Sunday, 4 September 2016

Operation Anthropoid: WWII Prague assassination - and after

There is a new movie,  'Anthropoid', about the assassination of Heyderich, Nazi architect of the Holocaust and  Gauleiter of the Czech lands.

The Orthodox 'nun in the world' and icon 'writer' (never 'painter'), Sister Iyonna Reitlinger, was in correspondence from internal exile in Tashkent with her spiritual father,  the late Father Alexander Men'.  Their letters, which I am slowly translating as time permits,  are published as 'Umnoe Nebo' (cover pictured).  'Umnoe Nebo' is the technical term used by icon 'writers' for the background of an icon.

Sister Iyoanna was commissioned 1947-56 to decorate the east wall of the Orthodox cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague.  The cathedral had been wrecked in a shoot-out between the British-trained Czech partisan assassins of Heyderich (architect of the Holocaust and Gauleiter of the Czech lands)  and the SS in May 1942. In the terrifying reprisals which followed the assassination, the whole Orthodox clergy team and their families were shot and a whole village Lidice eliminated – literally razed to the ground - after the inhabitants had been shot or deported to the concentration camp in Mauthausen.   Sister Joanna left the church, disillusioned by the unedifying manoeuvres of the Orthodox successors to those liquidated by the SS.

My tutor in Russian history 1962-65 was Sister Iyoanna's boyfriend in Paris. Small world, eh?  

For those interested, a paper I wrote for a conference some years ago about her life and work is in today's accompanying blog.

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