On June 10, 1942, the German government announced that it had destroyed the small village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia, killing every adult male and some fifty-two women.
All surviving women and children were then deported to concentration camps, or if found suitable to be “Germanized”, sent to the greater Reich. The Nazi’s then proudly proclaimed that the village of Lidice, it’s residents, and its very name, were now forever blotted from memory.
184 men were executed. The village was then destroyed, literally wiped off the map. They even killed the village priest and every animal, pet or beast of burden.
The village of Ležáky in Eastern Bohemia suffered a similar fate just a fortnight later. A commemorative ceremony marking the 77th anniversary of the Lidice tragedy has been scheduled for June 15 at the Lidice memorial.
Following this tragedy, other towns across the world adopted the name Lidice so it would not be forgotten. There is a Lidice in Panama and in Brazil. San Jerónimo Lídice is a part of Mexico City. There is a Lidice district in Crest Hill, Illinois. Stoke-on-Trent in Britain has long had a sister city relationship with Lidice.
After the war Lidice would indeed be rebuilt. Some of the widows and children returned to the new Lidice. Next to the village still exist acres of open fields. In the midst of this quiet place there is a haunting memorial sculpture by Marie Uchytilová that is made up of 82 bronze life-size statues of Lidice’s children (42 girls and 40 boys) murdered at Chelmno.
The Inciting Incident
Starting in 1941, Reinhard Heydrich had been the acting Reichsprotektor or Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, part of the modern-day Czech Republic. His reputation had earned him the title of “The Butcher of Prague.”
While riding in his car on May 27, Czech resistance opened fire on his vehicle. Heydrich fought back and escaped, but suffered critical gunshot wounds.
What killed him was not the wounds, but untreated infection from said wounds. At the local hospital, Heydrich refused attention from anyone but a German surgeon. There was no German surgeon on hand.
Eight days later, Heydrich died. That was June 4, 1942. Within a week, the town of Lidice would suffer for the attack in the most unbelievable way.