Lidice and Saints Cyril and Methodius Curch - Prague

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Santa_Sunday, Jun 6, 2010.

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  1. I’ve been on R&R from the ‘Stan for the last week and me and Mrs SS went to Prague for 4 days. We had a great time, but I insisted on going to Saints Cyril and Methodius Church in the city (just across Charles Bridge where we stayed) to see the Crypt where Heydrich’s assassins where cornered and finally took their lives. We then got a bus to Lidice to walk through what was now a memorial park to the village that was ‘wiped from the map’ by the Nazis in revenge. Both were incredibly moving places.

    If you ever get the chance to go to either, then do.

    Prague itself is beautiful but so busy it’s incredible.

    Back to the ‘Stan on Wednesday.

  2. LancePrivateJones

    LancePrivateJones LE Book Reviewer

    I am glad that you posted this S_S because I have been pondering the wisdom of the Heydrich assassination for some time now.

    From where I am sitting, the assassination had no effect on Heydrich's policies and indeed the Holocaust went up a gear after his demise, it has even been suggested that it was named after him (Aktion Reinhard).

    Two villages (including Lidice) were flattened and the inhabitants were either shot, sent to concentration camps or adopted.
    Many others were also killed in reprisals for this act. Lots of.

    I do not for one minute doubt the bravery of the men that killed Heydrich, I just cannot understand why it was allowed to go ahead and what it was meant to achieve when the Nazi reaction could have been so easily foretold.

    It's not just a hindsight thing either.
  3. Apparently a signal was sent by ‘Silver A’ to abort the mission but was never received in London.
    The Cezchs were seen as compliant and the Cezch government in London wanted to demonstrate their resistance – hence Anthropoid.
    I think that you are correct though. The retribution was almost certainly not worth the death of Hitler’s favoured son and almost certain successor.
  4. LancePrivateJones

    LancePrivateJones LE Book Reviewer

    I know nothing about the signal from 'Silver A' but I am surprised that the authorities and planners of the time did'nt do a post-op predictability study that would have foreseen the horrible consequences.

    Or, they knew exactly what the Nazi response would have been.

    I am all for the Czech exiles wanting to prove their 'mettle' so to speak but they must have known that the consequences would be terrible hence my astonishment that anybody could have thought that this was a productive operation.

    One of the mysteries of WW2 I suppose.
  5. On a related note, the Pinkas Synagogue in Josefov is well worth a visit when in Prague. When you go inside, what looks to be patterned wallpaper from a distance proves on closure inspection to be a massive list of holocaust victims - over 8000 of them in all, a small fraction of the Czech victims of the Nazis. Even more touching are the drawings done by Jewish children whilst being 'detained'. Absolutely heart-breaking.
  6. Cynical, I know, but it's plausible that the real aim was to encourage the Czechs to be less compliant by provoking the Germans into showing their true nature? Killing Heydrich may just have been a bonus.
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  7. Wedge, for someone who badmouths God you seem to have spent a lot of time in one of his houses!! Strange that.
  8. If you stand facing the museum in Wenceslas square (with the good kings statue on your right) there is a restaurant not far from the statue which has been open continuously for about 400 years, or so I was told. The menu hasn't changed much over the years and they still serve pork, cabbage and spuds in the old way, washed down with good beer. Worth a visit as well.
  9. LancePrivateJones

    LancePrivateJones LE Book Reviewer

    I understand your view and cynical as you may think it, you may have hit a moot point.

    I have been led to understand that far from being the 'Butcher of Prague', Heydrich actually improved conditions for Czech armaments workers by introducing things like 8 hour shifts around a 24 hour pattern, better wages and time off. He also increased workers rations.

    This had the effect of increasing armaments production for Germany.

    Maybe somebody somewhere decided that the Czechs needed to be reminded of the true nature of their uninvited guests.
  10. There was a bit of a conspiracy theory going on in some bits of German chatter during the war, that the assassination was aided by Himmler, who was a wee bit jealous of the blond beast and saw him as a threat to his position as Reichsfuhrer SS. Mainly because he was intellectually head and shoulders above the ex-chicken farmer, and also had the benefit of looking far more Aryan than the short, bespectacled Himmler.

    Heydrich also was known to have files on all the top Nazi hierarchy, including Himmler, containing information on stuff they would rather keep hidden, gained from his powerful position as head of the Sicherheit Dienst and Gestapo, and that he was using as blackmail.

    When it comes to Heydrich's death, Cato's old question comes to mind,
    "Cui Bono?"

    Who benefits?

    Certainly not the Czech people.

  11. Killing Heydrich helped to put the Czech back on the Allied political map and the Czech Gvt in exile knew fully well this would come with a price.

    On the other hand, the "Anthropoid" mission did the French people a huge favour by killing Heydrich since this bastard was supposed to come to France to apply the same ruthless methods he had used with some success in CZ. Heydrich's mission in CZ was seen by Berlin as a success and its blueprint was to be used in France....

    "The blond beast" had already done his recce to France for his "next job" when he was executed.
  12. From my collection, two excellent books -

    The Killing of Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich - Callum

    Seven Men At Daybreak - Alan Burgess

    and a very good film by Lewis Gilbert - starring Joss Ackland, Timothy Bottoms et al

    Operation Daybreak
  13. Hmm, first search result on Google for the Burgess book is this review,
    which isn't too complimentary about it at all.

    And so sensitive that the thing was originally classified SECRET before being made freely available to any mug with a search engine.
    And yeah, it is THE CIA! Yank Spooky Them. Wonder if the FSB has someting similar?

    Edit: yep. Plus phone number on front page.

    I saw the "Operation Daybreak" film a few times, most recently this year I think. It was a tad disconcerting to see that Doyle from "The Professionals" was playing the guy who bubbled his comrades to the SD/Gestapo.
    Very moving film, though one wonders just how accurate it was.

  14. It's no longer a working synagogue. And I visited because of the holocaust memorial not because it is a former 'house of god'. And you might want to take a quick look at where anti-semitism has it's roots...
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  15. The assination of Heydrich certainly brought great danger and death to the Czech population. Heydrich was one of the more dangerous members of the Nazi leadership and even Himmilar had cause to fear him as he had direct access to Hitler without having to go through his sercrtary Martin Borman, and his secret files were never found following his death. Something which would have caused severe damage to his enemies and Himmilar's as well if they had been discovered as someone else has posted, he had a mine of information as head of RSHA, the Reich Security Main Office and the SD. He was more an intelectual murderer than a hands on one, posessing great charm and organisational ability, illustrated by his management of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question conference at Wanseee in 1941 or 42. He also flew on opertional sorties for the Luftwaffe in both the invasion of Norway and in Russia.

    Karltenbrunner who took over from him was no more than a drunken thug with no finer intellect, but he was no danger to Himmilar, who was peturbed that Heydrrich, would push him aside and even be then, the chosen succesor to Hitler. This was a man who knew where the bodies where burried, litteraly.

    That litttle establishment in Wiltshire which deals in CBRN is reeported as being implicated in this mans death, by the use of a grenade containing Botulinus tgoxin BTX, claimed to be devised by a Dr Paul Fildes. Heydrich's death some days following the attempt and ultimate success was reported to be septic shock and other poisons at the time attributed to the horse hair stuffing from the car seats, but the symptoms and progession to death followed a course that was very similar to Botulism, and if you don't look for or suspect it you will not find it and botulism is a very rare disease. The story is told in more detail than I have related here in " A Higher Form of Killing" by Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman of Newsnight fame.

    That Heydrich was taken out my have caaused untold death and imprisionment for the Czech peeople is clear and very sad, but the long term damage to the nazi herarchy is most considerable in thatt it removed an arch schemer and political danger man not just to enemies but to his so called friends as well. Should he have survived, i am sure that Hitler would neever have allowed him to move outside Germany.

    Remember that this was man, who on orders constructed the Gleiwitz incident as an excuse for WW11, as Operation Canned Goods and the Venlo incident in 1940, snatching Stevens and Payne Best from the Dutch border.

    Was the assination worth it, with hindsight some would say no, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, and many things where not known at the time or thought about. Thee mass murder of people in Europe by a supposed civilised nation was at the time unthinkable, but we did know about the persecution of the minorities and Jews as far back as 1936 to 38. here are UK White papers on this available from HMSO, The braveery of Frank Foley comes to mind in combating individuals like Heydrich.

    May he burn in the far pitts of Hell for his crimes and may those who died be forever rememberd as in a lot of cases just innocent victims.