Prague, Czech Republic – Two new memorial dates have been added to the Czech calendar and included in the country’s list of so-called “significant days”.
Starting this year, May 27 will be known as the Day of National Resistance in memory of the assassination of the Nazi governor of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich.
On May 27, 1942, the British-trained Czech and Slovak operates Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš carried out Operation Anthropoid, ambushing the car of the Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich.
The infamous “Butcher of Prague” died of his wounds of few days later in what became known as a heroic operation and the only successful government-organised assassination of a senior Nazi official during World War II.
Infuriated by the murder of his top man in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, Hitler ordered German forces to raze the villages of Lidice and Ležáky on June 9. Only a handful of women and children survived the gruesome reprisal and were sent to their death in Nazi concentration camps.
After managing to escape with minor injuries, Gabčík and Kubiš hid out for days in safe houses and eventually found refuge in the Saint Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in Prague. Betrayed by a member of the Czech resistance movement, they took their own life on June 18 instead of surrendering to the SS and Gestapo soldiers who surrounded the church.
The amendment also proclaims June 25 as the Day of Departure of the Occupying Forces, commemorating the signing of the protocol on the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia in 1991.
The only eastern bloc country where Soviet troops did not stay after the war, Czechoslovakia had been invaded and occupied by Warsaw Pact forces ever since August 1968 and the crushing of the Prague Spring.
Although Moscow promised its troops would only stay temporarily, they remained on Czechoslovak territory for more than 20 years. A key priority of Czechoslovak leaders after the Velvet Revolution, the departure of Soviet soldiers took place from February 1990 to June 1991.