The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich

The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich - lessons from history

The class begins with reviewing what the students know about the situation in the Czech lands after the German occupation of 1939. Then the book Bomba pro Heydricha (The Bomb for Heydrich) is introduced as the primary source of information about the assassination attempt. Before reading an excerpt of the book, it is necessary to focus on the term “assassination attempt”, because the students must realise that this act is always motivated politically. The students should pay attention to 4 sets of questions: 1. What do you know about Heydrich’s family? 2. Where the assassination took place? 3. What are the names of the assassins? 4. How the assassination was carried out? Then an excerpt (pages 151–160) is read aloud. The students then answer the above questions. The largest portion of time is naturally devoted to the course of the assassination. The most important phase is the final discussion. The students should realise who Heydrich was, what evil he represented, and what he was responsible for. In the case of the paratroopers who carried out the assassination, the students should realise how brave they were, how they put their lives to risk. The most important question is: Was the assassination, from the moral aspect, a murder, an administration of justice, or an accomplishment of an order?

How this resource relates to Shaping Characters objectives

  • Attitudes and attributes
  • Motivation and resilience

Actual outcomes

Show how the assassination proceeded
Qualities in focus:

Courage, determination, responsibility

Target group, age of the students: 9th grade
Suitable for: History

Resources required

Black- or white-board; book: Hamšík, D., Pražák, J.: Bomba pro Heydricha. Praha 1963.

Time needed

1 unit – 45 minutes

What could have been done differently or is planned for future repeats?

The students were surprised that the excerpt depicts Reinhard Heydrich as a good husband and loving father whose behaviour towards his family was diametrically opposed to how he behaved towards the Czech people. It was necessary to underline once more that he represented fascism and its theory of the overman in order to prevent perceiving him as a “decent fellow” of sorts. The attitudes to the assassination also differed. The boys inclined to think that it was legitimate, while the girls weren’t clear about it as many of them argued that assassination cannot be justified.

Links to related resource files

Contact information