Living in the Nazi Utopia
In January 1933 the Nazi Party, through a series of deals with conservative politicians, came to power. The machinations and back room dealings had required little SS involvement during the latter part of 1932, although Himmler was party to some of the discussions in January.In February 1933 Heydrich was sent as a delegate to the International Disarmament conference in Geneva, with Freidrich-Wilhem Kruger, an SA member. There he behaved in such an unprofessional manner that the German Ambassador to the conference, Nadolny, filed a complaint.
On his return Himmler put Heydrich in charge of investigating Thomas Mann, one of Germany’s premier authors. Mann left Germany for the relative safety of Switzerland the same month[i]. Safely abroad Mann suggested that Heydrich should be committed to the concentration camp at Dachau, which had passed into SS control in April, as the head of an
‘Un-German, pro-Marxist, pro-Jewish and anti-Nationalist movement.’[ii]The killings of Jews at Dachau began the very next day after control passed to the SS.
The Machtergreifung[iii] did not change Lina’s life except that her husband was seconded to Berlin by Himmler. It was not until 5th March that Heydrich returned to Munich with the news of their move to Berlin, where they were to have a villa in Charlottenberg; Heydrich was setting up an SD central HQ.That move never happened as on 9th March 1933 the Nazis took control of the Bavarian government and Himmler was appointed provisional Police President of Bavaria. The post was then handed to another Nazi old fighter and the following week Himmler was given control of the Bavarian political police. This was the first appointment in his rise to take over control of all the security apparatus in the Nazi state.
Over the next few months Himmler, with Heydrich in his wake collected control of the political police in all the Lander, until only one prize remained; the Prussian Gestapo, created and lovingly cherished by Hermann Goring, second only to Hitler in power.On 17th June 1933 Lina gave birth to her first child Klaus; his Godfathers were Ernst Rohm; head of the SA and Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS.
Himmler had always resented the subordination of his SS (and to a very large degree the SS known to history was his creation) to the SA. Immediately prior to Rohm’s return to Germany Himmler had announced the separation of the SS from the SA; an announcement that was contradicted by Rohm in an SA order in January 1931 This humiliation was swallowed by Himmler, but probably never forgiven.Rohm’s attempted to ignore Hitler’s continued messages in July and August 1933 that there was to be no more talk of a ‘second revolution’[iv] following the ‘Nazification’ of government and social groupings and clubs.
'This army of the political soldiers of the German revolution has no wish to take the place of our Army or to enter into competition with it[v]……….I will suppress every attempt to disturb the existing order as ruthlessly as I will deal with the so-called second revolution.'[vi]Rohm had made enemies on the way to power, a homosexual in a party where homosexuals were seen as degenerate, and on 1st December 1933, when he was made Minister without Portfolio[vii], the most potent of his enemies was drawn into Himmler and Heydrich’s orbit.
Hitler and Goering with Goebbels and Hess
Hermann Goering schemed with Himmler and Heydrich for months before Hitler forced Goering to give up one of his most treasured creations; the Prussian Gestapo. He did not entirely relinquish his hold over it, retaining oversight for several months. On 20th April 1934 Himmler was given de facto control and made Heydrich chief of the Gestapo. A newspaper comment of the time showed the way the wind was blowing
‘The nomination of the Reichsfuhrer-SS to replace Diels[viii]………..doubtlessly indicates a sharper course for the Gestapo, becoming ever more political.’[ix]Throughout the first half of 1934 Goering and Himmler’s men were searching for evidence to show that Rohm was planning to overthrow Hitler. There was plenty of evidence of his ‘degeneracy’ of which Hitler was well aware. When it suited him Hitler was extremely broadminded[x]; it was the threat of the second revolution that he feared. By the end of June Goering and Himmler seem to have persuaded him to act and on the 30th June the SA was emasculated; Rohm and many of its leaders killed then and on the days following.
On 20th July Himmler was given his reward for the actions of his men; the SS was made directly responsible to Hitler. By now the SS was not only enlarging its concentration camp empire and the security side overseen by Heydrich. The SS also provided protection for Hitler under the leadership of Sepp Dietrich, another altekampfer[xi]. Expansion of this side of the SS was ultimately to lead to the Waffen SS; Himmler’s answer to the Wehrmacht.
The SS TriumphantThe takeover of the Gestapo by the SS meant a move for Himmler[xii] and Heydrich family to Berlin. Lina and Reinhard’s second child Heider was born on 23rd December 1934 and by early the following year Lina and Reinhard played host to Himmler at a ceremony on Fehmarn for the laying of the foundations for their new holiday home. Heydrich had obtained a mortgage of 35,000 Reichsmarks.
In January 1935 a new head of the Abwehr[xiii] took over his post, Admiral Canaris. His predecessor had been harried out of his post by a litany of complaints from Heydrich and Himmler and it is possible that Canaris, with whom Heydrich was on friendly terms, was selected to propitiate the rising stars on the security front.Himmler and Heydrich were opposites attracting and repelling each other at the same time. Heydrich made fun of Himmler’s fascination with the occult and myths and legends (although not to his face) and Himmler decried Heydrich’s ‘cold rational censoriousness.’ He would however allow no other criticism of Heydrich save from himself or Hitler. When his sister-in-law took it upon herself to decry Heydrich’s abilities in the spring of 1936; an incensed Himmler wrote to her, forbidding her to enter SS property;
‘I hear you have been to our offices again making tactless and pig-stupid remarks……in future you will refrain from making any remarks about SS affairs and personalities.’[xiv]The relationship between Lina and Marga Himmler descended into acrimony that year as did Lina’s relationship with her husband’s boss. At the beginning of 1936 Lina stopped attending Marga’s SS wives coffee afternoon and set up opposition tea afternoons; at one of which she called the Reichsfuhrer’s wife an old goat.
This did not go down well, anymore than her crude comments about the size of Frau Himmler’s underwear. A lonely Marga Himmler had taken to comfort eating in the very frequent absences of her husband, who now lived full-time in Berlin, while she and Gudrun stayed in Gmund for most of the time. Never an attractive woman at the best of times, Marga was now very fat.
Himmler visits Dachau KZL
On 17th June Himmler was made Chief of the German Police, just a few weeks before the Olympics. The work of infiltrating the police by the SS now began in earnest. Heydrich was given control of all the security police and complete control over the committal to and release from the concentration camps[xv].Sometime in the summer, angered by her treatment of his wife, Himmler arranged for Lina to attend Kiel regatta with the wife of another senior SS officer. While she was away Himmler demanded that Heydrich divorce his wife, apparently screaming at Heydrich
‘You’ve got to get rid of Lina, I insist that you divorce her. How can you expect to control the Gestapo if you can’t control your own wife?’[xvi]On being informed of Himmler’s demand Lina immediately returned from Kiel. The next meeting between Himmler and his subordinate’s wife took place at a grand party organised by Hermann and Emmy Goering, as part of the Olympics celebrations. Emmy paired off Himmler and Lina who argued bitterly about the divorce, until Lina was rescued by her husband. Lina and Himmler did not speak again until May 1942.
BibliographyHitler – Alan Bullock, Penguin Books 1990
Heydrich – Mario R Dederichs, Greenhill Books 2006Heydrich – Gunther Deschner, Orbis Publishing 1981
The Face of the Third Reich – Joachim Fest, Pelican Books 1972The Life and Times of Reinhard Heydrich – GS Graber, Robert Hale 1981
Heinrich Himmler – Peter Longerich, Oxford University Press 2012The Killing of Reinhard Heydrich – Callum MacDonald, Da Capo Press 1998
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – William L Shirer, Bookclub Associates 1985Heydrich – Charles Wighton, Chilton Company 1962
Reinhard Heydrich Volume 1 & 2 – Max Williams. Ulric Publishing 2001 & 2003www.wikipedia.en
[i] From where he was able to speak out against the regime
[ii] Heydrich - Dederichs
[iii] Seizure of power
[iv] Emphasising the social side of National Socialism and fervently supported by many in the SA, now numbering millions, including Rohm
[v] Hitler - Bullock
[vi] The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - Shirer
[vii] He had wanted to be Minister of Defence
[viii] Former head of Gestapo and a relative of Goering’s.
[ix] Heydrich - Dederichs
[x] There are numerous instances of senior Nazis who were part Jewish, or homosexual or ‘suffering’ from other
[xi] Old Fighter
[xii] Frau Himmler and her daughter stayed in Gmund, where the Himmlers had moved after selling their property at Waldtrudering
[xiii] German military intelligence
[xiv] Heydrich - Dederichs
[xv] Eager to extend his power Heydrich attempted to take over control of the concentration camps, worrying Theodor Eicke, who was chief of the camp empire. Heydrich, as in the navy, did not make many friends amongst his peers.
[xvi] Heydrich - Wighton