Photo Gallery Reinhard Heydrich -- Monster Born or Made?

As the chair of the Wannsee Conference and head of the Reich Main Security Office, Reinhard Heydrich was the personification of the cruelest aspects of Nazi Germany. But the first scholarly biography of him finds that a combination of shame, love and luck -- rather than purely inherent evil -- set him on the path of waging Nazi terror.
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Gerwarth doesn't believe that Heydrich -- this man who inspired such fear among his subordinates that they followed his every order without question -- was born what Swiss diplomat Carl J. Burckhardt called a "young, evil god of death." He also feels this view was popular in postwar Germany because it made it easier for others to shift their own guilt onto the conveniently dead Heydrich. Here, Heydrich (right) is seen with Heinrich Himmler, the man who gave Heydrich his first job within the Nazi's intelligence apparatus.

Foto: AP
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After being kicked out of the Navy for "conduct unbecoming an officer," Heydrich was encouraged to join the Nazi Party by his fiancée, her parents and his own mother. Once he was hired by Himmler, Heydrich's rise to power was meteoric. As the head of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), the body charged with fighting all "enemies of the Reich" within and outside German borders, Heydrich chaired the meeting of 15 high-ranking Nazis at this villa in the Wannsee district of Berlin on Jan. 20, 1942. During the so-called "Wannsee Conference," the officials discussed and planned the Holocaust, which would claim approximately 6 million lives.

Foto: © Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters
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At the same time, another one of Heydrich's official positions was that of deputy protector of Bohemia and Moravia, two regions in today's Czech Republic, where he ruled with an iron fist. In the weeks after he arrived there in 1941, Heydrich ordered more than 400 people killed because he needed his "quiet space." Here, Heydrich (center) is seen speaking with Helmut Knochen (right), the chief of police in occupied France, in Paris in June 1942.

Foto: AP
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