A number of stories about heroes and villains took place during the WWII. The one presented in the National Monument to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror will make a strong impression on you. It tells a story about ‘small people’ who resisted the Nazi tyranny, the assassination of the Reich Protector, and Adolf Hitler’s revenge on thousands of civilians.
A tough fight against the occupiers
The occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938 meant a complete takeover of power by the Nazis. Since September 27, The Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was ruled by the acting Reich Protector Reinhardt Heydrich appointed by Hitler, a devoted Nazi. He had a clear goal: to suppress and destroy the Resistance movement which was getting stronger.
Heydrich immediately declared the martial law and ordered multiple executions. Any anti-Nazi manifestations were punished by arrest and in many cases by death penalty. Under Heydrich, even greater terror and fear of the Nazis fell upon the occupied Czechoslovakia. However, Heydrich paid for his cruelty with his life when he died of the injuries he suffered during the assassination on June 4, 1942.
Help from exile
Operation ANTHROPOID The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich is one of the most significant acts of resistance movement during the WWII internationally. A group of paratroopers, including with two assassinators Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, was specially trained in the UK, dropped by the British air force near Prague and controlled by the Czechoslovak exile government with one goal: to restrain the Reich Protector. The bomb and firearm attack on Heydrich’s car was carried out on May 27, 1942, while it was going through Prague-Libeň. The Reich Protector died a few days later.
Thousands of people paid for Heydrich’s death with their lives afterwards. Adolf Hitler was furious and ordered tough repressions, eliminating everyone who participated in the attack or approved of it. The worst atrocity committed on civilians was the extermination of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky, including the women and children, still commemorated even today.
The last resistance of the war heroes
The National Monument to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror, Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, was a hiding place of the assassinators and their five comrades-in-arms after the attack. Due to an extensive Nazi search, they could not escape from Prague. They were discovered after one of the paratroopers, who hiding in South Bohemia, betrayed them and described their plans and hiding places to the Nazis.
The seven soldiers in Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral decided to take their own lives. Since they were outnumbered, after a long fight with the Nazis (the gunfire marks are still visible on the church exterior), they used the last seven bullets for themselves… The Nazis later executed all representatives of the Orthodox church where the paratroopers were hiding.
Experience the Resistance
In 1947, a bronze memorial plaque with the names of the fallen Resistance fighters and clergymen was placed on the church crypt wall. The exposition of the National Monument to the Victims of the Heydrich Terror has presented the significant historical events since 1995. In 2002, the memorable place was renamed to the National Monument to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror.
Since 2010, visitors have been amazed by the reconstructed modern exposition situated in front of the crypt, including a lot of information, contemporary objects and audio recordings. The church crypt where the paratroopers died holds bronze busts of the soldiers with their biographies.
How to get there
The National Monument is in the underground crypt of the baroque Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in the much frequented Resslova Street. To get there, walk from Karlovo Square where many tram lines have their stops or get off the yellow metro B line.
The place of reverence, reminding us of the modern Czechoslovak history, is open all year-long except for Mondays and some holidays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the entrance is free. A guided tour is available by prior arrangement.