Reinhard Heydrich: Key Dates
March 7, 1904
Reinhard Heydrich is born in Halle an der Saale, in the German state of Saxony.
Heydrich receives his high school diploma.
March 30, 1922
Heydrich enlists in the German navy.
Hedyrich is compelled to resign from the navy after being found to have dishonored the officer corps. Soon afterward he becomes involved with the Nazi Party.
December 26, 1931
Heydrich marries Lina von Osten, whom he met the previous year.
April 1, 1933
Himmler, commander of the Bavarian political police detective force, appoints Heydrich as his deputy.
Nazi party Deputy Chief Rudolf Hess names the SD the sole agency authorized to gather political intelligence inside the Third Reich.
Heydrich takes command of the Gestapo while remaining chief of the SD.
June 26, 1936
Himmler appoints Heydrich chief of the Security Police Main Office (Hauptamt Sicherheitspolizei).
January 24, 1939
Hermann Göring authorizes Heydrich to develop plans for a “solution to the Jewish question” in Germany.
September 1, 1939
Germany invades Poland, starting World War II.
September 27, 1939
Himmler appoints Heydrich to command the RSHA, which formally links the Security Police and SD.
June 22, 1941
Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union. Under orders from Heydrich, the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and SD follow the German army and begin to systematically kill Jews.
July 31, 1941
Göring authorizes Heydrich to coordinate resources of the Reich for a “solution of the Jewish Question” throughout Europe.
Hitler appoints Heydrich Acting Reich Protector for the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (now: Czech Republic).
January 20, 1942
Heydrich convenes the Wannsee Conference, presenting his plans to coordinate a European-wide “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” to key officials from Reich Ministries.
May 27, 1942
Czech parachute agents succeed in rolling a hand grenade under Heydrich's vehicle, as Heydrich travels to the Prague airport in an open vehicle. The blast sends metal shards into Heydrich's back and leg, seriously but not mortally wounding him.
June 4, 1942
Heydrich dies from an infection that set in a few days after the assassination attempt.
June 9, 1942
On the day of Heydrich's state funeral in Berlin, Hitler orders retaliatory measures against the Czech population. Reprisals focus on the town of Lidice and another small Czech village, Ležáky.
Critical Thinking Questions
- Across Europe, the Nazis found countless willing helpers who collaborated or were complicit in their crimes. What motives and pressures led so many individuals to persecute, to murder, or to abandon their fellow human beings?
- What pressures and motivations affected Heydrich as he rose through the ranks to his leadership position? Were they specific to the Nazi worldview, or were they similar to factors which influence others, then and now?