History In Ink®  Historical Autographs






Reinhard Heydrich

Karl Wolff

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Reinhard Eugen Tristan Heydrich, 1904-1942. Nazi SS Obergruppenführer; head of the Gestapo. Typed Document Signed, Heydrich, one page, 8¼ x 11½", on stationery of the Reichsführer-SS, Chief of the Personal Staff, Berlin, [Germany], June 26, 1937.  Also signed by Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff, 1900-1984, SS Gruppenführer, later Obergruppenführer, and Chief of the Personal Staff to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler.   

Autograph material of the brutal Heydrich, who headed the Gestapo and was second in importance only to Himmler in the Nazi SS, and who was a principal architect of the Nazis' plan to exterminate the Jews, is rare.  One can find any number of genuinely signed Hitler and Himmler pieces for each Heydrich piece that comes onto the autograph market.

Here Heydrich, in his capacity as the chief of the SD headquarters and the chief of the Security Police, endorses his approval on a message from Wolff proposing to transfer a physician to Himmlers personal staff.

Among the several branches of the SS were the Security Service, the Sicherheitsdienst or SD, which was the SS and later the Nazi party intelligence agency, and the Secret State Police, the Geheime Staatspolizei or Gestapo.  The SD was charged with obtaining secret information about the actual and potential enemies of the Nazi leadership so that the Nazis could take appropriate action to destroy or neutralize opposition, and the Gestapo similarly targeted those thought not to be fully committed to the Nazi way of life or those who pursued "non-German" activities.

The Sicherheitsdienst or SD, which was the SS and later the Nazi party intelligence agency, and the Secret State Police, the Geheime Staatspolizei or Gestapo, were linked together in 1936.  Himmler had been appointed Chief of the German Police in the Ministry of the Interior on June 17, 1936.  Nine days later, acting as Reichsführer SS and Chief of the German Police, he appointed Heydrich, who was the Chief of the SD, to head the Security Police as well.  The Security Police included both the Gestapo and the Criminal Police.

Wolff, who ultimately was promoted to SS Obergruppenführer, became Himmler's Chief of Personal Staff in 1933.  By 1937, he was considered the third ranking member of the SS, behind Himmler and Heydrich, and he served as the SS Liaison Officer to Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler until he was replaced in 1943.  He fell out of favor with Himmler after the 1942 assassination of Heydrich, to whom he was very close, and ultimately Hitler appointed him the German Military Governor of northern Italy and Plenipotentiary to the government of Benito Mussolini.  By February 1945, convinced that Germany had lost World War II, he privately negotiated with the Allies and brought about an early surrender of the German forces in Italy.  He was a prosecution witness at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials and served only one week in prison himself.  Subsequently his involvement in the Holocaust came to light, and he was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.  He served seven years before he was released in 1971.

Wolff has signed this message in green pencil.  Heydrich has added his notes and countersigned in blue pencil.  The piece has one normal fold and typical file holes in the left margin, touching only the green Security Police stamp, and shows a bit of handling.  Overall it is in fine condition. 

We reject Nazism and all that it represented. We nevertheless offer this document because of its rarity and because Nazism, although despised, played a large role in the history of the 20th Century.




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