Prague - Czech President Milos Zeman and representatives of the ministries and the military today commemorated the death anniversary of seven Czechoslovak paratroopers, who assisted in the mortal attack on high-ranking Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich in 1942.
Prezident Miloš Zeman se 18. června v pražském chrámu sv. Cyrila a Metoděje v Resslově ulici zúčastnil pietní vzpomínky na sedm československých parašutistů, kteří padli před 72 lety v kryptě pravoslavného kostela. Byli mezi nimi i atentátníci Jozef Gabčík a Jan Kubiš, kteří zabili zastupujícího říšského protektora Reinharda Heydricha. ČTK Vondrouš Roman
The ceremony took place in the SS Constantine and Methodius Church in Prague centre where the paratroopers died.
Politicians and representatives of many associations laid wreaths at a memorial plaque near a window from the church´s crypt where the paratroopers were hiding.
Then they attended a mass in memory of the dead paratroopers and other victims of the Nazi terror that was unleashed after Heydrich´s death.
"The paratroopers were aware of the values higher than human life," Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said at the commemorative meeting.
Defence Minister Matej Stropnicky (ANO) highlighted the fact that the paratrooper knew that they would be sent to a mission with a very low chance of survival.
Several WWII veterans attended the ceremony, including Viktor Velemin who participated in the siege of Tobruk in North Africa and the liberation of Western Europe.
He told CTK that he met some friends during the unveiling of the monument in memory of Czechoslovak WWII pilots in the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in Prague on Tuesday and he hoped he would meet them at today´s ceremony as well.
Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik, two Czechoslovak paratroopers from the Anthropoid group that had undergone training in London, mortally attacked Heydrich, Deputy Reichsprotector of Bohemia and Moravia, on May 27, 1942. Heydrich suffered severe injuries to which he succumbed on June 4.
After three weeks the Gestapo detected the paratroopers' cache in an Orthodox church in Prague centre as one of the group betrayed them. Seven men resisted the German forces' fire in a church crypt until the last moment. They all died there on June 18.
The Nazis reacted to Heydrich's assassination by the declaration of martial law and mass executions. The whole villages of Lidice, central Bohemia, and Lezaky, east Bohemia, were razed to the ground. Over 3000 people were killed during the martial law that ended on July 3, 1942.
The assassination of Heydrich is viewed as one of the most significant acts of the Czechoslovak anti-Nazi resistance movement.