On the twenty-ninth of May, 1942, Radio Prague announced that Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, lay dying at the Bulovka hospital in Prague from wounds sustained in a daring ambush by Czech partisans as his car passed through the city outskirts at Holesovice, on the Rude Armady VII Kobylisky not far from the Vltava river.
The assassins attempted to kill Heydrich with automatic weapons but experienced a malfunction so a grenade was then tossed at the car by one of the Czechs. The resulting explosion caused sever damage to the right rear wing of the Mercedes, puncturing the tire and blowing a large hole in the bodywork.
The attackers then fled and, Heydrich attempted to shoot at the escaping assassins but his weapon also misfired. He then staggered back to the car and collapsed on the hood in severe pain.
He was rushed to the Bulovka emergency room shortly after 11:00 a.m. and was registered under the number 12.555/42. Heydrich's spleen had been fatally damaged and he contracted blood poisoning from grenade shrapnel, seat-spring splinters, and horse-hair used to cushion the cars upholstery.
He soon developed a fever and suffered from copious wound drainage until June 2, but the following day the fever appeared to have subsided. However, around noon, while Heydrich was sitting in bed eating a late breakfast, he suddenly went into shock and quickly lapsed into a deep coma from which he never recovered.
He died at 4:30 a.m. the next morning, June 4, 1942. The death of the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia was recorded in the Bulovka death register as “Nr 348/1942.Reinhard Tristan Heydrich.
Cause of death: gunshot wound/murder attempt/wound infection.
So ended the life of Reinhard "The Hangman" Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague.
On September 27, 1941, the Czech Press Agency released the news that the Reich Protector Konstantin von Neurath had fallen ill, and Hitler had named a substitute Reich Protector, Reinhard Heydrich. The Protectorate at that time experienced numerous acts of sabotage and assassinations of Germans and their collaborators by the Czech underground.
The low morale and starvation level rations for workers had reduced Bohemia’s industrial output of armaments, putting essential part of the German war effort at risk.
Konstantin von Neurath was sent away to recuperate and on that very same day, a plane landed in Prague with Reinhard Heydrich on board. Heydrich, as SS Police General and chief of the Reichssicherheitschauptampt (RSHA, Reich Security Main Office) was one of the most powerful and most feared Nazi leaders in the party.
Considered exceptionally intelligent, hard-working, ambitious and totally amoral, he had climbed to the top of the SS hierarchy and ruthlessly crushed his and Hitler’s domestic and foreign enemies. He was the main architect of the “Final Solution,” Hitler’s plan to destroy European Jewry.
Hitler believed with Heydrich in charge of Bohemia and Moravia, the Czechs would soon learn what it meant to live under a master of suppression. Not being a man to disappoint the Fürher, Heydrich immediately put his plan into action with the objective of annihilating all resistance in the Czech Lands.
On September 28, 1941, at 11 am, the official inauguration began at Prague Castle, the next day Heydrich announced a martial law in Prague, Brno, Moravská Ostrava, Olomouc, Kladno and Hradec Králové.
He instituted what he called his "whip and sugar" policy; he increased the food rations to dissuade resistance among the Czechs, and he threatened to lower them if they did not work efficiently. This tactic seemed to resonate with the common workers but against the Czech intelligentsia, he would employ far deadlier measures.
Without hesitation he started from the top down. The Protectorate’s Prime Minister, General Alois Eliáš, was arrested, proven guilty of maintaining contacts with the enemy and sentenced to death on October 1, 1941.
Two acting leaders of the military resistance organization, Gen. Josef Bílý and Div. Gen. Hugo Vojta, Commander of the Bohemian Provincial Headquarters were sentenced under martial law and executed by a firing squad at Ruzyně Barracks. Hundreds from among the Czech intelligentsia were executed or sent to concentration camps.
From his quarters in Czernin Palace on October 2, 1941, Reinhard Heydrich gave a speech where he made the following statements:
"I must unambiguously and with unflinching hardness bring the citizens of this country, Czech or otherwise, to the understanding that there is no avoiding the fact they are members of the Reich and as such they owe allegiance to the Reich… This is a task of priority required by the war. I must have peace of mind that every Czech worker works at his maximum for the German war effort… This includes feeding the Czech worker – to put it frankly – so that he can do his work.”
One of Heydrich's first decrees, dated September 29, 1941,concerning the treatment of Jews and closing of synagogues stated: