Heydrich memorial crypt to be renovated

The site of the Czechoslovak paratroopers’ last stand was last fixed in the 1990s

The Church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, including the crypt where seven Czechoslovak paratroopers hid after the Heydrich assassination, will be renovated. Prague City Hall is working to determine the extent of the work needed. Marks left in walls from shooting during the World War II incident should be retained.

The total cost of the renovation is not known.

The Orthodox Christian church belongs to the city and is administered by the Military Historical Institute in Prague (VHÚ).

“In 2018, we made a geodetic survey of the entire building and carried out exploratory work. This will be followed by more work, including UV light exploration, complementary radon exploration, exploration of crevices, and DNA analysis if residues are found on site," municipal spokesman Tadeáš Provazník told daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD).

The renovations will be carried out under VHÚ supervision, and the crypt should be preserved in its current state. Key items to be repaired include lighting and entry, to allow for more traffic. The lighting from the 1990s should be changed so it better reflects the character of the crypt where the Czechoslovak paratroopers spent their final moments.

“The VHÚ’s aim is to maintain the authentic space of both the crypt and the church, including all the surviving period wounds from bullets or hand grenades,” Michal Burian, director of the VHÚ’s Department of Museums, told MfD.

City Councilor Hana Třeštíková said the city would do all it could to make sure the memorial space will stay open during repairs.

In May 27, 1942, a group of Czechoslovak paratroopers as part of Operation Anthropoid attacked acting Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich as his car made a turn in Prague’s Libeň district. A grenade caused a wound that got infected, and Heydrich died of blood poisoning June 4.

After the death of Heydrich, a state of emergency was declared and thousands of people were arrested. In total, 1,590 were executed. The villages of Lidice and Ležáky were destroyed, and the occupants either were executed or sent to concentration camps.

The seven paratroopers took refuge in the basement of the Church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, hoping to be evacuated by the resistance. They were tracked down by the SS on June 18, and all were killed or committed suicide in the siege at the church that involved over 750 attacking soldiers.

The church crypt has been a national memorial since 1995.

The story of Operation Anthropoid was told in the film Anthropoid, which premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July 2016. Another film about the same story called The Man with the Iron Heart was released in 2017.

Anthropoid was shot mainly in Prague, while The Man with the Iron Heart was shot in Hungary with just some exteriors shot in Prague. The story of the liquidation of Lidice was told in a film called Lidice, released in 2011.

An earlier version of the events called Operation Daybreak was shot in Prague in English in 1975. There were several earlier versions dating back to Hangmen also Die!, shot in Hollywood in 1943 by German-born director Fritz Lang.

The incident is also told in several novels such as Mendelssohn Is on the Roof (1960) by Jiří Weil.

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