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The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich

By Tristan Burke

A Lovely Day Tomorrow is more or less a purely narrative song, dealing with one of the most powerful stories of the Second World War.

The story begins with three men, coming back from England to the Nazi province of Bohemia and Moravia in 1941. The year before, the then thirty-seven year old SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich had been appointed 'Protector' (or rather dictator) of Bohemia and Moravia. The man with the job before him had been considered insufficiently harsh by Hitler, who was presumably becoming worried of an uprising. Heydrich served the role of represser excellently, even daring to drive in an open top Mercedes-Benz, he was so confident of not being attacked.

Meanwhile in Britain, the ambitious Operation Anthropoid was being planned, a team of agents from the Czechoslovak Government were being trained to assassinate Heydrich. On the 28th December 1941, they arrived in Czechoslovakia. On May 27th 1942, Adolf Opalka (the leader), Josef Valcik, Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabcik, stood on a tight bend, waiting for Heydrich's car to drive past.

The car approached; Gabcik took aim, pulled the trigger. The gun failed. The driver, believing him to be alone, stopped the car to kill Gabcik. Kubiš threw an anti-tank grenade into the car, severely wounding Heydrich and forcing horse hair from the car seat into his spleen.

Heydrich, in agony, staggered from the car. If he had reamined seated, it is believed he would have survived. The assassins fled to a church and committed suicide rather than being captured.

Despite being treated by Himmler's best doctors, Reinhard Heydrich died in agony from blood posioning in a Prague hospital, on the 4th June 1942. At his elaborate state funeral he was given decorations of the highest order by Hitler, who talked of Heydrich's immense stupidity in the foolhardiness.

Despite the incredibly bravery and dedication of the four assassins, their actions did not improve the life of Czechs and Slovaks under the Nazi regime. One June 10th, all the male inhabitants of the village of Lidice near Prague were murdered and the buildings razed. It is thought 15,000 Czechs were killed in the reprisals from Heydrich's death.

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