Karel Čurda was a Czech paratrooper who received military training from the British during World War II. Čurda was part of a team involved in Operation Anthropoid, which was the assassination of SS Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich in 1942. Heydrich was a high-ranking Nazi official and one of the architects of the Holocaust. The assassination was a daring and bold move that was meant to strike at the heart of the Nazi regime.
After Heydrich’s assassination, the Nazis launched a brutal campaign of reprisals against the Czech populace in an attempt to deter them from supporting the Allies. The villages of Lidice and Lezaky, which had families that fought against the Nazi-backed protectorate government, were particularly hard hit. Many innocent civilians were rounded up and executed in an attempt to quell the resistance movement.
Feeling isolated and afraid for his family’s safety, Čurda made the fateful decision to betray his team to the Nazis. He became a spy for the Gestapo and spent the rest of the war passing information to his Nazi handlers. His actions had devastating consequences for the resistance movement and for Czech civilians who suffered under Nazi rule.
After the war ended, Sgt. Maj. Curda was caught by the restored pre-communist Czech government. He was tried and convicted for high treason, and ultimately executed in Pankrac Prison on 29 April 1947. Čurda’s story has been told in several films, including the 1964 Czech feature film ‚The Assassination‘ and the 1975/1976 US/UK/Czech film ‚Operation Daybreak‘. He was also portrayed in the 2018 movie Operation Anthropoid. Despite his betrayal, Čurda’s story is a complex one that speaks to the challenges and sacrifices faced by those who fought against Nazi tyranny during World War II.