Czech Post on Wednesday unveiled a new souvenir sheet containing a 46 crown stamp marking the 75th anniversary of Operation Anthropoid. In the mission, Czechoslovak parachutists were dropped into occupied territory to assassinate Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. The souvenir sheet, about the size of a postcard, gave the artist greater room to pay homage to those who gave their lives in the operation or were murdered in reprisal by the Nazis.
The assassination of acting Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich was a key moment in Czechoslovak history, an important act of resistance which eliminated the dreaded hangman of Prague but also provoked a brutal Nazi backlash in which hundreds died. The village of Lidice near Prague was razed, its male inhabitants executed and the women and children sent to concentration camps from which most never returned.
The souvenir sheet just released by Czech Post features key images from the final days of the operation in May 1942: central, on the stamp itself, is Heydrich’s Mercedes, damaged in the attack by Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, there is also the Sten gun and grenade which was used.
Břetislav Janík, the head of stamp design at Czech Post, told Czech Radio why not just the stamp but surrounding borders (or coupons) were issued:
“The miniature sheet means you get the stamp in the middle but that you get additional borders which feature additional artwork. We wanted to show more details about how the assassination was prepared as well as the consequences.”
Depicted on the sheet is the parachutists’ jump from a Halifax plane, bullet holes around a vent in the crypt of the Church of Cyril and Methodius where the resistance fighters made their last stand, and roses and thistles symbolising the village of Lidice. The design is by artist Karel Zeman; in all 45,000 units were printed.
One of the last to see Gabčík and Kubiš alive was Jarmila Mokrá-Smržová, who was just 11 years old at the time. She used to bring milk to the Khodl family which had hidden the soldiers during the mission.
“I saw two young men at the table through the crack in the door. If my memory is correct, they had on plum-blue and red sweaters. That is how I remember it.”
Jarmila Mokrá-Smržová’s father, Jaroslav Smrž, lent Kubiš his bicycle during the operation. He and her mother were executed for the act and the Khodls, who hid Gabčík and Kubiš, were also murdered by the Nazis for their role.