Prague - Kobylisy Execution Grounds

Discussion in 'WW2 Battlefields Today' started by hucks216, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    Not exactly a battlefield but I think this fits in to this section as it is of historical interest for anyone visiting Prague.
    Once a year (or sometimes twice) I head to Prague and while this tends to be just a convenient meeting up point before a few of us head elsewhere for a few days (Poland, Germany or Austria), at least one day is spent seeking out spots with relevance to WW-2. Some of these spots are well known and fairly easy to find (the Anthropoid related crypt or Gestapo HQ for example) while others are off the tourist trails and probably rarely visited.

    One location that fits the latter description of being rarely visited is the Kobylisy shooting range, or execution grounds to use its other name. The Metro station at Kobylisy is actually the closest one to the spot where Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated so people who use that station leave it and head there but if they headed in a different direction the execution ground is just a 15-20 minute walk away, and very easy to find.

    Originally the shooting ranges date back to the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire being set up in 1889 and after the fall of that empire they were subsequently used by the Czechoslovakian Army before the war.

    In bygone years it used to be located outside the city but now it is within the city limits and is now hidden away and overlooked by Soviet built apartment blocks.

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    The Germans decided to use the shooting ranges as an execution ground and as such over 550 people were murdered there - the youngest name found on the memorial plates was just 15 and the last execution took place on 7th May 1945. According to some literature, there used to be a stables on the ground and this would be where those awaiting their turn were kept before being marched out to be shot. The stables is no longer there but the location still resembles a shooting range with one end open and high banks on the other three sides to stop the bullets and ricochets. At the far end of the range is a black & white memorial mosaic which represents bodies. You can see that area in the distance in the image above and below.

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    On one of the ranges a tree now grows but on the other there is a memorial statue and a large cross.

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    Facing the statue is a long memorial panel listing the names of those who were executed on the grounds. Among the many names listed are such people as Alois Elias who was the Czechoslovakian Prime Minister and was the only European Premier executed in this way in WW-2. Another name is Lt-Colonel Josef Masin who was one of the 'Three Kings' resistance group. Also listed is Bishop Gorazd and the Church officials who took responsibility for hiding the SOE agents in the crypt of the Cathedral in Prague and who were executed on 4th September 1942.

    On one occasion five members of one family were executed and again, these are linked to the death of Heydrich. As I am sure you know, one of the reprisals for Heydrich's killing was the total destruction of the village of Lidice. The Germans didn't just wipe the village out in terms of destroying the buildings but they also made every effort to kill all the occupants. Those not present at the village when it was destroyed were hunted down and one family that had been arrested before the destruction of Lidice were executed at Kobylisy and in total 26 people from Lidice who hadn't been there on the day were located and executed at the shooting range.

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    As mentioned, it is a site that is tucked out of the way but one that is fairly easy to find with just a minimum of prior planning and I would say that it is worth going to see.

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