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Publisher's Summary

Reinhard Heydrich is widely recognized as one of the great iconic villains of the 20th century, an appalling figure even within the context of the Nazi leadership. Chief of the Nazi Criminal Police, the SS Security Service, and the Gestapo, ruthless overlord of Nazi-occupied Bohemia and Moravia, and leading planner of the "Final Solution," Heydrich played a central role in Hitler's Germany. He shouldered a major share of responsibility for some of the worst Nazi atrocities, and up to his assassination in Prague in 1942, he was widely seen as one of the most dangerous men in Nazi Germany.

Yet Heydrich has received remarkably modest attention in the extensive literature of the Third Reich. Robert Gerwarth weaves together little-known stories of Heydrich's private life with his deeds as head of the Nazi Reich Security Main Office. Fully exploring Heydrich's progression from a privileged middle-class youth to a rapacious mass murderer, Gerwarth sheds new light on the complexity of Heydrich's adult character, his motivations, the incremental steps that led to unimaginable atrocities, and the consequences of his murderous efforts toward recreating the entire ethnic makeup of Europe.

©2011 Robert Gerwarth (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This admirable biography makes plausible what actually happened and makes human what we might prefer to dismiss as monstrous." ( The Wall Street Journal)

What listeners say about Hitler's Hangman

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Essential reading

Drawing on more recent scholarship than earlier accounts detailing the life and crimes of Reinhard Heydrich, this book is all the more terrifying a read. Heydrich has often been portrayed as arriving of arriving as Hitler's hang man fully formed. This excellent work shows the making of the monster, and should be read by anyone with a serious interest in where the very worst of Hitler's henchmen came from.

9 people found this helpful

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Great book, horribly read!

This is one of the best biographies of Heydrich to date. In the prologue, Gerwarth says he wishes to remain neutral on his subject and let the Heydrich speak for himself with his own words and writings. Herein lies the problem. The narrator takes it upon himself to “voice” Heydrich with a prissy, authoritarian tone that grates to the bone!! You get 16 hours of this! It undermines the author’s intent towards his subject. Can’t recommend the narrator but the book is really great. Proceed at your own risk

7 people found this helpful

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Pure evil

The book gives you a good look into the nazi death machine. The cold blooded way they decided who lived and who died like they were solving a business problem is just chilling. Heydrich was a true believer and encouraged his people to be just as radical as he was. The book also covers his assassination and the repercussions.

7 people found this helpful

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A different perspective on the Third Reich

This is an important book for anyone interested in WWII. Robert Gerwarth is a master story-teller, skillfully documenting Heydrich's life and the influences on his development and thinking from his birth to his death. Having the lesser-known Nazi, Heydrich, as the central figure in the story brings a different perspective to this fateful era of modern history. The atrocities committed in the aftermath of Heydrich's death bring this necessarily grim book to its all-too-predictable terrible conclusion. To complement the master story-teller, Napoleon Ryan is the master narrator - perfect voice for the topic: accent, tone, pauses, voices spot-on, and he is proficient with German pronunciations (at least to my non-German ear). Few things ruin a good book so much as mangled attempts at foreign words.

14 people found this helpful

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The hangman and the Jewish question

The book covered a great deal of the Jewish question but except for Himmler no one was more involved with said question. The author did cover his early years in the military but I would have liked more on his childhood.
This was a good biography and well worth the time the reader was excellent.

2 people found this helpful

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insight to an ss monster

a well thought out historical account; enjoyed the content and my first experience with the audible app and player- can no longer handle a 400 page read but the audio version put me back on track and allowed me to enjoy or rather appreciate a great non fiction masterpiece.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent work

I found Gerwarths’ work to be thoroughly compelling, of historical importance, coupled with great narration

1 person found this helpful

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Book=Amazing. Reader=Comically Bad

The book exceeded my expectations, but I almost had to stop and read it the old school way, from ink on paper! The reader and the edits in the audio were so poorly done, it was distracting and was possibly a dis-service to the memory of many who died under this man's tyranny. The main characters name is inserted, in about half it's appearances, as an audio clip. So the name does not match the sound of the audio around it and whilst discussing the extermination of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, Heydricks last name pops up in the nararrators voice as if he were speaking of butterflies or flowers. I have never had this experience with an audio book before.

7 people found this helpful

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Even a twisted mind can justify murder.

A detailed account of Germany and lts implementation of the 'Final solution '. A lot of background information on the reasoning or need to eliminate the Jewish people.

4 people found this helpful

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Superb

This book is one of the best biographies I’ve ever listened to and I highly recommend it.Although many of the historical facts are already known to many who have knowledge of WW2, the author masterfully interweaves these facts together with one person’s heinous life. At times I had to pause in listening because it was upsetting. I still do not understand how a young man can change from what seems to be the average young adult into a person who played a major role in the development of the SS, the Einsattsgrupen, and the “solution” to the Jewish question.

I chose this book because I recently listed to two books about Adolph Eichmann and Reinhard Heydrich was Eichmann’s superior. With this book, I got a fuller understanding of Eichmann’s horrendous role in WW2.

As far as the narration that many listeners find annoying, I like this narrator. The emphasis on quoted material is good because Heydrich did not leave any diaries or journals. The quoted material was very necessary to character development. And the narrator does an excellent job at German pronunciation unlike many other narrators.

Assassination was the perfect end to Heydrich’s life.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • john
  • 11-11-16

Trying subject matter

A difficult listen, very dark, but mesmerizing and full of detail.

However, the narration is superb.

6 people found this helpful

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  • C. Hamilton-welsh
  • 08-26-17

overall good

interesting book but spoiled for me by what was either poor editing or very odd intersections of another voice - sometimes words were said by 2 narrators in the same sentence. not sure if I would try to listen again.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 09-19-19

Perfectly delivered

Unlike other reviewers, I enjoyed the insertions of different recordings for the direct speech. Flawless pronunciation.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Macksoft
  • 06-10-18

Very interesting

A well researched insight into one of Hitler's lesser known key lieutenants. I recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Phillip Lawrence
  • 01-02-18

Interesting, but nothing new

Overall, this was an interesting listen
However, I felt the listen was off-putting due to the narration.
The narrator insisted on saying foreign words in an accent (mainly German), which only served to sound like a demented sat-Nav voice blurting out a word incorrectly. Also, when using a voice, it only served to come over more camp than C-3PO.
Truly, there was no need for these inflections and would have been a more enjoyable experience if they had been spoken without both of these ‘performance’ issues

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jo B
  • 04-20-17

Fascinating, You Won't Want to Stop

What made the experience of listening to Hitler's Hangman the most enjoyable?

Such a well read and written book, the narrator's voice is perfect for this history lesson which gripped me from page one. A mass of background information makes you learn so much about Heydrich whom I had barely heard of before. His upbringing, his teenage years, his life as a son, man, husband, father and killer. How did he turn into such a horrific monster, or was he always one? I will listen to this again, brilliant.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Hitler's Hangman?

Too many to mention

What does Napoleon Ryan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

His lilt is perfect for the book, the prounounciation of the German, Czech, Polish and Russian words/names really made the whole read authentic. No American twang to desensitise or glamorise. I was really impressed.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definitely

Any additional comments?

I'll be looking up some more Napoleon Ryan narrations and Robert Gewarth books!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Charlie
  • 11-15-16

robot narrator

Great book but it sounds like it is being narrated by a computer. Fascinating insight into the workings of the third reich.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 07-07-21

Portrait of a monster

Another great audio book from a fine author, I've now completed all 3x titles from the author on different topics. This biography brought me closer to the facts on the holocaust, the tragic steps along the road and its strange logic, and the professional drive of the man behind it.

It's the personal story of a middle class musical family producing a monster. Was he a monster or merely a product of the times? As head of a household during the great depression turning to Nazism for a job and for his wife, we follow his rising star within the SS, becoming overlord of Eastern Europe, implementing increasingly radical racist policies. The book contains lots of exciting detail on his eventual assassination.

Listeners interested in military intelligence should enjoy this audio book which dives into the detail on the organisation power struggles, the gestapo vs military police etc, the unstable power balance between these heinous leaders.

I especially loved the perspective of the night of the long knives being told from a personal perspective of someone at the heart of Nazi counter intelligence.

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  • Adrian Chan-Wyles Ph.D
  • 11-01-20

A Shocking Exposure of Nazi German Atrocity!

This is an excellent and logical narrative that manages to place the biography of a high-ranking and key Nazi Official within the broader context of Nazi military history - including the brutal annexing of Poland and the barbaric invasion of the USSR. The author makes one error by quoting anti-Soviet propaganda probably from Goebbels, Trotsky or eventually the US - which ahistorically suggests that the USSR carried out pogroms against Jews in Lithuania (the author 'forgets' that the USSR was an ally of the US and UK). There is no objective or reliable evidence to support this. In fact, the exact opposite is true - ALL ethnic and religious groups were 'protected' by the Red Army that even had Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist units! Indeed, it is laughable to suggest that the Red Army hurt Jews as there would have been no Jewish people left in Russia for the Nazi Germans to murder when Hitler Invaded in 1941! Furthermore, the Soviet NKVD possessed its own dedicated army which fought fascism in occupied areas. This saved the lives of Red Army men and women who had already fought bravely to liberate areas. This action also protected ordinary Soviet citizens from violence and terrorism. From 1945-1947 - the NKVD army fought a neo-Nazi insurgency in the Ukraine which saw Ukrainian fascists (encouraged by the Vatican) resist the the USSR whilst commanded by left behind volunteer German Officers. When this brutal fight was over - it was discovered that these Ukrainian fascists were using arms provided by the US and UK!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dave
  • 08-18-19

Distubingly good read

a very well written & read book. Disturbing subject matter but i really enjoyed it

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  • Brenton
  • 04-08-17

A chilling insite into a ambitious monster

Where does Hitler's Hangman rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

For those interested in this subject the book is very good

Who was your favorite character and why?

Heydrich given the book was about his life story

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The assassination scene when one of the assins gun jams while standing in front of the car

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Ambition by nature

Any additional comments?

No

2 people found this helpful