The exhibition is located in the underground crypt of the Baroque Church of Sts Cyril and Methodius. It is an authentic battle location from World War II in Prague in a secret hideout, which the Czech Orthodox Church provided to Czechoslovak parachutists from May 27 to June 18, 1942 after the attack on Reinhard Heydrich.
St. Cyril and Methodius
A Baroque church was built in the years 1730 – 36 on the corner of Resslova and Na Zderaze Streets according to a project of Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer and Pavel Ignác Bayer. The prominent Baroque chamber building was originally consecrated to St. Charles of Boromej. It was a part of the neighbouring institutional home for the emeritus priests, which was abolished in 1783 and changed into barracks and warehouses. In 1866, the building of the priest home became a part of the Czech Technical University and was adapted to suit its needs.
The church today rests on an elevated terrace which was made during terrain adaptations during the 1880s. It is a longitudinal chamber building, the aisle of which has three fields, a choir loft and a choir. The interior frescoes depicting scenes from the St. Charles legend were realized by Karel Schöpf, the stucco decorations from 1739 are the work of Michal Ignác Palliardi. The original imperial roof of the tower was taken down in 1883. After it was abolished, it was not modified and renewed as a sanctuary until 1934 – 35 for the divine services of the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church. On the 29th September 1935, it was festively consecrated to St. Cyril and Methodius and became the residence of the orthodox bishop.
The church made a deep mark in our history during the occupation. The paratroopers participating in preparing the attack on and assassinating the Deputy Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich found shelter here. There were seven of them in the church: Technical Sergeant Josef Valčík from the Silver A group, Lieutenant Adolf Opálka from the Out Distance group, Staff-Sergeant Jaroslav Švarc from the Tin group, Aspirating Sergeant Josef Bublík and Sergeant Jan Hrubý from the Bioscope group, and Technical Sergeants Josef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš from the Anthropoid group. The last two realized the assassination of Heydrich on the 27th May 1942. The searching activities of the occupants prevented them from leaving Prague. There was another paratrooper, Karel Čurda from the Out Distance group, who left for South Bohemia and found shelter with his mother after the landing. In the end, he was the one who disclosed to the Germans everything about the training and the people who helped the paratroopers and who offered them shelter. The subsequent questionings lead to discovering the church shelter. Members of SS and Gestapo surrounded the church and the neighbouring areas and there was a fight on the early morning of 18th June 1942. The heroes Opálka, Kubiš and Švarc fought the Germans from the choir; the remaining four defenders were in the crypt. There was no way they could win against the outnumbering Germans, and when they ran out of ammunition, they used the last bullet to end their lives. When the Germans got inside the church, five of the paratroopers were already dead, two others died on the way to the hospital. The representatives of the Orthodox Church and of the Temple of St. Cyril and Methodius were executed, together with many others who helped the paratroopers and participated in their hiding. The Orthodox Church was abolished as of September 1942.
After the war, the church was restored in the years 1945 – 47 and also the crypt was made accessible. The memory of the paratroopers is commemorated on a bronze memorial plaque with a relief of a paratrooper and a priest with the names of the heroes and their protectors by František Bělský, which was installed on the wall of the church crypt in 1947. In 1951, the Orthodox Church became legally independent and the church became a metropolitan temple. The current iconostasis (an altar screen between the altar and the area for the believers) was made according to the project of architect Vladimír Alexandrovič Brandt by a painter named Vukovič.
On the 28th September 1995, the National Monument to the Heroes of the Heydrich’s Era of Terror was opened in the Temple of St. Cyril and Methodius.