Radio Antenna Used in the Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich Discovered

SS officer Reinhard Heydrich was the target of the Operation Antrhopoid, the central theme of the upcoming WWII film Anthropoid.

The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich

The radio antenna used by Czech resistance during the Second World War to plan the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the Third Reich’s most powerful and most feared men, was recently discovered in an attic, reports state.

It can be remembered that Czech agent Jiri Potucek, who was trained by the British, used the two aerials after he parachuted into Nazi-occupied territory to communicate with London before and after one of the boldest resistance missions ever committed during WWII.

Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich

Nazi chief Reinhard Heydrich was described by the notorious German dictator, Adolf Hitler, himself as a man possessing an iron heart. It was because the chief was capable of such cold-hearted barbarity that even shocked his comrades in the Nazi party. Reinhard Heydrich was also credited as one of the Final Solution’s architects.

It was in May 27 in 1942 when the two Czech commandos, Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik, attacked Reinhard Heydrich as he was in an open-top car traveling through the streets of Prague going to work.

Gabcik’s machine gun jammed during the said mission but Reinhard Heydrich was hit by a shrapnel when the grenade that Kubis threw blew off. Initially, the wounds he got from the blow were not serious. However, an infection developed which eventually caused his demise. Reinhard Heydrich died from gangrene on the fourth of June.

Czech agent Potucek was in-charge of the said operation’s radio communications and had operated from a safe house located in  Lazne Bohdanec which was a small town some  60 miles east of Prague.

According to Adolf Vondrka, the current owner of the said house, he was the one who found the aerials August of last year when they were installing electricity for the place. He added that nobody visited the house’s attic before as there was no power in it.

He further commented that before making his find public, he made sure that the radio antenna were the aerials that were part of the WWII transmitter the agent used for the mission. Experts, he said, have confirmed this.

Vondrka said that Potucek made 148 broadcasts which totaled to 24 hours. Potucek was part of the Silver A, the band of agents who parachuted in Czechoslovakia in 1941. They were given the responsibility of laying the groundwork for the Reinhard Heydrich assassination mission which was to take place the following year.

Potucek, at times broadcasting from a quarry where he worked as a nightwatchman, had one of the most vital tasks within the operation — linking the Czech resistance with the organizer of the said mission, the MI6.

As what an expert on the assassination, Milous Cervencl, revealed, the Czech agent had managed to link up with London and maintain that communication for five long months.

The aerials, which were broken into parts for storing when discovered, measure forty and thirty-two feet long. Vondrka said that Czech agent Potucek needed at least aerials that measured thirty-one feet for his signal to reach Britain.

Heydrich's Mercedes 320 Convertible B after the attack, showing the tank grenade damage
Heydrich’s Mercedes 320 Convertible B after the attack, showing the tank grenade damage

An appalled Nazi regime prompted a vicious “rat hunt” to track down those who were involved in the assassination mission following the death of Reinhard Heydrich. The Nazis also extracted a bloody revenge against the Czechs in general.

In Prague alone, ten thousand people were arrested and from this number, 1,300 were killed. The hunt, then, moved on to the village of Lidice. The Nazis incorrectly believed the village hid the agents involved in the killing of the Reinhard Heydrich.

German soldiers rounded up all the males of the village with ages over sixteen – 173 of them – and killed them before transporting all the women and children to concentration camps. Very few of those villagers survived.

Lidice itself was burned to the ground.

Eventually, the Germans were able to track down Kubis and Gabcik, along with the other agents, in a church in Prague’s old town. Kubis was killed in a firefight with the SS while the survivors hid in the church’s crypt.

The Gestapo couldn’t get in without obtaining losses, so, they called on the fire brigade to flood the holdout where the agents were hiding. The agents, down to their last ammunition, committed suicide.

Potucek, the net closing in on him, made one last broadcast to London on June 26. His last message disclosed that the game was already up. He was able to survive one shoot-out with the Gestapo but was shot dead by the Czech police in a forest near the town of Pardubice.

Heziel Pitogo

Heziel Pitogo is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE