Before heading out on our road trip through Eastern Europe, it was suggested by a friend to watch the movie, "Operation Daybreak." So, we did. May I suggest that if you've not seen this movie, and you are interested in WWII History . . . watch it ! Even if you're not interested in WWII History, watch it.
There is also a series of History Channel Youtube videos about Operation Anthropoid, which was the code name for the assassination that more correctly tell the story. This is the First Part: CLICK HERE
In 1942, World War II paratroopers Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš assassinated the SS second-in-command Reinhard Heydrich, who controlled the Nazi-occupied Czech lands and was one of the main architects of the Holocaust. He was known as "The Butcher of Prague," The Hangman of Prague," "The god of Death," among other titles. In the weeks following his assassination, the two paratroopers hid, along with other freedom fighters, in the crypt of the Greek Orthodox Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church on Resslova Street.
The following photos show the modest exhibition in the church's crypt that retell their story, along with the history of the Czech resistance movement. Outside, you will see a small memorial, including bullet holes, a plaque, and flowers.
. . . that day . . . from that corner of the almost failed assassination. . .
. . . to the final days of the heroes.
If you don't have time to read it all, at least read the last two paragraphs.
. . . the one with the bullet holes.
The traitor, Karel Čurda was the Czech soldier who also parachuted into the protectorate in 1942, and yelled down into the crypt from this window for those inside to give up.
His rewards were 1,000,000 Reichmarks and a new identity, "Karl Jerhot." He married a German woman and spent the rest of the war as a Gestapo Spy.
After the war, Čurda was tracked down and arrested. When asked in court how he could betray his comrades, Čurda answered, "I think you would have done the same for one million marks."
Karel Čurda was found guilty of high treason and hanged on April 29, 1947.
To the right, you can see where the heroes started trying to dig a tunnel to escape.
This is the window where the SS placed the hose from the fire truck that filled the crypt with water and would have eventually drown those inside.
The photos below are of the statues memorializing the paratroopers and the freedom fighters.
The vaults behind the statues are for coffins.
The Bishop Gorazd, in an attempt to minimize the reprisals among his flock, took the blame for the actions in the church by harboring these men, and even wrote letters to the Nazi authorities, who arrested him on June 27, 1942 and tortured him. On September 4, 1942 the bishop, the church's priests and senior lay leaders were taken to the Kobylisy Shooting Range in a northern suburb of Prague and were shot by Nazi firing squads. For his actions, Bishop Gorazd was later glorified as a martyr by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Intelligence falsely linked the assassins of Heydrich to the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. A Gestapo report identified Lidice as the assailants' suspected hiding place since several Czech army officers exiled in England at the time were known to have come from there. In addition, the Gestapo had found a resistance radio transmitter in Ležáky In the village of Lidice, destroyed on June 9, 1942, 199 men were executed, 95 children taken prisoner (81 later killed in gas vans at the Chelmo extermination camp; eight others were taken for adoption by German families), and 195 women were immediately deported to Ravensbruck concentration camp. All adults, men and women, in the village of Ležáky were murdered. Both towns were burned, and the ruins of Lidice leveled.
And I leave you with the image above . . .
. . . the look on Charlie's face as he entered the crypt, looking up at that window, pretty much says it all.