Note 011
by Joachim C. Fest

11 There is a photocopy of this report at the Institut fur Zeitgeschichte (Institute of Contemporary History) in Munich. See also Charles Wighton, Heydrich, Hitler's Most Evil Henchman. Particulars of Heydrich's antecedents and more on his attempt to blur the details of his background are to be found in Walter Hagen's (i.e. Wilhelm Hotti's) book The Secret Front. Though the facts are sometimes not quite reliable, the book is extremely valuable for Hagen's personal observations. He was evidently the first not simply to look upon Heydrich as a sadistic monster but to show himself at pains to uncover his complex character.

Hagen further reports that Heydrich removed the gravestone of his grandmother Sarah Heydrich from the Leipzig cemetery and had set in its place a new stone with the more harmless inscription 'S. Heydrich'; the bill for this is said to have been in the Berlin Adjutancy until 1945. This is based of course on the supposition that Heydrich's so-called admixture of Jewish blood came not from his mother's but from his father's side. But this is at variance with Heydrich's family tree. According to it the alleged Sarah Heydrich was actually named Ernestine Wilhelmine, nee Lindner. After the early death of her first husband she had married a certain Robert Suss in Meissen. Just as Heydrich's father, as a result of this union, was at times called Bruno Heydrich-Suss, and, since the name had a Jewish ring, was widely known as 'Isidor Suss' among his colleagues, so possibly his mother was called by the name 'Sarah'. In that event this name would of course not have appeared in any circumstances on the gravestone. The author is indebted to the Berlin pianist Helmut Maurer for the information that Bruno Heydrich was called Isidor Suss by his colleagues in Halle. Maurer, who was at that time in Canaris's department as a 'civilian employee of the Wehrmacht High Command', emphasized in a memorandum that he had obtained copies of incriminating documentary evidence about Heydrich's descent as late as 1940 from the Registry Office for Civil Marriages in Halle. But Maurer also says that if his memory serves him rightly, Heydrich had Jewish blood on his father's side. Maurer's statement further contradicts Hagen's claim that Heydrich had early on got rid of all compromising evidence of his antecedents. This discrepancy will probably never be cleared up. In fact, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Heydrich had tried by the means at his disposal to remove all incriminating documents from church and registry offices. See also the result of the research which Robert M. W. Kempner undertook in Nuremberg and recorded in his book Eichmann und Komplizen.

In an inaugural dissertation at the Free University of Berlin in 1967, 'Heydrich und die Anfange des SD und der Gestapo (1931-1935)', Shlomo Aronson disputes that Heydrich was of Jewish descent at all. The evidence and references he presents are not unpersuasive, though the author is not at the moment in a position to verify them.

The meaning and substance of the foregoing attempt at an interpretation of Heydrich's personality, however, are not affected by the dispute about his origins. It is beyond dispute reinforced by Aronson's addition of numerous pieces of evidence, that Heydrich attributed Jewish forebears to himself or at least was by no means certain of his antecedents. According to information from Heydrich's sister-in-law, Frau Gertrud Heydrich, he was teased about his alleged Jewish origin even as a schoolboy, constantly felt a strong need for racial compensation, which found expression in belonging to nationalist anti-Semitic circles, and finally, was considered 'more or less a Jew' in the Navy, as one of his Navy comrades later declared. Evidently assuming that his father was a Jew, Heydrich invented as a defence against his comrades the story that his father had been a foundling who was brought to Draden by gypsies, where, appearing as a musical prodigy, he was subsequently co-opted by the director of the Dresden Conservatory into his family. Even today friends and former comrade of Heydrich are convinced of his Jewish antecedents. For this and other similar information, see Aronson, Heydric.

Historically it is no doubt important to know whether or not proof exists of Heydrich's alleged Jewish descent From a psychological standpoint, on the other hand, for the purpose of interpreting his personality, it is of less importance whether Heydrich did in fact have Jewish forebears or whether he and the people around him assumed that he had, i.e., thought it possible. Felix Kersten's Memoirs have so far stood up to all checks. They leave no doubt that Himmler considered Heydrich's Jewish descent established fact. Even if this was a misconception, it does not alter any consideration or conclusion stated here.

From Chapter 8, Reinhard Heydrich , Part 2 of The Face Of The Third Reich by J.C. Fest -- See further Notes

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