Today is all about Bohemia. It was going to be about Smetana, but I changed my mind at the last minute, as you'll see as it evolves below, beginning it as a paean to the music of Bohemian nationalism and morphing it into a diary about the June 10, 1942 Nazi massacre of the town of Lidice.
Silent Woods, from the suite "From the Bohemian Forest" by Antonin Dvorak. Yo-yo Ma cello, Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Recorded live at Smetana Concert Hall in Prague, Czechoslovakia
More about Bohemia below, and in my usual random walk way, we'll somehow end up talking about eastern European folk music, Jewish klezmer, the Israeli national anthem, Nazis, the Holocaust, water-boarding, war atrocities, and even the Bush administration. Funny how that happens. This is going to be a huge diary with a lot of embedded music, most of it not even classical.
What is Bohemia?
It's not that easy to Google. You get so many extraneous hits having to do with Greenwich Village performance artists and the like.
Bohemia is a country that has existed off and on in Central Europe, roughly where the Czech Republic is today. I say "roughly" because the borders have changed so many time that it's hard to define. However, it's a very old country. The name, Bohemia, can be traced back to Roman historians who referred to it as the Boihomoeum, the "Land of the Boii tribe," a people whose ass they had been kicking on a regular basis since the second century BC.
Bohemia has had the terrible misfortune of always being in the way when any other two countries wanted to go to war. They have lost a great many wars, usually wars that weren't really about them in the first place. Their strong point, however, may be their millennia-long learned lesson in how to be stubbornly unhelpful to people who conquer them.
The Dvorak piece above comes from "From the Bohemian Forest," a work about a forest that is nationalist symbol for the Bohemians that both Dvorak and Smetana composed music about.
Even the mere name of the Forest is a border dispute. From Wikipedia:
For political reasons, the Bohemian and German sides have different names: in Czech, the Bohemian side is called Šumava and the Bavarian side Zadní Bavorský les (English: rear Bavarian Forest), while in German, the Bohemian side is called Böhmerwald (English: Bohemian Forest), and the Bavarian side Bayerischer Wald (English: Bavarian Forest). In Czech, Šumava is also used as a name for the entire adjacent region in Bohemia.It's interesting that they each have different names for the other guy's side side of the forest. It seems to be more than a language difference. The Bohemian Forest is a natural defensive barrier to the west. Not that the historical record would suggest that it ever defended them very well.
In the nineteenth century, German nationalists who dreamt of uniting a larger Germany had their own name for the lands to the east of the Forest: The Sudetenland, a name many of us only know because of Neville Chamberlain's role in gladly handing it over to the Nazis without adequately consulting the Czechs. With it went the Bohemian Forest, and the defensive fortifications that the Czechs had painstakingly prepared there.
The role of nationalism in romantic music is a royal pain in the ass, sometimes. It's interesting to know the backstory to all this because it helps us to understand the music of the times, but it is also painful to realize where all this was heading. Nationalism flavored a vast part of the music of the nineteenth century just as it would later poison the Europe of the first half of the twentieth. In the nineteenth century, however, the wider growth of nationalist sentiment in music led to an interest and rediscovery of ethnic music and myth of the different regions of Europe. Bohemia, Germany, France, Scandinavia, England, Russia. Sometimes the "musical border" disputes boiled over into aesthetic hostilities. However, for the most part, the more prominent nationalist musicians admired the musical efforts of their nationalist counterparts in other countries. Dvorak and Smetana, for instance, both greatly admired Wagner and his nationalist-sentiment operas. Like Tristan und Isolde. [Insert irony foreshadowing alert here].
In later years, American patrons eager to create an American national sound would entice Dvorak to come to America, hoping that his expertise in analyzing and using Bohemian ethnic music to create a Bohemian sound could be harnessed to a similar effect for American music.
We'll be talking about that more in future weeks.
More cello music from another Bohemian composer, one you might not be familiar with. If you have any friends studying cello, you should PM this to them and ask, "Dude, can you play this fast?"
Dance of the Elves, by David Popper. Msistislav Rostropovich cello
The Bohemian nationalist who gets the least press as a Bohemian nationalist has to be Gustav Mahler, who was born in Kalischt, and grew up in Jihlava, both of which are part of the Czech Republic today.
Ending of Titus Lieber's 1973 art film, Kindertotenlieder (Songs for Dead Children), with the music of the same name by Gustav Mahler. Barbirolle and the Halle Orchestra
I could have chosen any number of examples of Mahler's dance-type music that would be less disputably Bohemian, for example the Landler movement of the Ninth Symphony, or the march trio of the First Symphony. There is, however, something that seems very, very ethnic about Mahler's music to me. What ethnicity though?
The wikipedia entry says of Mahler that "he acted as a bridge between the 19th century Austro-German tradition and the modernism." I think that's pure bullshit. Often it sounds very Jewish, and I think, "this reminds me of Klezmer wedding music." But then, much of Jewish ethnic music has its roots, too, in the music of Central Europe, so there's no big surprise there. I pointed out in a previous diary on Smetana how strikingly similar his Moldau is to the Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. It all becomes fuzzy around the edges. Like the virtual borders of Bohemia.
Take away the rhythmic polka and landler and march elements of Bohemian music that pop up in Mahler's music, and you still have a Bohemian melodic element that connects him more closely, in my mind, to Dvorak and Smetana than to "Austro-Germanic tradition." Whether we categorize it as Bohemian or Jewish or a Czech streetside melting pot, it still doesn't sound like Mozart or Beethoven or Brahms. (Well, maybe Schubert...) In Kindertotenlieder, I hear a tighter melodic connection to Dvorak's Silent Woods.
--- And, by the way, Dvorak and Mahler knew each other and had to work together on occasion in preparation for concerts. That has nothing to do with my argument. I guess it shouldn't surprise me so much that famous 19th century composer ran into each other so often. Dvorak worked and hung out with Smetana and with Tchaikovsky, who hung out with Saint-Saens, who knew Berlioz, who referred patrons to Tchaikovsky when Tchaikovsky needed work, Tchaikovsky who hated Brahms, Brahms who wrote scathing things about Rott, Rott who accused Brahms of poisoning him, Wolf, who wrote scathing things about Brahms, Brahms whose friends wrote scathing things about Wolf and Wagner, Wolf, who admired Wagner and who grew up in Bohemia very near Mahler and Freud... How very cool and soap-opera-y, although totally unnecessary to appreciating any of this.
I spent all day yesterday surfing for more traditional Bohemian music clips and had a blast. I liked this one by Moravian folk singer Jozka Czerny.
Traditional folks song "Keď sem išél pres (cez) ty hory" sung by Jozka Czerny
Mind-blowingly beautiful. Let's notice some things about it. I never took music theory, as I say every diary, but I'm good at paying attention, and I've got a cheap guitar in my lap, good for plucking out chords, and I've learned a few things along the way.
The song is in C major, with a flattened seventh note, which we call Mixolydian mode. The music has a strong ethnic character to it that comes from the unusual chord choices here. I'm puzzled by what's going on there, so if somebody wants to throw in their opinion in the comments, I'll be interested. It sounds, to me, like it's going something like C - G - C - D minor - B flat - D major.... and then starts over again in C.
Some familiar instruments keep popping up in Bohemian folk music, the fiddle, for instance. The violin is, technically, a type of fiddle, which is a broader category. But the eastern European fiddle is a cheaper instrument with a flatter neck. Because of the flatter neck, the bow can play more strings simultaneously, allowing those screechy chords. The clarinet is also a prominent instrument. That seems to be true of European folk music in general from Greece to the Ukraine, and Jewish music as well. Jewish folk music without a clarinet is unthinkable. In very traditional folk songs, the cembalo is also used, a funny folk music instrument I can't describe that rarely makes it into the orchestra hall.
Another example of Bohemian folk music.
Nejkrásnější lidové písně - Teče voda teče
Just GORGEOUS. Lidove pisne is Czech for folk song. That much I figured out. I don't know what region this is from. It's folk music in character, but it isn't strictly Bohemian in character and could, with a few tweaks, I think, be turned in to an American Negro spiritual. Keep that in mind in a few weeks when we talk about Dvorak's New World Symphony.
Yet another one...
"Aj čo je to za tajemná láska ... Nivnička a Mladí Burčáci." I have no idea what any of that means.
Moravian music, from Moravia, the southeastern part of traditional Bohemia, provides some of the more interesting Bohemian ethnic music, a music which varies from region to region. In the western part of Bohemia, the music tends to be more major key, more polkas (there WILL be a polka in today's string quartet by Smetana), while in the east:
The music of Southeastern Moravia differs substantially. Its character is closely related to the musical style of Eastern Europe using rather minor keys and melodic elements characteristic of eastern countries such as Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary. Here it is also possible to find elements of gypsy scales which contain augmented intervals unusual for the traditional music of Western Europe. The key element of the traditional music of Southeastern Moravia is emotional variegation and greater rhythmic leeway.The eastern part of Bohemia is also where the Bohemian composer and ethnic musicologist Leos Janacek did most of his song-collecting work. Just as Romanian composers Bartok and Kodaly were doing in Romania.
Time for some Janacek, eh?
On the Overgrown Path, by Leos Janacek
From the Youtube description of the above work, which is good enough for me:
The cycle "On the Overgrown Path" is broadly autobiograpical, recalling, on the one hand, the composer's rustic boyhood in the mountains and woods around Hukvaldy , the village where he was born in Northern Moravia; and, on the other, the childhood and long, suffering death of his daughter Olga at the age of 21. "The Overgrown Path" is music of intimate nostalgia, a deeply private diary of memories and impressions, dreams and images. Of dances and songs - occasionally real, frequently illusory.Okay, ONE MORE. I fell IN LOVE WITH THIS and I'm going to order their CD. I could probably steal their CD, as I usually would because I'm poor and a gifted blogger and I think Marx would approve in my special circumstances. However, unlike Sony and its myriad suction-cupped tentacles, these guys deserve money.
The Bohemian Beyars -- Megjöttek a fiúk
I have no idea what the title means. I spent a great deal of time yesterday listening to their music. They are GOOD. They describe themselves as "Sid Vicious with a violin." Okay... They also acknowledge their inspiration by Gogol Bordello, which they sound the most like. (Somebody alert Atrios to this -- he's a Gogol Bordello fanatic.) Betyar is originally an Iranian which made its way into eastern European languages (I found it listed as a Hungarian word) which means highwayman. So, I guess they are the Bohemian Punks or Bohemian Thugs or whatever. They are AWESOME.
Okay, just ONE more by the Betyars...
Bohemian Betyars- Hegedű, Bor, Pálinka
Google has recently added a new feature that is making my life a lot better. Sometimes your searches can now pull up old newspaper stories. Very old ones.
Czecho-Slovakia TodayMusic is dangerous. I suppose I'm too focused in finding that the most interesting part of an absolutely terrible, terrible story of one of the worst episodes in history. But we already knew what the Nazis were and the kinds of things they did. Knowing what the Czechs who fought back were like is important as well.
Nazis' Regime of Systematic Terror in Bohemia and Moravia
Slovaks See Their Mistake
The liquidation of what was once Czecho-Slovakia has now entered into its second stage. The military and economic positions in Bohemia and Moravia have been rapidly occupied by the Germans, weapons and raw materials, machinery, and food hastily "requisitioned" and transported to the "Altreich." But the conquest of the Czech lands cannot be regarded as complete as long as the national spirit of their people is not broken. So the Nazi rulers of the "Protectorate" have now embarked on this second and more difficult task.
Conflict of Views
Two conflicting views as to the measures to be taken appear to prevail among the conquerors. In moderate circles -- and they seem to be mainly represented by the Reich protector of Bohemia and Moravia, Baron von Neurath, and by the German military authorities -- the opinion is held that a more cautious course should be chosen to win over the population. They feel that, as there is no organized power left in the country to challenge German military and economic rule, provocations should be avoided which might drive the people to a desperate outbreak and thus lead to a massacre and endless opposition.
People disappear from their homes at night-time. In most cases their relatives receive a postcard several weeks later saying that they are in a concentration camp, perhaps even in Germany. According to reliable sources, 300 people who were rounded up in the very first days of the occupation are still kept under arrest in the underground vaults of the Petchek Bank in the Bredovska Ulice (Street) in Prague. Both ends of the street are heavily guarded, and very often police vans and ambulance cars are seen bringing new supplies of prisoners.
Czech Discipline [the most interesting part, to me]
Wherever a dozen Germans live in an otherwise Czech town, they take charge of the administration. Nazi "commissars" establish themselves in Czech factories and businesses, drawing considerable material advantage from their highly questionable activities.
In view of the humiliation and terror to which they are subjected, the Czechs have so far shown admirable self-discipline. The Germans meet with a calm but grim opposition by a nation which has been taught by centuries of history how to preserve its national unity despite the harsh rule of foreign masters. When in 1620 the Czech nobility was catastrophically defeated in the famous battle of the White Mountain, and when in the subsequent purge of the Hapsburgs, the Czechs were deprived of all their leaders, it was the ordinary people, the peasants and workers, who carried on the ideal under the hardships of oppression.
Equally, it is now the Czech peasants and the workers who are the main pillars of national resistance against the alien intruder. Their opposition is sly, sullen and intangible. [my italics] They simply do not understand or misunderstand any German instructions given to them, although they develop an amazing knowledge of German when they listen to German broadcasts from London, Strasbourg, or Moscow; things go wrong in factories; production slows down and freights go astray. The Czech peasants are masters in playing the fool when it suits their purpose. [...]
The Germans are well aware of this, and they are determined to fight this spirit with all means at their disposal. Strikes, of which several occurred after the occupation -- partly in consequence of the deterioration of the general living conditions -- have now been forbidden entirely. When sabotage acts were reported from the Ringhofer works in Prague, which employ about 3000 workers, 300 men were arrested and sent to a special concentration camp in Motol, near Prague. In Kosire, a Prague worker's district, public houses and cinemas have not been allowed to open since the day of the invasion, and strong guards are patrolling the streets. [-- pay attention now---] Any display of national spirit is suppressed immediately. When there were demonstrations in the Prague State Opera House during a performance of the Czech national opera "Libusa" by Smetana, a few dozens of people were arrested and reported to have been sent to various concentration camps. The conductor, Mr. Dadamlejnsky, was beaten in the theater by members of the Gestapo investigating squad. [... Lots more...]
Another newspaper article Google turned up from later in the war. Since cutting and pasting wasn't available, I hand-retyped this and the previous blockquote.
NAZIS CLAIMING CHOPIN, SMETANA AS GERMANS NOWThere was a famous radio broadcast from Prague in 1938 of Bedrich Smetana's The Moldau. It was followed by applause. And more applause. And more. It became obvious to the Germans in the audience that the applause was more than just appreciation for the music. The mere act of clapping for a piece of music, if it was excessive, was an illegal act of protest. Smetana's music was banned. The Moldau is famous for that. They teach that in music appreciation classes around the country. The many years dead Smetana was more than a composer -- he was a dangerous nationalist symbol to a "sly, sullen people."
Hard on the heels of the news that the Polish inscriptions on the Chopin monuments all over Poland have recently been replaced with German ones asserting that Chopin was of German origin comes the news that the Nazis are also claiming the Norwegian composer Grieg and the Czech composer Smetana as German nationals.
Poles, Norwegians and Czechs may well be astonished at this change of face on the part of the Nazis. Only a little while ago, music by these and other national composers was banned by the Nazis all over occupied Europe. Now they are to be heralded and encouraged as of German origin.
Wagner in the Sitting room.
During the suppression of Chopin's music in Poland, one woman gave a gramophone concert in the cellar of her home in Warsaw once every week, despite the fact that she had three German officers billeted in the house.
Every Monday night, a few minutes before eight o'clock, the daughter of the house presented herself at the door of the officers sitting room and politely offered to play them a little German music. While they sat listening to Wagner or Brahms, or some other permitted composer, two floors below in the cellar, some 20 Poles, admitted by the back door, listened in semi-darkness to the strains of Chopin.
Played in Prison.
In Prague, one of the principal halls in the city was filled to overflowing one midnight for a secret Smetana and Dvorak concert. Three weeks later, the Germans played "The Bartered Bride" [Smetana's best known opera -- Dumbo] at the State Opera House [renamed Smetana Concert Hall in 1945 -- Dumbo]. The lifting of the Smetana ban coincided with their deciding to impose German nationality on the long dead composer.
One of the most stirring stories of the playing of banned music comes from the Polish town of Kalisz. Here, a violinist smuggled himself into a condemned cell in the prison so that 20 Polish hostages might hear for the last time the lovely forbidden music of their own Polish composers. It cost him his life, but he proved that even in defeat and oppression, music lives on.
--- British Ministry of Information
In 1941, because of poorer war production than the Nazis needed from Czechoslovakia, the Baron previously mentioned in the first article as the Protector of Bohemia was replaced by a more reliable, results driven man by the name of SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich A man named after a Wagnerian opera, no less. Heydrich is such a bad, bad, bad character, he may perhaps be the worst human being that ever existed, if we could ever imagine an objective way to measure such things. That sounds hyperbolic. It might not be.
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich. His favorite music was Schubert's String Quintet.
Heydrich was the main architect of The Holocaust. I've paid attention to this since I was a kid, and I'm still not sure just who at the top gave THE order and how specific they were about it to get serious about the Final Solution. They probably have a better idea about that. My understanding is that there was a lot of forceful humming and hawing at key points which got across the message. It was Heydrich who stopped the humming and hawwing and started giving orders. Starting at the Conference at Wannsee on January 20, 1942.
There have been two films about this conference. One was the miniseries Shoah. There was a 2001 HBO docudrama based specifically on just the events of January 20 at the Conference of Wannsee. I don't have HBO and haven't seen it, but I look forward to it. Kenneth Branagh plays the part of Heydrich and Stanley Tucci plays Adolf Eichmann, the gritty details guy ready to explain the mechanics of gassing and disposing of so many people.
Most of what I know about the film I got from this review of it by a University of Alberta law professor. He chooses to focus on Heydrich's words: "All our actions must be predicated on law," and on the running theme that the men assembled at this conference are not there to plan it, but to create the legal niceties and framework for a great crime against humanity which they've already decided they are going to do regardless. My conclusions might be different from his, but I'll get to that soon.
Heydrich is famous for other, lesser things as well. In one of the most magnificent frags in history, the sly, sullen Czechs nailed his ass. They paid for that pleasure with one of the great Nazi atrocities of the war. We'll get to that, soon, as well.
2. THE GESTAPO’S METHODS OF EXAMINATION”It's interesting not because it's so brutal but because it's so civilized. There were RULES IN PLACE for how Nazis were supposed to interrogate people -- to effectively torture them. Somebody actually thought up these rules and wrote them down. What do you need rules for if you're going to exterminate people or torture them? They made it all very clean and civilized and legal.
(1) From a directive by the Gestapo chief, Müller.
For the “sharpened interrogations” by the Gestapo, as they were applied against, among others, the men of July 20, have been preserved in the original, because a large part of the Gestapo files could be obtained after the collapse of the National Socialist regime. The instructions came from the notorious chief of the security police and the security service, MÜLLER. Under the date of June 12, 1942, a “new regulation” regarding then interrogation methods of the Gestapo was issue as “secret Reich matter,” as follows:
1. The sharpened interrogation may only be applied it, on the strength of the preliminary interrogation, it has been ascertained that the prisoner can give information a bout important facts, connections or plans hostile to the state or the legal system, but does not want to reveal his knowledge, and the latter cannot be obtained by way of inquiries.
2. Under this circumstance, the sharpened interrogation may be applied only against Communists, Marxists, members of the Bible-research sect, saboteurs, terrorists, members of the resistance movement, parachute agents, asocial persons, Polish or Soviet persons who refuse to work, or idlers.
In all other cases my previous permission is required as a matter of principle’
3. The sharpened interrogation may not be applied in order to induce confessions about a prisoner’s own criminal acts. Nor may this means be applied toward persons who have been temporarily delivered byt justice for the purpose of further investigation.
Once more, exceptions require my pervious permission.
4. The sharpening can consist of the following, among other things, according to circumstances:
simplest rations (bread and water)
deprivation of sleep
but also the resort to blows with a stick (in case of more than 20 blows, a doctor must be present.)”
Verschärfte Vernehmung, of course, as Andrew Sullivan pointed out, can be translated a few different ways. Sharpened Interrogation can be one. Enhanced Interrogation is another. The parallel with what the Bush justice department did is very clear. The little Heydrich's of the Bush Justice Department were called upon to manufacture legal documents explaining the limits of torture -- without calling it torture -- and to redefine torture so whatever it is, it wasn't what they were doing. They weren't content to just go ahead and get their hands dirty and do it. They wanted to make torture... uh, excuse me, enhanced interrogation... part of the process. That's what always bothered me MUCH MORE than the actual torture itself, which I would have been quite outraged enough by just by itself. It was that they went to so much trouble to justify it. To make it routine. To make it just another one of those silly things that governments gotta do, like having a National Soybean day or "Don't remove this tag under penalty of law." And the justifications offered by the Nazis for Verschärfte Vernehmung were familiar ones: the ticking time bomb. Some things never change.
That's one of the great lessons that I (and maybe only I) drew from the Bush experience: that the Nazis weren't an exception in the bold progress of history.
From DeCoste's review of the film: "That the Holocaust proceeded from a debate about the limits of law may surprise those who, lead perhaps by the popular media, take the Holocaust as an expression of mindless hatred."
I think that's the mistake that most of us make. I grew up learning that the Nazis were madmen, as if their alleged insanity would protect us all from the wider implications that "this is what civilized people can do." How can you live with civilization when you know that this is what civilized people can do? "But they weren't civilized! Civilized people don't do such things..." And then we get a circular argument that defines civilization such that it doesn't include something that we are all ashamed of. By excluding it from our definition, it's not something we could ever do. Except we started doing it under Bush. We didn't kill 6 million people. We just changed the process by which we inflicted great pain on prisoners under our control for the same manufactured reasons and with the same contorted reasoning that the Nazis used when they wanted to torture people.
The lesson that I take from both the Conference of Wannsee and from the Yoo-Bybee memos is that the Holocaust wasn't uncivilized at all. It was the most civilized and most legal mass execution of otherwise innocent people in history. In fact, the Holocaust would be far, far, far less disturbing if they had just gone ahead and done it and skulked about it. Holding conferences, manufacturing legal opinions, passing new laws, appointing desk jobs, creating time tables... That's all very, very civilized. And all the more repulsive because of it.
That's what the Bush administration gave us. They didn't kill millions of innocent people (although the death toll is still a substantial one). But they used the Nazi model of how to get things done to remind us of how useless civilization and the law really is.
I think of that every time somebody on DailyKos starts to praise Democrats for being so much more civil than Republicans when it comes to conducting political battles. Civil doesn't mean jack shit. Adolf Eichmann was civil. The heroes of the Holocaust were the uncivil, unlawful people who gave in to a moral impulse to break the law and to hide some poor, sad individual they hardly knew. My heart is not with the civilized man who tells me the orderly way to do things (or why things can't be done for pragmatic reasons) but rather with sly, sullen people that can find a way to flip the bird even when its life-threatening
During the debates over Bush's torture policy, somebody I used to regard well, Harvard law professor and otherwise mostly liberal commentator suggested that what we needed was a procedure in place for the constitutional torture of prisoners... in case of a ticking time bomb situation. That was his proposal. He thought it was unacceptable that in this theoretical situation a government official might do something uncivilized and torture somebody without the writ of law. Nothing could be more backwards. Changing the law for this special case is the same as if the USDA created special provisions for the food grade approval of human flesh for that rare special case event of a plane crashing in the Andes.
Another Bohemian folk song. This one was recorded in 1942, before the town Lidice was annihilated in one of the great atrocities of the war.
Jarmila Novotna sings Andulko, Me Dite. Songs of Lidice. Recorded in 1942
Back to Heydrich and the Czechs now...
Heydrich was monstrous to the Czechs. Their are History Channel documentaries on the subject. Those documentaries eventually they get to the good part, Operation Anthropoid. An anthropoid being, as we all know, a creature that is like a human but not necessarily a human. I don't know if that had anything to do with its name. The allies parachuted in some Czech insurgent special forces under the command of Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík. They ambushed him on the road from Prague to Dresden:
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.Heydrich died from his wounds. The Nazis cornered and later killed Kubis. The other Czech commandos were cornered and all committed suicide rather than surrender, which was probably a good idea because the Nazis had memos explaining how to interrogate them properly.
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.
Kubis is a national hero. Heydrich got a Nazi stamp, which might even be a collector's item today. However, the Nazis were more upset than that. Retaliation was in order, so they laid blame on the nearby town of Lidice and massacred it.
[Lidice] was on orders from Adolf Hitler and Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, completely destroyed by German forces in reprisal for the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in the late spring of 1942. On 10 June 1942, all 173 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered. Another 11 men who were not in the village were arrested and murdered soon afterwards along with several others already under arrest. Several hundred women and over 100 children were deported to concentration camps; a few children considered racially suitable for Germanisation were handed over to SS families and the rest were sent to the Chełmno extermination camp where they were gassed to death. After the war ended, only 153 women and 17 children returned.It takes a brave, sullen and sly people to fuck with Nazis like that.
“Hitler was frantic with rage and, characteristically, what he called for was not justice but vengeance. He ordered the instant execution of 30,000 Czechs as a reprisal.”
The man appointed to take over from Heydrich, Karl Frank, pointed out that the loss of 30,000 would have a severe impact on the Czech labour force. Hitler took this on board and changed the figure to the arrest of 10,000."
Ruins of Lidice, 1942. From the Holocaust Research Project.
Yet more dead.
The Czech Memorial to the Dead Children of Lidice.
I was going to end with Smetana's String Quartet #2, but I changed my mind. This is a work by another great Bohemian nationalist composer, Bohuslav Martinu who made a priority out of preserving Czech folk music and incorporating aspects of it into his music, in this case, modern 20th century music.
Bohuslav Martinu -- Memorial to Lidice. Brasilia Orchestra, conducted by Ira Levin.
Next week: We begin a mini-Dvorak festival, with Antonin Dvorak's String Quartet #12 in F major, "The American Quartet."