3 – Himmler Cancelled Their Initial Appointment but Heydrich Showed Up Anyway
Heydrich refused to take any job he deemed ‘beneath him’ and yearned to take up a role that placed him back in uniform. Von Osten was a member of the Nazi Party and suggested that he look for employment with the group. In 1931, Heinrich Himmler was setting up a counterintelligence division of the SS and agreed to interview Heydrich upon a recommendation from Karl von Eberstein who was a friend of von Osten’s.
Himmler canceled the meeting at the last minute, but Heydrich’s fiancée would not take no for an answer and ignored the message. She packed Heydrich’s suitcase and sent him to Munich. He met Eberstein at the railway station and was brought directly to Himmler who agreed to take the meeting after all. Himmler asked the interviewee to provide him with some ideas on how he would develop the intelligence service. Heydrich drew upon his love of detective and spy novels and, despite his lack of real-world experience in the field, he deeply impressed Himmler who reportedly hired him on the spot.
By the standards of the time, the monthly salary of 180 Reichsmarks (equivalent to $40 at the time) was low, but Heydrich accepted because von Osten’s family supported the party, the nature of the role appealed to him, and perhaps he realized that the group was on an upward curve. Within a year, his monthly salary increased to 290 Reichsmarks, and by 1938, he earned over 1,400 Reichsmarks a month which was a very high wage compared to the average.
Heydrich did not waste any time acclimating to his new role which he began on August 1, 1931. His office was at the Nazi Party HQ in Munich called Brown House. Within a few months, he had created a list of informants and spies. Heydrich loved gossip and kept folders of rumors and details of the sexual activities and private lives of leading Nazis with a view to using the information for blackmail purposes.