi Yechiel Teitelbaum, wearing his tallit and tefillin (prayer shawl and phylacteries). He was, along with his two granddaughters, murdered at the Rzeszow ghetto. Photo from USHMM Archives.


* "Final Solution" - The cover name for the plan to destroy the Jews of Europe - the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question." Beginning in December 1941, Jews were rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the East. The program was deceptively disguised as "resettlement in the East."

* Lidice - Czech mining village ( population near 700 ). In reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazis "liquidated" the village in 1942. They shot the men, deported the women and children to concentration camps, razed the village to the ground, and struck its name from the maps. After the second World War, a new village was built near the site of the old Lidice, which is now a national park and memorial.