"Since it is opportunity which makes not only the thief but also the assassin, such heroic gestures as driving in an open, unarmoured vehicle or walking about the streets unguarded are just damned stupidity, which serves the Fatherland not one whit. That a man as irreplaceable as Heydrich should expose himself to unnecessary danger, I can only condemn as stupid and idiotic." - Hitler
Cloak and dagger adventure, with daring commandos parachuted deep behind enemy lines to kill a sinister mastermind, belongs chiefly to the realm of thriller novels or films. However, World War II stretched over such vast territories and affected so many hundreds of millions of people that nearly every possible human interaction, from the vilest to the noblest, and from the most pedestrian to the exotically adventurous, achieved reality at some point during the conflict. The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich stands out as one of the war's most remarkable secret operations.
"The man with the iron heart," as Adolf Hitler dubbed him, made a fitting target for the dramatic events which unfolded in Prague on May 27, 1942. According to testimony by the historian Michael Freund, "He is one of the greatest criminal figures of the Third Reich. Nowhere in the histories of the Third Reich has [Heydrich] been awarded his rightful place. He is a man of outstanding significance, a criminal mind of Luciferic grandeur." (Dederichs, 2009, 17).
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