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Mario R Dederichs.Heydrich: The Face of Evil.

Mario R Dederichs. Heydrich: The face of evil, Greenhill Books, 2006. ISBN 1-85367-686-1. Hard cover with dust jacket, 240 pages, 16 x 24 cm, UK19.95 [pounds sterling] plus p&p.

This work is a remarkable biography that gives great insight into the family background, many talents, ambitions, ruthlessness and well-deserved demise of Hitler's chief thug, whom the Fuhrer described as "the man with an iron heart."

As one concludes the reading of this biography, one is left with the overwhelming notion that if only the young Reinhardt Heydrich had spent less of his time on music, athletics and fencing and more on studies of the Bible he would have found therein that the Jewish people were the apple of God's eye, that salvation was of the Jews and that the Ten Commandments, inter alia, forbade murder. It is curious to note that both Hitler and Heydrich had this mortal dread of Jewish ancestors. In the study of dictators and mass murderers right up to the present, we are reminded that it doesn't necessarily take two to make an argument--an idea in the mind of one is enough, and what twisted minds Heydrich and his working associates had.

Being born in 1904 in the city of Halle (the birthplace also of Handel) Heydrich was too young to participate in WW1, but after Germany's defeat, he, like many others, chose to believe in the "stabbed in the back" theory, and participated in various Freikorps activities before joining the Reichsmarine in 1922.

In his formative years in the Reichsmarine he came under the influence of Willhelm Canaris, Just one of the many famous, or infamous, people who feature in this tale. Heydrich's dismissal from the Reichsmarine in 1931 is covered convincingly in some detail, and is probably the last word on a confused subject.

Heydrich's recruitment and rise to immense power under Himmler and Hitler is also well documented, as is the planning from 1938 to exterminate Jews and other "undesirables." Even before the infamous Wannsee Conference on 20th January 1942, the decisions about the "Jewish question" and the "final solution" had already been made and mass murders had taken place in Germany and occupied lands. Eichmann's account of this conference makes fascination reading.

Even more fascinating is the account of Heydrich in Bohemia and Moravia as Reichs-Protecktor. At his civic and religious installation he, to the horror of Czech officials, did a Napoleon-like act and crowned himself with the fabled crown of King Wenceslaus. Legend had it that anyone who did so would be dead within a year and his eldest son would die thereafter. And so it happened: Heydrich killed by Czech partisans, his son killed in a traffic accident. The German reprisals for the assassination are well covered.

The author provides readers with two helpful appendices, one being a time line of Nazi genocide, the other being brief but informative biographical notes on Herdrich's chief associates in crimes against humanity. The attitudes of Heydrich's wife and descendants are also interesting, and make the reader wonder if the human species at this stage of history ever learns anything from history.

In short, this book is not about a pleasant subject, but is essential brain food for anyone trying to fathom the Nazi mindset.
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Author:Wigzell, Syd
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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