January 9, 2006

Heydrich assassination revisited

More than 60 years ago, a group of Czech and Slovak exiles parachuted into their Nazi-occupied homeland and assassinated SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, the man known as the "Butcher of Prague".

For the first time since the end of the World War Two, a German museum is offering a close look at "Operation Anthropoid", the codename for the only successful assassination of a member of Adolf Hitler's inner circle.

Michal Burian of the Military Institute of Prague, which presented the exhibition in the Czech capital before it moved to Berlin, says the assassination ranks among the most important moments of the last century and is far more than a footnote.

From Yahoo! News, which also notes:
But cruel reprisals by the Nazis, who razed two Czech villages to avenge Heydrich's death, prompted some historians to question whether it was worth the carnage that followed.

After Heydrich died, Nazi police surrounded the village of Lidice, which was believed to be harbouring resistance fighters. The population was rounded up. Most were shot and the remaining women and most of the children were sent to concentration camps.

Around 340 people died in Lidice. Two weeks later, the village of Lezaky received similar treatment. . .

According to recently released government documents, Winston Churchill even suggested levelling three German villages for every Czech village the Nazis destroyed.

A timely reminder of how incomplete a picture is presented by those condemning the Allied bombing of Germany, and especially those younger Germans now attempting to don the mantle of victimhood.

While German suffering should not be forgotten, let it be remembered in context. To the extent that the airwar became total war, it was largely because Germany fought it that way -- and even before, if one is to count the bombings carried out by the Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War (not to mention the indiscriminate bombing of Britain by airship and airplane during WW1, and the random shelling of Paris by long-range artillery). The firebombing of Dresden and Hamburg were appalling, but by no means incomprehensible. Think of a bar fight that starts out with shoving, then fists, then kicks, leading in turn to biting and gouging, smashed bottles, knives, and so on. It's easy to condemn where such escalating savagery leads, not so easy to point out where and how it could be stopped. Here are a few links that help illustrate the tit for tat: London, Berlin, London, etc. (Battle of Britain/Blitz); Munich and Coventry, Lübeck and the Baedeker raids.

Posted by David on January 9, 2006 10:16 AM

Comments

This assassination was carried out by the British for the express purpose of causing the Nazi's to undertake reprisals against the Czechs. This was because the Czech's seemed to have adapted all too well to being run by the Nazi's, and the British wanted to stir up trouble.

Heydrich drove around in an open car without escort in Prague. When he was advised by his SS peers that that was unwise, he told them that the Czechs would never harm him because of the reprisals. He was correct. The British secret service killed him, however.

As for the only assassination of Hitler's inner circle, I do not believe anybody tried hard to kill the Nazi inner circle. The British had a chance to kill Hitler (Hitler was in the habit of drinking tea out in the open in a teahouse) but took a pass, saying that it would have been too difficult to extract the sniper. Hah. The fact is the British were happy to have Hitler alive and misdirecting the German war machine. Hitler was crucial to the Allies' battlefield success. The failure of the German war effort on the Eastern front, for example, was due in vary large part to Hitler's incompetence. Not to be too hard on Hitler in this regard. Churchill was a disaster when he tried to direct military matters, too. Same for Stalin. Politicians are not generals, not matter what they think.

Posted by: joel on January 10, 2006 5:40 PM

I HAVE RESEARCHED THE EVENT OF HEYDRICH,S DEATH, AND I DO BELEIVE THAT HE MAY HAVE RECOVERED FROM HIS WOUNDS. UNTIL HIMMLER SENT HIS OWN PERSONNEL DOCTORS TO "ASSIST" WITH HEYDRICH'S RECOVERY. HEYDRICH WAS A THREAT TO HIMMLER, AS A MORE CAPABLE "POLICEMAN". AND HITLER WAS WARY OF HEYDRICH AND HIS UNBRIDLED AMBITION.IT HAS BE DOCUMENTED THAT HEYDRICH WAS RECOVERING FROM HIS WOUNDS AND HIS CONDITION ONLY GOT WORSE AS THE REPLACEMENT DOCTORS TOOK OVER. I DO BELEIVE HEYDRICH WAS GIVEN A LITTLE PUSH, SO TO SPEAK.

Posted by: IRISHBOY on June 3, 2006 5:28 PM

It is true that Hitlers incompetence hurt the Germans in Russia, but not as badly as Russian incompetence and Stalins purges. Once the Russians got their act somewhat together it was all over. There was no escaping the numbers. Germany started a war they could never have hoped to win. Just the existance of the Royal Navy precluded any real hope of total victory.

Posted by: Mark Orr on April 29, 2007 2:19 AM
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