It all began on September 30, 1938 when the Munich Agreement was signed. With this agreement, England and France gave the Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler exactly what he wanted— the Sudetenland, the north western area of Czechoslovakia. There was not a single Czech representative present at the discussion. This was an act of the English Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlin and an effort to appease the violent Germans. Of the agreement, Winston Churchill stated: “We chose between shame and war; now we have shame and war.” This planted the seeds for one of the most famous assassinations during the European Theater of Operations of WWII.
Czechoslovakia knew that the German’s Third Reich was headed into their country. It is noted if you look at a map of Europe, Germany looks like a large animal with the head of Czechoslovakia gripped between its teeth. As Hitler and his army continued to grow in strength, the Nazi forces soon swallowed Czechoslovakia whole.
During this time, a Third Reich star would soon gain power and a reputation among the Nazi world. SS General Reinhard Heydrich was a deputy to Heinrich Himmler. Heydrich supervised the police and security operations in Germany. He also directed Germany’s campaign to motivate the Jews to emigrate.
The emigration plans didn’t work because it was seen as too cumbersome and ineffective for such a massive population. Heydrich was one of the key players in the “Final Solution” which is better known as the Holocaust. This final solution resulted in genocide and torture. Victims that suffered at the hands of Heydrich dubbed him the “Blonde Butcher”, “Hangman” and later the “Butcher of Prague.”
Heydrich really had his eyes on France to be the Protecktor, but in September 1941, Hitler had other plans. Heydrich was sent to Czechoslovakia in order to get the Czech people to bend to the German will. Heydrich saw this as an opportunity to get closer to being sent to France.
As a Protecktor, Heydrich would begin a campaign of torture and vile deeds in order to break the will of the Czech people. He was to ruin the Resistance (nearly 400 people were executed right away, while the rest went into hiding). He also made an effort to Germanize the people. Here, he also began rounding up the Jews like cattle and began shipping them off to Terezin. Terezin was a Czech concentration camp that was once an army fortress.
Heydrich was said to ride around Prague in an open Mercedes without a security escort. The brazen Nazi believed that the people of Czechoslovakia feared him so much, they wouldn’t ever dream of laying harm to him. During this time, the Czechoslovakian government in exile under President Eduard Benes grew desperate for the people of Czechoslovakia to rebel against the Germans. The people made a decision. What better way to rebel and stand up to the Germans than to murder Heydrich?
Josef Gabcik, a Slovak, and Jan Kubis, a Czech, volunteered to carry out the assassination plot. The men knew they had very little chances of survival, but it was a risk they were willing to take. On December 29, 1941, the men were flown to a location on the outskirts of Prague and they parachuted down during the darkest hours of the night. Marie Moravcova was a Red Cross volunteer and was deeply connected to the Czech Resistance. She was one of the first to help hide the two parachutists. Sergeant Josef Valcik and Lieutenant Adolf Opalka joined Kubis and Gabcik. Karel Curda soon joined Opalka.
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