Memorial to Heydrich's assassins to be in PragueBy ČTK / Published 28 May 2008
Prague, May 27 (CTK) - The ground-breaking ceremony for the memorial to the Operation Anthropoid in which Czechoslovak paratroopers killed acting Reichsprotektor in Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 took place in Prague 8 Tuesday, exactly 66 years after the attack.
The soldiers flown from London to the Nazi-occupied Bohemia and Moravia fulfilled the oath they had sworn to Edvard Benes, the Czechoslovak president-in-exile, Ales Knizek, director of the Military Historical Institute, said.
"They were real heroes of Czechoslovakia," Knizek said, adding that if it had not been for the help of domestic resistance, the mission would not have been successful.
"If it had not been for these people, we would perhaps speak German now," Knizek said.
The idea to build a memorial to the paratroopers appeared in 1946, but it will only be materialised now.
The Prague 8 town hall has put up a contest for the memorial. Deputy Mayor Vladimira Ludkova (the Civic Democratic Party, ODS) said 21 projects had been delivered.
The jury may select the winner perhaps later today, Ludkova said.
The memorial, that is to cost fewer than five million crowns, should be unveiled exactly in a year, she added.
The memorial will be built virtually at the same place where the mission took place, Ludkova said.
The paratroopers from the Anthropoid unit were sent to help Czech resistance movement from London and to kill Heydrich. They were flown to the Protectorate in December 1941.
Heydrich had been removed to Prague in order to quell the anti-Nazi resistance in the Protectorate in September 1941.
In the aftermath of Heydrich's assassination, the Nazi regime responded with brutal reprisals. It proclaimed the martial law, started mass executions and razed down two Czech villages, Lidice and Lezaky.
The paratroopers were hiding for three weeks, eventually in the crypt of an Orthodox church in Prague. They were eventually betrayed by one of them and the German police tracked them down and killed them all in an exchange of fire [ed. The official version is that the paratroopers committed suicide by shooting themselves rather than be taken prisoner by the Nazis].
Adolf Opalka, Gabcik, Kubis, Josef Valcik, Josef Bublik, Jan Hruby and Jaroslav Svarc died in the ensuing fight with the German police who also executed Orthodox Bishop Gorazd for having provided shelter to them.
It is estimated that over 5,000 people, the vast majority of whom were innocent with no connection to the Heydrich affair, were killed by the Nazis in the reprisals for the assassination. This was a very, very high price indeed, and was done to quell the resistance and prevent further such actions. I hope the new memorial makes mention of the these other victims in addition to the paratroopers.