chapter  2
Cold Empathy: Perpetrator Studies and the Challenges in Writing a Life of Reinhard Heydrich
Pages 18

Of the numerous appalling fi gures within the Nazi leadership, few have attracted more posthumous interest from fi lmmakers, journalists, and writers as Reinhard Heydrich. Countless TV documentaries, spurred on by the fascination of evil, have off ered popular takes on his intriguing life, and there is no shortage of sensationalist accounts of his 1942 assassination in Prague and the unprecedented wave of retaliatory Nazi violence, which culminated in the vengeful destruction of the Bohemian village of Lidice.2 Arguably the most spectacular secret service operation of the entire Second World War, Heydrich’s assassination and its violent aftermath have inspired the popular imagination ever since 1942, providing the backdrop to (among others) Heinrich Mann’s novel Lidice (1942), Bertolt Brecht’s fi lm script for Fritz Lang’s 1943 Hollywood blockbuster Hangmen Also Die, and Laurent Binet’s recent Prix-Goncourt-winning novel HHhH (an acronym for the alleged Göring quote: “Himmler’s Hirn heisst Heydrich,” or “Himmler’s Brain is Heydrich”).3