Mass commemorates victims of Heydrich assassination aftermath | info.cz

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Mass commemorates victims of Heydrich assassination aftermath

Mass commemorates victims of Heydrich assassination aftermath
 

Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka celebrated a mass in memory of the victims of the Nazi terror unleashed after the 1942 assassination of high-ranking Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich, in St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle yesterday.

Representatives of churches, military, war veterans, the Sokol (Falcon) sport movement and other organisations paid homage to some 300 relatives of and aides to the Czechoslovak paratroopers who assisted in the Heydrich assassination.

Duka highlighted the heroism of the executed people that is often forgotten today.

"I would like to thank for this opportunity to remember those who were forgotten and, let us admit this, are being forgotten," Duka said.

He stressed that the Heydrich assassination was no act of terrorism, but primarily a proof of love for home, the homeland and one's own nation. He added that he wished a plaque marking these heroes be installed in the cathedral similar to the memorials to the first, second and third resistance movement and the November 17, 1989 events that triggered the fall of the communist regime.

A requiem mass for the Czechoslovak patriots murdered by the Nazis has been annually celebrated since 2011.

The tradition of reading the names of the 294 Czechoslovak citizens executed at the Mauthausen Nazi concentration camp in Austria followed up the requiem mass for the fallen paratroopers served by a priest and a wartime paratrooper as of June 1945. However, it was kept until 1947 only as it was interrupted by the Communist coup in February 1948.

The assassination of Heydrich is viewed as one of the most significant acts of the anti-Nazi resistance movement

Czechoslovak paratroopers Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik, from the Anthropoid group, who underwent a training in London, mortally attacked Deputy Reich-Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Heydrich on May 27, 1942. He suffered severe injuries to which he succumbed on June 4.

Three weeks later, 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 the 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. More than 3000 people were executed during the martial law that ended on July 3, 1942.

The biggest mass execution of supporters and relatives of the paratroopers was in the Mauthausen concentration camp on October 24, 1942 when 135 women and 127 men were killed. Further executions followed on January 25, 1943 and February 3, 1944.

Among the executed Czechoslovak citizens were a married couple, Alzbeta and Jan Jesensky, who helped the paratroopers after the assassination when they were hiding in a church crypt. A plaque commemorating the Jesenkys was unveiled in Skorepka street in Prague 1 today.

 
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