Konrad Heiden

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Konrad Heiden

Konrad Heiden (7 August 1901 – 18 June 1966) was an influential Jewish journalist and historian of the Weimar Republic and Nazi eras, most noted for the first influential biographies of German dictator Adolf Hitler. Often, he wrote under the pseudonym "Klaus Bredow."

Heiden was born in Munich, Germany, on 7 August 1901, and graduated from the University of Munich in 1923. His father was a union organizer, while his mother had a Jewish background. At the university, he organized a republican and democratic student body and became a member of the Social Democratic Party.

Heiden was one of the first critical observers of the rise of National Socialism in Germany after he attended a party's meeting in 1920. He worked for the Frankfurter Zeitung and the Vossischen Zeitung, but became a freelancer in 1932. A year later, he went into exile; first to Saarland, then to Switzerland, then to France, and finally to the United States.

Heiden's book, "The New Inquisition", published jointly by Modern Age Books, Inc. and Alliance Book Corporation, in New York in 1939, with a translation from German by Heinz Norden, includes a series of personal, but necessarily anonymous accounts by German Jews of violent persecution under the Nazi regime accelerating from the time of the fall of 1938 and an eerie and accurate prediction of the Final Solution planned by the Nazi regime:

To drive 600,000 people by robbery into hunger, by hunger into desperation, by desperation into wild outbreaks, and by such outbreaks into the waiting knife -- such is the cooly calculated plan. Mass murder is the goal, a massacre such as history has not seen -- certainly not since Tamerlane and Mithridates. We can only venture guesses as to the technical forms these mass executions are to take.

In his book Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler suggested that the people to be killed be kept "under poisonous gas"; however, he speaks of a mere twelve to fifteen thousand. Doubtless the destructive instinct in the ruling class of the regime has grown in the meantime...

Heiden's book includes some of the earliest firsthand reports popularly read in America from Jews who fell victim to torture and interment at Dachau near Munich, Sachsenhausen or Oranienburg near Berlin, or Buchenwald near Weimar following the mass arrests of 1938.

After the occupation of France in 1940, Heiden managed to escape to the United States via Lisbon. Heiden died in New York City on 18 June 1966, having resided in the United States for 26 years after fleeing from Germany.

Selected works[edit]

  • History of National Socialism (Berlin, 1932)
  • Birth of the Third Reich (Zürich, 1934)
  • Hitler: A Biography (Zürich, appeared in two volumes, 1936–1937)
  • The New Inquisition (New York, 1939)
  • Der Führer – Hitler's Rise to Power (Boston, 1944)

See also[edit]