St. Cyril and Methodius Church -Last stand from Operation Anthropoid
On June 18, 1942, St. Cyril and Methodius Church was the site of the last stand for seven Czech and Slovak paratroopers who assassinated SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. During World War II, Operation Anthropoid was the only successful assassination of a top Nazi officer. Heydrich, nicknamed the Butcher of Prague, was the mastermind behind "The Final Solution" or liquidation of all Jews. Hitler referred to Heydrich as "the man with the iron heart". An officer of the Czechoslovak Military Intelligence, Frantisek Moravec, and Winston Churchill's British Special Operations Executive proposed an assassination of the top Nazi official.
On October 28, 1941 two men were selected out of 2,000 exiled in Britain and Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis dropped from a plane intended for Pilsen but accidentally landing in Nehvizdy. From that point on there were numerous obstacles for the operation to overcome. The consequences of an assassination attempt were expected to be severe and disastrous for many in Czechia. Months later on May 27th, Gabcik and Kubis enacted Operation Anthropoid by intercepting Heydrich's car on a sharp curve in the road. Dramatically as Gabcik stepped into the road, his gun jammed. Kubis, seeing the failed attempt, threw a grenade into the back of the car that caught him in the explosion as well. Both soldiers fled and managed to escape. Certain that their assassination attempt had failed, the men were unaware that shrapnel from the blast had been driven into Hedrich. The Nazi leader suffered from a collapsed lung, a fractured rib, torn diaphragm, and a ruptured spleen and died several days later due to sepsis.
As Hitler learned of Heydrich's death, he retaliated by annihilating the small town of Lidice and murdering thousands. The Germans made it clear they would continue the extreme punishment of Czechs until the assassins were found.
The resistance fighters remained hidden in the crypt of the St. Cyril and Methodius church for three weeks but were eventually betrayed by an associate of the resistance. The orthodox church still bares the signs of the fierce battle complete with gunshot marks and a preserved crypt in tribute to the patriots. Jan Kubiš and Josef Gabčík as well as five other soldiers fought over 700 Nazi soldiers. Eventually after hours of gunfire, teargas, hand grenades, and even an attempt to flood the men out of the crypt, all of the paratroopers died from gunshot wounds or suicide to prevent being taken hostage by the Nazis. St. Cyril and Methodius Church is now open to the public complete with access to the crypt below and a detailed display of historical artifacts.