Showing posts with label Operation Anthropoid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Operation Anthropoid. Show all posts

Prague in the Third Reich

Nazi Map of Prague
Map of Prague during the German occupation. Predominantly German since the Middle Ages until around 1860, Prague increasingly saw conflict between its ethnic groups. Czechoslovakia itself had been formed after the Great War and saw itself heavily burdened by inter-ethnic conflicts. Nevertheless it was one of the few states in Europe that remained democratic until the end of the 1930s. At the 1930 census, 42,000 Prague citizens gave German as their mother tongue, living mainly in the city centre.  The fate of democratic Czechoslovakia was finally sealed with the Munich Agreement in 1938 and the invasion of the Wehrmacht on Hitler's orders the following year. Prague became the capital of the newly established Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. That year saw about 120,000 Jews living in the Bohemia, many of them in Prague. The Nazis would eventually murder around 78,000 of them. On May 27, 1942 resistance fighters managed to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the deputy Reichsprotektor. When Hitler's suicide was announced in Prague on May 1, 1945, the three-day memorial service ordered from Berlin took place without resistance. 
Standing on
Wenceslas Square and a Wehrmacht military parade down the same stretch in March 1939 after Germany treacherously broke the Munich agreement and took Bohemia and Moravia, leaving Slovakia as a rump, puppet state. This action was sometimes described by the Germans as the Zerschlagung der Rest-Tschechei (breaking up the rest of Bohemia), Griff nach Prag (reaching for Prague) or Erledigung der Rest-Tschechei (settlement of the rest of Bohemia). From the point of view of international and Czechoslovak law, this was a disguised form of illegal annexation, with the legal government being the government-in-exile in London, led by President Beneš  From the German point of view at the time, it was a legal and peaceful occupation based on the joint statement of the Czechoslovak and German governments of March 15, 1939. In this statement, Czechoslovakia was considered an artificially created state, ahistorically tearing the Czech lands out of the living space of the German nation, internally unable to exist and representing a focus of instability, threatening European peace. 
That  morning of March 15 German troops entered the remaining Czech parts of Czechoslovakia, meeting practically no resistance with the only instance of organised resistance taking place in Místek where an infantry company commanded by Karel Pavlík fought invading German troops. The Hungarian invasion of Carpatho-Ukraine encountered resistance but the Hungarian army quickly crushed it. The next day Hitler himself arrived and from Prague Castle proclaimed the German protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The British historian Victor Rothwell wrote that the Czechoslovak reserves of gold and hard currency seized in March 1939 were "invaluable in staving off Germany's foreign exchange crisis". In addition, the Germans seized all of the factories for making weapons, mines that provided crucial raw materials for the armament program of the Four Year Plan and a "huge weapons haul, including nearly 500 tanks and nearly 1600 aircraft".
 Besides violating his promises at Munich, the annexation of the rest of Czechoslovakia was, unlike Hitler's previous actions, not described in Mein Kampf. After having repeatedly stated that he was interested only in pan-Germanism, the unification of ethnic Germans into one Reich, Germany had now conquered seven million Czechs.
The feelings of Czechs as the Germans annexed their country can clearly be seen in their expressions of hatred and anger seen on the left.
Hitler's proclamation creating the protectorate on 16 March claimed that "Bohemia and Moravia have for thousands of years belonged to the Lebensraum of the German people". British public opinion changed drastically after the invasion. Chamberlain realised that the Munich Agreement had meant nothing to Hitler. Chamberlain told the British public on March 17, during a speech in Birmingham, that Hitler was attempting "to dominate the world by force".
Subsequently, interwar Czechoslovakia has been idealised by its proponents as the only bastion of democracy surrounded by authoritarian and fascist regimes. It has also been condemned by its detractors as an artificial and unworkable creation of intellectuals supported by the great powers. Interwar Czechoslovakia comprised lands and peoples that were far from being integrated into a modern nation-state. Moreover, the dominant Czechs, who had suffered political discrimination under the Habsburgs, were not able to cope with the demands of other nationalities; however, some of the minority demands served as mere pretexts to justify intervention by Germany. Czechoslovakia was able to maintain a viable economy and a democratic political system under the adverse circumstances of the interwar period.
The National Museum on the left after the Americans ceded Czechoslovakia to Stalin a decade after Munich. It was not until Soviet troops approached the city that, on the afternoon of May 4, there was armed uprising. On May 9, troops of General Vlasov, who had previously fought alongside the Wehrmacht, reached the city and were thus able to support the insurgents. The Red Army finally took over Prague after fierce resistance. By order of the Soviet dictator Stalin many members of the Prague units of the Vlasov army were imprisoned as well as Vlasov himself.  Immediately after the end of the war in May 1945, most of the Germans were expelled. Many of them were interned whilst roughly five thousands were killed or died in the detention centres. In 1945, as part of the Beneš decrees, the Hungarians residing in Prague were expropriated and until 1947 partially driven out to Hungary or forcibly evicted. In February 1948, Prague fell under the communist regime of Klement Gottwald. During the Prague Spring of 1968, a peaceful attempt was made to replace the prevailing authoritarian socialism with liberal reforms into a "socialism with a human face". This was crushed by Warsaw Pact forces at gunpoint on 21 August. In September 1989, refugees from East Germany, who had sought refuge in the German embassy, were allowed to leave for the West. In November 1989, Prague was the scene of the so-called Velvet Revolution , which meant the end of the socialist regime in Czechoslovakia .
One can't go anywhere in Prague without coming across such memorials to those killed in the last few days of the war. These, literally a corner from each other, remember two killed on May 5, 1945. As Soviet forces approached from the east and American forces from the west, Czech resistance fighters seized the opportunity to rise against the German occupiers. The uprising was not merely a spontaneous act but had been in the planning stages for some time, coordinated by the Czech National Council. The violence that ensued was multifaceted, involving not just Czechs and Germans, but also other ethnic groups and political factions. Hobsbawm argues that the uprising was a manifestation of nationalist fervour, a final act of defiance against years of oppressive rule. However, his typical Marxist view oversimplifies the complex motivations behind the violence for whilst nationalism undoubtedly played a role, the uprising was also fuelled by ideological battles between communists and non-communists within the Czech resistance. 
My GIFs on the left and below show Staromestske Namesti on that day and today with the wife. Mazower contends that the violence was as much about settling old scores and establishing a new political order as it was about liberation. Indeed, the Czech National Council was deeply divided along ideological lines, and the uprising served as a battleground for these internal disputes. The Germans responded to the uprising with brutal force, employing tanks and heavy artillery against the poorly armed resistance. The violence was not limited to military confrontations; civilians were caught in the crossfire, and summary executions were carried out. Judt notes that the German retaliation was driven not just by military objectives but also by a desire to make an example of Prague, to deter further uprisings in other occupied territories.
The violence also had an ethnic dimension, particularly against the German-speaking minority in Prague. As the tide of the war turned, Czech nationalists saw an opportunity to exact revenge for years of occupation and subjugation. Kershaw posits that the violence against German civilians was a form of "ethnic cleansing," aimed at creating a homogeneous Czech state. This view is supported by the mass expulsions and killings of Germans, known as the "wild transfers," that occurred in the aftermath of the uprising. However, Burleigh challenges this interpretation, arguing that while there were instances of extreme violence against Germans, these were not part of a coordinated, state-sponsored effort but rather spontaneous acts of revenge by individuals or small groups. The role of the Soviet Union in the violence is another point of contention among historians. Applebaum suggests that the Soviets had a vested interest in the outcome of the uprising, as they sought to establish a communist government in Czechoslovakia. According to her, the Soviets deliberately delayed their advance to allow the non-communist factions of the Czech resistance to be crushed by the Germans, thereby facilitating a communist takeover.Meanwhile Beneš had been advocating for a strong, independent Czechoslovakia post-war and was in talks with both Western Allies and the Soviet Union to secure this vision. Snyder suggests that Beneš was willing to make significant concessions to the Soviets to ensure their support, including the marginalisation of non-communist resistance groups. This political manoeuvring had a direct impact on the ground in Prague, as it emboldened communist factions within the resistance and sowed distrust among the various groups. The Czech resistance wasn't a monolithic entity but was fractured along ideological lines, much like the Czech National Council. The divisions weren't merely ideological but also tactical; different groups had different visions of how best to resist German occupation and what the post-war Czechoslovakia should look like. Tooze offers a nuanced view, suggesting that the resistance was a tapestry of local and national agendas, often working at cross-purposes. This internal discord was a significant factor in the violence that erupted during the Prague Uprising, as groups vied for control and influence, both over the German occupiers and over each other.
If hell on earth existed, than it existed in Prague after May the 5th, 1945. Old men, women and children were beaten to death and maimed. Rapes, barbaric cruelties, horror-scenarios of hellish proportions - here they had been let loose.
German motorcycle division crossing the Charles Bridge March 15, 1939
German motorcycle division crossing the Charles Bridge March 15, 1939 in scenes Vladimir Putin's fascist regime is now re-enacting in 2014 using the same language Hitler had made earlier (replacing 'Germany' and 'Czechs' with 'Russia' and 'Ukraine':
- We will never attempt to subjugate foreign peoples. speech of May 27, 1933.

- We have no territorial claims to make in Europe. speech of March 7, 1936

- The German Reich Government shall thus unconditionally abide by the other articles governing the coexistence of the nations, including territorial provisions, and put into effect solely by means of peaceful understanding those amendments which become inevitable by virtue of the changing times. speech of May 21, 1935.
- It is the last territorial demand I shall make in Europe... I repeat here before you, once this issue has been resolved; there will no longer be any further territorial problems for Germany in Europe! speech of September 26, 1938.

- We do not want any Czechs at all. ibid.
Left: Outside the Bata shop where the Gestapo displayed evidence and the offer of a reward for information leading to the assassins of Reinhard Heydrich (see below). Right: Makeshift memorial to the victims of communism at the site where student Jan Palach set himself on fire to protest the regime.
Old Town Square in the last days of the war and today.
The Old Town Square in the last days of the war and today with the wife.
Hitler painting Prague           
"Prague in Fog"- Purported painting of Prague by Hitler featuring Tyne Church, shown also here unter dem hakenkreuz and today
Prague stood in for Munich in the terrible CBS television drama Hitler: Rise of Evil. Here Malá Strana seems to be used for Ludwigstraße as Hitler, played terribly by Robert Carlyle, returns to Munich after the war in April, 1919.
Tyne Church
Germans in front of the entrance and Orloj, the astronomical clock, at the southern wall of the Old Town Hall in 1943. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating. The Orloj suffered heavy damage on May 7 and especially May 8, 1945, during the Prague Uprising, when the Germans fired on the south-west side of the Old Town Square from several armoured vehicles in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy one of the centres of the uprising. The use of incendiary shells wreaked serious damage inside the chamber of the astronomical clock. By the time fire grenades were employed the entire building burnt down and with it the complete City archives burnt to ashes. The clockwork of the astronomical clock was taken apart and taken by cart to the workshop of the Hainz company in Prague – Holešovice. The hall and nearby buildings burned along with the wooden sculptures on the clock and the calendar dial face made by Josef Mánes. After significant effort, the machinery was repaired, the wooden Apostles restored by Vojtěch Sucharda, and the Orloj started working again in 1948.
Jan Hus Memorial Then and Now
The Jan Hus Memorial at the Prague Old Town Square during the occupation and today. In 1913 Mussolini published his only non-fiction book, Giovanni Huss, il veridico in praise of Hus.
Swastikas adorning the Rudolfinum concert hall in 1943. at a farewell event for children being evacuated to the countryside to avoid Anglo-American bombing raids.
In the newly founded Czechoslovakia, the building became the site for the House of Representatives in 1920. Under the Nazis, the building was converted back into a concert hall. Initially, only Czech workers worked, who, it is said in Prague, deliberately removed the statue of Richard Wagner instead of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. After this "mistake" was exposed, the dismantling by German workers continued. According to the current state of knowledge, however, this anecdote is related in the novel Mendelssohn auf dem Dach by Jiří Weiltaken and never happened in reality, since there was never a statue of Wagner. In 1942, the Rudolfinum filmed the German feature film Journey into the Past. After the war, the Czechoslovak Parliament resided in the house again for a short time. Since 1946, however, the building has been used again as a concert and exhibition venue. 
During the war there were several air raids on Prague.The first attack was on October 5, 1941, from 1.16 a.m. to 3.15 when about four incendiary bombs were dropped over the city by British bombers. The second air raid occurred on November 15, 1944. Around noon, two planes of unknown origin dropped possibly a dozen bombs on the municipal power plant although the operating systems remained undamaged. Four bombs exploded in front of an outbuilding, injuring fifteen employees. In the surrounding residential buildings, people standing at windows are said to have been killed by splinters. About three bombs fell on the coal heap of the power plant and were later defused. The third air raid on Prague occurred on Ash Wednesday, February 14, 1945 and was carried out by the USAAF. According to American pilots, the bombing of the city was due to a mistake as a result of navigation errors - they were supposed to support the air raids on Dresden about a hundred kilometres north of Prague. Here about sixty American Eighth Air Force Boeing B-17s dropped 152 tonnes of bombs on various residential areas of Prague. The carpet of bombs hit areas at Vyšehrad, Vinohrady and Pankrác, among others. A total of 700 people died in the attack with 68 buildings completely destroyed and around 250 buildings badly damaged. Among them were some historically valuable houses such as the most magnificent synagogue in the city in Vinohrady and the Emmaus Monastery in Prague's New Town. The extent of the bombing was significantly less than that of the air raids on most German cities. Although the Americans often expressed their regret and saw the causes of their error in unfavourable weather conditions and an alleged similarity of Prague and Dresden from the air, the suspicion is still sometimes expressed that it could have been a targeted attack. According to witnesses, a group of bombers from a larger formation clearly separated from the other bombers and flew to Prague. However, most historians believe that the air raids on Prague were in fact accidental. The last and largest air raid on Prague was on Palm Sunday, March 25, 1945, also by the USAAF. This time it was a planned operation involving 650 bombers launched from Italy and escort fighters. The attack was aimed at the industrial plants in eastern Prague and the Prague-Kbely military airfield. According to the USAAF, Sunday was chosen for the attack to minimise human casualties in the factories. The attack took place under ideal conditions in twelve waves of about fifty aircraft each between 11.48 and 13.02 hrs. One Me 262 was shot down by the P-38 escort fighters near the Prague Zoo crashed. As a result of the attack, 235 dead, 417 injured, 90 destroyed and 1360 badly damaged objects were recorded. 
In the 1930s, with the growing Nazi threat, the New German Theatre in Prague was among the bastions of democracy, serving as a refuge for artists fleeing from Germany. Political developments shortly before signing of the Munich Agreement along with financial problems however led the German Theatre Association to close the theatre in September 1938. The Czechoslovak state expressed an interest in the building. But the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939 and establishment of the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia" thwarted its plans. Under the new title Deutsches Opernhaus, the theatre served for political assemblies of the Nazi Party, and for the occasional guest presentations by ensembles from the Reich. A radical change came in May 1945 following the fall of the Nazi-led government. A group of Czech artists headed by Alois Hába, Václav Kašlík, and Antonín Kurš founded the Theatre of the Fifth of May in the former German Opera House. For the first time the theatre became a home for Czech, rather than German opera. Today inside the theatre there are busts of former artists who had suffered Nazi persecution: Josef Čapek, Julius Fučík, Joe Jenčík, Václav Jiříkovský, Rudolf Karel, Anna Letenská, Vít Nejedlý, Josef Skřivan, Oldřich Stibor, Bedřich Václavek, Vladislav Vančura, František Zelenka. There is also a memorial plaque with verses of Stanislav Kostka Neumann, dedicated to the memory of theatre actors who died during the fascist occupation.

Former Gestapo HQ
The site of the Gestapo headquarters of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 1941 with the entrance flanked by Nazi flags and today. Although the building has an historic appearance, it was in its time a modern reinforced concrete building that was fully air-conditioned, had a piped post office, a telephone exchange, a printing press and massive safes in the basement. 
Two months after the destruction of the rest of the Czech Republic, the Gestapo set up the Prague State Police Headquarters in the Petschek Palace as headquarters in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Shortly before, the Petschk family in Prague recognised the danger posed by the Nazi rulers and sold the building before emigrating to Britain. 
In the basement there were eleven cells in which interrogations took place until May 4, 1945. A total of about 36,000 people were interrogated here, an average of 16 people every day. These were Czechs, Germans, emigrants, resistance fighters, communists, Jews or common criminals. Several prisoners succumbed to torture, and quite a few were executed after interrogation in Pankrác prison or deported to concentration camps. One of the best known and in what is now the Czech Republic one of the most controversial prisoners was Julius Fučík. He'd been transferred from the Petschek Palace to Pankrác prison in April 1942 and would become a communist martyr after the war. Fučík is said to have written the Stalinist propaganda pamphlet Reportage written during his imprisonment, which many Czechs sarcastically refer to as the "Miracle of Pankrác" given how unlikely it was that a prisoner could write such a comprehensive work under such rigid conditions. In addition, after 1989 a fellow prisoner stated that Fučík had written his "reportage" as a privileged prisoner on behalf of the Gestapo. 
The entrance on the right flanked by ϟϟ flags and a Nazi flag inside. The Petschek Palace was a place of terror and was derogatorily called Pečkárna by the prisoners who were held under absolute control through constant strip searches and cell searches. Prisoners were continuously subjected to brutal harassment and torture; some chose suicide for fear of torture or the risk of betraying allies. Others saw no way out and, in order to save their lives, let themselves be recruited as informants. Others also collaborated completely voluntarily and received false documents produced in the Palais Petschek.
To members of the resistance, Petschk's palace was known as the "Bakery". During the war, about half a year after the occupation, the Gestapo took over this building and set up their main office here in  the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The infamous interrogations and torture of Czech patriots and resistance fighters took place here. Acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich had a court-martial established here, which in most cases sent convicts to execution or concentration camps. Many Czech patriots were martyred within the premises of this palace, a period commemorated by a memorial plaque located on the corner of the building. The Pečka Palace is often mistakenly referred to as a prison to where prisoners were brought from the prison on Pankrác. Here they were kept either in former vaults converted into cells or in a room nicknamed the "biograph". In the cinema, simple wooden benches were placed in rows of two behind each other within which three prisoners sat in each row.
Standing in front today
ϟϟ guards and Gestapo officers patrolled and walked through the rooms and observed the prisoners to see if they were sitting up straight and with their hands on their knees as ordered. They were often equipped with a baton or carabao. The room was nicknamed the biographer because of the placement of the prisoners in rows behind each other against a white wall that resembled a cinema screen, on which the prisoners mentally projected their stories during the long waits for interrogation. 
Today it's used by the Ministry of Industry and Trade although since the 1990s, the memorial in the basement has housed a reconstruction of the Gestapo torture chamber transferred from another room. The visit is only possible by appointment. The memorial is run by a communist veterans' organisation that is controversial in the Czech Republic given that immediately after the Gestapo left Prague, the Czechoslovak secret police StB moved into the Petschek Palace. From the beginning, the StB was a communist entity that carried out criminal acts in favour of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, such as the summary execution of alleged or actual collaborators, surveillance and wiretapping of leading members of other parties, or the creation of false evidence to induce opponents of the Denigrate or destroy the Communist Party. The head of the Political Intelligence Section was initially Štěpán Plaček, who used the most brutal interrogation methods in the Petschek Palace and ordered numerous liquidations. From January 1, 1948, the building was officially the headquarters of the intelligence service of the Ministry of the Interior for which the same methods were used as by the Gestapo: torture, threats, food and sleep deprivation, drugs, which were used primarily in the preparation of court proceedings against political opponents of communism or against unreliable citizens. Cases of death or lifelong maiming of the interrogated were tolerated or even considered directly desirable. This part of the building's history is still not mentioned by communist veterans in the Czech Republic. 
A plaque attached on the outer wall commemorates the Gestapo victims who were murdered in this building whilst inside implements of torture are kept on display.

Hradcany Castle

Standing where Hitler set up German headquarters and, inset,  Konstantin von Neurath being sworn in as Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia (although his authority was only nominal after September 1941) with Colonel General Manfred von Brauchitsch to the right.
At 14.03 Hitler’s train reached the little Bohemian frontier station of Leipa, where Panzer Corps Commander General Erich Hoepner awaited him with Colonel Erwin Rommel (who was to command the ‘Führer HQ’). To the consternation of Himmler and the security staff, Hitler decided to drive right on to Prague. At 16.00 the frontier barrier was raised for him to cross into Czecho-Slovakia, and in a snowstorm his convoy headed on to the capital. He stood in his open car, saluting as he passed his regiments. It was dusk when he arrived in Prague. At first nobody knew where Hácha’s official residence, the Hradcany Castle, was. Hitler’s drivers finally entered it through a gate in the rear. A palace flunky was found to guide them to a wing where these unexpected visitors might sleep, but Hitler did not rest yet. He began dictating a law establishing a German ‘Protectorate’ over Bohemia and Moravia. At two in the morning a cold buffet arrived, provided by the local German Centre. There was Pilsen beer: Hitler was prevailed upon to sample a small glass but he grimaced, did not finish it, and went to bed. The first that the citizens of Prague knew of his presence in their midst was next morning, when they espied his personal swastika standard beating from a flagpole atop the snow-bedecked palace roofs.
 Irving's Hitler's War and The War Path, 162
Hitler is shown addressing a crowd from a second-floor window. Hitler's invasion took place after having repeatedly pledging himself and his movement to respect the right to self-determination of other ethnic groups:
   We will never attempt to subjugate foreign peoples. speech of May 27, 1933. 
   We have no territorial claims to make in Europe. speech of March 7, 1936 
   The German Reich Government shall thus unconditionally abide by the other articles governing the coexistence of the nations, including territorial provisions, and put into effect solely by means of peaceful understanding those amendments which become inevitable by virtue of the changing times. speech of May 21, 1935. 
   It is the last territorial demand I shall make in Europe... I repeat here before you, once this issue has been resolved; there will no longer be any further territorial problems for Germany in Europe! speech of September 26, 1938. 
   We do not want any Czechs at all. ibid.
 Heydrich taking up his position as 'protector' of Bohemia and Moravia
The Protectorate government was required to attend Heydrich's funeral. Remarkably, David Irving actually claims that Heydrich had been genuinely mourned by the Czech population:
Surprisingly, the ‘protectorate’ brought blessings for the Czechs as well. Their economy was stabilised and unemployment vanished. Their menfolk were not called upon to bear arms in Hitler’s coalition. Their armed forces were dissolved, and their officers were given state pensions on Hitler’s orders, to purchase their dependence and complicity. The industrious Czechs accepted rich contracts from the Reich and learned eventually to cherish the pax teutonica enforced by Reinhard Heydrich in 1941. It was the peace of the graveyard, but Heydrich won the affection of the Czech workers to such an extent – for instance, by introducing the first ever Bismarckian social security and pension schemes – that 30,000 Czechs thronged into Wenceslas Square in Prague to demonstrate against his murder in 1942. The Czechs had not been required to sell their souls, and this was what Hitler had promised Hácha in Berlin. Hácha himself never felt any grievance. He inquired of Morell about the prescription he had been injected with and thereafter obtained a regular supply from Morell’s pharmacy. He would die, forgotten, in an Allied prison in 1945; Tiso and Tuka were both hanged.

   (163) Hitler's War
The site of Heydrich's assassination at V Holesovickach at the junction with Zenklova then and now. On May 27, 1942, at 10:30 AM, Obergruppenführer-ϟϟ Reinhard Heydrich proceeded on his daily drive from his home in Paneneske Brezany to Prague Castle. Warrant Officer Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš waited at the tram stop on the curve near Bulovka Hospital. Valčik was positioned about 100 metres north of Gabčík and Kubiš as lookout for the approaching car. As Heydrich’s open-topped Mercedes-Benz approached, Gabčík stepped in front of the vehicle, trying to open fire, but his Sten gun jammed. Heydrich ordered his driver, ϟϟ-Oberscharfuehrer Klein, to stop the car. When Heydrich stood up to try to shoot Gabčík, Kubiš threw a grenade at the vehicle, and its fragments ripped through the car’s right-rear fender, embedding shrapnel and fibres from the upholstery into Heydrich’s body. Kubiš was also injured by the shrapnel. Heydrich, apparently unaware of his shrapnel injuries, got out of the car, returned fire and tried to chase Gabčík but soon collapsed. Klein returned from his abortive attempt to chase Kubiš, and Heydrich ordered him to chase Gabčík. Klein was shot twice by Gabčík (now using his revolver) and wounded in the pursuit.

Heydrich was taken here to Bulovka Hospital where, after a week when his condition appeared to be improving, he collapsed whilst eating lunch and went into shock, dying the next morning. His physicians concluded that he had died from infection of his wounds. On the right is the stamp issued on the first anniversary of Heydrich's death, June 4, 1943 on the commission of Karl Hermann Frank. The design is taken from the death mask of Heydrich created by Berlin Professor Franz Rotter.
Heydrich's coffin in Bulovka hospital
Heydrich's coffin in Bulovka hospital, attended by an ϟϟ honour guard
You can download a scanned copy of Reinhard Heydrich - Ein Leben der Tat (Walter Wannenmacher, 1944).
Republic Square
Republic Square then and now
During the savage repression unleashed by the Nazis immediately after the assassination, the paratroopers – thanks to the representatives of the Orthodox Church – found safe refuge in the Church of Ss. Cyril and Methodius (during the Occupation it was known as St. Charles Borromeo) in Resslova Street in Prague. Originally, the group was supposed to hide here only for a short time, the paratroopers were arranged with Vojtěch Paur, who worked in the funeral service, to come to the church for them and take them outside the city. However, this could no longer be realised. One of the paratroopers stopped cooperating with his comrades and became a confidant of the Gestapo; Karel Čurda revealed to the Nazis the collaborators of the paratroopers, through whom the Gestapo learned about the hiding place before the group could escape. On June 18, 1942, at 4.15 in the morning, the cathedral was surrounded by approximately 760 members of the Waffen-ϟϟ combat units , namely the Ersatz-Bataillon ϟϟ "Deutschland" and the ϟϟ-Wachbataillon Prag. Several dozen members of the Gestapo and the local fire brigade were also present at the intervention. The whole area was sealed off. The Orthodox Bishop of Gorazd tried to end the Nazi terror that followed by his own self-sacrifice. He wrote several letters to the Prime Minister of the Protectorate, the Minister of Education, and also to the office of the Reich Protector, in which he took all responsibility for the sheltering of the paratroopers upon himself. He was ready to undergo any punishment, including death, but the then-declared martial law did not spare anyone. He was shot at the Kobylis shooting range on September 4, 1942. The Czech Orthodox Church was banned on September 1, 1942.
The church surrounded by German soldiers in 1942 and me standing in front today. On the right is the inner sanctum where Adolf Opálka, Josef Bublík and Jan Kubiš were keeping guard in the gallery and the choir. At 4.10 the Germans began to surround the church, the complete closure occurred more than ten minutes later than planned. The first sortie started at 4.15. First, the first assault squad, consisting of about fifteen Gestapo officials and ϟϟ men, searched the churchman's apartment, from where they then broke into the church itself. Opálka, Kubiš and Bublík were patrolling here, and they soon opened fire. The defenders only had pistols at their disposal rather than the Sten, often depicted in dramatisations, with limited ammo and perhaps some grenades. Among other things, the Anthropoid landing party was equipped with four Mills hand grenades, which have never been found and it cannot be ruled out that they were used in the defence of the church. The attackers used machine guns and grenades. The Nazis didn't succeed in their first attack, they had two slightly wounded and were unable to penetrate the emporium. Shortly afterwards, the Germans started shooting into the church from the windows of the surrounding buildings, but this fire was stopped very soon, because they were mainly threatening their own people. A protracted firefight followed, when the paratroopers defended themselves against massive fire and grenade throwing by the Germans with sporadic shots. Due to the limited space, the attackers couldn't fully use their numerical superiority, and the units they sent against the paratroopers numbered a maximum of 20 members. The resistance of the paratroopers was broken only after two hours, when they ran out of ammunition. Opálka and Bublík kept the last bullet for themselves. Jan Kubiš bled to death as a result of numerous injuries. There was an attempt to save two of the paratroopers in the hospital (the Gestapo wanted to capture the paratroopers alive if possible), but their injuries were incompatible with life. Overall, it is possible to evaluate the German intervention as well executed, as it achieved a result with minimal losses. The defence of the paratroopers was tenacious, but due to the number of attackers and their weapons, they could not have had any chance of success.
The remaining paratroopers remained hidden in the crypt of the church. It was quite extensive and fragmented. To enter the crypt, paratroopers used a small opening with a door, to which a ladder was attached. But the Germans initially had no idea that there were more paratroopers in the church. The discovery of a fourth suit at the emporium, which apparently did not belong to any of the dead trio, led them to the trail. This was followed by pressure on chaplain Vladimír Petřek and parish priest Alois Václav Čiklo, who then revealed the existence of the crypt. The attackers then discovered a small opening covered by a board. This is where they tried to penetrate underground, but were repulsed at the cost of two wounded, one shot through the thigh the other in the eye. Attempts at negotiation followed, with the Nazis forcing captured clergy to persuade the paratroopers to surrender to no avail. The Germans also brought Čurda to the church, who allegedly called to the crypt: "Comrades, surrender! Nothing will happen to you! Nothing happened to me either." The paratroopers responded with fire and answered other challenges: "We are Czechs! We never give up, you hear? Never!” It is said that in the meantime they tried to break an escape route into the sewers, but this opening in the wall was probably made later.  
I took the photo on the left of the ventilation window as seen from inside the crypt. It was through this small ventilation window from the street in the western part of the church that the Germans threw tear gas grenades into the crypt, but the paratroopers threw them out and even added improvised Molotov cocktails.
This was followed by German fire into the window, which was soon stopped. After that, the Germans tried to wash away the paratroopers with the help of protectorate firefighters . However, the defenders pushed the hoses back into the street using a wooden ladder and fired at the soldiers. Finally, one of the firefighters pulled out a ladder for them. Now there was nothing to prevent the flooding of the crypt. However, the water rose much more slowly than the Germans imagined and the flooding was eventually stopped. The decisive event was being prepared inside the church. The firemen, on the orders of the Germans, used demolition tools to break the slab covering the original entrance to the crypt with stairs. Even before the Germans made a charge through this newly created opening, several shots rang out from the crypt. The fight in the crypt ended like the fight at the top of the church: the paratroopers kept the last charge for themselves. All four parachutists – Valčík, Švarc, Hrubý and Gabčík – were pulled out in front of the church for identification.  Because the Gestapo triumphantly immediately dragged the dead paratroopers in front of the church, it is not known in which places in the crypt Gabčík, Valčík, Hrubý and Švarc died. New research, however, analysed the blood traces found and compares DNA with living relatives to find out who died in the tomb near the stairs the Nazis used to enter the crypt. Josef Valčík is already excluded. 
The paratroopers all paid with their lives, but only Jan Kubiš was proven to have died as a result of injuries caused by ϟϟ and Gestapo assault units. The other six took their own lives. Some of them even attempted double suicide by biting off an ampoule of poison and then shooting themselves. The Germans had three wounded (shot through the arm, thigh, injured eye) and one concussed after being hit in the helmet.

German soldiers and fire brigade members try and flood the crypt and standing at the same spot today, with a memorial to the heroes.

The attackers tried to reach the choir through a narrow staircase, defended by the gunfire of Adolf Opálka. There is a museum inside the church dedicated to them as national heroes.
The dead laid out for identification by Karel Čurda, a former member of the OUT DISTANCE unit who had left Prague immediately after the assassination and hid out with his mother in Nová Hlína near Třeboň, was captured by the Gestapo and betrayed the names of the team’s local contact persons for the bounty of 1 million Reichsmarks. I'm standing on the site today
Kubis and Gabcik
Kubis and Gabcik, and their severed heads presented to their relatives. The heads of Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis were preserved whole, while the flesh of the other five heads was removed and the heads made into skulls. None knows the final fate of the heads, although it is likely that the Nazis cremated them in Strasnice crematorium shortly before the War ended. The director of Strasnice crematorium described how one day several ϟϟ men arrived with several barrels full of human heads and tossed them into the furnace like footballs. He also mentioned that one of the heads looked very much like that of bishop Gorazd who was executed after Heydrich's assassination. More than 1350 people were executed in the aftermath of the assassination, and hundreds died during interrogation. The villages of Lidice and Lezaky were levelled after all male inhabitants were shot and women and children deported.
Between 1937 and 1938 First Lieutenant Adolf Opálka studied at the Military Academy in Hranice and graduated with the rank of Lt. of Infantry. In July 1939 he left for France through Poland, served in the Foreign Legion in Sidi bel Abbes ́and later in Oran. He enlisted in Agde in September 1939. He progressively went through all the regiments of the 1st Czechoslovak Division. He participated in battles on the French front. Upon arrival in Britain he served in a machine gun company. He volunteered for missions behind enemy lines. He was sent to the occupied homeland as a commander of OUT DISTANCE. He established contact with Capt. A. Bartoš, whereupon he was sent to Prague to become the Commander of the “Prague Paratroopers”. He participated in preparations of Heydrich’s assassination. He died in the Church on Resslova Street when, finding himself in a hopeless situation with a shattered-bone fracture in his right arm, he took poison and simultaneously ended his life with a pistol shot to the left temple.
Josef BublíkJaroslav Švarc
Sergeant Cadet Josef Bublík (left), wounded by many fragments, ended his life with a bullet from his own pistol. Staff Sergeant Jaroslav Švarc (right) took poison and simultaneously ended his life with a shot from his pistol.
Jan HrubýJosef Valcík
Sergeant Jan Hrubý (left) ended his life with a shot from his 9 mm Browning pistol whilst Second Lieutenant Josef Valcík (right) ended his life with a pistol shot.
One can enter the crypt where the last moments of the siege took place. The tombs intended for coffins became the last refuge of the paratroopers. In the hopeless situation they all chose a heroic death. The two photos on the right I took show busts of the seven martyrs, and the hole they tried to dig to escape.
Across from the church/museum is the Restaurant Krčma u Parašutistů that doubles as a shrine to the paratroopers.

First time I've had a pint under the saluting images of top ϟϟ officials and Nazi posters
After the assassination the parachutists were looked after by families. Here plaques can be seen honouring the Moravec family on Biskupcova 7 and Jan Zelinky on Biskupcova 4. The apartment of the Moravec family was the paratroopers’ main Prague sanctuary. It was located at 1795/7 Biskupcova Street (Biskupec Strasse). Marie Moravcová was able to obtain aid for the paratroopers through former colleagues from the Volunteer Sisters of the Czech Red Cross. Her son Vlastimil acted as a messenger for the paratroopers and was actively involved in setting up of the assassination. Her second son, Miroslav, fought as a pilot of the No 310 (Czechoslovak) Fighter Squadron in Britain; he died on June 7, 1944 in a plane crash. Marie Moravcová committed suicide during her arrest by the Gestapo on June 17, 1942. Vlastimil Moravec and his father Alois were executed in Mauthausen on October 24, 1942.
Jan Zelenka-Hajský was one of the leading supporters of the paratroopers. This teacher, a former station leader of the Krušnohorská Sokol Group and a member of the Czechoslovak Intelligence Service, unreservedly supported plans to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich. Along with his son, Jan Milíce, and his wife, Františka, he helped the paratroopers in every way possible, and supplied them with accommodation in his apartment at 1837/4 Biskupec Street(across from Moravec’s apartment). Jan Zelenka and his son, Jan Milíce, committed suicide on June 17, 1942. Františka Zelenková was executed in Mauthausen on October 24, 1942.
Hitler ordered the ϟϟ and Gestapo to “wade in blood” throughout Bohemia to find Heydrich’s killers. More than 13,000 people were ultimately arrested. The most notorious incident was in the village of Lidice, which was destroyed on June 9, 1942: 199 male residents were executed, 95 children taken, eight of whom were taken for adoption by German families, and 195 women arrested
Nerudova ulice and Celetná ulice
At the National Liberation Memorial atop Vítkov Hill in Prague's Žižkov district, seen as one of the most important buildings related to the development of Czechoslovak/Czech statehood. I'm standing in front of the third largest bronze rider statue in the world, that of Jan Žižka, who defeated Catholic forces led by King Sigismund in 1420 in the Battle of Vítkov Hill. The Monument also includes the Ceremonial Hall, an exhibition entitled Crossroads of Czech and Czechoslovak Statehood, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other exhibition halls. The Monument was built from 1928 to 1938 in honour of the Great War Czechoslovak legionaries and later extended after the war to commemorate the anti-Nazi resistance. After the Germans annexed the country, the lower buildings of the museum, now the Institute of Military History, were seized although the Monument's building escaped the Wehrmacht's attention until November 1942. The administration of the Monument took advantage of this period to secretly remove everything valuable, such as metals for casting sculptures, and works of art. From November 1942 the Monument was occupied by the German administration and until the end of the war the Wehrmacht used it for storage. At the beginning of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939, the Tomb became a place where people expressed their symbolic resistance against Nazi rule and thus was was demolished by the Nazis in 1941. After the war, consideration was given to renewing the tomb and moving it to Vítkov. After 1948, it was used to promote national ideology and the Communist regime. As part of the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Zborov, the Headquarters of the Czechoslovak Army decided to establish the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the National Monument in Vítkov, which would contain the remains from Zborov, but Soviet embassy officials denied the transfer of those remains. In June 1949 restoration work was underway in the military graveyard near Dukla, and during exhumation work on July 14, 1949 the remains of one of the unknown soldiers were unearthed in the graveyard in Vyšný Komárnik, transported to Prague and temporarily lodged within the National Museum. On October 9, 1949, when celebrations for the fifth anniversary of the Battle of the Dukla Pass were at their peak, the remains were moved to the Liberation Monument. Between 1954 and 1962 it housed the mausoleum of Klement Gottwald. In 2000, the monument was acquired by the National Museum, which conducted a major restoration work. After over two years of reconstruction, the Memorial was opened to the public on 29 October 2009. was built between 1928 – 1938 in honour of the Czechoslovakian legionaries.
The mausoleum of Klement Gottwald, longtime leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) and Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia from and later President, was established here in 1953. Gottwald had suffered from heart disease for several years. Shortly after attending Stalin's funeral on March 9, 1953, one of his arteries burst and he died five days. The original layout placed a sarcophagus in the Main Hall, as the place where founder Tomas Masaryk was to be buried. He eventually rejected the plan, and so did his family after his death. From 1953 to 1962 this area was rebuilt into the Klement Gottwald Mausoleum. The Minister of National Defence and Gottwald's son-in-law Alexej Čepička was in charge of preparatory works for the conversion. The examples came from Lenin's Mausoleum in Moscow and the Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum in Sofia. The Mausoleum included technical facilities. The construction work also involved the son of the Monument's key architect, Jan Zázvorka Jr., a film architect. Klement Gottwald's body was exhibited in the centre of the mausoleum in a glazed sarcophagus. The lid had built-in lights with small mirrors. The body was moved in and out of the underground laboratory by a vibration-free telescopic device. The embalmed body was dressed in the blue general's uniform of the Head Commander of Czechoslovak armies. In 1958 it was changed to civilian attire. However, by 1962 the personality cult ended and it was no longer possible to show Gottwald's body. There are accounts that in 1962 Gottwald's body had blackened and was decomposing due to a botched embalming. His body was cremated, the ashes returned to the Žižka Monument and placed in a sarcophagus.  After 1989, all of the remains buried here were taken away; his nondescript grave can be seen below in a common grave at Prague's Olšany Cemetery, together with the ashes of about 20 other communist leaders which had also originally been placed in the Žižka Monument. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia now maintains that common grave.

The Munich Agreement

A Czech television commercial featuring a cleaner with a strong sense of memory.

Prague Military Museum (Armadni Muzeum)

Beside a T-34 tank at the entrance whilst inside one of Heydrich's Mercedes 320 Convertible B cars, similar to the one in which he was mortally wounded, is exhibited. 

Other exhibits pay tribute to the British Empire and its allies against worldwide fascism

Jewish Ghetto
Pinkas Synagogue Then and Now
The Pinkas Synagogue in Josefstadt, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust from Bohemia and Moravia. Part of the Jewish Museum, on its walls inside are the names of 80,000 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia who were murdered by the Nazis. Children's drawings from the Theresienstadt ghetto are exhibited on the first floor, created during painting courses by the artist Friedl Dicker-Brandeis who was interned there .
Maisel and Klausen synagogues
The Maisel Synagogue where Hitler has been said to have intended to establish his "Central Museum of the Extinguished Jewish Race" and on the right the Klausen synagogue, the largest in the ghetto and the seat of Prague's Burial Society. The commonly held view that the Nazis brought Jewish ritual objects from the whole of occupied Europe to Prague so that after their victory they could create a ‘museum of an extinct race’ in reality is more nuanced and has become a self-perpetuating legend. In fact, the Jewish Museum in Prague was not created by the Nazis but was established August 1906. The museum’s collection programme was clearly based along regional lines, covering solely Jewish memorial objects from Prague and Bohemia. At the time of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 and the creation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, the museum’s collection already contained approximately 760 items.

The Old Jewish Cemetery, the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe, is located on a small plot of land between the Pinkas Synagogue and the Klausen Synagogue. Because the cemetery was only capable of holding around ten percent of the amount of Jews buried there, the graves spanned about twelve tombs deep. The most famous tomb belongs to Rabbi Loew, legendary creator of the Golem. Surprisingly, the cemetery and ghetto itself would not be intact today, if Hitler hadn't ordered it to be saved to serve as part of a museum after all the Jews were extinguished. To this day, the cemetery is almost the same as its mediæval dimensions, as there was no possibility of expansion in the ghetto. Due to the lack of space, the deceased were buried in up to twelve layers, which over the centuries resulted in an almost picturesque rise and fall in the ground over the centuries. The winding property, surrounded by a high wall, is located between the Pinkas and Klausen synagogues, but the Altneu and Maisel synagogues are also very close by. Next to the cemetery is the Jewish Museum, which was originally set up by Adolf Eichmann or his department as the “Jewish Central Museum” during the German occupation and was opened by the ϟϟ on April 6, 1943 as the “Museum of a Lost Race”.

Olšany Cemeteries
Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

264 soldiers are buried here, the majority of which - 188 graves - were members of the ground forces captured by the Germans who died in prisoner-of-war camps. The cemetery also holds the graves of 39 airmen who died in the area during the period of November 1 - 3, 1944 while they were supplying weapons and material to the Warsaw Uprising. Besides the 198 British graves are those from the Empire of Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Cypriots, and one Indian. The graves were brought into the cemetery from 73 small cemeteries scattered all over the Czech Republic. Many of those buried here died as Prisoners of War. There are also eight Polish war graves. At the entrance is the inscription: "The land on which this cemetery stands is the gift of the people of Czechoslovakia for the perpetual resting place of the sailors, soldiers, and airmen who are honoured here." The British had to trust the communist regime to establish this cemetery along their plans.
The stones differ in colour to those usually found in CWGCs as seen in my other site Echoes of war.

Soviet Cemetery

Prague Soviet Cemetery 
This graveyard holds the remains of 436 Soviet soldiers, among them soldiers of the First Ukranian Front under Generals Jeremenko, Rybalko and other commanders, who liberated Prague under the command of Marshall Konjev.
Left: Memorial to Bulgarian soldiers who were killed in the liberation of Prague in May 1945. Right: Memorial to the members of the First Czechoslovak Army Corps in the USSR who died after the war as a result of wounds.
A remarkable set of graves belonging to members of the Roesskaja Osvoboditelnaja Armija (Russian Liberation Army), established by Russian officers whilst in German captivity under former Red Army general Andrey Vlasov, who tried to unite anti-communist Russians opposed to the communist regime and wanting to liberate Russia from the Stalin dictatorship. During the Prague uprising of 1945, the ROA was thrown in battle by the Germans against Czech insurgents. At the most critical moment of the battle, the ROA turned on the Germans and joined the insurgents.The former Soviet soldiers soon left the city towards west to escape future Russian captive. Nevertheless they were handed over to the Soviets by the American army and shot in the woods around Prague. 
One day a Soviet official had arrived at Plattling and demanded the files on the prisoners. When the Russian POWs got wind of what was going to happen, they mutinied. A senior American officer had placated them by telling them that they would not be handed over, and that they would be resettled in southern Europe – the same lie the Welsh Guards used in Carinthia. Then the tanks rolled in. The American guards had been issued with rubber truncheons and went to the Russian huts in the middle of the night, beating them out of their bunks – ‘Mak snell, mak snell’ – and into waiting lorries. They were taken to Zwiesel near the border. American guards reported that corpses could be seen hanging from trees behind the Russian lines. The precise number of Russian soldiers killed is not known. Estimates range from 300 to 3,000.
MacDonogh (416) After the Reich
Left: Paying my respects at Jan Palach's grave. Palach had initially been interred in Olšany Cemetery but given his gravesite was becoming a national shrine, the Czechoslovak secret police (StB) set out to destroy any memory of Palach and exhumed his remains during the night of October 25, 1973. They then cremated his body and sent the ashes to his mother whilst the body of an anonymous old woman from a rest home was laid in the vacated grave. Palach's mother wasn't allowed to deposit the urn in the local cemetery until 1974. It wasn't until October 25, 1990 that Palach's ashes were officially returned to his initial gravesite. On the 20th anniversary of Palach's death, protests ostensibly in memory of Palach but intended as criticism of the regime escalated into what would be known as "Palach Week". The series of anticommunist demonstrations in Prague between January 15 and 21, 1989 were suppressed by the police, who beat demonstrators and used water cannons, often catching passers-by in the fray. Palach Week is considered one of the catalyst demonstrations which preceded the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia ten months later.    Right: Klement Gottwald's grave, a far cry from his previous resting place. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia now maintains that common grave. 

New Jewish Cemetery
A couple of the many such memorials found on the south wall of the cemetery. The new Jewish cemetery in Olšany was officially opened on July 6, 1890. With an area of ​​more than 100,000 m², it is about ten times the size of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Josefov and can accommodate about 100,000 graves, of which about 25,000 are currently occupied. The cemetery contains numerous Art Nouveau monuments by Czech artists, including Jan Kotěra, Jan Štursa and Josef Václav Myslbek, the creator of the statue of St. Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square.  They provide an insight into the Jewish self-image conveyed by the grave inscriptions from the time before the German occupation in 1938, which was mainly kept in Hebrew.
Franz Kafka's Grave. A Jewish German in Czechoslovakia, he would not be recognised until after his death. The plaque below the grave commemorates his three younger sisters Elli, Valli and Ottla with an unknown date of death, who were murdered between 1942 and 1943 in the extermination camps Chelmno and Auschwitz-Birkenau respectively.

Near Kafka's grave to the east of the cemetery is this forlorn area that should give even Holocaust-deniers pause for thought- a large area left unfilled by the generation that had been annihilated by the Nazis. If no Holocaust, where are the missing graves?

Cernínský Palác

Cernínský Palác Then and Now
This was the seat of the Reich Protector from 1939 to 1944. After the war, foreign minister Jan Masaryk (son of Czechoslovakia's first president) lived in a flat on the top floor of the palace. On March 10, 1948 he was found dead in the courtyard below his window, assumed to have been defenestrated, paving the way for forty more years of oppressive rule. 
Masaryk’s body, shown here lying in state, was discovered wearing his silk pyjamas. Despite the frigid temperatures on this winter morning, a single window two stories up, above the body, was wide open, and seemed to indicate whence Masaryk had fallen. In the tradition of Prague’s gruesome defenestrations dating back to the beginning of the 15th century, he was most likely thrown from the window.When the communists started to lose support, they acted quickly with the help of the Soviet Union and seized power in a stunning coup at the end of February 1948. Within two weeks, Masaryk was found dead, and the country was quickly disabused of any notion that the communists would behave any less brutally than the Soviets under Stalin. Masaryk’s funeral took place three days later, and was attended by President Beneš, for all intents and purposes a lame duck who no longer wielded much power and had suffered two strokes the year before, who would resign his post less than three months later.
Across from the building (now serving the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs) is the statue of Beneš I'm standing beside above Both men received a state funeral, though under very different circumstances. While resistance within Czechoslovakia was neither intense nor extensive, Edvard Beneš successfully established a very active Czech government in exile in London. In Great Britain, Beneš formed a Czech legion, a unit of brigade strength, consisting of 5,000 men equipped with tanks, which served in the Normandy landings and in subsequent engagements. Three Czech fighter squadrons and one Czech bomber squadron flew with the Royal Air Force, and Czech intelligence operatives served with the British throughout the war. In July 1941, the Beneš's government concluded a treaty with the Soviet Union by which the USSR recognised the legitimacy of the government in exile and, with the United States and Great Britain, upheld its status as an Allied power.
Bavaria's state premier Edmund Stoiber said at a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmanschaft that the statue was a provocation given the so-called Beneš decrees which formed a legal basis for the expulsion of over 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from post-war Czechoslovakia.
Standing at the former site of the Stalin Monument, a colossal granite statue that stood on a high plinth overlooking the Vltava River from Letná Park. Unveiled on 1 May 1955, the monument was one of the world's largest representations of a standing figure, measuring 15.5 meters in height and 22 meters in length, including the plinth. The monument was the work of Czech sculptor Otakar Švec, who won the commission after a national competition. The construction process was arduous, taking more than five and a half years to complete and involving hundreds of workers. The monument was made of 17,000 blocks of granite, each carefully sculpted and assembled to create the imposing figure of Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union. It was the world's largest representation of Stalin, and was destroyed in 1962. The monument was located on a huge concrete pedestal, which can still be visited in Letna Park and was the largest group statue in Europe, measuring 15.5 metres in height and 22 metres in length. At 17,000 tonnes, Stalin's jacket button alone, decorated with a hammer and sickle,  was half a metre wide The sculptor was Otakar Švec who, under pressure from the government and secret police whilst receiving hate mail from Czech citizens, killed himself three weeks before the unveiling. The man who posed for him as Stalin - an electrician from the Barrandov film studios, failed to shake off his nickname "Stalin", took to drink, and died three years later. Swedish architectural historian Anders Åman described its impact as “overwhelming”:
In shape, it resembled a wedge pointing inward at the city. Stalin occupied the apex, the Soviet people one side, the Czech and Slovak peoples the other side. At the back, finally, was a relief of the hammer and sickle. It was colossal. It was built of meter-high blocks of granite. . . . Behind Stalin there was a slight gap—to make him stand out as an individual, even if the monument was viewed from the side—and then, on both sides, came the nations rallying in his footsteps...[four figures], representatives of the workers, the peasants, the intelligentsia, and the armed forces.
The statue depicted Stalin in a forward-leaning pose, as if leading the Soviet people into the future. Behind him were arranged smaller figures representing workers, farmers, and intellectuals, all seemingly marching in unison under Stalin's guidance. The monument was a powerful symbol of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic's allegiance to the Soviet Union and its ideology. It was intended to serve as a permanent reminder of the "friendship" and "brotherhood" between the Czechoslovak and Soviet peoples, as well as a tribute to Stalin's leadership. However, the monument's existence was short-lived. After Stalin's death in 1953, his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, initiated a period of "De-Stalinisation," which involved a critical reassessment of Stalin's policies and actions. This political shift had a direct impact on the monument's fate. The monument, therefore, became an increasing source of embarrassment to the Czech Communist Party which blew it up with 800 kg of explosives. In 1962, just seven years after its unveiling, the statue was demolished using 800 kilograms of explosives. The destruction was carried out in secrecy, under the cover of night, to avoid drawing attention. The remnants were buried at an undisclosed location, and the sculptor, Otakar Švec, who had already been grappling with the ethical implications of his work, committed suicide shortly before the statue's completion. The site where the monument stood remained vacant for many years, serving as a stark reminder of a controversial period in Czech history. It wasn't until 1991 that a new monument, the Prague Metronome, was erected on the same plinth. The Metronome is often interpreted as a symbol of the passage of time and the impermanence of political regimes, standing in stark contrast to the monumental permanence that the Stalin statue was intended to convey.
In 1996 the pedestal was briefly used as a base for a 35 foot statue of Michael Jackson made of fiberglass and steel, whose ego at the time rivalled that of Stalin's at the height of the latter's Personality Cult as a promotional stunt for the start of his HIStory European tour. The installation of the statue was met with mixed reactions from the public and the media. On one hand, it was seen as a symbol of the changing times, representing the shift from a Communist regime to a more open, Western-oriented society. The statue's presence in a location once occupied by a monument to Stalin was viewed by some as a triumph of pop culture over political ideology, a sign that the Czech Republic was moving away from its totalitarian past and embracing global trends. On the other hand, the statue's placement was criticised for trivializing a site that had significant historical and political connotations. Critics argued that a statue of a pop star could not adequately replace a monument that, for all its controversy, was a significant part of Czech history. The debate around the statue touched on broader questions about the role of public art and monuments in shaping collective memory and national identity.

Paying my respects at Winston Churchill Square
Winston Churchill’s statue located at Winston Churchill square in the Zizkov district outside the University of Economics in Prague which serves as a lasting tribute to the British leader and signifies the deep respect and gratitude that the Czech people have for his contributions during the war. The statue was unveiled in a ceremony that highlighted Churchill's enduring impact on Czech history and culture, emphasising his role as a defender of democratic values and freedoms that the Czech people hold dear. The presence of the statue is not merely symbolic; it serves as a physical representation of the Czech Republic's alignment with the principles that Churchill stood for. The statue serves as a focal point for commemorations and is a subject of academic and public discourse. It is a reminder of the shared history and values between the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom, a relationship that Churchill himself had a significant role in shaping. Its location outside an educational institution also signifies the importance of Churchill's ideals in the academic and intellectual fabric of the country. This statue is a replica of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill by Belsky from 1969 (shown with former PM Macmillan) that stands in Parliament Square and was unveiled in Prague on November 17, 1989. In the opening ceremony of his monument in Prague there were many the guests including former British Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Czech Chamber of Deputies Chairman Vaclav Klaus and Churchill’s grandson, Rupert Soames. Thatcher delivered a speech during the unveiling, emphasising Churchill's enduring impact on Czech history and culture. The event was also attended by local dignitaries, including the Mayor of Prague and other Czech officials. The ceremony was not merely a formality but a significant occasion that highlighted the deep respect and admiration that the Czech people have for Churchill. Margaret Thatcher's presence at the unveiling ceremony was particularly noteworthy. As a political leader who herself had a significant impact on British and global politics, her participation lent additional weight to the occasion. Her speech touched upon the shared values of democracy and freedom that both Churchill and the Czech people hold dear, further solidifying the deep-rooted admiration for Churchill in Prague. The date of the unveiling, 17th November, is also significant in the context of Czech history. It marks the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, a peaceful revolution that led to the end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. The choice of this date for the unveiling of Churchill's statue underscores the alignment of Churchill's democratic ideals with the aspirations of the Czech people, further cementing his revered status in Prague. The statue of Churchill reminds us that the price of freedom can be high, that it may indeed require the sacrifice of “blood, toil, tears and sweat” and that liberty must never be allowed to perish from the earth; it must forever endure.

Throughout Prague are found numerous references to the saviour of Western civilisation.