Berlin, Germany · September 27, 1937

On this date in 1937 the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Reich Security Main Office (known by its acronym RSHA), was created by Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler through the merger of the SS (Schutzstaffel) intelligence service, the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), or Security Service, and the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo), or Security Police. The SiPo comprised the notorious Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo, or Secret State Police) and the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo, Criminal Police). The first RSHA chief was SiPo head SS-Obergruppenfuehrer (General) Reinhard Heydrich. It was the nefarious Heydrich who chaired the January 1942 Wannsee Conference outside Berlin, which drew up plans for the elimination of Jewry in Nazi-occupied Europe. And it was the Heydrich’s RSHA that constructed the concepts and operated the administrative apparatus that carried out the Holocaust. In London, the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Czechoslovak government-in-exile drew up a death warrant for Heydrich, then Acting Reich Protector of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, that part of Czechoslovakia incorporated into the Reich in March 1939. On May 27, 1942, Operation Anthropoid succeeded in mortally wounding Heydrich, known locally as the “Butcher of Prague.” Eventually the equally intimidating, scar-faced, and volatile-tempered Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner succeeded to the office, and he headed the RSHA until his capture by a U.S. patrol on May 12, 1945. Tried by the Allies at Nuremberg, Kaltenbrunner was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and executed by hanging on October 16, 1946.