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Published: September 30th 2011
Only a meadow now
Lidice stood here.
June 25th, our last Saturday in Prague
After almost eleven months in Prague, working at the IBTS seminary, we were fast approaching our return home date. Bill had been interested in the events surrounding the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague. The village of Lidice came into history in a tragic way during the Nazi reprisals following his death.
A Czech produced movie, named Lidice was released just in time for us to see it with our friend Marjon and this sparked a desire in all three of us to see the Lidice village memorial. This was out last chance to do so.
Leaving from Dejvicka it is about a forty minute ride by public bus from Prague to Lidice. The route must be the same as that taken by the SS on what was a fateful day for the people and town of Lidice . As we passed through several villages, it was hard to imagine a convoy of trucks filled with Nazi soldiers on their way to commit a dastardly act, an act that obliterated a village and its innocent residents driving through this beautiful countryside and through these farm villages On June
Markers replaced after WWII
10th, 1942 all the men and boys over 15 in the village were shot. All the women had been arrested the previous day and moved to a nearby village. They were later sent to Ravensbrück, the Nazi death camp after all the children were torn from their arms, examined, measured and the very few who were 'Arian enough' in appearance selected to be 'Germanized', that is taught the German language, moved to Germany and adopted by childless German families. The remaining children, 81 in all, were sent to Poland where they were loaded into specially built trucks and gassed as the trucks drove around for twenty minutes or so.
The Village Disappeared
Lidice was a small village near Prague. The village had been there for at least 6 centuries. On Himmler's direct orders was completely destroyed. All the buildings were burnt and later blown up and removed. Even the dead in the cemetery were dug up and removed. Now, there is only meadow land where the village stood. The destruction was so complete that when the surviving women were returned they believed they had been taken to the wrong location. There was nothing where
they used to live in a vibrant village but open fields. Absolutely not a single stone or brick remained of their homes. There were no streets and of course worst of all there were no people. The women had been separated from the teenage boys and men and later their children and had expected to come home not just to bricks and mortar but to those they prayed had survived the dreadful days of the war. Imagine their sorrow and shock as they face - nothing.
Even the bare foundations of the church, the school and a barn which have now been uncovered were buried under dirt and grass.
Why did this happen?
The village was unfortunate. During the frantic search for the assassins of Reinhard Heydrich suspicion fell on some of the citizens of Lidice who were accused of having aided in the assassination project. It was not true and there is strong evidence the Nazis knew the evidence was not true. But Hitler was demanding results and Karl Hermann Frank, the Secretary of State for the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia received an order stating that any villages involved should be eliminated.
There were four demands: Execute all adult men
Transport all women to a concentration camp
Gather the children suitable for Germanization, then place them in SS families in the Reich and bring the rest of the children up in other ways
Burn down the village and level it entirely
These orders were carried out at Lidice.
See our entry on the assassination of Heydrich at : http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Czech-Republic/Prague/blog-573067.html
All the men of the village over 15 were shot. Several were just a few weeks over the magic number of 15. They were buried in a mass grave inside the village. They were not given any chance. No questions, no examination for truth, just lined up and shot.
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