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Grave of top Nazi official Rheinhard Heydrich dug up in Berlin

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Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich   -   Copyright  Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-054-16
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Berlin police have launched an investigation after the unmarked grave of top Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich was opened.

An employee of Berlin's Invalidenfriedhof cemetery reported to the authorities that the grave had been dug up on December 12, police said in a statement.

No remains appear to have been stolen but police have launched an investigation as tampering with a grave is a criminal offence in Germany.

Like other high-ranking Nazi officials, Heydrich's name was removed from his grave after World War II, to avoid it becoming a rallying point for neo-Nazis. The perpetrator would therefore have insider knowledge of who was buried there.

Heydrich played a key role in the Holocaust and chaired the notorious 1942 Wannsee Conference during which the logistics of Adolf Hitler's "final solution" were discussed.

He had joined the SS in 1931 after being dismissed from the navy for misconduct. There he met Heinrich Himmler, who would later become Hitler's right-hand man.

When war broke out, Heydrich, who had quickly risen to the ranks of the Nazi regime, was at the helm of the Security Service, criminal police and Gestapo. He had also led a purge of the German army command and ordered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews.

In September 1941, he was appointed governor of Bohemia and Moravia but was killed in Prague less than a year later when two Czech resistance fighters bombed his car.

The Gestapo retaliated by wiping out the entire village of Lidice, murdering the men and transporting most of the women to concentration camps while the children, deemed "racially pure", were sent to Germany where they were renamed and raised as German.

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