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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The assasination of Heydrich...

I have posted in the past about the story of the town of Lidice, just outside of Prague. Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler's Reichsprotekto in Bohemia and Moravia, died on June 4, 1942 from wounds suffered in an attack by Czech partisans who had parachuted into Czechoslovakia after being trained in England. Heydrich's funeral was on June 9, and the following day all of the men of Lidice (173 in all) were executed, the women and children were sent to camps, most of them to perish, and the town itself was raised to the ground to remove all evidence that it had ever exisited. The Nazis even emptied the cemetery of its corpses. This was all to teach a lesson to the Czechs that to fight the Nazis would result in swift and incredibly cruel consequences.

After the attack on Heydrich's car that left him mortally wounded, the seven parachutists ended up at the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague which had been arranged as a safe house and they were concealed in the crypt of the church.

With the aid of a turncoat Czech named Karel Curda, the Germans learned of the location of the parachutists and 800 soldiers surrounded the church at 2:00 am on June 18, 1942. The Germans entered the church before dawn but were met by three of the parachutists firing from the choir loft who held the Germans at bay for several hours but were eventually killed. It was discovered that the others were in the crypt and the orders were to take them alive. The Nazis tried pumping smoke and then water into the crypt to force the four remaining parachutists to surrender. Rather than be captured the four committed suicide.

Heydrich's car after the attack on May 27, 1942. He would die from his wounds on June 4.

Bullet holes from the attack on June 18, 1942 remain visible near a small window to the crypt of the church.

Inside the crypt there are many memorials to the men who killed Heydrich.

This small cross is just outside the main door to the church.

The price paid by the church for aiding the parachutists was extremely high. from the web:

The trial of the members of the Czech Orthodox Church was held on September 3, 1942, after which Bp. Gorazd, Fr. Cikl, and council chairman Sonnevend were executed by a firing squad on the next day. Fr. Petrek was executed on September 5. For aiding the parachutists, 263 Czechs were arrested, transported to the Mauthausen concentration camp, and shot to death on October 24, including nine members of the cathedral’s congregation: Marie Ciklova, wife of the dean; Marie Gruzinnova, Bp. Gorazd’s secretary; Marie Sonnevendova, wife of the council chairman; Ludmila Rysova, choir member; Vaclav Ornest, the sacristan, his wife Frantiska Ornestova, and daughter, Miluse Ornestova, a choir and youth group member; Karel Louda, choir member; and Marie Loudova, also a choir and youth group member. In all, the Orthodox Church lost 13 sons and daughters.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Very interesting blog on the unfortunate happenings on this date in history. Thanks for sharing.