On May 27, 1942, SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, Deputy
Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, had been attacked in Prague by
Free Czech agents who were trained in England and brought to Czechoslovakia
to assassinate him. They shot at Heydrich as his car slowed to round a
sharp turn, then threw a bomb which exploded, mortally wounding him. Heydrich
managed to get out of the car, draw his pistol and shoot back at the assassins
before collapsing in the street.
Heydrich survived for several days, but died on June 4 from blood poisoning
brought on by fragments of auto upholstery, steel, and his own uniform
that had lodged in his spleen.
In Berlin, the Nazis staged a highly elaborate funeral with Hitler calling
Heydrich "the man with the iron heart."
Meanwhile the Gestapo and SS hunted down and murdered Czech agents,
resistance members, and anyone suspected of being involved in Heydrich's
death, totaling over 1000 persons. In addition, 3000 Jews were deported
from the ghetto at Theresienstadt for extermination. In Berlin 500 Jews
were arrested, with 152 executed as a reprisal on the day of Heydrich's
As a further reprisal, Hitler ordered the small Czech mining village
of Lidice to be liquidated on the fake charge that it had aided the assassins.
In one of the most infamous single acts of World War Two, all 172 men
and boys over age 16 in the village were shot while the women were deported
to Ravensbrück concentration camp where most died. Ninety young children
were sent to the concentration camp at Gneisenau, with some taken later
to Nazi orphanages if they were German looking.
The village of Lidice was then destroyed building by building with explosives,
then completely leveled until not a trace remained, with grain being planted
over the flattened soil. The name was then removed from all German maps.