Anthropoid, a film about the story of the assassination of German Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich by the Czechoslovak resistance movement, will be released in the U.S. on August 12. Heydrich, who was known for his organization of Kristallnacht and the Final Solution, was the leader of Nazi forces in German-occupied Czechoslovakia, and was brutal in his attempts to eliminate all aspects of Czechness from the region. Resistance movements were all but eliminated, venues for expressing Czech culture were cut off, and Czech resources were confiscated for use by the Nazis. Heydrich, known as the “Butcher of Prague,” was an architect of cultural genocide among the Czech population.
Operation Anthropoid- the Czechoslovak government-in-exile’s plan to kill Heydrich, resulted in his death on June 4, 1942. Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, the leaders of the operation died while hiding in Prague’s Cathedral of Sts. Cyril and Methodius; while Gabčík committed suicide, Kubiš died from multiple gunshot wounds. In retaliation to Heydrich’s assassination, over 13,000 people were imprisoned; in addition, the towns of Lidice and Ležáky- which were falsely accused of being linked to the assassins- were destroyed by Nazi forces.
In a 1995 speech in the Dutch city of Vlaardingen, Václav Havel said that the resistance “was a phenomenon that time and again restored standards, pointed out values that are worth fighting for under any circumstances, maintained the continuity of respect for those values and carried the torch of good through the dark night, so that those who lived to see the dawn would have something to turn to, something on which they could build a new life in freedom. Resistance fighters were first and foremost bearers of light, founding fathers of a better future.” Operation Anthropoid, in spite of the negative consequences resulting from its actions, was a Czech and Slovak resistance attempt against cultural genocide.
The new film, starring Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan, is directed by Oscar-nominated director Sean Ellis; for more information, visit the film’s webpage.