Operation Anthropoid Memorial

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Operation Anthropoid MemorialThe Operation Anthropoid Memorial had its festive opening on Wednesday May 27, 2009 at 10:35, which was, to the minute, exactly 67 years since the execution of the assassination on the Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich. The Memorial was designed as a monumental symbol of resolve, bravery and cognizance of the danger of actions taken by the paratroopers in 1942.

Reinhard Heydrich, the third man of the Third Reich, chief of the Reich Main Security Offi ce and the main architect of the holocaust, who on September 28, 1941 replaced Konstantin von Neurath, has introduced himself in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia through an unusual wave of terror. The exiled representatives of Czechoslovak government in London have reacted to this fact and at the very end of 1941 they sent out a paratrooper task force ANTHROPOID, which had a sole objective: to eliminate Heydrich.

May 27, 1942 went down in the European history of the anti- Nazi resistance as one of the most prominent days. Josef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš were awaiting the arrival of the acting Reich Protector at a carefully picked out location, in a sharp turn of the, at the time, Kirchmayerova Třída (Avenue), nowadays Zenklova, in the back then suburb of Libeň with an intent to assassinate him. Heydrich’s car has entered the turn precisely at a time that two tram trains were passing by. Gabčík threw down his trench coat and aimed at the target sitting on the front passenger seat, pulled the trigger, and his weapon unfortunately misfi red. Heydrich has decided to personally take the attacker into custody and ordered the car to stop immediately. Kubiš now took advantage of this, reached into his briefcase and threw a bomb. The explosion demolished the right back wall of the car, ripped apart a tire and broke out a door. Parts of the car’s body, which smashed through the front passenger seat, penetrated deep into Heydrich’s back along with parts of the upholstery. People immediately started to gather on location of the assassination and both paratroopers were forced to fl ee as fast as they could. Heydrich was transported on the back of a truck to a nearby city hospital. The assassins were not captured until following the treason by Sergeant Karel Čurda, a member of the task force OUT DISTANCE, in the early morning hours on June 18 at the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Resslova Street in Prague 2.

The Memorial’s design was decided based on a competition opened to artists and architects, announced by the City Hall of the Municipal District of Prague 8, winner of which was the joint design by sculptors David Moješčík and Michal Šmeral and architects Miroslava Tůmová and Jiří Gulbis. Basic concept of the monument is the symbol in the form of a triangular wedge of the Czech, or better yet Czechoslovak fl ag. The silhouettes stand on its edge in the height of nine meters in almost suicidal stands, which corresponds to the carried out act. Two of the silhouettes represent Czechoslovak soldiers and the third is a representative of the civilians, who’ve played their integral role in the resistance. The position in the shape of “Vitruvius” cross is inspired by the fi gure found on the famous painting of a man by Leonardo. Th is “anatomical” position of a man is an innuendo on the name of the entire mission itself – Anthropoid – i.e. man. The silhouettes are depicted as realistic, but without portrait features of specifi c people. They are intended to depersonalize the soldiers and composition and through repetition they point out the production line approach to humans as a battle product. The silhouettes are an innuendo of forgetting real bravery in which only the truly bold step out of the crowd and in time they become the “unknown private” of history.

The triangular cross section column is based in the shape of the wedge found on the national fl ag, which we can notice among the silhouettes. Sharp edges symbolize a sword blade, recklessness and battering of tyranny that infl icts humiliation and suff ering. This is the reason that coarse sheet metal was used on the walls of the cylinder, which is to evoke an impression of harshness and expression. Its corroding character refers to the destroyed and blemished Czechoslovak statehood. The pillar is a basal geometric body forming a pedestal for three silhouettes, which are ready to plummet into an abyss from its sides. A bronze slab is set into the ground in front of the Memorial bearing the sign: (translated) Here on this spot on May 27, 1942 at 10:35, the heroic Czechoslovak paratroopers Jan Kubiš and Josef Gabčík carried out one of the most signifi cant resistant acts of the Second World War – assassination of the acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich. They could never complete their mission without help from hundred Czech patriots, who paid for their bravery by their own lives.”

The investor of the Operation Anthropoid Memorial was the Prague 8 Municipal District and the total costs for its construction have reached a level of 5 million Czech Crowns.