Prague, Czech Republic: Military Heritage Sites
[Editor’s Note: The March 2012 issue of Armchair General magazine features the Bonus Article, “Killing Hitler’s Hangman,” about the 1942 assassination in Nazi-occupied Prague of notorious SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich by British-trained Czech commandos. This photo essay of military heritage sites in Prague by Peter Suciu includes several photographs of historic sites related to that action.]
Today the Czech Republic capital city of Prague is a pleasant cosmopolitan center, and while not quite as “Bohemian” as one might expect given that it is in the center of old Bohemia, the city has a rich yet tragic history. Prague is known for its dozens upon dozens of towers, some of which are remnants of the old city wall, but it is a city with a long military heritage – one marred by conquest, occupation, war and yet fierce independence in its residents. It was an imperial capital of the King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor during the reign of Charles IV in the 14th century, site of one of the many revolutions in 1848, a center of Austro-Hungarian military production prior to World War I, and later arguably the first “occupied capital” by Nazi Germany. And while the city endured – as much as survived – War World II with little cosmetic damage compared to nearby Vienna or Budapest, Prague suffered under the Nazi reign of Reinhard Heydrich, whose brutality earned him the nickname “Butcher of Prague.” In 1942, Heydrich was assassinated in the Prague suburbs by Czech commandos and patriots. Following World War II the city further endured and even lashed out during Soviet rule during the Cold War, to finally see its renaissance in the post-Soviet era. And for these reasons, Prague is so very rich with military history, rivaling even London and Paris in what history buffs can expect.