Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Well, it's another movie marathon as today I went to the cinema to see Anthropoid. Haven't heard of it? I'm not surprised. It's based on a true story of the Czech Resistance and the successful assassination of (SS) Schutzstaffel Obergrupenfuhrer Reinhold Heydrich in Prague in 1942. Third in the line of his command after Hitler and Himmler, Heydrich was the highest ranking SS (Schutzstaffel) officer assassinated during the war. Several other German high-ranking NAZI officers were hung after the Nuremberg Trials.

Brief history lesson - in 1938 Hitler called together the European Allies, who defeated Germany in World War I twenty years earlier, for a conference in Berlin. During the conference, he swore to them he didn't want another war.  If they would only agree to cede Czechoslovakia back to Germany, he would be content. See, there were lots of people of German ancestry living in that country. After World War I, the German Empire had been stripped of much of their territory. Many German speaking people found themselves in Czechoslovakia and Poland. Hitler asked only for the Saar back (the region renamed as Czechoslovakia.) He promised them peace if only Germany could get that region returned.

Poor Neville Chamberlain (English Prime Minister at the time) flew back to London and proclaimed "Peace in our time!" Bless him, within the year, Germany declared war on England and her European allies. He was replaced by Winston Churchill and you know the rest...

There were several high-powered Czech Army Officers who made it to London, just like Polish Officers who got there later.  Anyhow the resistance was run from London, whether it was the Czech, the Poles, or the French as the war progressed. So the Czech officers in London decided to send a team of resistance fighters to Prague. Their target was Heydrich. The creator of the Final Solution - the planned extermination of every Jewish person in Europe, along with Gypsies, LGBTQ people (known in the NAZI world as  "deviants"), insane people, criminals, and anybody else they didn't like (or who didn't like them).

Anthropoid is the story of the mission. It is atmospheric, bleak, and dark at times. With the subject matter it couldn't help being dark and bleak. But there are two romances in the storyline, borne out of the desperation of the times. The resistance fighters manage to execute their plan. Heydrich is badly injured but not killed in the attack. As you can imagine, the Germans are furious and begin searching Prague for the culprits. After Heydrich dies of his injuries, many innocent citizens are killed in the reprisals.

Eventually the Gestapo (which is a German acronym for Geheime Staatspolizei -Secret State Police) tracked down some people who helped the team. With savage efficiency they extract the knowledge of the hiding place after brutalizing a teenage boy. There is a last-ditch battle with none of the resistance fighters left alive. They had all been furnished with cyanide capsules as a last resort and most used them.

In the impotent rage of having no one for a show trial which could be filmed and shown to the German people at home, the NAZI's destroyed a Czech village in retaliation, killing every living thing there.  In all they killed over 5,000 people in their manic killing spree. You see the murder of Heydrich put a chink in their much publicized armor of invincibility. Other resistance groups began murdering NAZIs whenever possible. That and the allies bombing raids on the Vaterland (Fatherland - they would never call their home Motherland) (Insecure much?) marked the beginning of the end.

Of course Hitler's insane plan to open a second front by going into Russia ended in Germany being surrounded by oncoming enemies and the pincers closed. Otherwise, my German would be lots better than it is...

The cast comprised of mostly British actors is excellent in the film.  Notable are Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan as the two resistance fighters who are the main characters. Toby Jones (the sinister scientist of the Captain America films) plays a straight role in this one. He is one of the Prague contacts for the fighters. His suicide is poignant as his glasses drop off and he drops the cyanide capsule when the Germans break into his apartment. Feeling all over the floor, he finds it.  When they break the door down, he is already dead.

Most of the people at the movies today were my age or older, i.e.Vietnam era vets and their wives. It's sad that WWII is fading into the past as most people who lived it pass away. As many of you know, my dad was a WWII vet. I grew up watching archival footage of some of the battles with him. It taught me how insanity can overtake a country and run rampant.

Please you younger folks out there, it is important to remember your history. Remember the words of George Santayana:

Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.

Until next time...

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