4 -Rumors of Jewish Ancestry Led to a Near Miss but Heydrich Then Rapidly Rose Through the Ranks
Heydrich enjoyed a fast rise through the ranks of the Nazi Party as the SS Security Service was a success. He developed vast dossiers on individuals or groups that apparently posed a threat to Hitler and conducted internal investigations to find out everything he could on Nazi officers. Himmler rewarded Heydrich’s diligence by promoting him to SS Major in December 1931. By July 1932, he was an SS Colonel with solo control of the Security Service, and in March 1933, he became SS Brigadier General. It was an astonishingly rapid ascent as Heydrich hadn’t yet reached his 30th birthday.
However, it all nearly fell apart as he was continually plagued by rumors of his Jewish ancestry on his father’s side of the family. His grandmother on his father’s side was married for a second time to a man with a Jewish sounding name. His enemies took advantage by spreading the rumors. Wilhelm Canaris claimed he had documentation that proved Heydrich had Jewish heritage but never produced it.
At one point, Himmler considered kicking him out of the party. Hitler was impressed by Heydrich and told Himmler that it was best to keep the services of “a highly gifted and dangerous young man” who would be “eternally grateful” for being retained and “would obey blindly.”
Nonetheless, Heydrich was haunted by the constant rumors and consequently developed a hatred of Jews. He was also a deeply insecure person prone to bouts of self-loathing. On one occasion after returning home drunk, he saw his reflection in the mirror, shot it twice and uttered the phrase “filthy Jew.” Whatever anger he had towards himself, Heydrich took it out on others in the most brutal fashion.