Prague remembers WWII heroes who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich

Today is the anniversary of the assassination of 'The Butcher of Prague' by Czech paratroopers who trained with Britain's RAF on May 27, 1942.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 27.05.2023 11:20:00 (updated on 27.05.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Today is the anniversary of the assassination of Nazi Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich on May 27, 1942 by Czechoslovak paratroopers who trained with Britain's Royal Air Force. Events throughout Prague will commemorate today's anniversary and remember the heroes who carried out Operation Anthropoid.

This morning, a commemorative ceremony took place at the Operation Anthropoid Memorial in Libeň, which stands near the spot where where Heydrich was assassinated 81 years ago by Czechoslovak paratroopers led by Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík.

Heydrich, a key figure in the former Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and one of the architects of the Holocaust, was mortally wounded in the attack and died days later. The aftermath of the assassination was marked by brutal Nazi retribution, including martial law, mass executions, arrests, and the extermination of Czech villages Lidice and Ležáky.

Kubiš, Gabčík, and five other paratroopers hid out over the next weeks and ultimately made their final stand against Nazi forces at the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius on Resslova Street, where they ultimately perished on June 18.

Following the commemorative gathering in Libeň, an inaugural family sports event called Operation Anthropoid 2023 will take place at the nearby Glowacký Elementary School. Organized by the Orel Association, the event will feature various competitions such as mini-handball, softball, pétanque, a shooting range, a charity relay on exercise bikes, parkour workshops, rugby demonstrations, combat sports exhibitions, and more.

Elsewhere in Prague, a historic tram highlighting locations and events associated with Operation Anthropoid will traverse the streets of the Czech capital. The tram route leads from the Střešovice depot to Karlovo náměstí, near the church where the paratroopers made their final stand, and takes off at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

"The symbolic journey begins at Prague Castle, where Heydrich had an office at Černín Palace, and ends at the Karlovo náměstí stop near the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, where the paratroopers fought against Nazi forces," Zdeněk Špitálník, a representative of Prague's Military Historical Institute, told local media.

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The route will also pass by residences of individuals who aided the paratroopers. Throughout the 1.5 hour ride, guides dressed in historical attire will provide commentary on the tram. More information about the historic tram ride can be found from Prague City Tourism.

Since last year, the anniversary of the Heydrich assassination has been observed as a culturally significant day in Czech Republic called the Day of National Defiance. It honors the heroic actions of the two Czechoslovak soldiers and their comrades, recognizes the bravery of many individuals who aided them within the protectorate, and pays tribute to the victims of subsequent Nazi reprisals.

On Thursday, the UK's Prince Edward, younger brother of King Charles III, laid a wreath at the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in honor of the Czech paratroopers during his visit to Prague.

The assassination of Heydrich directly led to France and Britain revoking their support for the Munich Agreement, under which Germany had annexed Czechoslovakia. Considered the greatest act of domestic resistance in Europe during World War II, Operation Anthropoid led to the restoration of Czechoslovakia to its pre-Munich Agreement borders after the war.

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