A prominent figure of the Nazi regime was Reinhard Heydrich. On May 27, 1942 he was injured by the actions of two Czechoslovaks (J. Gabcik and J. Kubis) who attacked him on his way to office. This moment in considered a significant one, proving that the Nazis were not invincible. Operation Anthropoid (the secret code of the assassination of Heydrich) had serious consequences. Hitler ordered the execution of thousands of Jews and political prisoners. Moreover, the German troops destroyed two villages where the Nazis believed that the murderers had hidden.
The Man with the Iron Heart
Reinhard Heydrich was the head of Gestapo (secret state police) who set up the Holocaust. Most of historians consider Heydrich as one of the darkest minds within the Nazi elite. On September 27, 1941 Heydrich was named by Hitler the governor of the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (today part of Czech Republic). After his new role, Heydrich quoted: “We will Germanize the Czech vermin.” Later on, just to prove his hate among the Jews, he ordered the killing of 100 people.
In 1942 he organized the Wannsee Conference which laid the foundation for the “final solution”: the extermination of all Jews. From that moment, the Holocaust became legitimate. However, his brutality was taxed by the Czechs. When Heydrich was on his way to the office, one of the Czech attackers tried to shot him and the other attacker threw a grenade near the car. Heydrich was seriously wounded after the blast. Even more, the attackers tried to follow the car, but Heydrich escaped. He died on June 4, 1942 because of his injuries. An interesting fact to mention is that the Czech partisan agents were trained by the British Special Operations.
The next day, after the attack, Hitler wanted to kill 10,000 Czechs politicians. After consulting with Himmler, the idea was abandoned because such killings could have reduced the productivity from that region. Anyhow, Hitler’s actions were brutal. He ordered the arrest of more than 13,000 people. It is estimated that about 5,000 people were killed.
In the following days the Nazi’s publicly acknowledged the military that it was set a deadline for capturing the attackers: June 18, 1942. The Nazis threatened to make more bloody retaliation if the assassins would not be captured by then. Eventually, the Germans found them right along with other paratroopers hiding in the Cathedral of St. Cyril and Methodius in Prague. However, after six hours of armed clashes, in which 14 German soldiers were killed and 21 injured, Gabcik committed suicide in the catacombs and Kubis was seriously injured by a grenade. Kubis died shortly after his arrival at the hospital.
As a posthumous recognition, the village of Gabcikovo, Slovakia and one of the largest dams on the Danube, is named after Gabcik. There are streets named after Jan Kubis in Prague, Pardubice, Tabor and other places.