Heroism of Czechoslovak WWII Paratroopers Commemorated On 81st Anniversary

The event commemorating the 81st anniversary of the assassination was attended by several Ministers and leading Czech officials. Photo credit: Jana Cernochova, via Facebook.

Prague, June 19 (CTK) – Hundreds of people yesterday commemorated the Czechoslovak paratroopers who successfully assassinated Deputy Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich during World War II.

Members of the army, military veterans, relatives of the deceased paratroopers, politicians and members of the public attended the ceremony at the Orthodox Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius on Resslova in Prague.

An Orthodox service was held in the church for the paratroopers who died in the crypt of the church and all the victims of the subsequent repression.

The event, commemorating the 81st anniversary of the assassination, was attended by Defence Minister Jana Cernochova (ODS), Chief of the Army General Staff Karel Rehka, Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Olga Richterova (Pirates) and Senator Pavel Fischer.

Transport Minister Martin Kupka (ODS) said it was important to remember the price of freedom.

“This event is also important to make it clear that extraordinary heroic acts have come from the ranks of our soldiers,” Kupka told CTK. “The impact of this step for the national consciousness and the atmosphere at the time was very significant. The fact that the national resistance was able to speak out in such a fundamental way was a huge boost for those who did not want to accept that the territory of Czechoslovakia had fallen into the hands of fascist Germany.” 

“I see it as all the more important because a thousand kilometres to the east of us, war is again being waged and once again people there are standing up against aggression and attempts to subjugate their nation,” he added.

The Slovak and Czech anthems were played outside the crypt of the church where the Gestapo found the paratroopers hiding. Wreaths were laid by President Petr Pavel at the site where some paratroopers fell after a brave fight with Nazi forces and others chose voluntary death.

Wreaths were also sent by the German, Slovak and US embassies.

On 18 June 1942, Jan Hruby, Jaroslav Svarc, Josef Valcik, Jozef Gabcik, Adolf Opalka, Jan Kubis and Josef Bublik died during the seven-hour battle in the church, having been sent from London, together with other soldiers, to help the home resistance and prepare the assassination.

The assassination itself was carried out by paratroopers Gabcik and Kubis, who attacked Heydrich’s car in Prague on 27 May 1942.

The ruthless Nazi and co-author of the “final solution to the Jewish question” was hit at the road below Vychovatelna in Liben, where he drove almost every day. At a sharp curve near Bulovka, Heydrich’s car had to slow down for a tram and became an easy target. First Gabcik tried to fire his machine gun, but the bullet in the barrel went straight up.

Kubis was in reserve and threw a bomb at the car. Although it missed the car, the bomb exploded in front of the right rear wheel, and the fragments seriously injured Heydrich.

Heydrich survived the attack, but dirt from the wounds led to sepsis. He died a few days later, on 4 June. In retaliation, the Nazis exterminated the villages of Lidice and Lezaky and executed many resistance fighters and people who helped them.

One of the paratroopers, Karel Curda, stopped cooperating with his comrades and became a Gestapo informant. He revealed the collaborators of the paratroopers to the Nazis, allowing the Gestapo to discover the hiding place in the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius before the group could escape.

Brno Daily Subscribe
Sign up for morning news in your mail