With The Czech Republic’s prime central location in Europe, it has witnessed and survived a lot of history. Although many other countries can say that it was a country largely left untouched in times of war, CZ (or Czechia), has faced some dark instances as well.
One of its unforgettable tragedies can be traced back to Lidice, the name of a village that has been completely destroyed, levelled, and no longer exists — however, the field and farmland remains barren, allowing the area to keep its name. It’s located about 22 kilometres (or 14 miles) northwest of Prague.
What happened? After the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 by Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš (also known as Operation Anthropoid), which also took place in which was then Czechoslovakia, Hitler craved revenge. Time was not wasted, and intelligence was soon gathered from the Gestapo which suggested that Lidice aided and served as the hiding place for the assassins, since several other Czech army officers were from there. Of course this accusation was false and did not have any ties, however, the consequences of this link still remain today.
In the late spring of 1942, Hitler ordered that all men in Lidice to be executed, to transport all women to a concentration camp, to select suitable children for Germanization and place them into SS families, and to burn down the village and level it entirely.
In turn, 173 men over the age of 15 have been executed, while 11 men who were not in the village at the time were then captured and executed later. 184 women and 88 children were sent to concentration camps, where some individuals were gassed while children who were selected for Germanization were sent to live and be raised with SS families. Roughy 340 villagers from Lidice died due to the German reprisal. The entire village was burned and destroyed with explosives. After the war, only 153 women and 17 children returned. A campaign movement based in the UK called “Lidice Shall Live,” helped rehouse the survivors in a new Lidice village which overlooks the original area.
In memory of this traumatic event, there is a museum which exhibits its past and a monumental statue of the many children whose lives were taken.
To learn more about this event and to visit the historical site, visit the official website of the Lidice Memorial.