History under Heydrich War
In the 1960s in a time when we should have been enjoying our happy youth, Czechoslovakia was under the Protectorate of Hitler in the worst type of war, which was documented in history under Heydrich war.
Czechoslovakia was forced to sign the Munich agreement on August 30, 1938 to give up and surrender up Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland without fighting to Hitler's Germany. Hitler promised that he would not have any other requests, and Chamberlain returned to England as a heroic figure peacemaker, a savior of peace. Soon thereafter, March 15, 1939, without warning and reason, Hitler occupied what remained of Czechoslovakia. Neighbors Poland and Hungary took what they believed was rightfully theirs. The world noticed too late that Hitler's promised could not be believed. Hitler made out of Slovakia a satellite state and with the remaining of our state ironically called the Protectorate of Czechia and Moravia. Following K. von Neurath, Reinhardt Heydrich, SS and General, led the protectorate and installed a terrorist regime. So that the world is drastically aware and conscious how badly Czechoslovaks suffered, it is important to describe the following, at the end of May 1942 England sent to Czechoslovakia a group of members in exile that were parachutists with the assignment to liquidate Heydrich.
The Horrendous Punishing Experiences from the Heydrich Era
Before graduation from Middle School at the end of May and beginning of June we received two weeks free to study for our oral examinations. I spent them at a student friend of mine in a castle in Svihove. Vlasta often lived with us at Klatove during the school year. The assassination occurred on May 27, 1942, just as our 2 week long study period began. We studied in Vlasta's room on the first floor often even in the night and we went down only for food. That morning I walked down the stairs before Vlasta. Tired after a long night of studying and hungry, I was looking forward to a good hearty breakfast, which was prepared for us each day. As I opened the door, I stood still as if frozen. Vlasta's mother was seated by the table and was crying into a white handkerchief, which was covering her face. Vlasta's father was pale and sat like an unmovable statue with his hands on wrinkled newspapers and stared at them in horror.
In the corner by the stove the maid sat hunched and raised her arms towards the ceiling and made such horrible sounds, as if she were a criminal that had been ordered to death row and was now praying out of despair and yet at the same time horrified. It was a scene of undescribable tragedy. Vlasta pushed me roughly aside and went to the table. What is? What happened? Talk, tell me!" Her mother's hand raised the handkerchief onto the table glancing at Vlasta with her red eyes and said: "All are dead, everyone has been shot." Vlasta leaned over to her parents with her chest tightened and stared at them in disbelief. She tried to say something, but she couldn't get words to come out of her throat. Finally, with a restricted voice she threw out a few words: "Who is dead? What are you talking about? What happened?"
Her father raised his eyes, which were filled with sorrow and sadness, as though he were apologizing to his one and only dear daughter that he couldn't protect her from the horrible happenings. His palm of his hand fell heavily onto the table onto the newspaper laid out in front of him. Instead of the most interesting article of the day as was usual on the front page, was a list of names of people and above the list of names of people was the title: "In Reciprocation for the Attempted Murder on the Head of the Protectorate SS R. Heydrich, the Following People Have Been Killed." Among the names were several names of friends of Vlasta's parents. On the orders of Hitler that day the SS and Gestapo shot many innocent people, chosen by chance from offices or on the streets, that day there were many German spies. When the spies heard that someone said something about the attempted murder, they were immediately jailed and killed the second day.
Day after day the first page of the newspaper was filled with names of people, who were killed the day before. The fury of Hitler knew no mercy. He proclaimed that until they don't find the guilty persons that attempted the assassination, every 10th Czechoslovak would be killed. Surrounded by this horror we studied long days and nights for our oral exams. Hitler's threat hung over me like a black cloud. Will we be put in a line and will I be the 10th person in the row pulled out of the row and be shot before the eyes of my loved ones, or will it be my dearest mother or dearest father or my dearest brothers? Two towns, Lidice u Kladna and Lezaby u Chrudimi were leveled from earth, all men were shot, women were ordered to concentration camps and children were given to German families for German upbringing.
On Friday June 20, 1942 our final exams ended. With eagerness we waited to hear our class professor tell us the results. Not all students passed. The Germans ordered that a certain percentage has to fail and so with sadness we listened to those names called out that were chosen to repeat the 8th grade.
With relief and happiness that such an important final stage of my life is successfully completed and behind me, a group of my friends went home with me. Mother promised us a celebration dinner. Before my house waited a policeman. I had to sign a statement that stated that I had never before seen the bicycle and coat that he showed me. They were items that were left at the place of the attempted assassination. Horror of the time period surrounded me. For dinner we received hot dogs with apologies from mother. She said, she had been at church to pray for me for most of the afternoon and no time was left to cook.
On Sunday we went for a walk with mother. I don't remember what we talked about, but as I held my mother by her hand, I felt such a closeness and love towards her, mixed with unbelievably painful sorrow, that it might be the last time that we are together, that I could lose her in the days we are closest. The day was sorrowful and cold despite that it was mid-June. Even the sun seemed to be crying with its weak golden rays.
On Monday morning instead of going on a trip to the seaside of Yugoslavia, as my father had promised before the war when I complete middle school, I entered work at the train station. Totally out of place. In that time when we didn't know if we survive until tomorrow, my only relief was that I don't have to go to a factory in Germany.
That was the beginning of 3 lost years of my youth; how many lost years and lost lives. We saw their names daily on the title page in the newspaper. Once there was the name of our math professor. With my friend we went to an empty train wagon and cried in each other's arms. She had loved him. They also came for my future husband. He wasn't at home and the next day the group killed themselves in the crypt of the church, which I passed by almost daily after the war.
The threat of that time scared us all and we carry that in us until today, which I realized by writing this article. I had to stop writing often, as my memories shook me.
The assassination attempt was carried out May 27, 1942.
Heydrich died of injuries June 4, 1942.Written by Maruska Sedlackova Translated by Helen Vavrecka
This article printed 60 years later, which was printed in a magazine of the Czechoslovakian club of Brisbane and in "Newspapers" which V.R. Bejsak prints in Sydney, introduced me to friends of a distant past.M.S.
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