managed to balance a personal "friendship" with Reinhard
Heydrich, head of the SD and second only to Heinrich Himmler in the Nazi SS organization.
They had served in the navy together, where the Admiral had been
Heydrich's commanding officer, and now they were living next to each
other, having dinners and playing croquet. According to the author Heinz
Höhne Heydrich and Canaris' wife Erika resumed the music-making that
had formed a link between them in the old days at Kiel and Heydrichs and
the Canaris family met
nearly every week.
Heydrich was one of Hitler's most ruthless Nazis and the
principle planner of the Final Solution - there was even talk of his one
day succeeding Hitler. But the "friendship" with Canaris did
not prevent Heydrich from regarding him as a dangerous competitor. He
was watching Canaris' activities with suspicion and he never tired of
warning his immediate subordinates against the machinations of
"that Levantine" and repeatedly complained that "the Old
always "snooping and nosing around." By 1942 the position of
Canaris was no longer secure.
But Canaris had eyes and ears everywhere, and he still had a file full
of damaging evidence against Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler - some sort
of incriminating evidence that made him afraid to cross the Admiral. He
went on protecting Canaris, who had another reprieve.
Himmler and Heydrich
At a villa on the shores of a suburban Berlin lake called the Wannsee,
mid-level bureaucrats from a number of Nazi agencies assembled January
20, 1942, at the request of Heydrich. Heydrich and Himmler were in the process of assuming leadership in the Final
Solution of the Jewish Question, i.e., the murder of Europe's
Jews by the Nazis.
This meeting was a part of that process, as bureaucratic coordination
would be required for the massive efforts to be undertaken throughout
Europe to kill the 11,000,000 Jews described in the document. The Nazis
ultimately succeeded in killing six million of Europe's Jews.
By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon-B began at Auschwitz in
occupied Poland, where extermination was conducted on an industrial
scale with some estimates running as high as three million persons
eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and
ever-ambitious Heydrich had achieved favored status with Hitler and was
appointed Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia in former
Czechoslovakia and set up headquarters in Prague.
In 1942 Heydrich was assassinated in Prague and the Nazis destroyed an
innocent Czech village - Lidice - to avenge the assassination. On June
9, just five days after Heydrich's death, ten truckloads of the Security
Police came and quickly surrounded the village. No one was allowed to
leave - a 12 year old boy and a peasant woman were shot as they tried to
escape. All the men and boys over 16 years old, 172 in all, were rounded
up and locked in a barn. They were shot the next day in groups of ten,
which lasted from dawn until 4 in the afternoon.
The women as a whole fared better than the men, but still faced cruel
situations. Seven of the women were taken to Prague where they were
shot. The rest, numbering 195, were sent to the Ravensbrück KZ camp in
Germany. 49 of the women died - 7 by gassing, and the rest from cruel
The children, 90 in all, were taken to a KZ camp at Gneisenau. They were
selected according to the "racial experts" and distributed to
German people with new German names to be raised as their own. Lidice was completely destroyed - it was burned, the remains
dynamited, and bulldozed so that no structure was left standing.
Lidice became a symbol of Nazi barbarism.