Prague’s Heroes of WWII

posted by Sharon January 7, 2018 37 Comments
Prague Charles Bridge

Prague escaped damage during WWII, so what we see strolling along the lanes and in the town square are genuinely historic shops and churches and restaurants, rather than new versions made to look old. Just a short way from the famed Charles Bridge and the lovely Vltava River, a little-known monument memorializes Prague’s heroes of WWII. It’s in the crypt of a small church and is open to the public. Saints Cyril and Methodius Church Prague

You may want to add a visit here to your Prague itinerary. Here’s the story.

Prague’s leaders chose to surrender to Hitler rather than lose their city during WWII. But some didn’t accept this and organized a resistance movement. The group was small and suffered from a lack of radios and contact with the Allies, but they claimed one amazing feat – the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the third most powerful Nazi leader.

Heydrich, General of Police, was in charge of Prague. He was ruthless in pursuit of disloyal townspeople. He earned the nickname, “The Butcher of Prague,” due to relentless arrests and murders of the locals. He was also a leading architect of “The Final Solution,” recommending that all Jews be killed. After the Jews would come the citizens of Prague, according to the master plan. Taking Heydrich out would be a serious blow to the Nazi cause and would possibly save many lives in Prague.

The assassination plot, code-named Operation Anthropoid, called for Josef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, two young Czechs in exile in England, to parachute back into Prague and shoot Heydrich. On June 4, 1942, Gabcik jumped in front of Heydrich’s open-top limousine and pointed his Sten gun, but the gun jammed. Kubis went into action with the backup plan and threw a grenade at the car. He missed Heydrich but hit a corner of the car. The paratroopers ran away through the smoke, thinking they had failed.

Then, Heydrich died from his wounds. Gabcik and Kubis hid in the Saints Cyril and Methodius Church with others who assisted in the assassination. Resistance members were tortured until they gave up the location.

The Germans invaded the church and a long battle ensued. Some of the resistance were killed in the church while some took a stand in the crypt. Intending to take the paratroopers alive, the Germans tried to shoot their way into the crypt. When that failed, they flooded the crypt from city fire hoses to flush out the men. At that point, the paratroopers knew they couldn’t escape, so rather than be captured, they committed suicide.

The crypt today shows clear signs of the battle. Bullet holes pepper the walls. When you stand in the crypt, you feel how small and claustrophobic it is, just a musty basement in a neighborhood church. But the bravery that took place here was beyond measure. Saints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueSaints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueSaints Cyril and Methodius Church Prague

Saints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueSaints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueSaints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueThank you notes lay scattered about, tributes to these young men who gave themselves in hopes of saving others. Groups of school children and tourists come here to learn about this story of Czech resistance to evil. Saints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueSaints Cyril and Methodius Church Prague

Saints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueSaints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueThe tiny museum outside the crypt tells the story of Operation Anthropoid. On display are items like Jan Kubis’ shoe and one of the guns used in the battle. Saints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueSaints Cyril and Methodius Church Prague

The crypt of this church tells the story of seven men who held off the German war machine in a local church for six hours. The paratroopers and those who aided and hid them gave their lives to cut off a leader who randomly and methodically killed innocents. Saints Cyril and Methodius Church Prague

Saints Cyril and Methodius Church PragueIt’s well worth a visit and leaves you with much to mull over as you take in a sunset in the grand city of Prague. Prague Charles Bridge

Want to know more about Operation Anthropoid? The excellent 2016 movie Anthropoid is a gripping dramatization.

Linking up with Image-in-ing, Monday Escapes, Little Things ThursdayWednesday Around the WorldThe Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, Our World Tuesday, Photo Friday, Travel Photo Thursday, City Tripping, Weekend Wanderlust, Faraway Files, The Weekly Postcard, Wanderful Wednesday, and Weekend Travel Inspiration.

California Globetrotter

 

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37 Comments

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Carol January 7, 2018 at 7:36 pm

I always enjoy your beautiful photography and fascinating narrative, Sharon. This one was very intersting.

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Tamar Strauss-Benjamin January 7, 2018 at 11:26 pm

Thank goodness for those heroes!

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Su-sieee! Mac January 8, 2018 at 2:10 am

Thanks for sharing the story of these brave people. May this not ever happen again!

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Mersad January 8, 2018 at 8:41 am

I visited Prague in 2014. Loved your images and they took me back! Thank you for sharing with “Through My Lens”

Mersad
Mersad Donko Photography

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Esther January 8, 2018 at 9:10 am

Very interesting post. I visited Prague last summer, but didn’t quite see this. I like seeing a city ‘theme’ wise and this time I chose Art Nouveau and Jugendstil. Next time, I will keep this article in mind.
#MondayEscapes

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Lisa January 8, 2018 at 10:10 am

What a great post! I feel like we can never lern enough about WWII so I’ll definitely add this to my itinerary next time im in Prague! #MondayEscapes

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image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup January 8, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Fascinating! I had not heard this story, and was moved by reading it and seeing your photos.
Thanks, Sharon, for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/01/ill-never-be-cotton-farmer.html, and for the lesson in history.

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// Heidrun January 8, 2018 at 6:26 pm

I enjoyed this Post.

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۩ ๑ ӇƛƤƤƳ ƝЄƜ ƳЄƛƦ!﹗๑۩

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jesh StG January 8, 2018 at 9:27 pm

Oh, war is always so ugly – on one side – on the other side it also brings out bravery that otherwise is hidden in times of peace. Thank you for sharing this story that should be publicized! it reminds me of some stories in the present time across the globe, where people are shot in churches.Thank you for sharing this with All Seasons – have a beautiful week! (Hopefully drier than here in North CA!)

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Claire at Tin Box Traveller January 8, 2018 at 10:29 pm

What an incredible story of bravery. Definitely somewhere worth seeking out in Prague! #MondayEscapes

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Patrick Weseman January 9, 2018 at 12:46 am

Wow, what a beautiful place. This story needs to be told to all. Thanks for sharing.

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Margy January 9, 2018 at 4:31 am

History we should never forget. – Margy

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Allison January 9, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Although it was a tragic time in our world history, I love reading and learning about WWII- especially the resistance. There are so many stories of brave acts by those who refused to just let another group of people determine their fate. Though I hope to never experience what they had to endure, it is a lesson to everyone to keep fighting for what you believe in. #citytripping

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Pieni Lintu January 10, 2018 at 10:42 am

Nice post!

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Buckeroomama January 10, 2018 at 12:44 pm

Hats off to you for taking the time to distill the info about the different places you visit and putting everything together in a blog post complete with great pics. I love reading these.

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Amanda M January 10, 2018 at 3:42 pm

That’s a really interesting story. Prague is so beautiful. Czech Republic is the one place I’ve been outside of the United States and I really enjoyed the trip. They have so much history and beautiful architecture. Have a great week!

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Sarah Chrsitie January 10, 2018 at 9:28 pm

I really want to visit Prague and think places like this are important to visit, but must really make you think, thank goodness for such brave men thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes

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bettyl - NZ January 10, 2018 at 11:57 pm

What a solemn and lovely place. Thanks for sharing these images.

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California Globetrotter January 11, 2018 at 8:37 am

We literally just watched the movie about Operation Anthropoid! Incredibly heartbreaking! Definitely want to check out this church next time we’re there! Happy New Year!! #FarawayFiles

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Cathy (Mummytravels) January 11, 2018 at 4:26 pm

What an incredible and powerful story – I hadn’t heard it before or come across this in Prague. The bravery involved truly deserves to be remembered. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

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Eddie January 11, 2018 at 5:45 pm

As a WW2 nerd, I approve of this post. One of those trips I want to take (eventually) is a WW2 country-by-country tour, and Prague is on the list of places to stop.

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Corey at fifi + hop January 12, 2018 at 3:05 am

I would imagine it must have been a little eery to visit the crypt. But what an amazing story. I live reading about WW2. Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

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Kelleyn Rothaermel January 12, 2018 at 9:57 am

Such a great city! Have a wonderful weekend!

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Anda January 12, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Very interesting perspective on Prague, Sharon. I haven’t visited the crypt when I was there, but I’m hoping to return to Prague this summer. It’s a miracle that this unique city escaped the destruction of WWII. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Jen January 12, 2018 at 9:24 pm

What a fabulous post! Beautiful photos.

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Nicole January 12, 2018 at 9:25 pm

Very interesting post. One of my favourite sites that I visited in Prague was the monument to communism at the base of Petrin Park. It was a gut wrenching sculpture of the death and despair that communism brought to Prague. Your story about WWII reminded me of that sculpture and all that Prague has suffered through in the 20th Century.

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Katherine January 12, 2018 at 10:07 pm

I’d never heard this story before, and I’ve never been to Prague so this is all going on my “to visit” list for when I do get there. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Eric Gamble January 12, 2018 at 10:42 pm

what an amazing story of Gabcik and Kubis and their plot. I have yet to visit Prague but stopping at the Krypt & Museum will definitely be on my list! We got our true first experience of WW2 in Germany & Austria this past fall and it was truly Eye opening as you see photos of the devastation to the area, especially churches.
Thank you for sharing their story and this site #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Neha January 13, 2018 at 8:49 am

Thank you for sharing the story. Heroes and history of this sort need to be kept alive through our narratives. I did watch the movie and had wondered how I missed this place when I was in Prague a couple of years ago…#TheWeeklyPostcard

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Keri | Ladies What Travel January 13, 2018 at 9:23 am

What an interesting post! Shame I didn’t know about this when I visited Prague a few years back. Thanks so much for sharing their story! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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Jill January 13, 2018 at 2:11 pm

What heroes – and what an interesting story. I’ve not seen the movie but will definitely try to.

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Suzy January 14, 2018 at 8:48 am

Respect for these heroes. My cousin just raves about Prague so it is definitely on my places to see list. Thanks so much for sharing the history and some beautiful pictures of the city.

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Rhonda Albom January 14, 2018 at 9:25 am

Thanks for the fascinating history of these heroes of Prague. I was in Prague about five years ago and wished I had known about this memorial. It ties together some of the other history I learned in Prague.

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Ruth | Tanama Tales January 16, 2018 at 5:44 am

Sharon, I didn’t know about this story or place. Good to learn about this side of Prague. During my visit, I did learn about different notable Czech characters. It is was very interesting to learn about the influence they had on other characters that changed history.

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City Tripping #102 - Wander Mum January 16, 2018 at 7:00 am

[…] Fairytale or tourist trap – Suitcases and Sandcastles Prague’s heroes of WWII – Exploring Our World Catching the sunrise at Angkor Wat – Dotted Line Travels […]

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Nancie January 17, 2018 at 9:23 am

I loved my time in Prague. I didn’t visit the Crypt, so something to check out next time. Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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Kerala Packages January 18, 2018 at 5:34 am

Prague is absolutely stunning and you did an amazing job capturing its beauty! Now I really want to go back, explore this place once more. Thank you.

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