Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich

Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich

by Robert Gerwarth


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A chilling biography of the head of Nazi Germany’s terror apparatus, a key player in the Third Reich whose full story has never before been told

Reinhard Heydrich is widely recognized as one of the great iconic villains of the twentieth century, an appalling figure even within the context of the Nazi leadership. Chief of the Nazi Criminal Police, the SS Security Service, and the Gestapo, ruthless overlord of Nazi-occupied Bohemia and Moravia, and leading planner of the "Final Solution," Heydrich played a central role in Hitler's Germany. He shouldered a major share of responsibility for some of the worst Nazi atrocities, and up to his assassination in Prague in 1942, he was widely seen as one of the most dangerous men in Nazi Germany. Yet Heydrich has received remarkably modest attention in the extensive literature of the Third Reich.

Robert Gerwarth weaves together little-known stories of Heydrich's private life with his deeds as head of the Nazi Reich Security Main Office. Fully exploring Heydrich's progression from a privileged middle-class youth to a rapacious mass murderer, Gerwarth sheds new light on the complexity of Heydrich's adult character, his motivations, the incremental steps that led to unimaginable atrocities, and the consequences of his murderous efforts toward re-creating the entire ethnic makeup of Europe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300187724
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 10/16/2012
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 136,255
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Robert Gerwarth is professor of modern history at University College Dublin and director of UCD’s Centre for War Studies.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Maps viii

Preface x

Introduction xiii

I Death in Prague 1

II Young Reinhard 14

III Becoming Heydrich 50

IV Fighting the Enemies of the Reich 84

V Rehearsals for War 116

VI Experiments with Mass Murder 141

VII At War with the World 173

VIII Reich Protector 218

IX Legacies of Destruction 278

Notes 295

Bibliography 352

Index 383

What People are Saying About This

Richard Bosworth

'Evil is a word used too lightly in our times and in historical review. Yet, in his splendid biography of Heydrich, Robert Gerwarth allows us to see what evil means in its subtlety and complexity, its seeming reasonableness on occasion, its starkness and its terror. Reading Hitler's Hangman makes plain why, in our eternal wrestling with the question where by the grace of God might we be going, historical reckoning, even for the most appalling of war criminals, is a more satisfactory and richer approach than is legal prosecution.' - R.J.B. Bosworth, author of Mussolini

Ian Kershaw

'Drawing on profound research, Robert Gerwarth presents a penetrating, authoritative analysis of the ruthless personality and murderous career of the man who directed the Third Reich's police state and became a driving-force in the programme to exterminate Europe's Jews.' - Ian Kershaw, author of Hitler

Tim Kirk

An excellent book on a major figure in the Nazi dictatorship, its secret police and the Holocaust. Gerwarth’s illumination of the development of the security complex under Heydrich, his actions in the Protectorate, and especially the war in the East, is of real value.’ - Tim Kirk, author of Nazi Germany

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