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Canaris 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 Fox" was 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 burning.

 



Reinhard Heydrich


The 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 treatment.

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.

 

Louis Bülow - www.folkeeje.dk -  ©2010-12
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