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Particularly now, with Russia attempting to crush and take over Ukraine, it is important to know the history of World War II. The film Anthropoid is based on events that occurred in Czechoslovakia in 1942 under German occupation. The Czechoslovak government-in-exile (in London) sent highly trained Czechoslovak soldiers into Czechoslovakia by parachute to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi in charge of the German occupation. Heydrich, a principle architect of the Holocaust, was called the Butcher of Prague. The secret military operation was called Operation Anthropoid.

This is not a film for the squeamish. After the film was released in the U.S. in 2016, its score on Rotten Tomatoes was only 66. This puzzles me. It is a far better film than that, with an excellent script, excellent dialogue, and a superb cast.

Back in 2020, I read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Even in 2020, I tried to make the case for the importance of reading this book, as authoritarians (and worse) ran roughshod over America and worked to destabilize Europe. In 1939, Europe pretty much abandoned Czechoslovakia to Hitler. Today, Ukraine is getting help. But we have seen this movie before, both the cruelty on one side and the bravery on the other.

Anthropoid can be streamed from Amazon Prime Video.


  1. Malinda wrote:

    Hi David: I can’t believe I haven’t seen ‘Anthropoid’ yet for 2 reasons: (1) I have an affinity for WWII films and keep a list of my favorites in order of tier (it’s sort of ridiculous but I do it anyway), and (2) my great-great grandmother was Moravian so I have that as a special reason to care. Why haven’t I seen this?!

    Anyway I have a history myself with ‘Rise and Fall.’ I own three different copies: two old library hardbacks and one paper. I’ve started the book maybe four different times (oops) but always just got busy or something. Last year (in Nov I think) I read into the 400’s finally before life took over again. I plan to finally finish it this year. But actually, one thing I did recently instead of conclude it, was to pick up Shirer’s ‘Berlin Diary’ instead. It is so good and conversational (and in the parts to do with the Nazi takeover, eerie and sinister), esp when you’re familiar with parts of ‘Rise and Fall.’ It’s astonishing as first person, and gives a queasy feeling when Shirer describes personally witnessing the marching and rallies and banners and all of Berlin’s macabre, intense, animalistic fervor.

    I was wondering if Shirer or ‘Anthropoid’ mention the Heydrich assassination’s connection to the massacre of Lidice? — an incident of the Holocaust that always haunts me like the large scale children’s kidnap that happened in France, too (was it Paris?) where huge groups of unattended children were separated screaming from their mothers and put on trains with no supervision and taken straight to the gas.

    But in Lidice, this village’s total annihilation was chosen as direct payment to Hitler for Heydrich’s death (and it’s been proven I believe, that the link between the village having any real direct involvement with the operation was non-existent, so terrible).

    I appreciate you reminding me to see ‘Anthropoid’ and finish Shirer’s books. (I have already collected some notes about ‘Rise and Fall’ that interest me for other reasons from a psychological perspective and also philosophical — but those are in-depth other things altogether. He is an excellent, keen journalist and chronicler (even if I have a couple small bones to pick with him, I’ve liked him very much for a long time, and value his historical contribution greatly — it really stands up).

    * Quick side note: I’ve got a little more to add to our last conversation on story (slightly humorous), sorry for the delay in that. I will get back to it soon. 🙂

    This Smithsonian article on the Lidice massacre is a pretty thorough one:

    Monday, April 18, 2022 at 8:22 pm | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Malinda: When you say that your great-grandmother was Moravian, I assume you mean that she was born in Moravia. Here, near Salem, North Carolina (and also in Pennsylvania), Moravian refers to members of the Moravian Church in America. Their presentday theology doesn’t seem to differ much from Baptists or Methodists, but during the 18th Century they were a communal religion, quite radical and quite prosperous.

    The end-titles in Anthropoid mention that 5,000 Czechs were murdered by the Nazis as retaliation for the assassination of Heydrich. Shirer does discuss Lidice, on page 991 in my edition.

    The length of Shirer’s book can be off-putting, but as you know reading it is worth every page.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 7:54 am | Permalink
  3. Malinda wrote:

    Hi David, yes, she was my grandfather’s grandmother and Moravia was her place of origin. Her main legacy seems to have been handing down some delectable pastry recipes (and marrying a northern Italian). It’s interesting because Moravia is all I ever heard referenced going back in the family relating to her — I don’t ever recall hearing ‘Czechoslovakia’ mentioned and her food always called ‘Moravian.’

    Actually, until you said something I was totally unaware of the Moravian Church. Looks like they’re thought to be one of the oldest Protestant groups of the 15th century. I’m sort of amazed they have a place in the present day as it is, but so they do.

    I’m glad Shirer mentions Lidice. It’s so tough to wrap the mind around 340 malicious village deaths, let alone 5,000 reprisal deaths, let alone 6 million, or numbers on that scale. So many innocents, and of course, when the war was over, it’s my understanding, the Czechs who returned were less than amenable to the Germans occupying the Moravian-Silesian lands, and there were retaliatory cruelties done to the Germans being expelled . . . so many dimensions to war and displacement of populations.

    ‘Rise and Fall’ is quite a volume, but more inviting than intimidating. Some of the ‘booktuber’ personalities I follow occasionally on youtube candidly admit to having ‘big book fear.’ I don’t have that in the least, just a frustrating, demoralizing lack of time now and then (or distractions whatever they may be) that get in my way, so I call it ‘big book drift,’ lol. 🙂

    Friday, April 22, 2022 at 5:07 am | Permalink

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