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The Killing of SS Obergruppenführer…

The Killing of SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich (1989)

by Callum A. MacDonald

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5456. The Killing of SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich, by Callum MacDonald (read 30 Mar 2017) This is a 1989 book by a British historian which carefully sets out all the information known about the elaborate aim to assassinate the evil Nazi who was running Czechoslovakia. The account begins with the effort to create the new state in 1918, traces the events through Munich and the takeover by he Nazis in 1939, and also tells the life of Heydrich before he was named the top Nazi to run the country. The decision to try to kill Heydrich was taken and Czechoslovakians in England were trained and parachuted into Czechoslovakia in December 1941. Not till June 1942 did they manage to wound and kill Heydrich. The book tells of the Nazi effort to apprehend the killers and the hideous revenge inflicted on the country --far more than the destruction of Lidice--and the result of the terror which the Nazis inflicted on the nation. I found the book masterfully done and it told all that anyone could want to know about the subject. It is not pleasant reading, of course, since there is not much triumph for the good guys. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Mar 31, 2017 |
Buried to the strains of Siegfried's Death March, more than a few people were quite relieved at the death of this hated man. Heydrich was a man feared by just about everyone, including his fellow Nazis. Much like J. Edgar Hoover, he was known to keep a dossier on everyone, and as head of SS intelligence and the secret police was well-placed to use it to his advantage. Killed by a couple of Czechs, the author documents the murder had less to do with British intelligence than Czech resistance and rooted in the political needs of the Czech president in exile.

Born into a family that suffered during the depression following World War I, Heydrich began his rise through the Navy where he excelled in languages and seemed to fit right in although he was bullied for his high voice and introverted ways. He was kicked out of the Navy thanks to an incident with a well-connected woman (he was a notorious womaniser), so he joined the ranks of Himmler's SicherheitsDienst (SD) the intelligence section of the SS. It was a perfect match and his rise was meteoric.

Heydrich had been sent to Prague to boost armaments production by the Czechs. The previous Reichs Protector, Neurath, was relieved of his duties in late 1941. Heydrich was assassinated barely 8 months later. The resistance had originally intended to use assault weapons, but they jammed so they threw a grenade which wounded Heydrich severely and he died of sepsis..

Considered exceptionally intelligent, hard-working, ambitious and totally amoral, Heydrich had achieved his rise to the top of the SS by mercilessly crushing his enemies and by creating the “Final Solution” for Hitler’s plan to destroy all Jews. By putting him in charge of Bohemia and Moravia the Czechs would soon learn what it meant to live under a master of suppression. Heydrich’s plan was to use the “carrot and stick” approach, increasing food supplies to reduce the power of the resistance on the one hand, and on the other dealing ruthlessly with any opposition.

Both sides, as is so common, were driven by political needs. Heydrich wanted to combat the rising power of Martin Bormann, and to do so he needed to successfully convert the Protectorate into an SS state thus accruing more power to the SS. Benes needed to prove that the Czech people opposed the Nazis, who, he suspected were still seen by many in Britain as a bulwark against Russian imperialism and power. That many ordinary people got caught in the political crossfire bothered few except perhaps the families of those killed.

Those on the ground in Czechoslovakia in the resistance, when they heard about the proposed assassination were horrified and argued with London that it would have disastrous consequences for the resistance and thousands of innocent people who would be swept up and killed as reprisal with little to show for it. Anton Heidrich (more irony), a high ranking resistance officer, sent a message to London requesting the operation be called off, although the message they received did include a note at the end saying if the assassination was deemed absolutely necessary to the national interest they were willing to make the sacrifice (other people’s lives are always easy to sacrifice.)

It’s hardly a spoiler to reveal that Heydrich died following an almost bungled assassination. The reprisals that followed killed many innocent people. The book does a terrific job at portraying the multiple agendas of all those involved and the details of the assorted plots. ( )
1 vote ecw0647 | Jan 19, 2017 |
A good, straightforward, account of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, its background and, to some extent, its ramifications. Definitely told from the British, and not Russian, perspective. It also contains Heydrich's life story as background. You won't get to know the man, but you will know _about_ him. ( )
  jimcintosh | May 11, 2016 |
A very interesting book. Some readers may be disappointed that it spends a large portion of he book examining the resistance in Czechoslovakia and not just the operation to kill a psychopathic Nazi.

MacDonald explodes some of the myths about British intelligence ans the resistance movement.

Drags in spots, but an important book on WW2. ( )
  yeremenko | Oct 9, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0029195616, Hardcover)

This suspenseful drama tells how two Czech resistance fighters, aided by the British Secret Service, carried out the only successful assassination of a high ranking Nazi official during World War II.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:58 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

It has been said that if responsibility for the Nazi camps can be laid at the feet of any one man, that man is Reinhard Heydrich. This book describes "Operation Anthropoid" - the Czech plan to assassinate Heydrich in 1942. Retribution for his violent death included several thousand executions and two villages being razed to the ground. Based on previously untouched archive material and interviews with surviving members of SOE and Czech military intelligence, this is an account of the motives for killing Heydrich, the course of the plan to execute him and how his killers were tracked down.… (more)

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