Czech resistance radio antenna used in Reinhard Heydrich assassination discovered
Radio antenna British-trained Czech agent used to communicate with London over assassination of leading Nazi in Second World War discovered in attic
Radio antenna used by the wartime Czech resistance in the planning of the assassination of Nazi chief Reinhard Heydrich have been discovered in an attic.
The two aerials were used by Jiri Potucek, a British-trained Czech agent parachuted into Nazi occupied territory, to communicate with London before and after one of the most audacious resistance operations of the war.
Described by Hitler as a "man with an iron heart" owing to a cold-hearted brutality that shocked even senior Nazis, Heydrich was one of the most powerful and feared men in the Third Reich, and was also one of the architects of the Final Solution.
On May 27, 1942, he was attacked by Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik, two Czech commandos, as he travelled to work through the streets of Prague in an open-top car.
Gabcik's submachine gun jammed but Heydrich was hit by shrapnel after a grenade thrown by Kubis detonated. Although his wounds were, at first, not thought to be serious, infection took hold and the Nazi died from gangrene on June 4.
· Operating from a safe-house in Lazne Bohdanec, a small town some 60 miles east of Prague, Potucek was in charge of radio communications for the operation.
"I found the aerials last August when we were putting in electricity. Nobody had visited the attic because there had been no power in it," said Adolf Vondrka, the owner of the former safe house. "I hesitated before making the find public. I wanted to be sure that the aerials are the short-wave aerials that were part of a transmitter from World War Two. Experts have now confirmed this."
"Potucek made 148 broadcasts totalling 24 hours," he added.
The radio operator was part of Silver A, a group of agents parachuted into Czechoslovakia in 1941, charged with doing the groundwork for the assassination attempt that was due to take place the following year.
Sometimes broadcasting from a quarry where he had a job as nightwatchman, Potucek had the vital task of linking the Czech resistance with MI6, the organiser of the operation.
"He managed to make contact with London and maintain communications for five months," said Milous Cervencl, an expert on the assassination.
Broken into parts for storage, the aerials measures 40 feet and 32 feet long, and Mr Vondrka said Potucek needed at least 31 feet of antenna for his signal to reach Britain.
Following the death of Heydrich, a shocked Nazi regime instigated a savage "rat hunt" to track down anybody involved in the assassination, and exacted a bloody revenge on the Czech people.
In Prague around 10,000 people were arrested and 1,300 executed, before the hunt moved to the village of Lidice, which the Nazis, incorrectly, believed had harboured agents.
German forces rounded up and shot dead all male villagers over the age of 16 - totalling 173 - and then transported the women and children to concentration camps from which very few survived. The village itself was razed to the ground.
The Germans soon tracked down Kubis, Gabcik and other agents to a church in Prague's old town. Kubis died in a firefight with the SS, while the survivors took refuge in the church's crypt.
Unable to get in without incurring losses, the Gestapo got the fire brigade to flood the Czech's holdout. Down to their last rounds of ammunition, the agents committed suicide.
As the net closed in on Potucek, he made one last broadcast on June 26, telling London the game was up. On the run, he survived one shoot-out with the Gestapo before being shot dead by Czech police in a forest near the eastern town of Pardubice.
© The Telegraph, 12 january 2015.
Heyrich's auto na de aanslag, Praag, 27 mei 1942.
By Matthew Day, Warsaw.
Volgens agent Maarten Cieremans zou in een kerk in Zeist ook nog een antenne uit de oorlog hangen.