Berlin relives assassination of top Nazi in Prague

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More than 60 years ago, a group of Czech and Slovak exiles parachuted into their Nazi-occupied homeland and assassinated SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, the man known as the "Butcher of Prague."

For the first time since the end of the World War Two, a German museum is offering a close look at "Operation Anthropoid," the codename for the only successful assassination of a member of Adolf Hitler's inner circle.

Michal Burian of the Military Institute of Prague, which presented the exhibition in the Czech capital before it moved to Berlin, says the assassination ranks among the most important moments of the last century and is far more than a footnote.

"The assassination is an ancient tragedy. You can find everything in this story -- bravery, love, betrayal, death. In my opinion, it is one of the most interesting stories of the 20th century," he said.

The Heydrich assassination took place on May 27, 1942, on a quiet street in the Prague suburb of Kobylisy. Two young men -- a Czech and a Slovak -- ambushed Heydrich's black Mercedes-Benz convertible as he was on his way to Prague's Hradcany Castle.

Slovak Josef Gabcik wanted to shoot Heydrich, but his Sten submachinegun jammed at the crucial moment. Heydrich was about to shoot Gabcik with his pistol when 29-year-old Czech Jan Kubis lobbed a modified anti-tank grenade at the vehicle.

The bomb exploded. Heydrich died of his wounds a week later. This sealed the fate of both men and thousands of Czechs who were imprisoned, tortured or murdered after Hitler ordered the SS and Gestapo to "wade in blood" to find Heydrich's killers.

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