On This Day in 1942: Family Members of Heydrich’s Assassins Murdered in Mauthausen

Replica of Concentration camp in Mauthausen at Karlovo náměstí in Prague. It was organized in May – July 2012 by Association Post Bellum in memory of 70th Anniversary of Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and following repressions by Nazi regime.|Photo: Kenyh Cevarom, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

On 24th October 1942, Nazis executed 261 Czechoslovakian citizens in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Out of this number, 126 were men and 135 women.

Whole families of parachutists, resistance fighters and their supporters died on that day.

This was one of the most terrifying Nazi revenge similar to the assassinations in Lidice, Ležáky and Kobylisy, or tortures that went on in the Small Fortress Terezín, or in Petschkov Palace etc.

“Everyone knows soldiers Gabčík and Kubiše, who killed Heydrich, but those who paid with their lives for helping them are almost unknown,” said Mikuláš Kroupa, who is the director of Post Bellum.

The victims were mostly entire families, including children aged 14-17. They were taken to Mauthausen concentration camp from Terezín and murdered on October 24, 1942.

In the room where they were sent for a supposed medical examination, they were made to stand with their backs to a wall marked with a height meter. They were then shot with a bullet to the back of the head through a hidden hole in the wall.

The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich

The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 eliminated one of the most powerful military officers in Nazi Germany and an important figure in the rise of Adolf Hitler.

On 27 May 1942 in Prague, Reinhard Heydrich—the commander of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), acting governor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and a principal architect of the Holocaust —was attacked and wounded in an assassination attempt by Czechoslovak resistance operatives Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš. Heydrich died of his wounds on 4 June 1942.

The assassination, codenamed Operation Anthropoid, was carried out by soldiers of the Czechoslovak Army after preparation and training by the British Special Operations Executive and with the approval of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, led by Edvard Beneš.

The Czechoslovaks undertook the operation to help confer legitimacy on the government-in-exile, and to exact retribution for Heydrich’s brutal rule.

The operation was the only verified government-sponsored assassination of a senior Nazi leader during the Second World War. Heydrich’s death led to a wave of reprisals by SS troops, including the destruction of villages and mass killings of civilians.

Multiple memorials have been created in different nations such as in the Czech Republic and in the United Kingdom as a result of both the assassination and its aftermath.

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