Lidice is a village in the czech republic just northwest of the country’s captial: Prague. It is built on the site of a previous village of the same name which was wiped out in 1942 under order of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler This was in retaliation for the murder of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in the late spring of 1942. on June 10th 1942 All of the villages 173 men over the age of 16 were murdered. another 11 men from the village that were away were later captured and murdered. The women and Children were sent to concentration camps with the exception of a few children which were racially considered for germanisation and handed over to SS Families. The village was then burnt to the ground. At The end of World War II. 153 women and 17 children returned to live in the new village of Lidice, with a view overlooking the original site. The story of this is also the subject matter for the Czech Film ‘Lidice’ (2011) Operation Daybreak (1975) and The Silent Village (1943)
Two men from Lidice were in the United Kingdom serving in the Royal Air Force at the time of the massacre. After 1945 Pilot Officer Josef Horákand Flight Lieutenant Josef Stříbrný returned to Czechoslovakia to serve in the Czechoslovak Air Force. However, after the Czechoslovak coup d’état of 1948 the new Communist government would not allow them to apply to be housed in the new Lidice because they had served in the forces of one of the western powers. Horák and his family returned to Britain and the RAF and was killed in a flying accident in December 1948.
A memorial to the child victims of the massacre was erected in the 1990’s. entitled the memorial to the children victim of war. the memorial is composed of bronze statues of 42 girls and 40 boys to symbolise those murdered at Chelmo concentration camp after being captured in the lidiche massacre.
A square in Coventry is named after Lidice. Coventry itself was of course a victim of nazi bombings, Famous Czech Composer Bohuslav Martinů composed his Memorial to Lidice (an 8-minute orchestral work) in 1943 as a response to the massacre. The piece quotes from the Czech St Wenceslas Chorale, as well as, in the climax of the piece, the opening notes (dot-dot-dot-dash = V in Morse code) of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
Interesting Points: The massacre in Lidice was one that the nazi’s very openly and proudly announced, as opposed to many other massacres which were kept quiet by the SS.
A small Czech village called Ležáky was also destroyed two weeks after Lidice. There both men and women were shot, and children were sent to concentration camps or ‘Aryanised’. The death toll resulting from the effort to avenge the death of Heydrich is estimated at 1,300. This count includes relatives of the partisans, their supporters, Czech elites suspected of disloyalty and random victims like those from Lidice.
A film of the massacre was made by Franz Treml. A collaborator with German intelligence, Treml had run a Zeiss-Ikon shop in Lucerna Palace in Prague. After the Nazi occupation he became a filming adviser for the Nazi Party.