Lina Heydrich

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Lina Heydrich
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1972-039-24, Reinhard Heydrich mit Frau.jpg
In Prague, the day before the attack that led to his death, Reinhard Heydrich and wife Lina attend a concert of Richard Bruno Heydrich's music in the Waldstein Palace, 26 May 1942.
Born Lina Mathilde von Osten
(1911-06-14)14 June 1911
Fehmarn, Germany
Died 14 August 1985(1985-08-14) (aged 74)
Fehmarn, Germany
Nationality German
Other names Lina Manninen
  • Klaus Heydrich (17 June 1933 – 24 October 1943; traffic accident)
  • Heider Heydrich (born 23 December 1934)
  • Silke Heydrich (born 9 April 1939)
  • Marte Heydrich (born 23 July 1942)

Lina Mathilde Heydrich (née von Osten, later Manninen; 14 June 1911 – 14 August 1985) was the wife of SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, a central figure in Nazi Germany.

The daughter of a minor German aristocrat who worked as a schoolteacher, she met Reinhard Heydrich in December 1930. The two wed on 26 December 1931, and had four children.[1] She later claimed she had known nothing about her husband's war crimes, committed while he was head of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA).[2]

Nazi Party membership[edit]

Lina's brother Jurgen had joined the Nazi Party and was a member of the Sturmabteilung (SA). He spoke highly of the movement to Lina and she attended a Party rally in 1929 where Adolf Hitler spoke. Shortly thereafter, Lina von Osten joined the Nazi Party with party membership number 1,201,380.[3][4]

On 6 December 1930, aged 19, she attended a rowing-club ball in Kiel and met then Naval Lieutenant Heydrich there. They became romantically involved and soon announced their engagement on 18 December 1930.[5]

In 1931, he was charged with "conduct unbecoming to an officer and gentleman" for breaking an engagement promise to a woman he had known for six months before the engagement to Lina. Admiral Erich Raeder dismissed Heydrich from the navy that April. The dismissal devastated Heydrich, who found himself without career prospects.[6]

Lina persuaded Heydrich to look into the recently formed Schutzstaffel (SS) as a career option. During 1931 SS Leader Heinrich Himmler began setting up a counterintelligence division of the SS. Acting on the advice of his associate Karl von Eberstein, a friend of the Heydrich family, Himmler agreed to interview Heydrich, but cancelled their appointment at the last minute.[7] Lina ignored this message, packed Reinhard's suitcase, and sent him to Munich.

Eberstein met Heydrich at the train station and took him to see Himmler. Himmler asked Heydrich to convey his ideas for developing an SS intelligence service. Himmler was so impressed that he hired Heydrich immediately as the chief of the new SS 'Ic Service' or Intelligence Service (which would later become known as the Sicherheitsdienst (SD)).[8] He returned to Hamburg with the good news. Heydrich entered into the Hamburg SS on 14 July. In August, he was transferred to Munich where he lived alone in a boarding house which rented rooms to unmarried SS men.[9] Lina later stated that Reinhard Heydrich never read Hitler's book, Mein Kampf.[10] He and Lina wed at a small church in Grossenbrode on 26 December 1931.[11]


Lina Heydrich gave birth to two sons, Klaus (born 17 June 1933) and Heider (born 23 December 1934). By the late 1930s, the duties of Reinhard Heydrich led him to work long hours and often be away from home. This left Lina at home with the children and having to run the household alone. This placed a serious strain on their marriage that nearly resulted in divorce. However, the reconciled Heydrich couple had another child, a daughter named Silke (born 9 April 1939). Reinhard proudly showed off his baby daughter and they had a close relationship.[12]

Their fourth child, a daughter named Marte (born 23 July 1942) was born shortly after Reinhard Heydrich's death. Klaus died as a result of a traffic accident on 24 October 1943. On that day, Klaus was cycling with his brother Heider Heydrich in the courtyard of the Castle Panenské Břežany (Jungfern-Breschan). Seeing that the gate to the street was open, Klaus rode out onto the street where he was struck by a small truck coming down the road. Klaus died from his injuries later that afternoon.[13]

In recognition of her husband's service to the Nazi cause, Hitler gave to Lina the country estate of Jungfern-Breschan in rural Bohemia. Lina sold the other family properties, including the home in Berlin and the hunting lodge near Nauen. The family lived there until April 1945 when they, along with many other Germans left the area to flee the advancing Soviet Red Army. The family made it to Bavaria and then moved back to the island of Fehmarn where they were allowed to live in their house after the British Army moved out that same year.[14]


Lina Heydrich was cleared during the de-Nazification proceedings after the war's end. She further won the right to receive a pension as the result of a series of court cases against the West German government in 1956 and 1959. She was entitled to a substantial pension because her husband was a German general killed in action. The government had previously declined to pay because of Heydrich's role in the Holocaust.[15]

In 1965, she met Finnish theatre director Mauno Manninen while she was on a holiday trip to Finland. Eventually they married for the purpose of changing her last name. She ran Reinhard Heydrich's former summer house on Fehmarn as a restaurant and inn until it burned down in February 1969.[16]

In 1976, she published a memoir, Leben mit einem Kriegsverbrecher (Life with a War Criminal).[17] She spoke with several authors, sent in letters of correction to many newspapers, and defended the reputation of her first husband until her own death at age 74 on 14 August 1985 in Fehmarn.[13]


  • Leben mit einem Kriegsverbrecher. Ludwig Verlag. 1976. ISBN 3-7787-1025-7. Reissued with amendments to LH's original text, without the historical commentary included in the first edition, and with an introduction by son Heider Heydrich, under the title Mein Leben mit Reinhard. Druffel & Vowinckel. 2012. ISBN 978-3-8061-1228-3.


  1. ^ Gerwarth 2011, pp. 57, 77, 83, 113, 289.
  2. ^ McNab 2009, p. 41.
  3. ^ Williams 2001, p. 22.
  4. ^ Klee 2007, p. 244.
  5. ^ Williams 2001, p. 21.
  6. ^ Gerwarth 2011, pp. 43-45.
  7. ^ Williams 2001, pp. 29-30.
  8. ^ Williams 2001, p. 30.
  9. ^ Gerwarth 2011, pp. 54-57.
  10. ^ Williams 2001, pp. 22, 30.
  11. ^ Calic 1985, p. 51.
  12. ^ Williams 2001, pp. 92, 94, 103-04.
  13. ^ a b Williams 2003, p. [page needed].
  14. ^ Gerwarth 2011, pp. 289-91.
  15. ^ Gerwarth 2011, pp. 290-91.
  16. ^ Lehrer 2000, p. 196.
  17. ^ Gerwarth 2011, p. 291.


  • Calic, Edouard (1985) [1982]. Reinhard Heydrich: The Chilling Story of the Man Who Masterminded the Nazi Death Camps. New York: Morrow. ISBN 978-0-688-00481-1.
  • Deschner, Guenther (1981). Heydrich: The Pursuit of Total Power. Orbis. ISBN 978-0-85-613295-7.
  • Gerwarth, Robert (2011). Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11575-8.
  • Klee, Ernst (2007). Das Kulturlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945 [The Cultural Excyclopedia of the Third Reich. Who was What before and after 1945] (in German). Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer. ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5.
  • Lehrer, Steven (2000). Wannsee House and the Holocaust. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-0792-7.
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books. ISBN 978-1-906626-49-5.
  • Williams, Max (2001). Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography, Volume 1—Road To War. Church Stretton: Ulric Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9537577-5-6.
  • Williams, Max (2003). Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography, Volume 2—Enigma. Church Stretton: Ulric Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9537577-6-3.

Further reading[edit]

  • Heydrich, Lina (1976). Leben mit einem Kriegsverbrecher ("Life with a War Criminal"), Ludwig Verlag, Pfaffenhofen; ISBN 3-7787-1025-7.