Second World War
Croix de Guerre
Czechoslovak War Cross 1939–1945
Jan Kubiš (24 June 1913 – 18 June 1942) was a Czech soldier, one of
a team of
Czechoslovak British-trained paratroopers sent to eliminate
acting Reichsprotektor (Reich-Protector) of Bohemia and Moravia,
Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, in 1942 as part of Operation
2 The elimination of Heydrich in Prague
3 Attempted capture of the parachutists
4 Honours and awards
5 Kubiš in popular culture
6 See also
9 External links
Jan Kubiš was born in 1913 in Dolní Vilémovice,
Moravia in the
Austro-Hungarian Empire (present-day Czech Republic). Jan was a Boy
Jan Kubiš, having previously been an active member of Orel, started
his military career as a
Czechoslovak army conscript on 1 November
1935 by 31st Infantry Regiment "Arco" in Jihlava. After passing petty
officer course and promotion to corporal, Kubiš served some time in
Znojmo before being transferred to 34th infantry regiment "Marksman
Jan Čapek" in Opava, where he served at guard battalion stationed in
Jakartovice. Here, Kubiš reached promotion to platoon sergeant.
Czechoslovak mobilization of 1938, Kubiš served as deputy
commander of a platoon in
Czechoslovak border fortifications in the
Opava area. Following the
Munich Agreement and demobilization, Kubiš
was discharged from army on 19 October 1938 and returned to his
civilian life, working at a brick factory.
At the eve of World War II, on 16 June 1939, Kubiš fled
Czechoslovakia and joined a forming
Czechoslovak unit in Kraków,
Poland. Soon he was transferred to Algiers, where he entered the
French Foreign Legion. He fought in
France during the early stage of
World War II
World War II and received his
Croix de guerre
Croix de guerre there.
A month after the German victory in the Battle of France, Kubiš fled
to Great Britain, where he received training as a paratrooper. The
Free Czechoslovaks, as he and other self-exiled Czechoslovaks were
called, were stationed at
Cholmondeley Castle near Malpas in Cheshire.
He and his best friend, Jozef Gabčík, both befriended the Ellison
family, from Ightfield, Shropshire, whom they met while in Whitchurch,
In 1941, Kubiš was dropped into
Czechoslovakia as part of Operation
Anthropoid, where he died following the successful assassination of
Reinhard Heydrich. His remains were buried secretly in a mass grave at
Ďáblice cemetery in Prague. Since this was unknown after World
War II, Karel Čurda, the member of their squad who betrayed them to
the Nazis, was coincidentally also buried at the cemetery. However, in
1990 mass graves were excavated and a memorial site with symbolic
gravestones was established instead. In 2009, a memorial was built
at the place of the attack on Heydrich.
The elimination of Heydrich in Prague
Main article: Operation Anthropoid
Jozef Gabčík and
Jan Kubiš were airlifted along with seven soldiers
from Czechoslovakia’s army-in-exile in the
United Kingdom and two
other groups named Silver A and Silver B (who had different missions)
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force Halifax of No. 138 Squadron into Czechoslovakia
at 10pm on 28 December 1941. In Prague, they contacted several
families and anti-Nazi organizations who helped them during the
preparations for the assassination.
On 27 May 1942, Heydrich had planned to meet Hitler in Berlin. German
documents suggest that Hitler intended to transfer Heydrich to German
occupied France, where the
French resistance was gaining ground.
Heydrich would have to pass a section where the Dresden-
merged with a road to the Troja Bridge. The junction, in the Prague
suburb of Libeň, was well-suited for the attack because motorists
have to slow for a hairpin bend. At 10:30 AM, Heydrich proceeded on
his daily commute from his home in
Panenské Břežany to Prague
Castle. Gabčík and Kubiš waited at the tram stop on the curve near
Bulovka Hospital in
Prague 8-Libeň. As Heydrich’s open-topped
Mercedes-Benz neared the pair, Gabčík stepped in front of the
vehicle, trying to open fire, but his
Sten gun jammed. Heydrich
ordered his driver, SS-
Oberscharführer Klein, to stop the car. When
Heydrich stood up to try to shoot Gabčík, Kubiš threw a modified
anti-tank grenade at the vehicle, and its fragments ripped through the
car’s right-rear fender, embedding shrapnel and fibres from the
upholstery into Heydrich’s body, even though the grenade failed to
enter the car. Kubiš was also injured by the shrapnel. Heydrich,
apparently unaware of his shrapnel injuries, got out of the car,
returned fire and tried to chase Gabčík but soon collapsed. Klein
returned from his abortive attempt to chase Kubiš, and Heydrich
ordered him to chase Gabčík. Klein was shot twice by Gabčík (who
was now using his revolver) and wounded in the pursuit.
A Czech woman went to Heydrich's aid and flagged down a delivery van.
Heydrich was first placed in the driver's cab, but complained that the
van's movement was causing him pain. He was placed in the back of the
van, on his stomach, and taken to the emergency room at Bulovka
Hospital. Heydrich had suffered severe injuries to his left side,
with major damage to his diaphragm, spleen, and lung. He had also
fractured a 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. Himmler ordered Dr
Karl Gebhardt to
Prague to assume care. Despite a fever, Heydrich's recovery
appeared to progress well. Dr Theodor Morell, Hitler's personal
physician, suggested the use of sulfonamide (an antibacterial drug),
but Gebhardt, thinking Heydrich would recover, refused. On 2 June,
during a visit by Himmler, Heydrich reconciled himself to his fate by
reciting a part of one of his father's operas.
Heydrich slipped into a coma after Himmler's visit and never regained
consciousness. He died on 4 June, probably around 04:30. He was 38.
The autopsy concluded that he died of sepsis. Heydrich's facial
expression as he died betrayed an "uncanny spirituality and entirely
perverted beauty, like a renaissance Cardinal," according to Bernhard
Wehner, a Kripo police official who investigated the
Attempted capture of the parachutists
Bullet-scarred window of the Church of St Cyril and St Methodious in
Prague where Kubiš and his compatriots were cornered.
Kubiš and his group were found on 18 June in the Church of St Cyril
and St Methodious in Resslova Street in Prague. In a bloody battle
that lasted for six hours, Kubiš was wounded and died shortly after
arrival at the hospital. The other parachutists committed suicide
to avoid capture after an additional four-hour battle with the SS.
In revenge, the Nazis murdered 24 family members and close relatives
Jan Kubiš in the concentration camp Mauthausen: his father, both
own and half-siblings, including their wives and husbands, cousins,
aunts and uncles.
Honours and awards
Shortly after his successful mission, Kubiš (as well as Gabčík) was
promoted to the rank of second lieutenant in memoriam. After the
Czechoslovakia he was further promoted to the rank of
staff captain in memoriam. During the celebration of the 60th
anniversary of the assassination of Heydrich in 2002, Kubiš was again
promoted in memoriam, to the rank of colonel.
Apart from the
Czechoslovak Military Cross 1939 and Croix de Guerre
(both he received in 1940), Kubiš was posthumously decorated with the
Commemorative Medal of the
Czechoslovak Army, F, GB (1944), another
Czechoslovak Military Crosses (1942, 1945), King's Commendation
for Brave Conduct (1947),
Czechoslovak Military Order for Liberty
Military Order of the White Lion
Military Order of the White Lion "For Victory" 1st Class
(1968), Order of Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1992) and Cross of
Defence of the Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic
There are streets named after
Jan Kubiš in the cities of Prague
(close to the
Operation Anthropoid Memorial), Pardubice, Tábor,
Třebíč and other places. In 2013 (100th anniversary of
Kubiš's birth) a small memorial and museum was open in the house
Jan Kubiš was born. Since 2010 a National memorial and museum
dedicated to all heroes related to the assassination of Heydrich is
open in the crypt of
Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral
Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in
Kubiš in popular culture
Since the 1960s the assassination of Heydrich became the subject of
numerous war novels and war movies.
Jan Kubiš has been portrayed by
numerous actors over the decades, such as Rudolf Jelínek in the 1965
Timothy Bottoms in the film
Operation Daybreak and
Miroslav Rataj in the film Sokolovo (both released in 1975), Patrik
Staněk in the 2011 film Lidice, by
Jamie Dornan in the 2016 film
Anthropoid and by Jack O'Connell in the 2017 film The Man with the
Coinciding with the release of the 2016 film, campaigners called for
Kubiš's body to be identified and exhumed from the mass-grave at the
cemetery in Ďáblice, Prague, and to be given a dignified burial
fitting "the heroes of anti-Nazi resistance".
Czech resistance to Nazi occupation
^ Knobel, Bruno (1962). Das große Abenteuer Lord Baden-Powells (in
German). Zürich: Polygraphischer Verlag AG Zürich.
^ "Skauting » Historie" (in Czech).
Junák - svaz skautů a
skautek ČR. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
^ Pavec, Jan (25 May 2012). "Český národ se zříká hrdinů.
Uznává jen mučedníky a oběti, říká badatel Čvančara".
Hospodářské noviny (in Czech).
^ Burian et al. 2002, pp. 48–49
^ Bryant 2007, p. 175.
^ Burgess, Alan (1983) . Seven Men At Daybreak. New York: Bantam
Books. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-55323-5-081.
^ Burian et al. 2002, p. 64
^ a b Williams 2003, p. 155.
^ Williams 2003, p. 165.
^ Höhne 2000, p. 495.
^ McDonald, Callum (1998). The Killing of Reinhard Heydrich: The SS
Butcher of Prague. New York: Da Capo Press.
^ Cowdery, Ray R.; Vodenka, Peter (1994). Reinhard Heydrich:
Assassination. Lakeville, MN, USA: Victory WW2 Publishing Ltd.
^ "Poprava 262 spolupracovníků parašutistů v Mauthausenu 24. 10.
1942". Fronta.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 27 April 2017.
^ a b "Jan Kubiš".
Dolní Vilémovice (official website of the
village). Retrieved 24 May 2017.
^ a b Jedlička, František. "Plukovník in memoriam Jan Kubiš".
vets.cz. Spolek pro vojenská pietní místa. Retrieved 24 May
^ a b Punčochář (1 July 2003). "Jan Kubiš, Jozef Gabčík".
Filatelie v Brně 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
^ ČTK (24 June 2013). "Před 100 lety se narodil výsadkář Kubiš.
Kliďas, který zabil Heydricha". iDNES.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 24
^ "Kubiš: Hrdina v pouhých 29 letech". ČT24 (in Czech). Czech TV.
24 June 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
^ "RODNÝ DŮM JANA KUBIŠE".
Dolní Vilémovice (official website of
the village) (in Czech). Retrieved 24 May 2017.
^ "Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády". VHU.cz (in Czech).
Military History Institute in Prague. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
^ Hawksley, Rupert (31 August 2016). "The incredible true story behind
World War Two film Anthropoid". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31
^ ČTK (10 December 2014). "Pohřebiště v Ďáblicích by mělo být
prohlášeno národní památkou". Týden.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 29
^ Charter, David (20 August 2016). "Fight to honour heroes who killed
top Nazi". The Times. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
Bryant, Chad Carl (2007).
Prague in Black: Nazi Rule and Czech
Nationalism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Burian, Michal; Knížek, Aleš; Rajlich, Jiří; Stehlík, Eduard
(2002). Assassination: Operation ANTHROPOID, 1941–1942. Prague:
Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic.
Höhne, Heinz (2000) . The Order of the Death's Head: The Story
of Hitler's SS. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-139012-3.
Williams, Max (2003). Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography, Volume
2—Enigma. Church Stretton: Ulric Publishing.
"Experts find wartime paratroopers' grave".
Prague Daily Monitor. 4
October 2007. Archived from the original on 26 October 2007.
"Jan Kubiš's remembrance in Dolní Vilémovice". dolnivilemovice.cz.
2007. Archived from the original on 2008-04-12.
"Jan Kubiš's remembrance in
Dolní Vilémovice 2003-2012".
Vojensko-historický klub Erika Brno. 2014.
"History of the hamlet of Ležáky". Ležáky Memorial.
Czechoslovakia in World War II
Cabinet of the
Military units and formations
RAF Squadrons: 310
Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade
Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion
Czechoslovak Independent Field Battalion
Czechoslovak Army Corps
Czech resistance to Nazi occupation
Royal Air Force
Siege of Tobruk
Battle of Sokolovo
Battle of Kiev
Battle of the Dukla Pass
Slovak National Uprising
Siege of Dunkirk
Battle for Czech Radio
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