• Hitler's Hangman

  • The Life of Heydrich
  • By: Robert Gerwarth
  • Narrated by: Napoleon Ryan
  • Length: 16 hrs and 10 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (362 ratings)

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Hitler's Hangman

By: Robert Gerwarth
Narrated by: Napoleon Ryan
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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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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

16 people found this helpful

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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.

11 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

10 people 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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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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TOO MUCH POLITICS--TOO MUCH HOLOCAUST HISTORY-

What did you love best about Hitler's Hangman?

I LOVED THE PERSONAL ANECDOTES WHICH WERE FAR AND IN BETWEEN. FOR EXAMPLE, THE MORNING BEFORE HIS ASSASSINATION, HE WAS PLAYING WITH HIS THREE CHILDREN. MORTALLY WOUNDED, THIS FANATICAL NAZI SOLDIER GOT OUT HIS CAR AND CHASED ONE OF THE ASSASSINS ON FOOT UNTIL HE COLLAPSED IN FRONT OF HIM.

Who was your favorite character and why?

HIS WIFE---VERY LITTLE ABOUT HER TOO MUCH ABOUT THE WORKAHOLIC MURDERER'S SCHEDULES AND MEETINGS AND SPEECHES AND ARTICLES. SHE WASN'T THE COMPLACENT NOT GET INVOLVED IN YOUR HUSBANDS LIFE NAZI WIFE. AFTER HE DIED SHE WAS SUEING AND WINNING CASES AGAINST THE GERMAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND EVEN WROTE HER AUTOBIO--"MARRIED TO A WAR CRIMINAL."

Which character – as performed by Napoleon Ryan – was your favorite?

I HAVE NEVER HEARD HEYDRICH SPEAK BUT WITH A THE SLIGHT, VERY, VERY SLIGHT EMOTIONAL LISP HE DID THE HANGMAN'S VOICE PERFECTLY. HE ALSO DID THE VERY BEST HITLER VOICE I'VE EVER HEARD---AND WE HAVE ALL HEARD HITLER AND SEEN THE MANY DOCUDRAMAS.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

YES!!! AFTER VIEWING THE ACTUAL SITES WHERE THOUSANDS OF HIS HELPLESS VICTIMS HAVE BEEN HEARTLESSLY MURDERED, HE GOES OFF TO PRACTICE FOR THE FENCING (SWORD FIGHTING) COMPETITION WHERE HE PLACED FIFTH.

Any additional comments?

TOO MUCH HOLOCAUST. THE TOPIC HAS ALREADLY BEEN COVERED VERY, VERY WELL BY MANY, MANY SCHOLARS. I FEEL I MISSED THE ACTUAL MAN. BUT THE BOOK IS EXCELLENT AND VERY WELL RESEARCHED AND I WOULD RECOMMEND THE BOOK TO ANYONE. HIS HISTORICAL JUDGMENTS ARE PERFECT. HIS VALUES FROM THE A NON NAZI- WESTERN VIEW WERE NEVER UNFAIR--IF ANYTHING VERY, VERY FAIR TO HEYDRICH I.E. THROWN OUT OF THE NAVY (HIS LIFE AND DREAM) MADLY IN LOVE WITH LENA, HIS FANATICALLY NAZI WIFE, HE BECAME A NAZI TOO. BUT WHY DID HE BECOME A MASS MURDERER?
WHAT WAS HITLER'S STRANGE SPELL? THERE WAS NOTHING IN THIS GIFTED VIOLINIST PAST TO EXPLAIN THIS. HIS PARENTS WERE GOOD NON "JEW HATING" CARING GERMAN PARENTS. HE WASN'T IN THE FIRST WAR AND NEITHER WAS HIS FAMILY.
I DID BREATHE A SIGN OF RELIEF WHEN I FINISHED THE BOOK: THANK GOD HEYDRICH AND HIS KIND DID NOT WIN THE SECOND WORLD WAR.

5 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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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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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.

3 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Clive
  • 04-12-17

Disappointed

i had expected more. Two main criticisms.

1. i never grasped from this how or even why this man turned inro such a inhumane killer by proxy. There was no real psychological assessment at all. Indeed this just seemed to be a horror chronology. Sometimes far too much time spent on tangents that did not seem necessary.

2. The narration is appalling. The over dramatic exaggeration of German names was so annoying i nearly gave up.

On the whole not an entirely successful biography.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazing Primo
  • 04-08-22

very good

gripping, detailed and very well told.
Provided a lot more historical information thus filled many gaps in history

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • pdrs
  • 03-28-22

Interesting book, irritating narration

I bought this book after watching "Conspiracy" again. Although I knew who Heydrich was and how he died I wanted to find out more. I found the book interesting if at times the number of names thrown at the reader/listener made it difficult to remember just who was who, what position(s) they held and where they stood in the byzantine hierarchy of the Third Reich. I'd recommend it to anyone who, like me, wanted to know more about one of Hitler's most devoted subordinates. I would recommend anyone to buy the book - hard copy or kindle - rather than this audiobook, or at least listen to a sample first. Although this narrator is nowhere near as bad as the reader of Cornelius Ryan's "A Bridge Too Far" I found his over-enunuciation of German names (most especially Heydrich) and other words intensely annoying. I also did not care for his use of different voices when quoting from individuals; however YMMV.

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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

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-25-21

Brutal!

A product of Nazism Heydrich layed the foundations for the holocaust. A brutal read and stark reminder of how the Nazis murdered so many. Well read by Ryan.