Locked Room Mysteries
December 2021, volume 45, No 12

In his excellent biography, Robert Gerwarth recounts how Reinhard Heydrich secured the job of creating the fearsome security apparatus, the SD, which eventually developed and implemented the Final Solution.
‘…he began to develop an insatiable appetite for crime fiction and spy novels, many of them serialized in newspapers. Detective novels from Britain and the United States—from Sherlock Holmes to Nick Carter and Nat Pinkerton—were a huge success in Germany and they captured the imagination of the young Heydrich. Throughout the war and the 1920s, he maintained his keen interest in the genre and put his expertise to good use when he first met Himmler in 1931. Neither of the two men had any idea of how to set up an espionage service, but Heydrich used the knowledge gained from detective and spy novels to impress Himmler to the extent that he offered him the job of creating an SS intelligence agency: the future SD… Undeterred by the realization that the applicant in front of him lacked any previous qualification for espionage work, Himmler asked Heydrich to sketch out an organizational plan for an SS intelligence agency and gave him twenty minutes to complete the task. Without any previous experience in the field of espionage, Heydrich resorted to the minimal knowledge he had gained from years of reading cheap crime fiction and spy novels, and wrapped his suggestions for a future SS intelligence service in suitably military phraseology.’

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