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Liveblogging World War II: May 27, 1942

The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich:

In London, the Czechoslovak government-in-exile resolved to kill Heydrich. Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík headed the team chosen for the operation. Trained by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), the pair returned to the Protectorate by parachute, jumping from a Handley Page Halifax, on 28 December 1941. They lived in hiding, preparing for the assassination attempt.

On 27 May 1942 Heydrich was scheduled to attend a meeting with Hitler in Berlin. German documents suggest that Hitler intended to transfer Heydrich to German-occupied France, where the French resistance had started to gain ground. Heydrich would have to pass a section where the Dresden-Prague road merged with a road to the Troja Bridge. The intersection, in the Prague suburb of Libeň, was well-suited for the attack because Heydrich's car would have to slow for a hairpin turn. As the car slowed, Gabčík took aim with a Sten sub-machine gun, but it jammed and failed to fire. Instead of ordering his driver to speed away, Heydrich called his car to a halt and attempted to take on the attackers. Kubiš then threw a bomb (a converted anti-tank mine) at the rear of the car as it stopped. The explosion wounded Heydrich and Kubiš.

When the smoke cleared, Heydrich emerged from the wreckage with his gun in his hand; he chased Kubiš and tried to return fire. Kubiš jumped on his bicycle and pedalled away. Heydrich ran after him for half a block but became weak from shock. He sent his driver, Klein, to chase Gabčík on foot. In the ensuing firefight, Gabčík shot Klein in the leg and escaped to a safe house. Heydrich, still with pistol in hand, gripped the left side of his back, which was bleeding profusely.

A Czech woman went to Heydrich's aid and flagged down a delivery van. Heydrich was first placed in the driver's cab, but after complaining that the truck's movement was causing him pain, he was placed in the back of the truck, on his stomach, and taken to the emergency room at Na Bulovce Hospital. He had suffered severe injuries to his left side, with major damage to his diaphragm, spleen, and lung, as well as a broken rib. Dr. Slanina packed the chest wound, while Dr. Walter Diek tried unsuccessfully to remove the splinters. He immediately decided to operate. This was carried out by Drs. Diek, Slanina, and Hohlbaum. Heydrich was given several blood transfusions. A splenectomy was performed. The chest wound, left lung, and diaphragm were all debrided and the wounds closed...