The memorial dedicated to the paratroopers involved in assassinating Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 is fittingly located in the Orthodox Church of Sts Cyril and Methodius in the New Town. Until being discovered, the parachutists hid there. The memorial is one of few exhibitions in Prague that sensitively and in detail describes the situation in Czechoslovakia just before the Second World War and during the conflict. The exhibition concentrates on Operation Anthropoid, as the assassination by members of the Czech foreign resistance to Heydrich was known. But we also learn what preceded the event and its consequences. Most tragic of all was the slaughter of the inhabitants of Lidice by the Nazis, who razed the village to the ground. However, the link between the villagers and the assassination was only a pretext, and based entirely on unfounded suspicions.
There is a voluntary fee for the exhibition, which has two parts. The first consists of a room with texts and numerous photographs, as well as display cases with a fraction of items preserved from the fateful event. The exhibition considers the period from the Munich Agreement to the German occupation, the arrival of Heydrich, and the beginning of his drastic attempts to humiliate the Czech nation. It also describes the build-up to his killing. The assassination itself and the subsequent events form part of the exhibition. All of this information is made even more powerful by the accounts of many people who were involved in the event and were ultimately executed for aiding the parachutists.
The second part of the exhibition, the church crypt itself, leaves a powerful impression. There, the parachutists hid after the assassination and were found after betrayal. All of them died heroes’ deaths. A modern door to the crypt marks a symbolic boundary. For anyone involved in the assassination, passing through the door signified a conscious and irreversible decision – to traverse the border from safety to mortal danger.
Don’t forget to have a look around the church itself, a Baroque Orthodox place of worship with noteworthy decorative work. But above all, the building is a powerful reminder of the last moments of the parachutists in hiding.Ana