Tuesday, June 28, 2016

28 June 1919: A French Bookseller Commemorates the Signing of the Versailles Treaty

The Paris Peace Conference, convened after the end of World War I, began on 18 January 1919. Although the deliberations, which ended in 1920, led to five major international treaties from 1919 to 1923, it is best known for having brought forth the Versailles Treaty, between Germany and the Allied Powers, signed on 28 June 1919: the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which led to the conflict.

This postcard, depicting the northern wing and parterre of the palace, is postmarked on the date the Treaty was signed.

The recipient, who presumably sent it to himself, is the Parisian bookseller and publisher (François) Louis Dorbon (1878-1956), who called himself Dorbon the elder, to distinguish himself from his brother, Lucien. As the finding aid to the holdings at the University of Texas-Austin explains, the firm of Dorbon-aîné, which flourished from 1900 to the beginning of World War II, “entered the bookselling trade with a remarkable initial stock of 400,000 volumes,” adding, “As both a publisher and a bookseller, Librairie Dorbon-aîné contributed numerous influential works to the early 20th century French literary scene.”

Here, the text of the Treaty, from Yale’s Avalon Project.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Flag Day 2016: Three Flags

On Flag Day, 2016, three flags:

The first thirteen-star "Stars and Stripes," from the American Revolution: postage stamp issued 4 July, 1968 (Scott # 1350)

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The small 48-star flag my father received when he became a citizen after World War II.

(Interesting to think about what immigration controversies were in the news when I wrote the post versus today.)

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The newest, large, ceremonial flag on the north end of the Common in front of Amherst Town Hall, at half-staff in tribute to the victims of the Orlando massacre.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Lidice Shall Live: Anniversary Postal Covers Commemorating the 1942 Massacre.

One of the most notorious of the many Nazi crimes of World War II was the liquidation of the (innocent) village of Lidice, on 9-10 1942, in retaliation for the assassination of the "Reichsprotektor" of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich, by Czechoslovak paratroopers.

(Main post and background)

After the war, the Czechoslovak government decided to rebuild the village, which has also become a memorial and a center for peace and reconciliation. The massacre has been commemorated in the philatelic and numismatic realm. In particular, for example, the government issued special stamps on the major anniversaries of the tragedy. Here are commemorative covers from the fifth and fifteenth anniversaries.

Fifth anniversary, 1942-1947

The cachet at left combines local and national motifs: the miner's lamp, representing the occupation of many of the residents, illuminates both the village at left and the Czech patriotic symbol of the linden leaf, at right with the message, "Lidice Shall Live." The stamp is one of three, in different denominations, issued for the occasion. The first two, identical in design except for the denomination, represent a weeping mother. This one, the highest denomination, signifies hope and rebuilding. The special cancellation echoes one of the iconic memorials, with its wreath of barbed wire (like a crown of thorns) on a cross symbolizing both death and resurrection--but here with the addition of the national linden leaves.

Fifteenth anniversary, 1957

Since 1955, when British group, "Lidice Shall Live," realized the dream of creating a Garden of Peace and Friendship, the rose has been a special symbol for Lidice.

Older posts on the Heydrich assassination and reprisals, and Lidice.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

8 June 1794: Robespierre Presides Over the Festival of the Supreme Being

On 8 June 1794, Maximilien Robespierre presided over the Festival of the Supreme Being, the inauguration of a new civil religion that was to be a high point of the remaking of France in accordance with the principles of revolutionary reason. Instead, it proved to be a foreshadowing of his downfall.

a belief in some divine presence was essential to the philosophical and social order

Contrary to the popular stereotype, Robespierre was not some bloodthirsty monster: in fact, he tried to rein in the "enragés" and "terrorists" who, oblivious to political reality, insisted on implementing ultra-radical policies and carried out murderous and indiscriminate retribution against any presumed "counterrevolutionary" elements of the population. For Robespierre, the so-called "Terror" was just "prompt, severe, inflexible” justice unique to revolutionary situations.

Part of his opposition to the "enragés" also derived from their radical atheism, which struck out against religion, the religious, and monuments of religious cultural heritage alike and did not scruple at the casual murder of priests and nuns. Although Robespierre had no use for the traditional church, he condemned  the radical "de-Christianizers" and upheld freedom of worship. For him, as a disciple of Rousseau, a belief in some divine presence was essential to the philosophical and social order, which, he believed, rested on the moral and spiritual certainty of reward and punishment.

"The day forever fortunate has arrived, which the French people have consecrated to the Supreme Being"

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen appended to the radical French Constitution of April 1793 acknowledged the existence of Supreme Being. Attempting to address the twin crises of the Revolutionary war and the internal divisions of the Revolutionary camp the following spring, Robespierre sought to institutionalize this belief. He delivered a Report to the National Convention on the Connections of Religious and Moral Ideas with Republican Principles, & on National Festivals on 18 Floréal, Year II (7 May 1794).

The day forever fortunate has arrived, which the French people have consecrated to the Supreme Being. Never has the world which He created offered to Him a spectacle so worthy of His notice. He has seen reigning on the earth tyranny, crime, and imposture. He sees at this moment a whole nation, grappling with all the oppressions of the human race, suspend the course of its heroic labors to elevate its thoughts and vows toward the great Being who has given it the mission it has undertaken and the strength to accomplish it.

Is it not He whose immortal hand, engraving on the heart of man the code of justice and equality, has written there the death sentence of tyrants? Is it not He who, from the beginning of time, decreed for all the ages and for all peoples liberty, good faith, and justice?
He did not create kings to devour the human race. He did not create priests to harness us, like vile animals, to the chariots of kings and to give to the world examples of baseness, pride, perfidy, avarice, debauchery, and falsehood. He created the universe to proclaim His power. He created men to help each other, to love each other mutually, and to attain to happiness by the way of virtue.
It is He who implanted in the breast of the triumphant oppressor remorse and terror, and in the heart of the oppressed and innocent calmness and fortitude. It is He who impels the just man to hate the evil one, and the evil man to respect the just one. It is He who adorns with modesty the brow of beauty, to make it yet more beautiful. It is He who makes the mother's heart beat with tenderness and joy. It is He who bathes with delicious tears the eyes of the son pressed to the bosom of his mother. It is He who silences the most imperious and tender passions before the sublime love of the fatherland. It is He who has covered nature with charms, riches, and majesty. All that is good is His work, or is Himself. Evil belongs to the depraved man who oppresses his fellow man or suffers him to be oppressed.
The Author of Nature has bound all mortals by a boundless chain of love and happiness. Perish the tyrants who have dared to break it!
Republican Frenchmen, it is yours to purify the earth which they have soiled, and to recall to it the justice that they have banished! Liberty and virtue together came from the breast of Divinity. Neither can abide with mankind without the other.
O generous People, would you triumph over all your enemies? Practice justice, and render the Divinity the only worship worthy of Him. O People, let us deliver ourselves today, under His auspices, to the just transports of a pure festivity. Tomorrow we shall return to the combat with vice and tyrants. We shall give to the world the example of republican virtues. And that will be to honor Him still.
Following the political and philosophical exposition, the Report set forth a 15-point decree on the cult and its festivals.

    First Article.

      The French people recognizes the existence of the Supreme Being, and the immortality of the soul.


      It recognizes that the manner of worship worthy of the Supreme Being is the practice of the duties of man.


      It places chief among these duties: to detest bad faith and tyranny, to punish tyrants and traitors, to assist the unfortunate, to respect the weak, to defend the oppressed, to do all the good that one can to others, and to be unjust toward no one.


      Festivals shall be instituted to remind men of the Deity and of the dignity of their state....

It concluded with the outline of a Festival of the Supreme Being, proposed by the artist Jacques-Louis David, to be held on 20 Prairial Year II (June 8, 1794)

On 4 June 1794, Robespierre was elected President of the Convention (=legislature), and on 8 June, he presided over the Festival of the Supreme Being, according to the aforementioned mise-en-scène.

Festival of the Supreme Being, from Charles François Gabriel Levachez, and Son, and
Jean Duplessi-Bertaux, Tableaux historiques de la Révolution Française, 1798-1804
(folio engraving; image size: c. 190 x 250 mm)

Unlike the more shallow, who felt the need to prove their revolutionary bona fides through ostentatiously "populist" dress and demeanor, Robespierre saw no contradiction in combining the most radical principles with traditional sartorial propriety: he was a fastidious dresser who still wore a powdered wig and silk stockings. A contemporary account described him as presiding over the festival "dressed in a sky-blue coat, with exquisite ruffles of lace, and holding a bunch of flowers, fruit, and ripe wheat in his hand."

The hostile image below, from a nineteenth-century history, conveys the stereotypical view of him: murderous monster as fastidious prig.

from the first French edition of Alphonse de Lamartine's Histoire des Girondins (History of the Girondists--the moderate left-center faction in the Revolution). The work ran to 61 "books" divided among 8 volumes, whose publication (Paris: Furne et Cie.,1847-50) coincided with the outbreak of a new revolution, in which the Romantic poet and liberal politician himself briefly played a key part. It was accompanied by 39 steel engravings of Revolutionary figures, along with a portrait of the author. The plates, drawn by Denis August Marie Raffet (1804-60), engraved by various artists, and printed by Plon, were issued separately in 13 installments costing 1 franc each, from 1848 to 1850 (sheet size: c. 19.5 x. 25.7 cm). This engraving is by one Bosselman, active in the first half of the nineteenth century.

All did not go as planned, either. When he symbolically set fire to the statue of Atheism to reveal the statue of Wisdom rising form its ashes, the latter emerged rather scorched. Whereas Robespierre viewed the Festival as a crucial last attempt to reinvigorate the Revolution, both contemporaries and modern scholars have seen it as one of the factors that contributed to his downfall. It alienated both de-Christianizers and more traditional deists; critics accused him of megalomania and seeking to set himself up as  a new "pope" or "Mahomet" (Muhammad).

When despite the new military victory of Fleurus (26 June), which seemed to secure the Republic's fate, Robespierre insisted on ratcheting up the Terror against internal enemies, both left and right, he found that he longer had a base of support and fell victim to his foes on both extremes a month later. The radical Revolution died with him.

Ramadan Kareem

To my friends and readers:

Ramadan Kareem

"The Minarets at the Bab Zuweyleh, and entrance to the Mosque of the Metwalis, Cairo," by David Roberts (1856), from my collection. (details: from a previous post).

Roberts's view of the "Interior of the mosque of the Metwalys" (1846-49)
(New York Public Library Digital Collections)

• Last year's Ramadan post:
A Tale of Interfaith Cooperation and Historic Preservation from Old Jerusalem

Ramadan posts from all previous years

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Bomber that Delivered the Heydrich Assassins

I've been posting a lot lately about the anniversary of the assassination of Nazi Security Office head and Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovak paratroopers. But I haven't mentioned how they got from England to their homeland. They were dropped by a Handley Page Halifax (1 , 2) of the Special Operations Executive (SOE)--the British clandestine warfare group equivalent to the American OSS--piloted by Flight Lieutenant Ron Hockey.

The same issue of the Illustrated London News that reported briefly on the assassination contained a three-page feature on the manufacturing of the Halifax, one of the RAF's two heavy bombers at the time, which entered service in late 1940. It explains with pride, "This notable aircraft carries a heavier bomb-load over a greater distance than any other aeroplane in the world on active service to-day."

The emphasis, though, is on the innovative design and production technique. That the machine was constructed of 24 major components simplified manufacture ("more people on each stage of the job") as well as "transport and repair ." The latter point was a crucial one

in the field, as well. Hockey called the Halifax "a sturdy aircraft with enough redundant structure to keep it flying if damaged in action . . . also good for servicing repair, with the structure subdivided for component replacement." He contrasted this with the American Liberator (the most widely produced bomber of the war), which it resembled, but which was made in a single unit and therefore had to be disassembled rivet by rivet.

The robustness of the Halifax proved crucial to the SOE missions carried out by Special Duties Squadron 138. At first, the RAF was understandably focused on its strategic role of heavy bombing and thus reluctant to give the unit top-of-the-line aircraft. Initial runs over Poland and Czechoslovakia involved two-engine Whitleys, with limited range and payload; airmen denounced them as "flying coffins." Hockey called Czechoslovakia "Undoubtedly the most difficult country in which we operated . . . a long flight, all over enemy territory, much high ground . . . flights only in the winter to benefit from the long nights, so terrain was often snowbound, and no reception facilities." In October 1941, the RAF finally gave Special Duties Squadrom 138 three Mark I and II Halifaxes, though they had to be modified for paratroop use through the addition of a hatch in the floor. They first saw use at the end of December when Hockey's plane, the NF-V  L9613, delivered three Czechoslovak jump teams to Bohemia. The flight was plagued by problems, and because heavy snow made it impossible to spot the intended landmarks, the two assassins were simply dropped east of Plzeň, after which they were on their own.

senior officers and staff at RAF Tempsford, Bedfordshire.
front right: Wing Commander R C Hockey, Officer Commanding No. 138
(Special Duties) Squadron RAF
[source: Imperial War Museum]

Ron C. Hockey was the only member of the aircraft's crew to survive the war. He was one of a number of distinguished RAF veterans to sign this commemorative large-format bookplate for copies of Keith A. Merrick's 1990 book on the Halifax at the Royal Air Force Museum.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 1942: Rommel and Heydrich in the News

On June 6,1942, the Illustrated London News ran a little feature on "British and German Personalities in the Public Eye To-Day."

The two "German personalities" were General Erwin Rommel and Reinhard Heydrich, Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, and the emerging stories would become among the most important of the war.

Rommel was "again in the news" because he had "launched his long-awaited offensive against the Allies in Libya." Already a week earlier, the New York Times headline announced, "Nazi Tanks Push Toward Tobruk." Rommel's forces captured the crucial port on 20 June, taking over 33,000 Allied prisoners. The victory earned him promotion to Field Marshal.

The Heydrich story was more dramatic news: an assassination attempt, which, the magazine observed with satisfaction, meant that he had "reaped his just deserts." Like most  reports on the attack, this one was based on speculation or fragmentary and often inaccurate information. The magazine explains that Heydrich was wounded on 27 May but describes the incident as a shooting by a Czech patriot, implying a local resistance fighter. In fact, he was the victim of a bomb attack by Czechoslovak paratroopers. Because so little was known, the report hedges its bets by adding, "some say by Nazis." Although the assertion had no basis in fact, it was not quite as far-fetched as it sounds. The ruthless Heydrich had many enemies, and given the failure of the authorities to make any progress in tracking down the assailants, some Germans began to murmur that they must have come from within the Nazi hierarchy.

The report correctly notes Heydrich's role as Himmler's protégé and his reputation for brutality. Indeed, in February, his portrait was featured on the cover of Time magazine, surrounded by hangman's nooses.

However, the report incorrectly ascribes to him the creation of Dachau concentration camp. In fact, Heydrich's role in the Nazi terror apparatus was far greater. As head of the Reich Main Security Organization, not only was he responsible for the operations of the Security Service and Security Police: he also played a crucial role in the emerging Holocaust, a story that was not yet known and as yet had no name. In January, Heydrich had secretly convened a conference of top German officials, which decreed the extermination of the European Jews.

By the time the report appeared, Heydrich was in fact already dead, having succumbed to his wounds on 4 June. The vicious reprisals that followed would be a bigger news story than the assassination itself.

Further pieces on the Heydrich assassination

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

30-31 May 1942: First Thousand-Bomber Raid on Germany (and an early infographic)

Serendipity is a pleasing thing. Several days ago, one of my tweeps*, looking ahead to this year's anniversary of the first thousand-bomber raid in world history, drew my attention to a New York Times Op-Ed piece marking the fiftieth. As it happened, I had for other reasons been sorting through my old World War II periodicals and came upon coverage of the event in the Illustrated London News (ILN; a popular periodical that celebrated its centennial in 1942 and managed to cling to life till 2003). A few days later, a modern poster in turn raised a connection to the ILN story. So it goes.

"1,046 Bombers but Cologne Lived"?

The contrast in the coverage is instructive. There is nothing objectively incorrect about the Times piece by Max G. Tretheway, a World War II Australian flight instructor, who notes that some of his students took part in the raid. Still, there is nothing new, either, and the message is both intellectually and morally banal. Its perspective is the typical modern one of presumably sophisticated irony, as can be seen from the title: "1,046 Bombers but Cologne Lived." The irony derives from the gap between expectations and consequences. Like many modern commentators, Tretheway points to the exaggerated hopes of air force men in the ability of strategic bombing to determine the outcomes of wars. It might be news to the average reader of the Times--but not historians.

Even though the raid and resultant 5,000 fires destroyed "90 percent of the central city" (he tells us) killing 474 (actually a stunningly low figure, given the primitive technology of the day and compared with later missions), wounding 5,000, and leaving 45,000 people homeless:
When survivors of the world's first 1,000-bomber raid ventured warily out of their shelters, there before their unbelieving eyes, towering majestically above the hellish carnage stood their beloved cathedral - superficially damaged, but with its twin spires still silhouetted defiantly against the bomber's moon.
This miraculous sight strengthened the people's morale and determination through the rest of the war, as the Allies continued to pound an already flattened city long after any real targets remained.
He goes on to cite more statistics, leading to his inevitable conclusion:
The Allies released an incredible total of 1,996,036 metric tons of bombs on Germany and German-occupied Europe, more than half of which fell on cities and communication facilities. Some 593,000 civilians were killed, and 3.3 million dwellings were destroyed, leaving 7.5 million people homeless.

The most frequently bombed city was Berlin; many other urban areas were close behind.

And yet it was necessary for the Allies to invade the Continent, and to fight to the very gates of the capital before Germany finally capitulated in May 1945, three years after the first saturation bombing of Cologne.  
Nothing that would have surprised Churchill, Roosevelt, or Stalin. (They did not improvise D-Day or "the Battle for Berlin" at the last minute because the air campaign did not work out). Amidst all the talk of much more sophisticated "smart bombs" and "shock and awe" during the two US wars with Iraq, we also saw other commentators remind us that the war is not really over until the victor has boots on the ground (to use that hackneyed phrase) and enjoys a drink in the officer club of his foe. What the extreme critics of air power neglect to acknowledge is its success. To say the Allied air campaigns did less than had been hoped to damage either production or morale is not to say that they were completely ineffectual: they also forced the diversion of vital resources from the front, and in the latter phases of the war, the Allies enjoyed complete superiority in the air, which greatly aided the campaign on the ground. And, although most Germans refused to be bombed into despair or revolt against the regime, a surprising number began to regard the Allied air campaign as the punishment by Providence for their crimes, including the Holocaust: a self-pitying attitude motivated by fear rather than guilt, to be sure, but remarkable nonetheless.

But how did the British press see the event at the time? The Illustrated London News coverage--addressed to a British population suffering under the onslaught of Nazi bombers--sought to provide readers with hope: "Here was terrible proof of the growing power of the Royal Air Force. 'This proof,' in the words of the Prime Minister, 'is also herald of what Germany will receive, city by city, from now on.'"

The profile of Air Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris contains the sorts of unfortunate hyperbolic claims that Tretheway and historians nowadays like to mock:
were it possible to put 1000 bombers over Germany night after night, the war would be over by autumn. It is another of his beliefs that were it possible to send over 20,000 'planes to-day the war would be over tomorrow.

At the time, of course, no one really knew. It had never been tried. Advocates believed in their ability to deliver devastating blows from the air in part because they feared the enemy's capacity to do so. The bombing campaigns were terrible, but the cost was infinitesimal in comparison with what had been anticipated. The British expected that the German assault from the air would cause 2 million casualties in two months. In fact, the death toll from German air raids during the entire war was only 60,000.

the cathedral, virtually unscathed amidst the ruins
(from the RAF report on the raid)
And whereas Tretheway presents the survival of the Cologne Cathedral--an icon of German national identity--as some sort of miraculous survival or even rebuke to the raiders, the ILN correctly explains that it "was deliberately left unscathed by our armada in the great raid."

Twisting the knife a wee bit, the magazine notes that the cathedral, at least in its present form, is not so old anyway, having been completed only in the late nineteenth century.

Just to make things clear, the magazine contrasts the scrupulous policy of RAF toward cultural heritage with that of the Luftwaffe and its so-called "Baedeker Raids" (1, 2, 3; the name derives from the popular German tourist guidebooks of the day) deliberately targeting cultural heritage--including many cathedrals older than that of Cologne.

Indeed, it presents the German bombing of historic Canterbury as deliberate and unjustified vengeance for the Cologne raid.

Aviation infographics then and now

Oh--and that infographic?

When visiting friends for a party on this Memorial Day, I saw hanging on the wall a striking poster depicting US naval aviation resources, the work of a French geographer.

It reminded me of what I had seen in the ILN the day before. In order to give the public an impression of the size and power of a 1,000-bomber raid, the publication produced this forerunner of the infographic.

[actual figures from RAF]

Not bad. Not bad at all.

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• h.t. @B36Peacemaker for prompting me to write about this in the first place
• and follow @airminded who knows more about all this than I ever will (I assume he will correct me if I have made any gross errors here)

Monday, May 30, 2016

For Memorial Day: Patriotic Accessories from the Civil War Era

An advertisement from The Press, 29 July 1863. Founded by John Weiss Forney in 1857, the paper was published in Philadelphia until 1920. In 1894, it serialized Stephen Crane's Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage.

Flags, pennants, bunting, streamers. Hats, too. What more could one want?

Oh, burgees? Although the term dates to 1750, it did not appear in Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary, but as his successors at today's Merriam-Webster firm in Springfield explain, this is "a swallow-tailed flag used especially by ships for signals or identification."

Sunday, May 29, 2016

29 May 1942: The New York Times reports on reprisals for the Heydrich Assassination

Two days after the assassination of the acting Nazi "Reichsprotektor" of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich, the New York Times reported that reprisals were taking place, and added more details to what was known of the incident.

The emphasis was on the initial executions but information about both the crime and the reprisals was still sketchy.

Seventh Person Put to death in Attack on Heydrich, Who Is Reported Dying
By Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES.

   BERNE, Switzerland, Friday, May 29— Vengeance executions for the attempt on the life of Reinhard Heydrich began in Bohemia early yesterday morning with the execution of six members of one family, including two women and another person declared implicated for failing to denounce to the authorities the two men who late Wednesday afternoon attacked the car in which the deputy Gestapo chief was traveling.
(The report then discusses the attack itself, returning to that topic later in the article.)
More Killings Threatened
   The German "vigilance committee," headed by Heinrich Himmler, Gestapo Chief, rapidly completed arrangements for what appears to be the beginning of one of the worst bloodbaths in Czech history. A decree ''issued by local authorities'' in the Province of Prague ordered all civilians over the age of 15 to report to the police before midnight tonight and obtain a certificate of registration. Past that hour, any one failing to possess such a card or found harboring a person without such a card will be shot, "with his entire family."

   Throughout the protectorate groups of military patrols accompanying police and Gestapo men are stated to be arresting people by the hundreds as house-to-house searches are being made in a wide area around which a cordon has been thrown.
(The report goes on to provide details on the curfew and martial law decree.)

The coverage here is reasonably accurate, under the circumstances. In his anger at the assassination, Hitler had initially ordered the arrest of 10,000 Czechs and execution of political prisoners already in custody, but shrewder heads prevailed, arguing for the continuation of Heydrich's policy of targeted terror combined with coopting of the general population. Still the reaction was harsh: Fearing that the assassination was the beginning general insurrection, the authorities took no chances.

21,000 German and Czech police, Waffen SS, and German soldiers carried out the manhunt. Callum MacDonald describes the Germans as "vengeful and trigger-happy," citing an escaped British POW's description . Even German detectives described "random shooting at open or lighted windows," saying the troops (a direct quote) "are completely mad." MacDonald speaks of a wave of executions, including "those convicted of marital law offences or who had merely expressed approval of the act," but dates the first family execution from only May 31.

Regarding the attack itself, the report includes an initial background summary and an update:
From indications received here this morning it now develops that the attack occurred about eighteen miles east of Pilsen on the Prague-Munich road at a town called Rotkitzen, which was the place of residence of all of the seven executed.

Meanwhile, from a German radio broadcast to the German people it was learned this morning that Herr Heydrich had been so badly injured that it was deemed necessary to issue a bulletin on his condition, which was stated to be "stationary." Another bulletin announced that he was under the care of Adolf Hitler's personal physician. Herr Heydrich was believed to be hovering between life and death. A report on a Balkan radio early this morning stated that his condition had taken a turn for the worse.

[Three bullets that had injured Herr Heydrich's spine and spinal cord were removed by a specialist, The Associated Press reported today, quoting Exchange Telegraph, British news agency.]
section is more problematic. The only really accurate statement is that Heydrich's life hung in the balance. The asserted location is completely wrong, for the attack took place as Heydrich's car, traveling from his outlying estate, was entering the northern Prague district of Libeň. Heydrich was not hit by bullets, for the first assassin's Sten gun had jammed, and none were fired. The injuries came from a grenade and injured a rib and internal organs, but not the spine. The physician sent from the Reich was Himmler's not Hitler's.

The update is generally more accurate.
Preliminary reports from usually well-informed German quarters as to exactly how the attack on Herr Heydrich was made indicates that at least two men were involved. One is stated to have thrown a bomb at Herr Heydrich's moving automobile, which swerved to avoid being hit. A second man is then reported to have stepped out from concealment with a submachine gun or automatic pistol and to have fired several shots into the automobile as it rolled into the ditch.

The assassins are then reported to have escaped by bicycle. Another bicycle, a briefcase and a raincoat were found near the scene. These articles are now being shown to persons suspected of knowing who the criminals might be. An official announcement warns that anyone recognizing the articles and not giving information will be shot. News of the attempt to assassinate Herr Heydrich was published in Germany in a brief communique only, and the press so far has not ventured any comment of an authoritative sort.
Two paratroopers did indeed carry out the attack, but in the reverse of the order described here. Jozef Gabčík made the first, failed attempt with the Sten gun, and when Heydrich ordered the car to stop, Jan Kubiš threw the bomb (a modified anti-tank grenade). Because the attack took place in the city, the car did not roll into a ditch, and instead, came to a stop in the gutter near the curb.  By contrast, the description of the paratroopers' belongings and the threats of reprisal are reasonably accurate. The two men arrived on bicycles, but only Kubiš managed to escape on his, whereas Gabčík had to flee on foot. accurate. Although the weather was temperate, Gabčík had brought along a raincoat to hide his motions as he assembled the Sten gun carried in his briefcase. The Germans, noticing the British origin among the items found at the scene, quickly deduced that the attackers were paratroopers. They placed the objects on display in a downtown store window and distributed photographs throughout the Protectorate in an attempt to solicit or coerce information from the public.

Further pieces on this topic.