Prague Castle

The castle in Prague (or Prague Castle) was built in late 800s and with its approximately 70,000 square meters it’s the largest historical castle in the world. Over the centuries, the castle has been the center of power for Bohemia kings, emperors of the holy Roman empire and leaders of Czechoslovakia and Czech Republic. Over the centuries, the castle has been expanded and renovated according to the wishes and demands of the rulers.

When Germany occupied Bohemia and Moravia 15 March, 1939, Hitler visited the city and spent the night at the castle before returning back to Berlin next day. This was the only time Hitler ever visited Prague and Czech Republic. Shortly after Bohemia was occupied, Hitler appointed former foreign minister, Konstantin von Neurath, as Reich Protector of Bohemia-Moravia. The protector was the supreme political leader whose task was to ensure that German policy was implemented in Bohemia.

Just as previous historical leaders, the Reich Protector placed his office in the castle. Neurath immediately introduced restrictions and regulations according to German model. Although the measures were tight, they were by Nazi standards mild, which meant that the Nazi terror was not unleashed in the same way as elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. This was something that came to Hitler’s attention.

At the end of September 1941, Hitler appointed Reinhard Heydrich, the second-in-command in SS, as the new Reich Protector. In fact, Heydrich was a deputy to Neurath but was the one with real power. Neurath’s title as a Reich Protector was then only nominal. Heydrich immediately introduced stricter and more brutal methods with great help from Bohemia-Moravia’s Highest SS and Police Leader, Obergruppenführer, Karl Hermann Frank.

Heydrich used both stick and carrot to curb the Czech people. He felt that he had the respect of the Czech people and that they had adapted to the new restrictions. He also felt safe and travelled back and forth between his home in Panenske Brezany and the castle without escort and in an open car when weather allowed. But this overconfidence hit back when he was attacked by two Czech agents on his way to the castle on 27 May 1942. Heydrich was fatally injuried and died about a week later. Heydrich was replaced by Kurt Daluege.

On June 7, Heydrich’s coffin was brought to the castle and displayed on lit de parade. Heydrich was then taken to Berlin for a state funeral, this time with Hitler as one of the funeral guests. The murder of Heydrich also triggered a wave of terror and murder in the Czech Republic where the Germans were determined to set an example. The most famous action is the extermination and massacre of Lidice about twenty kilometres north of Prague.

Current status: Preserved with museum. (2010).

Address: Hradcany, 119 08 Prague 1.

Get there: Metro to Hradcanska or Malostranska stations.

My comment:

The castle is the most visited tourist destination in Czech Republic and its history spans over several centuries. It is unlikely that Heydrich’s office used the entire castle, but only a part of it. The other parts probably had other purposes and functions. What part of the castle and which room or rooms Heydrich used, I do not know. For those who want to follow Heydrich tracks in Prague, there are other places that have more focus on this than the castle. The place where the attack was carried out in Holesovickach, Karel Boromejsky where the attackers were hiding and Lidice where the Germans committed a massacre on the residents, are some of these places.

Follow up in books: Dougherty, Nancy: The Hangman and His Wife: The Life and Death of Reinhard Heydrich (2022).