Adolf Opálka

Adolf Opálka

Infobox Military Person
name = Adolf Opálka
lived = birth date|1915|1|4death date and age|1942|18|6|1915|1|4
placeofbirth= Rešice near Dukovany, Austria-Hungary
placeofdeath= Prague, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia

caption =Lt. Adolf Opálka
allegiance= Czechoslovak Army
rank="Lieutenant", 2nd Mountain Regiment, Ružomberok,
"Sergent", Mlle, 85.525, 1er Rgmt Legion Etrangere, Sidi Bel Abbes,
"Sergent", 11éme R.T.S., Oran,
"Lieutenant", 3. Czechoslovak Regiment, Agde
"First Lieutenant", 1st Czechoslovak Brigade, Kineton
commands= commander of Out Distance
awards=Czechoslovak War Cross,
Golden Medal of Cs. Army for Freedom,
First Class Star of Czechoslovak Army Order of White Lion for Victory,
Order of Milan Rastislav Štefánik (third class),
King's Commendation

First Lieutenant Adolf Opálka (4 January 1915 – 18 June 1942) was a Czechoslovak soldier. He was a member of the Czech sabotage group Out Distance, a World War II anti-Nazi resistance group, and a participant in Operation Anthropoid, the successful mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich.

Opálka was born into a middle-class family in Rešice and joined the Czechoslovak Army in 1936 where he served in the 43rd Infantry Regiment in Brno. The Munich Agreement and subsequent German occupation of Czechoslovakia led to the disbanding of the Czechoslovak Army, and Opálka's career ended. He escaped to North Africa where he served in the French Foreign Legion, and he later returned to France. He then joined the Out Distance group and participated in Operation Anthropoid. He was found days later by the Nazis, and he committed suicide in the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague after a gunfight in which he was injured.


Opálka was born in Rešice near Dukovany the illegitimate son of miller Viktor Jarolím (1889–1942) of Tulešice and Anežka Opálková.Fact|date=April 2008 When his mother died in 1923, Opálka lived with his aunt Marie Opálková (1882–1942).cite web
last = Grasgruber
first = Jiří
title = Atentát na Heydricha před 65 lety
url =
publisher =
date = 2007-05-18
accessdate = 2008-03-27

Between 1932 and 1936, Opálka studied at the Commercial Academy and, shortly after his graduation in 1936, he joined the army of Czechoslovakia.Fact|date=April 2008 After recruitment and training, he was assigned to the 43rd Infantry Regiment in Brno and shortly afterwards attended the Army Academy in Hranice. After graduation, Opálka joined the 2nd Mountain Regiment in Ružomberok as a lieutenant.Fact|date=April 2008

The Munich Agreement ended Opálka's army career in his homeland, and he left Czechoslovakia with his cousin František Pospíšil. First traveling through Poland and France, they fled to North Africa, where they joined the French Foreign Legion.cite web
last = Menšíková
first = Miroslava
coauthors = Jiří Mikulka
title = Adolf Opálka at Brno Encyclopedia
url =
publisher = Brno Encyclopedia
date = 2008-12-18
accessdate = 2008-03-29
] Opálka served in Sidi Bel Abbes as a sergeant of the 1st Infantry Regiment. Later, he joined Senegal's Gunmen in Oran.

Opálka's fiancée spoke about about this period of his life:

…shortly before he left he burned all our correspondence, I did the same on his request. In the morning before he left, I photographed him for the last time. The picture is unhappy just like the departure itself, because we didn't know what he was putting himself into… cite web
last = Grasgruber
first = Pavel
title = Rešice, Druhá světová válka
url =
publisher = UOK Znojmo
accessdate = 2008-03-29

After the start of World War II and the occupation of Czechoslovakia, Opálka returned to France from Africa and joined a developing Czechoslovak army in Agde, serving as leader of an infantry platoon of the 2th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Czechoslovak Infantry Division.Fact|date=April 2008 In January 1940, he was transferred to the 3rd Infantry Division and commanded the 5th Infantry Battalion.

On 12 July 1940, when France was defeated, Opálka sailed on the ship "Neuralia" to the United Kingdom and as an unfiled officer served in a machine gun platoon. In the summer of 1941, he volunteered as a soldier for covert operations behind enemy lines. He had been trained in Scotland in Special Training Schools. Afterwards, he became leader of the group codenamed "Out Distance".

Out Distance

Opálka (cover name "Adolf Král"), Ivan Kolařík ("Jan Krátký"), and Karel Čurda ("Karel Vrbas") secretly parachuted into the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on 28 March 1942 to perform covert operations including bomber navigation and sabotage.Fact|date=April 2008 The operations of Out Distance were complicated from the beginning. A navigational mistake by the Handley Page Halifax plane bringing them in caused the entire group to be dropped at the wrong location.Fact|date=April 2008 This, together with the loss of equipment, led to the splitting up of the group. Opálka contacted captain Alfréd Bartoš from the group Silver-A and informed him of the situation. He later joined the group gathered around Operation Anthropoid in Prague and became leader of the Prague parachuters. [cite book
last = White
first = Lewis M
title = On All Fronts: Czechoslovaks in World War II
publisher = East European Monographs
isbn = 0880334568

Operation Anthropoid

After the successful assassination of Heydrich with a modified anti-tank grenade, Opálka and his six fellow combatants (Josef Bublík, Josef Gabčík, Jan Hrubý, Jan Kubiš, Josef Valčík, and Jaroslav Švarc) were trapped in the Church of St. Cyril and St. Methodious in Prague.Fact|date=April 2008 At 4:15 p.m. on 28 June 1942, the church was besieged by 800 soldiers of the Wehrmacht Heer and Waffen-SS. After a seven-hours fight,cite web
url =
title = Atentát z hlediska vyššího principu
last = Marek
first = Vladimír
date = 2002-09-01
publisher =
accessdate = 2008-03-28
] the outnumbered group of paratroopers fell. All died, including First Lieutenant Opálka who, injured by shrapnel, committed suicide. [cite web
title = Sedm statečných z Resslovy ulice
url =
publisher = Ministerstvo obrany Ceske republiky
accessdate = 2008-03-29
] [cite book
title = With Blood and with Iron: The Lidice Story
last = Hutak
first = J.B.
pages = 133
publisher = Robert Hale

Opálka wrote this shortly after his departure, on his 27th birthday, speaking of homesickness:

I'm 27 years old today, the entire trip I pondered upon the words "Longing for home is a terrible thing, I know". Yes, only now do I know and understand. And this "homesickness" of Božena Němcová, which I never understood, is nothing compared to my longing for home. I'm willing to suffer through, and do whatever it takes, but only home and home and to honestly work, work for something... How can some speak of beauty, when they've never seen Rešice and the fields from Kordula to Rešice, who never strolled through the warm dirt there, who never felt the warm air and over the grain fields, who never saw our chapel in the milk of white cherries, Husák's garden, which always reminded me of Sholokhov, especially the dirt lumps under the "vortex" and the "Bare Hill" and all the other places on all of which I am. Parts of me are all over the world. In England, little was left of me, maybe more in Scotland... 27 years of life behind me. Death for my homeland. With that I have dealt, and am ready to do what it takes.
After the mission of the paratroopers, the Nazis unleashed strong reprisals. Opálka's aunt, Marie Opálková, was executed in Mauthausen on 24 October 1942. [cite web
url =
title = Pamětní deska Adolf Opálka
date = 2006-05-22
publisher = eStrá
accessdate = 2008-03-29
] His father, Viktor Jarolím, was also killed. [cite web
url =
title = Pomník obětem válek
publisher = eStrá
date = 2007-02-21
accessdate = 2008-03-29

Honors and decorations

* 1939, 1942, and 1945 Czechoslovak War Cross ("Československý válečný kříž")
* 1947 King's Commendation, posthumously
* 1949 Gold Medal of Czechoslovak Army for Freedom, posthumously ("Zlatá hvězda Čs. vojenského řádu Za svobodu")
* 1968 First Class Star of Czechoslovak Army Order of the White Lion for Victory, posthumously ("Hvězda I. třídy Čs. vojenského řád u bílého lva Za vítězství")
* 1991 Order of Milan Rastislav Štefánik, Third Class, posthumously ("Řád M. R. Štefánika III. třídy")
* 2002 Promoted to colonel, posthumously


Two films based on Operation Anthropoid were made. The Czechoslovak "Atentát", and the American "Operation Daybreak" where Opálka was portrayed by Jiří Krampol.Fact|date=April 2008 There is also German television film, "Reinhard Heydrich - Manager des Terrors". ( [ IMDB profile] )

ee also

* Special Operations Executive
* Czech resistance to Nazi occupation


Further reading

*David Stafford, "Britain and European Resistance, 1940−1945", University of Toronto Press 1980, ISBN 0802023614.
*Lewis M. White, "On All Fronts: Czechoslovaks in World War II", ISBN 0880333197.
*David Chackom "Like a Man", ISBN 9780972373746.
*J.B. Hutak, "With Blood and with Iron: The Lidice Story"

External links

* [ Remembrance of Operation Anthropoid members] cs icon
* [ Encyclopedia of Brno] cs icon
* [ Opalka's personal file] cs icon

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