|Intro||Czechoslovak general and politician|
|Was||Politician Military personnel|
|Birth||29 September 1890, Vinohrady, Czech Republic|
|Death||19 June 1942, Prague, Czech Republic (aged 51 years)|
Alois Eliáš (29 September 1890 in Prague – 19 June 1942 at Kobylisy Shooting Range, Prague) was a Czech 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 to be murdered by the Nazis during the war.
Antonin 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.
World War I
After the declaration of war on Serbia Eliáš was obliged to join the Austro-Hungarian Army, and was sent with the Prague 28th Infantry Regiment to the Russian Front. After only a few days at the front Eliáš was taken prisoner on 28 August 1914 in Galicia .
Czechoslovak legions in France
In 1917 Eliáš learnt of the existence of Czechoslovak Legions and joined them. The Czechoslovak Legions were volunteer armed forces fighting with the Entente Powers during World War I (France, Britain, Italy, Russia). Their goal was to win the Allies' support for independence, in which they 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 (Cross of War) and a made a member of the Legion of Honour.
Creation of Czechoslovakia
His studies in France significantly accelerated Eliáš' career after the war. In Prague Eliáš became a general staff officer, later being 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 Minister of Transportation and member of the Supreme State Defence Council of Czechoslovakia.
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. 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 he had acquired during his earlier military career would legitimise the puppet regime. Eliáš had served with the Czechoslovak Legion in France during World War I, and attained the rank of general. Although somewhat dubious, some historians (who?) have written that Hácha hoped Eliáš's former contacts with Reichsprotektor Konstantin von Neurath could influence the Reichsprotektor on the desirability of Eliáš as Prime Minister. On 27 April 1939, he was appointed Prime Minister. Eliáš took office convinced he might have a unique opportunity to help his country by covertly supporting the underground resistance to the Nazi occupation.
During the war, Eliáš maintained secret contacts with the Czechoslovak government-in-exile led by President Edvard Beneš, and supported the Czech resistance.
His situation started to deteriorate after a wave of arrests of resistance members in 1940. Among Eliáš' close contacts, the government minister Ladislav FeierabendKarl Hermann Frank called for his arrest, but was unsuccessful in having Eliáš removed.fled to London, while the Lord Mayor of Prague, Otakar Klapka , who was well informed about Eliáš's activities in support of families of exiled and arrested Czechs and secret messengers and contacts with Czech president Edvard Beneš in exile, was arrested and later executed. By January 1941, the Gestapo had accumulated damning evidence of Eliáš' involvement in the resistance. SS and Police Leader
The Sandwich Affair
In early September 1941, Alois Eliáš lost patience with several collaborationist journalists. Eliáš officially invited them to the Office of the Government, planning to poison them. 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. Other journalists, including Jaroslav Křemen and Emanuel Vajtauer, fell ill. 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 Reich Protektor (German governor of Czech Lands), Eliáš was arrested, put on trial and sentenced to death. Eliáš was executed at the Kobylisy Shooting Range on 19 June 1942. During Eliáš' time on death row, Heydrich himself was assassinated by the Czech resistance.
It was over 60 years later that prime minister Eliáš was given a state funeral with full honours on 7 May 2006 and was buried at the National Monument in Vitkov in Prague.