Friday, March 15, 2013

Operation Anthropoid - assassination attempt on SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich

Operation Anthropoid was the code name for the assassination attempt on SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi Germany acting Reichsprotektor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The operation was carried out in Prague on 27 May 1942 after having been prepared by the British Special Operations Executive with the approval of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. Although only wounded in the attack, Heydrich died of his injuries on 4 June 1942. His death led to a wave of merciless reprisals by German troops, including the destruction of villages and the killing of civilians.

The operation was given the codename "Anthropoid". With the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), preparation began on 20 October 1941. Warrant Officer Jozef Gabčík and Staff Sergeant Karel Svoboda were chosen to carry out the operation on 28 October 1941 (Czechoslovakia's Independence Day).[1] Svoboda was replaced with Jan Kubiš after a head injury during training, causing delays in the mission, as Kubiš had not completed training nor had the necessary false documents been prepared for him.[7]

Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš were airlifted along with seven soldiers from Czechoslovakia’s army-in-exile in the United Kingdom and two other groups named Silver A and Silver B (who had different missions) by a Royal Air Force Halifax of No. 138 Squadron into Czechoslovakia at 10 pm on 28 December 1941. Gabčík and Kubiš landed near Nehvizdy east of Prague; although the plan was to land near Pilsen, the pilots had problems with orientation.[8] The soldiers then moved to Pilsen to contact their allies, and from there on to Prague, where the attack was planned.

In Prague, they contacted several families and anti-Nazi organisations who helped them during the preparations for the targeted kill.[9] Gabčík and Kubiš initially planned to kill Heydrich on a train, but after examination of the logistics, they realised that this was not possible. The second plan was to kill him on the road in the forest on the way from Heydrich’s seat to Prague. They planned to pull a cable across the road that would stop Heydrich’s car but, after waiting several hours, their commander, Lt. Adolf Opálka (from the group Out Distance), came to bring them back to Prague. The third plan was to kill Heydrich in Prague.

On 27 May 1942, at 10:30, Heydrich proceeded on his daily commute from his home in Panenské Břežany to Prague Castle. Gabčík and Kubiš waited at the tram stop at a tight curve near Bulovka Hospital in Prague 8-Libeň. The spot was chosen because the curve would force the car to slow down. Valčik was positioned about 100 metres north of Gabčík and Kubiš as lookout for the approaching car. As Heydrich’s open-topped Mercedes 320 Convertible B reached the curve, Gabčík stepped in front of the vehicle, trying to open fire, but his Sten submachine gun jammed. Heydrich ordered his driver, SS-Oberscharführer Klein, to stop the car. When Heydrich stood up to try to shoot Gabčík, Kubiš threw a modified anti-tank grenade[10] at the vehicle, and its fragments ripped through the car’s right-rear bumper, embedding shrapnel and fibres from the upholstery into Heydrich’s body, even though the grenade failed to enter the car. Kubiš was also injured by the shrapnel. Heydrich, apparently unaware of his shrapnel injuries, got out of the car, returned fire and tried to chase Gabčík but soon collapsed. Klein returned from his abortive attempt to chase Kubiš, and Heydrich ordered him to chase Gabčík. Gabčík shot Klein twice (using his revolver) and wounded him.[11][12] The soldiers were initially convinced that the attack had failed.

Source: via Juan on Pinterest

Heydrich was rushed to Bulovka Hospital, 250 metres away, where he was operated on by Professor Hollbaum, a Silesian German who was chairman of surgery at Charles University in Prague, assisted by Dr. W. Dick, the Sudeten German chief of surgery at the hospital.[13] The surgeons reinflated the collapsed left lung, removed the tip of the fractured eleventh rib, sutured the torn diaphragm, inserted several catheters and removed the spleen, which contained a grenade fragment and upholstery material.[13] The surgery lasted an hour and went uneventfully. Heydrich’s direct superior, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, sent his personal physician, Karl Gebhardt, who arrived that evening. After 29 May, Heydrich was entirely in the care of SS physicians. Postoperative care included administration of large amounts of morphine. There are contradictory accounts concerning whether sulfanilamides were given, but Gebhardt testified at his 1947 war crimes trial that they were not.[13] The patient developed a high fever of 38–39 °C (100.4–102.2 ºF) and wound drainage. After seven days, his condition appeared to be improving when, while sitting up eating a noon meal, he collapsed and went into shock, dying the next morning.[13] Himmler’s physicians officially described the cause of death as septicemia, meaning infection of the bloodstream.[14] One of the theories was that some of the horsehair used in the upholstery of Heydrich’s car was forced into his body by the blast of the grenade, causing a systemic infection.[15] It has also been suggested that he died of a cerebral or pulmonary embolism.[13]

The assailants initially hid with two Prague families and later took refuge in Karel Boromejsky Church, an Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague. The Germans were unable to locate the attackers until Karel Čurda of the "Out Distance" sabotage group was arrested by the Gestapo and gave the names of the team’s local contacts[29] for the bounty of 500,000 Reichsmarks.

Čurda betrayed several safe houses provided by the Jindra group, including that of the Moravec family in Žižkov. At 5am on 17 June, the Moravec flat was raided. The family was made to stand in the corridor while the Gestapo searched their flat. Mrs Moravec was allowed to go to the toilet, and killed herself with a cyanide capsule. Mr Moravec, oblivious to his family's involvement with the resistance, was taken to the Peček Palác together with his son Ata. Ata was tortured throughout the day. Finally, he was stupefied with brandy and shown his mother's severed head in a fish tank.[30] Ata Moravec told the Gestapo what they wanted to know.

SS troops laid siege to the church but, despite the best efforts of over 700 German soldiers, they were unable to take the paratroopers alive; three, including Kubiš, were killed in the prayer loft (Kubiš was said to have survived the battle, but died shortly afterward from his injuries) after a two-hour gun battle.[31] The other four, including Gabčík, committed suicide in the crypt after fending off SS attacks, attempts to smoke them out, and fire trucks being brought in to try to flood the crypt.[32] The Germans (SS and police) also had casualties, allegedly 14 SS killed and 21 wounded.[33][34] The official SS report about the fight mentions only five wounded SS soldiers.[35] The men in the church had small calibre pistols, while the attackers had submachine guns, machine guns and hand grenades.

Bishop Gorazd, in an attempt to minimise the reprisals among his flock, took the blame for the actions in the church and even wrote letters to the Nazi authorities. On 27 June 1942, he was arrested and tortured. On 4 September 1942, Bishop Gorazd, the church's priests, and senior lay leaders were taken to Kobylisy Shooting Range in the northern suburbs of Prague, where they were shot by Nazi firing squads. For his actions, Bishop Gorazd was later glorified as a martyr by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Taken from [15.03.2013]
See also:  &

No comments:

Post a Comment