Major-Generaal Rudolf Krzak overleden

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Roel R.
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Major-Generaal Rudolf Krzak overleden

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Major-General Rudolf Krzak
(Filed: 27/05/2004)

Major-General Rudolf Krzak , who has died aged 90, was the last of the plotters responsible for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich.

As Hitler's Reichsprotektor in Bohemia-Moravia, Heydrich was responsible for the murder of thousands of Czechs. Sixty-two years ago today, assassins attempted to shoot him as he was being driven through the streets of Prague. When the ringleader's sten gun jammed, one of his comrades lobbed a grenade into the car. Heydrich was wounded, and died in hospital eight days later.

The Nazis exacted a terrible revenge: the entire populations of two villages, Lidice and Lezaky, were wiped out, and their homes flattened.

Rudolf Krzak had helped to organise the plot from Britain, having fled from his homeland three years earlier. He had been born on April 6 1914 at Bernartice in Southern Bohemia, and graduated from the Hranice Military Academy in Moravia. After Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, and dissolved its army, Krzak and a friend from his days at primary school, Rudolf Hrubec, secretly formed a group to escape to France.

To his colleagues' exasperation, Krzak insisted on carrying a heavy sackful of dictionaries, explaining that they would be invaluable in the countries they were planning to pass through. He also took three suits: one for daily wear, another as a reserve, and the third a smarter outfit in which he hoped to raise money to cover their living expenses.

The group travelled through Poland, then took a boat from Gdynie to Boulogne. They joined the French Foreign Legion, training in Algeria before being attached to the 1st Infantry Division in the south of France. Krzak's unit saw its first action in eastern France; he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the first of 24 military honours he gathered in the course of his career. Exhausted from a series of battles in which they helped to cover the retreat of the French army, the Czech units (still in French uniforms) sailed to Liverpool.

Krzak then found himself based, with his fellow Czechs, at Leamington Spa. He was soon appointed a regimental sergeant major, but grew restive at the lack of action. He took a demotion, and, in January 1941, joined the 2nd MoD Department commanded by GS Col Frantisek Moravec, the chief of the Czechoslovak secret service between 1940 and 1945.

Krzak went to special group D as a deputy commander in charge of paratroopers who were to take part in special operations with the underground groups in occupied Czechoslovakia; this work was carried out at a training camp in Scotland.

The Heydrich mission encountered problems from the start. Because of the unpredictability of dropping men into Czechoslovakia, three groups were flown in to the country; subsequently, all three were to take part in operation Anthropoid, as it was codenamed - and all but two of the men involved lost their lives.

Bernartice was another place to become the object of the Nazis' revenge: 24 people there were killed within a fortnight of Heydrich's death, and 20 more sent to concentration camps. Krzak's mother, father and the rest of his extended family were shot, as were the family of his best friend, Hrubec. It was three years before Krzak learned of these events. He and Hrubec continued their work at Special group D until July 1944. On one occasion they were sent to the Italian Alps, where their mission was to recruit Czech soldiers, who had been conscripted into the German army, to fight with Italian partisans to help the Allied offensive from the south.

Each man commanded his own group, flying to Italy in separate aircraft; but Hrubec's crashed into a mountain in poor visibility, leaving no survivors. Krzak's group landed safely, but, waiting to come out after their mission was over, they were surrounded and pinned down by enemy fire. It was 11 days before an aircraft could fly them to safety - the two-seater plane taking off with Krzak hanging on to the fuselage.

Early in 1945 Krzak was posted to the Eastern front, and then to Slovakia to fight the retreating Germans. He finished the war as a commander of the 5th Infantry Brigade with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

After the war, he continued training paratroopers and studied at Staff College in Prague. However, his contentment was short lived: when the Communists took power in 1948, he was discharged from the army, and a year later he was arrested for "treason" and sentenced to nine years in prison.

In the event, he served four years, and on his release he took a job as a blacksmith, before moving into chemical production and geological drilling. During this period Krzak often lived in his Fiat car or in a Portakabin. In the Prague Spring of 1968 he returned to the army, and was promoted colonel. However, after the Russians invaded he was pensioned off, and returned to his drilling work.

With the "Velvet Revolution", Krzak was finally "rehabilitated". He was promoted to the honorary rank of Major General and became head of the Association of Antifascist Fighters.

He spent his last years as chairman of the Czech Legionnaires.

Rudolf Krzak died on April 22. He is survived by a son and a daughter.
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Roel R.
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Bericht door Roel R. »

the two-seater plane taking off with Krzak hanging on to the fuselage.
Een stukje uit de tekst die ik bijzonder appart vond,

Zijn leven is een film waardig,
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Timo
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Wat is dat een fuselage?
Starting up again
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Peter M
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Bericht door Peter M »

Achterkant van de vliegtuigromp.
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Sjoerd
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Fuselage is de hele romp, de achterkant van de romp heet staart of tail. Hij hield zich dus vast aan de romp toen het vliegtuigje opsteeg.
'The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future. '
Stephen E. Ambrose
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