Lina Heydrich to
Jean Vaughan, December 12, 1951
TODAY I am going to tell you something about the
character of my husband.
The most characteristic trait was that he was a
man of few words. He never talked about something
or discussed something [just] for the love
of talk. Every word had to have a concrete meaning,
or purpose, had to hit the point. Therefore he
never said even one word more than necessary.
He did not read much. Never did he read novels
or philosophical books, eventually he read themes
on scientific topics.
He never wasted a minute of his time. Every
minute had to have is aim and purpose. Therefore he
simply hated to go for a walk. Gymnastic exercise
was not meant for a past-time or leisure, but for
discipline, a training to reach the highest
possible record in it. Therefore he always chose
such sports to which he did not take naturally, but
which required a hard training, self discipline.
For instance, he was not at all gifted for fencing,
but the end of its hard and enduring training was
that he became German champion.
The only exception in this respect was perhaps
hunting. But even that was not only and simply
pleasure and past-time. He knew he had to get away
from his office, his work, once [in] a
while, that he had to relax; and going hunting
meant recreation and activity at the same time.
In the morning, while being shaved, he worked at
the new reports that had come in during the night
(we call that "Akten," I don't know whether the
correct English expression wants perhaps be
"file"). After breakfast during the 30 minutes ride
to the office this reading was continued. He never
let his staff had even a minute's rest, it was very
hard and strenuous for them.
conferences. Lunch was taken
in a small dining room in the office. Very often
people who had to report on something were ordered
to take part in this luncheons. But woe betide him
who tried to begin a "speech." His own way of
expression was the condensed and abbreviated style
of telegrams (wires) and in this language he
expected the reports, bare of every unnecessary
word. If some one did not know that, he was sure to
be interrupted after a few minutes by the words,
"der langen Rede kurzer Sinn ist --" i.e., "that's
what you wanted to say, was it not?" (I think the
first words of this has been translated into 'the
final analysis is..') [i.e., cutting to the
My husband never had time. He had lost the human
measure. He always hurried his subordinates. He did
not know any private or family life, and he did not
estimate that of his fellow-workers. His life was
the conditionless [unconditional] devotion
to his task and that was what he expected from
everyone. Once a newly engaged assistant asked
quite harmless[ly] what his wages would be.
"Wages," my husband asked him. "You ought to ask
what your work is going to be. Until now nobody is
starved in my ressort."
Money did not mean a thing to my husband. He
only knew that you could not live without it. Some
one in the office was in charge of his money. He
had to meet al the expenses and he talked with me
about them eventually. My husband said, "An old
stocking is of more value than 10 Reichsmarks, for
I cannot put on and wear a stocking, ten marks
don't keep me warm." At the time when I heard him
say that I laughed, but now I understand him quite
My husband was vain. He hated nothing more than
to be dressed inadequately. That did not apply to
his wife. She might have worn the most impossible
dresses, he thought them all right.
He also was ambitious, ambition meant work and
efficiency, it meant "don't seem to be more than
you are." [Website
comment: Mehr Sein als Scheinen:
Generalstabsdoktrin]. The fact that
he spoke so little made him seem a ruffian
boorish?], but his refined and
exquisite manners charmed every one.
could deliver speeches or orations, but he could
take part in discussions and then his logic was
forceful. Once when he explained to Himmler
the nonsense of one of H.'s speeches, H. said to
him: "You, with your damned logic!"
His memory was astounding. He never needed a
telephone directory. He knew by heart all the
numbers he needed, he never forgot a single report
that he had read. In this respect the most
surprising stories are told about him.
Neither in his youth nor later on had he any
personal friends. He also tried to avoid every
social contact with neighbors or fellow workers.
That was very hard on me. When I once asked him for
the reason, he answered, "How can I be friends with
any one, as I never can tell whether there might
not perhaps arise the possibility of having him
arrested one day!"
He distrusted every one and he was hardly ever
mistaken in his judgment of persons. How often did
he not say to me, "I don't know, there is something
about this person that I don't like, if I would
only know what's wrong with him." So my husband who
seemed to be guided only by his logic and
intelligence was in the end led by intuition. There
was an immense danger in his development, that of
He was easily irritated and got excited about
the smallest matters such as wrongly filed reports,
incorrectness in the behavior of adjutants, belated
beginnings of public assemblies, and so on. But
difficult problems in his work he solved without
any signs of excitement. He was the man who passed
the most dangerous cliff without difficulty, but
whom a straw caused to stumble.
He required absolute obedience as he himself
obeyed without questioning. Order was order, and a
soldier had to have no personal meaning
[Meinung, opinion] as to an order.
His way of living (standard of life?) was
modest. He did not like pomp, nor to be the centre
of a society. He loved good food, but he did not
like splendid dinners. Receptions, state funerals,
public affairs of every kind he just hated, and he
tried to get away from them wherever he could. He
smoked little and hardly ever took alcohol. When he
did go out, he preferred to go incognito. His daily
life was scheduled to the minute. He kept absolute
silence as to office matters.
He never gave in before he had reached the aim
he wanted to reach. If he did once mistrust a
person, it was exceedingly difficult to convince
him or to prove to him that this person did not
earn [deserve] this judgment.
He was not at all conciliate [sic.
conciliatory?] nor did he flatter. Therefore he
thought it convenient to have a superior like
Himmler, who took over all that he himself did not
like. He saw quite well that H[immler] cut
a rather poor figure in social affairs, but as long
as he himself did not need appear in public he did
As to all the funny ideas of Himmler, his
tendency to mysticism, his pride [pretensions?
Airs?] of being a soldier, my husband just had
a well-meaning smile for them. But when there were
differences of opinion concerning official matters
my husband stood his ground unshakably.
Orders from Hitler were obeyed absolutely. My
husband saw in him the one great man. I sometimes
ask myself what his thoughts would have been if he
had seen the bitter end. He thought him to be the
one and only being who could lead the German nation
to greatness and glory. Therefore it is good that
my husband died in 1942. He has kept his faith and
I wrote you these items today because they just
came to my mind. I am not always able to write,
there are too hard and woeful memories connected
Gez. [signed] L