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Alois Eliáš

Alois Eliáš
Alois Elias Langhans.jpg
Alois Eliáš on photo from Atelier Langhans Prague
Prime Minister of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
In office
27 April 1939 – 27 September 1941
Preceded byRudolf Beran (acting)
Succeeded byJaroslav Krejčí
Personal details
Born(1890-09-29)29 September 1890
Prague, Kingdom of Bohemia, Cisleithania, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Died19 June 1942(1942-06-19) (aged 51)
Kobylisy Shooting Range, Prague, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
Cause of deathExecution by firing squad
OccupationArmy general and politician
Awards

Alois Eliáš (29 September 1890 in Prague – 19 June 1942 at Kobylisy Shooting Range, Prague) was a Czechoslovak general and politician. He served as prime minister of the puppet government of the German-occupied Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from 27 April 1939 to 27 September 1941 but maintained contact with the government-in-exile. Because of his participation in the anti-Nazi resistance, he was the only head of government who was murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

Education

Eliáš graduated in geodesy from the Czech Technical University in 1911. Working for a private company as a land surveyor, he was sent to Bosnia to work on the construction of a railway.[1]

Military career

After the declaration of war on Serbia Eliáš had to join the Austro-Hungarian Army and was sent with the Prague 28th Infantry Regiment to the Russian Front. After only a few days, Eliáš was taken prisoner on 28 August 1914 during the Galicia.

In 1917, Eliáš learnt of the existence of Czechoslovak Legions, which he joined.[1] They were volunteer armed forces fighting on the side of the Entente Powers during World War I (France, Britain, Italy, Russia) with the goal of winning the Allies' support for independence and were ultimately successful.

Eliáš was later dispatched to France, where he studied at the officer school at St Maixent, and was later assigned to the 21st Czechoslovak Regiment as a platoon commander.

In the autumn of 1918, he took part in battles at Terron and on the Aisne. For his bravery and command skills, he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and made a member of the Legion of Honour.

His studies in France significantly accelerated Eliáš's career after the war. In Prague, he became a general staff officer and was later promoted to brigadier general.

As a military expert, he was a member of the Czechoslovak delegation at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1936, he was promoted to general of division (the second-highest army rank) and became commander of the Vth Army Corps, in Trenčín.

During the Second Czechoslovak Republic, he was appointed as minister of transportation and a member of the Supreme State Defence Council of Czechoslovakia.

Prime minister

Appointment

The first government under the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was only provisional, serving as a successor to the government of the Second Czechoslovak Republic during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia.[clarification needed] Its replacement was discussed at the end of April 1939, with President Emil Hácha thinking Alois Eliáš would be a good choice for prime minister because the popularity that he had acquired during his earlier military career would legitimise the puppet regime. Although somewhat dubious, some historians (who?) have written that Hácha hoped that Eliáš's former contacts with Reichsprotektor Konstantin von Neurath could influence the Reichsprotektor on the desirability of Eliáš as prime minister.[citation needed]

Activities

On 11 May 1939, Eliáš proposed that Jews would be deprived of Protectorate citizenship and subject to various discriminatory measures.[2]

Eliáš maintained contacts with the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, led by President Edvard Beneš.[citation needed] Eliáš's situation started to deteriorate after a wave of arrests of resistance members in 1940. Among his close contacts, the government minister Ladislav Feierabend [cs] fled to London, and the Lord Mayor of Prague, Otakar Klapka [cs], who was well informed about Eliáš's activities in support of families of exiled and arrested Czechs and secret messengers and contacts with Beneš in exile, was arrested and later executed.[3] By January 1941, the Gestapo had accumulated damning evidence of Eliáš's involvement in the resistance. SS and Police Leader Karl Hermann Frank called for his arrest but was unsuccessful in having Eliáš removed.[4]

The sandwich affair

In early September 1941, Eliáš lost patience with several collaborationist journalists.[5] Eliáš officially invited them to the Office of the Government and planned to poison them.[citation needed] With the help of his urologist, Miloš Klika, sandwiches were laced with botulism toxin, tuberculosis-causing Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and typhus-causing Rickettsia bacteria. On 18 September 1941, the invited journalists ate the poisoned sandwiches. Karel Lažnovský, the pro-Nazi editor of the journal České slovo, was the only fatality.[6] Other journalists, including Jaroslav Křemen and Emanuel Vajtauer, fell ill.[7][8]

Although Eliáš handled the sandwiches, he did not fall ill. Though the Sandwich Affair was investigated by the Gestapo, Eliáš was not charged and remained in office.

Arrest and execution

On 27 September 1941, two days before the appointment of Heydrich as the new Reichprotektor, Eliáš was arrested, put on trial and sentenced to death. Eliáš was executed at the Kobylisy Shooting Range on 19 June 1942. During Eliáš's time on death row, Heydrich was assassinated by the Czechoslovak resistance.

Over 60 years later, Eliáš was given a state funeral with full honours on 7 May 2006 and was buried at the National Monument in Vitkov, in Prague.[9]

References

  1. ^ a b http://icv.vlada.cz/en/tema/alois-elias-29-9-1890---19-6-1942-76879/tmplid-676/ Antonin Eliáš on Czech Government official site
  2. ^ Gruner, Wolf (2015). "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia". In Gruner, Wolf; Osterloh, Jörg (eds.). The Greater German Reich and the Jews: Nazi Persecution Policies in the Annexed Territories 1935-1945. War and Genocide. Translated by Heise, Bernard. Berghahn Books. pp. 108–109. ISBN 978-1-78238-444-1.
  3. ^ Macmillan, Palgrave (28 February 2017). The Statesman's Yearbook 2017: The Politics, Cultures and Economies of the World. Springer. ISBN 9781349683987 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Mastný 1971, p. 162.
  5. ^ http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/alois-elias-adding-poison-to-paradox Adding poison to paradox
  6. ^ "Radio Prague - Alois Elias: Adding poison to paradox". Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Protektorátní premiér Eliáš otrávil nacistické novináře". iDNES.cz. 20 February 2006. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Rekonstrukce "chlebíčkové aféry" – atentát v režii odboje". Portál Mzone.cz (in Czech). Archived from the original on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Plaque unveiled to General Alois Eliáš, protectorate prime minister executed by Nazis - Radio Prague". Radio Praha. Retrieved 10 March 2019.

Bibliography

  • Kvaček, Robert, 2002. Czech History: Part Two [České dějiny II]. Prague, CZ: SPL-Práce, Úvaly, CZ: Albra.
  • Lustigová, Martina, 2006. 'Alois Eliáš Poisoned Pro-Nazi Journalists' [Alois Eliáš otrávil pronacistické novináře]. Český Rozhlas 7, Radio Praha, 24 February 2006 [cited 25 July 2006]. Available from Alois Eliáš otrávil pronacistické novináře
  • Mastný, Vojtěch (1971). The Czechs Under Nazi Rule: The Failure of National Resistance, 1939–1942. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-03303-6.
Government offices
Preceded by
Rudolf Beran
Prime Minister of Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia
1939–1941
Succeeded by
Jaroslav Krejčí

External links


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