Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Heydrich - Reinhard / Heinz

Reinhard Heydrich is deemed evil. He was, apparently cultured, spoke a number of languages, was a horseman of some repute, a world class fencer, good violinist, and brave. He also was apparently ruthless, and in seeking to succeed is considered (with good reason) to have been an architect of the holocaust.
He also, according to received wisdom, could discern people's weaknesses and would hold onto information and use it for his own ends.
He piloted an early, and effective form of rendition. Nacht und Nebel, Night and Fog. After realising the abducting with pomp individuals who were either a danger or deemed to be possibly be a danger (sound familiar) created or could dissension, he decided that people would vanish as if in the night into the fog. They unfortunately went into his own system and were killed (7,000 apparently though for obvious reasons the number is not known, small compared to the holocaust, but distressing to those concerned).
But what is evil? Is it amorality.
Heydrich apparently never in determining something would never consider what he was doing was right, this was apparently a waste of time.
Heydrich was an anti-Semite. Many were and are. Does this make someone evil. Many Germans perceived (objectively wrongly, very very wrongly) that they were victims or threatened by Jews or Jewish influences. This has been seen in the context of Germany and Germany's nascent nationalism in the 19th and 20th century.
Germany did not exist as an unified country until recently. And it did not include and does not include all ethnic Germans. Yet they felt German or identified themselves as Germans, but at the time of 1939 they lived in Denmark, Holland, France, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland and Russia to name a few countries.
Out of all this came some very very strange ideas as to the threat to the German identity. Jews could be seen as an easy target, they did not proselytise, and had their own culture.
Ideas included such strange concepts as World Ice Theory, wherein the world was created in Ice, the moon is made of Ice as is the Milky Way. The German (Nordic or Aryan race) were made out of ice and were taken out of the ice by (the very bad) fire... This mad theory was adopted by Himmler and pursued. As was the idea that the Aryan race originated in Tibet.
So if one believes one is a victim, notwithstanding that objectively one is not, and then acts to "protect" (again erroneously) oneself and one's culture, does that make one evil?
So, does the mere pursuit of a goal without consideration of others, no matter the consequences of the actions to the others, or is it something more.
Is evil the enjoyment of creating suffering. Or the enjoyment of the infliction of suffering. Such as was found among the guards at concentration camps, such heinous individuals who set dogs on pregnant women, and tortured people for their own enjoyment. Is this evil?
Is evil inherent?
So is a person evil, in the sense of bad.
Or is it the acts that define a person. Can a person who acts in a destructive way in a mistaken belief (and it could be really mistaken) be evil?
And if the person who committed such acts becomes aware that the reason for doing them was wrong and repents, or resiles from doing them again, does that make him no longer evil, suppose he then commits to helping others, does that make him good?

I know not the answer.

Reinhard Heydrich's brother Heinz was a journalist and publisher on Die Panzerfaust (a german anti tank weapon) which was produced and printed on a train. The paper was for soldiers. He was, I am given to understand, a member of the Nazi party (though I am not sure and do not seek to malign if incorrect). After his brother's death, he was given a packet with papers belonging to RH. He read and burnt them.
He then helped Jews to escape.
He printed and made false identity documents on the Die Panzerfaust printing presses, to help Jews to get to Sweden.
He thought he was going to be discovered in 1944 (two years or so after his brother died), and fearing for his family's life at the hands of the Gestapo (proviously under his brother), he killed himself.
Brave, Courageous and definately good.


Radagast said...

Hmmm. He probably would have avoided the fear of being discovered if he'd been openly critical of "the Final Solution," and reliquished his Nazi Party membership. It's a psychological thing: if one acts in secrecy, it is because one fears being discovered. If one acts openly, it's a terrifying thing, for those one opposes, because it demonstrates quite clearly that one is not afraid. Of anything.


Dieter said...

Hi. I am researching the story of Heinz Heydrich and read your lines very interested. You talk about very important details which not a lot of people know. Can you help me with further sources?