Henlein, Konrad, born 06-05-1898 in Maffersdorf, Bohemia, was a leading Sudeten German politician in Czechoslovakia. Upon the German occupation he joined the Nazi Party as well as the SS and was appointed Reichsstatthalter of the Sudetenland in 1939. The son of an accounts clerk in light of his being a leader of the Sudeten German movement, Henlein’s origin was not without problems. His mother, Hedvika “Hedwig” Anna Augusta Dvořáček, was the daughter of a German-speaking mother but her father was of Czech origin. As Henlein after 1938 pursued a Germanisation policy against mixed marriages, he was forced to change his still-living mother’s name from Dvořáček to the more German spelling of Dworatschek, which would be thus more comfortable for Henlein’s career as a high Nazi official. He attended business school in Gablonz. From 1916 he served in the Austro-Hungarian Army at the Italian Front of World War I, becoming a POW in November 1917. He was held in Italian captivity at Asinara Island, where he spent his time studying the history of the German Turner, gymnastics movement of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. Jahn a German gymnastics educator and nationalist died age 74 on 15-10-1852. Henlein returned home after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1919, Henlein worked as a bank clerkin Gablonz, now part of the newly established Czechoslovakian state. Influenced by the German national movement, he became a gym teacher of the gymnastics club in Asch (Aš) in 1925, which, similar to the Czech Sokol movement, took an active part in Sudeten German communal life. Henlein speaking in Carlsbad. On 01-10-1933, Henlein founded the Sudetendeutsche Heimatfront , “Sudeten German Home Front”, SHF. Although the SHF was originally meant as a successor organization of the banned anti-Czech German National Socialist Workers’ Party and German National Party, it soon became a big tent right-wing movement in order to achieve a status of autonomy for the German minority, rivaling with the German Social Democratic Workers Party. On 19 -04-1935 the SHF was renamed Sudeten German Party under pressure from the Czechoslovak government. In the first half of the 1930s, the “decent young man, ” President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk , a follower of the Austrofascist doctrine by Othmar Spann, Spann a conservative Austrian philosopher, sociologist and economist died age 71 on 08-07-1950, held a pro-Czechoslovak and overtly anti-Nazi view in his public speeches. In the parliamentary election of May 1935, the SdP with massive support by the Nazi Party gained 15.2 % of the votes cast, becoming the strongest of all Czechoslovak parties, and had won about 68 % of the German votes. Nevertheless Henlein did not become a declared follower of Adolf Hitler until 1937, when the pro-German camp within the SdP represented by Karl Hermann Frank,
Frank was hanged age 48 on 22-05-1946, emerged victorious. Newer research shows his position within the SdP became very difficult, when in 1937 Heinz Rutha , he committed suicide, age 40, on 04-11-1937, one of his closest allies, was tipped off to the Czechoslovak authorities, possibly by German secret service and imprisoned for alleged homosexuality. Henlein then swiftly aligned himself with the slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!, “One People, One Country, One Leader!”, thus calling for the predominantly, typically more than 80% German-speaking Sudetenland to be a part of Germany. Henlein’s political party’s dominance of the Sudetenland in the 1930s contributed to the Munich Agreement on 30-09-1938. Henlein presented his party’s policy as striving to fulfill the “justified claims” of the then largely nazified German minority. Henlein, often under direct orders from Berlin, deliberately had worked to help create a sense of crisis that was useful to Hitler’s diplomatic and military efforts; as he once put it himself “We must make demands that cannot be satisfied”. Since 12-09-1938, he helped organize hundreds of terrorist attacks and two coup attempts by the Sudetendeutsches Freikorps paramilitary organisation affiliated with the SS-Totenkopfverbände , immediately after Hitler’s frenetic and threatening speech in Nuremberg at the Nazi Party’s annual rally. The attempted uprising was quickly suppressed by Czechoslovak forces, where after Henlein fled to Germany only to start numerous intrusions into Czechoslovak territory around Asch as a commander of Sudeten German guerrilla bands.
Upon the Wehrmacht invasion of the Sudetenland, Henlein was appointed Reichskommissar and became Gruppenführer, later Obergruppenführer of the SS. The SdP merged with Hitler’s NSDAP on 05-11-1938, Henlein himself joined the Nazi Party in January 1939 and was appointed Reichstag deputy. In March and April 1939 he served as the head of civil service in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia but soon most of the power went to the hands of his long-time rival Karl Hermann Frank. On 01-05-1939 he was named Reichsstatthalter and Gauleiter of the newly established Reichsgau Sudetenland, a position he held until the end of the war. His political influence was limited. Several attempts by RSHA leader Reinhard Heydrich and others to remove him from office, supposedly because he was not radical enough, failed due to Henlein’s good relations with Hitler. After 1938 Henlein worked as a spy for the British and had conspirative contacts with Admiral Wilhelm Canaris.
Death and burial ground of Henlein, Konrad.
On 10-05-1945, while in American captivity in the barracks of Plzeň, Pilsen he committed suicide by cutting his veins with his broken glasses. He, age 47, was buried anonymously on a small section of the Plzeň Central Cemetery.
Cemetry location of Henlein, Konrad.