Anthropoid, and after

by the Night Writer

Anthropoid, adj. – resembling a human being in form.

Anthropoid was the code name for the Allied mission to parachute Czech army-in-exile commandos into Czechoslovakia in World War II to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Nazi security organization, acting Reichsprotektor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and the third-highest ranking Nazi leader behind Hitler and Himmler. He was also one of the main architects of “The Final Solution” to exterminate the Jewish race, and the one with the responsibility (and the passion) to carry this out.

Reinhard_HeydrichCold and aristocratic in appearance, Heydrich was the Nazi villain straight out of Central Casting. Czechoslovakia (what was left after the Sudetenland was given away to Hitler by the Munich Agreement) was invaded by and annexed by Germany in 1939, and Heydrich arrived in Prague in 1941 to replace the former Reichsprotektor, Konstantin von Neurath. Neurath was a diplomat by training and favored a more tolerant approach to maintaining order in the dispossessed country. His approach fell out of favor with the Nazi high command due to an active Czech Resistance that organized worker strikes and acts of sabotage to hinder the Czech manufacturing objectives so vital to the German war effort. Upon his arrival, Heydrich quickly earned the nickname “The Butcher of Prague” with his ruthless decimation of the Resistance resulting in thousands of people being executed, arrested or taken hostage as leverage against further acts.

Into this background, a squad of free Czech soldiers were parachuted into the forests near Prague to support the remaining Resistance and be as disruptive as possible. Two soldiers, Jozef Gabcík, (apologies: this blog tool can’t show Czech symbols for proper pronunciation) a Slovakian, and Jan Kubis, a Czech, had the specific assignment to assassinate Heydrich. The plan was almost laughable in its lack of detail: “Ok, lads, drop into occupied territory with minimal equipment and an outdated list of contacts (already dead or arrested) and, you know, use your training to figure something out. Oh, and good luck.”

The details of how they went about this are well, and compellingly, described in the 2016 film, Anthropoid. Ultimately, Gabcík and Kubis were able to find a prime corner in Prague where Heydrich’s Mercedes convertible would have to slow down to turn and on May 27, 1942 they attempted an ambush. Gabcík’s Sten submachine gun jammed, however when he stepped in front of the car to fire at Heydrich. When the offended Heydrich ordered his driver to stop so he could shoot at Gabcík (rather than commanding him to speed away), Kubis tried to lob a modified tank grenade into the open car, but it landed just short, with the explosion nevertheless driving shrapnel and pieces of upholstery into Heydrich’s body. As Gabcík and Kubis fled the scene, Heydrich was taken to a nearby hospital where he died a week later from septic shock caused by toxins in the upholstery of his car in a time before penicillin. Despite an immediate and thorough house-to-house search, Gabcík and Kubis and the other Czech soldiers (with the exception of Karil Curda, who fled prior to the attack to his mother’s home outside Prague) who had parachuted in were successfully hidden in a secret crypt beneath the floor of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Prague. German reprisals were immediate and heavy-handed. Some 13,000 people were arrested and as many as 5,000 are estimated to have been executed in an effort to find the assassins and identify those who had helped. Perhaps motivated by a desire to halt the harsh tactics, or  the appeal of the promised cash reward, Curda turned himself in to the Gestapo and identified the safe houses and families involved in the plot. These were raided and the people tortured until the hiding place in the church was revealed.

The wall of Sts. Cyril and Methodius church where the final shoot-out happened. Bullet holes frame the vent in the wall in which the fire department flooded the crypt. The plaque commemorates the battle and sacrifice. Ultimately, the priest, the bishop and the leaders of the church and their families were executed by the Nazis for harboring the Czech paratroopers.

The wall of Sts. Cyril and Methodius church where the final shoot-out happened. Bullet holes frame the vent in the wall in which the fire department flooded the crypt. The plaque commemorates the battle and sacrifice. Ultimately, the priest, the bishop and the leaders of the church and their families were executed by the Nazis for harboring the Czech paratroopers.

On June 18 the army and SS surrounded the church, resulting in a day-long shoot out with the paratroopers holed up there. The local fire department was pressed into service as well to flood the crypt where the few survivors were holed up. Grenades, tear-gas and bullets were also poured into the crypt, while several German soldiers were killed and wounded in the attempt. Each surviving Czech paratrooper ended up committing suicide by bullet or cyanide. Their bodies were identified by Curda, who was later executed himself.

Busts of Gabcik and Junis inside the crypt where the survivors took shelter.

Busts of Gabcik and Junis inside the crypt where the survivors took shelter.

We arrived the weekend after the 75th anniversary commemoration at the church. In addition to the bronze (and bullet holes) on the outer wall, you can visit a small museum inside that details the events (including the Munich Agreement) that led up to the Heydrich assassination and what followed. You can also enter the crypt where the final moments of the story took place. It is a sobering and thought-provoking visit, and I removed my hat as soon as I was inside and kept it off throughout our tour.

The repercussions of the assassination were not just felt by the people of Prague. Hitler’s immediate desire was that 10,000 Czechs be rounded up at random and executed as punishment. The practical Himmler suggested that would have a negative impact on manufacturing production, and suggested an alternative plan.


The plain that was once the location of the village of Lidice.

The plain that was once the location of the village of Lidice.

On June 2, 2017, I stood in the bright sunlight, gazing at a rolling field of green with several groves of trees and some benches that looked as if it could host a golf course.

75 years prior, on June 2, 1942, a photographer also came here, to what was the village of Lidice (LEE-deet-say) to take photos of the schoolchildren. One week later, on the night of June 9, the German army and Gestapo also came – and surrounded the village.

The village consisted of just under 500 people; a bit larger than the town of Lytton, Iowa where my daughter and her family live. The men, women and children were rousted from their beds, rounded up and separated. Beginning at 7:00 a.m. on June 10, 173 men, age 15 and older, were lined up against the wall of the Horák barn, originally in groups of 5, and shot. Three riflemen were committed to each target and then a Gestapo officer shot each fallen man again in the head. The next group was brought to the wall, stepping over the bodies of those before them. Because it was taking so long, the groups were increased to 10 at a time. Later, another 11 men of Lidice who were not in the village at the time were executed in Prague, along with two teens originally thought to be 14 and spared until school records revealed they had turned 15 weeks before the massacre.

203 women and 105 children were taken away. Four pregnant women were taken to the Prague hospital where Reinhard Heydrich died after the Operation Anthropoid assassination attempt on his life that sparked the Lidice reprisal. The four women underwent forced abortions and were sent to concentration camps. The other Lidice women were sent to Ravensbruck labor camp. Orders were given that the children of Lidice were sent elsewhere with instructions to receive minimal care. Some died quickly. Another 7 were judged to be Aryan enough to be “Germanized” and were distributed to SS families for adoption. On July 2, one month after the photographer visited them, the remaining 82 children were gassed to death at the Chelmo extermination camp.

Lidice itself was wiped from the map. The 96 homes, the church, the city hall, the school: everything was burned, then the ruins exploded, and topsoil brought in to cover it all. The graves in the cemetery were opened and looted, and the remains destroyed. The stream that ran through the village was rerouted, as were the roads leading in and leading out. Nazi propaganda proudly broadcast the news throughout occupied territory and to the West as an example for others. Several towns around the world renamed themselves in a show of support and defiance. Only a handful of Lidice women ever returned.

After the war, sculptor Marie Uchytilová devoted most of her life to creating bronze statues of the murdered children, working from the photographs taken a week before the massacre. The children stand now near the edge of their village, looking toward the mass grave of their fathers and brothers.

The children of Lidice.

The children of Lidice.

My own eyes follow their line of sight, squinting. How can the sun shine so brightly, and the grass be so green, after what has happened here? The sound of a chainsaw rising and falling in a grove below me sounds, at a distance, like the laboring diesel of a tank or bulldozer. And I can’t stop squinting.


Was it worth it? Could the death of Heydrich justify all that was to come? Would even worse things have happened if Heydrich had lived? Is there a point to considering a single atrocity in a war full of atrocities on all sides?

This post is largely about the facts of what happened in Prague and Lidice (and I did not mention that much the same fate was visited upon the village of Lezacky). You are welcome to your own thoughts. In an upcoming post, I will share mine about the “lessons” learned here.

The Big Mac and Little Mac costs of living in Prague

by the Night Writer

Tiger Lilly’s research into the cost of living in Prague was pretty spot on. You can get by pretty affordably here. But as my new barber friend said the other day, “The cost of living is low, but the cost of goods is high.” That is, his experience is that while food, drink and rent are relatively low, the cost of clothes, tools, equipment, computers, etc. can be very expensive.

The ever-useful Czech Ex-Pat website featured an interesting economic comparison sheet, developed by The Economist website, comparing the relative costs of obtaining a Big Mac in more than 40 countries (the Big Mac was chosen because it is almost universally available and is consistent in size and ingredients across all locations). According to the index, the CR is in the lower third of countries, paying $2.98 for the two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun. The most expensive is Switzerland at $6.44; the least expensive is Venezuela, .66. (You might not be able to find toilet paper in Venezuela, but you can get a Big Mac – and save the wrapper.) The complementary “Little Mac” index compares the price of iPad minis around the globe; the Czech price is about 9% lower than the global average.


Take-away food from a stall is very reasonable. A large slab of pizza will go for little more than a dollar and change (USD) and a half-liter of beer (and everyone sells beer) goes for about the same, and restaurants typically feature entrees that are less than $10. One of our first nights in Prague we went to an Italian restaurant; I’d had a big lunch but was a little hungry. I saw pizza on the menu for about $8 and assumed that that was probably a small or “personal” pizza, and thought that felt about like what I was looking for.Turns out that pepperoni pizza was 14″ – no way I was going to be able to finish it (and it was very tasty) and we didn’t have a refrigerator in our hotel in order to bring home leftovers. It was such a waste! Bars and restaurants, btw, seem to be the main industry in town. In our neighborhood there are at least 3 on every block, and they offer a lot of variety in cuisine.

Wages are also relatively low, though. The average monthly income in the CR is a little around $1,100 at current exchange rates. I also get the sense from talking to my barber that it’s normal for people to have multiple part-time jobs. Tiger Lilly has been looking for jobs, and there aren’t any full-time ones advertised (the “full-time” work mentioned by the school where she earned her TEFL certification turned out to be 22 hours, and some teacher said they often didn’t get that). She has seen part-time positions suited to her skills and experience that pay about $12/hour before tax. If she lands one of these, she’ll be able to meet her expenses for the most part. She found a large, private room with wonderful views in an apartment near Wenceslas Square for about $350 a month, which is low for the area, so she’s feeling blessed.

Not needing a car is a big cost-savings for most folks. The city is compact enough to be well-served with public transit that gets you close to anywhere you want to go. (A standard 75-minute bus/tram/metro pass costs about a buck; you can get a 24-hour pass for less than $5; a month-long pass runs you $28. When we were in London in 2006, day-long Tube passes for 4 people cost me $40).

Clothing is not as affordable as the food; a pair of jeans can be 30 Euros (the CR currency is the crown, or koruna, but bigger ticket items are often priced in both the euro and the koruna). Second hand clothing shops, called SROs, are very common and import their goods from other western European countries – so don’t expect the Czechs to be cutting edge in fashion.

Actually, living here reminds me a lot of being in college. Food and drink are plentiful and affordable, everyone does a couple of part-time things for work, wears older clothes and few people drive. Tiger Lilly earned her B.A. mostly through self-study via College Plus, with some classes at a local community college. She received a comprehensive education, but not much of the so-called “college experience”. By moving to Prague she’ll get that “experience” – and it won’t cost us over $100,000 to do so!

Huzzah for Freedom!

by Son@Night

Goodness, it’s a posting extravaganza around here!  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

In these times of Democratic Party/lobotomized monkey control of government, it’s easy to get a bit cranky.  But shooting monkeys, lobotomized or otherwise, is illegal and morally wrong.  And so I’m thankful for positive, fact-based, friendly explanations of what is going on.  Heck, this video isn’t even political.  It just succinctly makes the case for economic freedom.

Well for the love of corn…  This whole embedding thing is problematic for an Iowegian.  Here’s the link to the video.  Two and half minutes of great stuff that you’ve probably already seen on Facebook.  Oh yeah.

An Appeal to the Red-Headed Girl

by Sly the family rat

Things can fall apart so quickly.  The Vikings went from the verge of the Super Bowl one year to the deflation of the Metrodome being the highlight of their next season.  The Byzantine emperor Justinian painstakingly reasserted the territorial sovereignty of the Roman Empire only for it to slip away like sand after his death.  After the departure of Tom Wopat and John Schneider the Dukes of Hazzard fizzled faster than a redneck could shout, “Yee-ha!”

Well, I’ll stop beating around the bush.  A rat, namely me, passes from this mortal coil one week, and all of a sudden Anorexsticks Inaneymous goes from being a regular feature to not getting published this Monday.  What’s with that?  Was I the only thing holding this thing together?  Can the red-headed girl not find the time to put some sticks together to make people laugh?  What is this world coming to?

Here’s a suggestion.  Think of another theme.  Say, a farmer baby, or an angel rat, or nefarious cows trying to kidnap the farmer baby, or whatever.  Then make the world laugh.  For the love of filthy vermin everywhere, Anorexsticks must continue!!!!


by the Night Writer

It was 25 years ago today when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on live TV shortly after take-off, killing the seven astronauts (including a civilian schoolteacher who was part of the mission) while the nation watched in horror. I was at work that day and I don’t recall how we first heard the news. Nobody had internet access in the office in those days and few listened to the radio in our office. Someone probably got a call from outside, but the news spread quickly. One of my co-workers had a computer monitor that could pick up TV signals, so we gathered around that constantly, hoping minute by minute for more news or an explanation. After about an hour my boss came over and told us all, gently, that we needed to get back to work.

I felt depressed and almost ill all day after that and that night at home I got one of those junk calls – someone selling siding or something. Rather than hang up or ream him out or play with his mind as I typically did back then I said, “You know, I really just don’t feel like getting into this right now.” The caller responded, “Yeah, I know what you mean.” We then spent the next five or ten minutes talking about the Challenger and the astronauts, their families and what the President had said and then we hung up.

In those few minutes, in that most unlikely situation, and in that shared tragedy we, too, “slipped the surly bonds of earth” and our isolated lives to become part of something much greater.

A Post!

by Son@Night

Patience was complaining the other day that she’s been carrying the load around here.  She may be my adversary, but she’s probably right on that one.  So as a nod to the good ol’ days (Was it Bogus Doug who always did these things?), here’s a little quiz.

Your true political self:

You are a
Social Moderate
(56% permissive)

and an…

Economic Conservative
(80% permissive)

You are best described as a:


You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

NW threatened to kick me out of the house when I told him I was “socially moderate.”  He saw reason when I explained that my libertarian leanings skewed that score.  Good thing too, because the rent is pretty “moderate.”

Take the test here if you so desire.

Pity Me

by Sly the Family Rat

What we’ve learned in the past 48 hours: everybody forgets about Sly the family rat when guests come.  What is so endearing about a big, hairless rat anyway?  Sniff. I am a sad rat.

Reading between the signs

by the Night Writer

Some folks are getting upset that “stimulus” money for road construction projects is also being used to post signs alongside the project that say “Funded By: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Barack Obama, President.” It’s a common enough political play (many a governor has done something similar within his/her state). The issue for me is one of truth in advertising, especially since much of the “stimulus” comes not from tax money on hand but from borrowed money, a significant portion of which comes from China.

The signs really ought to read:

Made In China” or
“Your Children’s Tax Dollars at Work” or
“You Are Driving On the Road to Serfdom”

Since those signs as well cost money we should look for signs already on hand that succinctly reflects this administration’s sentiments:


(HT: Mr. D)

I’m just waiting on a friend

by the Night Writer

Here’s an excerpt from a poem I wrote several years ago. I wrote it after my final visit to see my grandfather while he was stll alive, but this section is appropriate for the waiting we’re doing today.  The poem is called, “Just Waiting.”

And now, just waiting,

back at home I stand by another bedside,

listening to my wife breathe.

Undressing, I fit myself in beside her,

our heads touching, our arms

around each other, and we talk…

About the great moments of one’s life,

the excitement before a birthday,

the joy before a wedding,

and how these fall short of the momentous

anticipation and anxiety of the days leading up to

the birth of a child,

of going to bed wondering if this will be the night

that everything will change

and we awaken to bring forth a new life,

at once shuddering in both

the hope and the dread

of the joy that would be set before us

and the trial to be endured.

We also talk about the hope we have in Christ,

and of the days leading up to the joy/dread

in some distant but nearing future

when we go to bed wondering if that will be the night

that everything will change

and we awaken into new life.