In June 1942, the Czechoslovakian town of Lidice was destroyed by Nazi occupying forces in retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a high ranking Nazi official. The men of the town were killed, most of the children were sent to gas chambers and the women were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Chalamba Kshetri revisits the brutal annihilation of the town by Nazis.
The World first learned about Lidice via a brutally detached Nazi radio announcement broadcast the day after the attack. “All male inhabitants have been shot. The women have been transferred to a concentration camp. The children have been taken to educational centres. All houses of Lidice have been leveled to the Ground, and the names of this community have been obliterated”.
In 2nd World War, in Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia, the Lidici massacre was the complete destruction of the village of Lidice, in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, now in Czech Republic.
Operation Anthropoid was the code name for the assassination of Schutzstaffel (SS)- Obergruppenfuhrer and Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Main Security office, the combined security service of Nazi Germany. The British trained Czech resistance fighters attempted assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and later successful in doing so, killing the ‘Right Hand’ of Hitler- the fuhrer.
Lidice - a Scapegoat?
Lidice was chosen as a target for reprisals in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, because it’s residents were suspected of harbouring local resistance partisans and were falsely associated with aiding team members of Operation Anthropoid. On 10 June 1942, Nazi soldiers entered Lidici and all men of the village were rounded up. The shooting of the men commenced at about 7.00 a.m. At first the men were shot in groups of five, but later proceeded slowly and ordered that ten men be shot at a time. This continued until the afternoon hours when there were 173 dead. Altogether, about 340 people from Lidici were murdered because of German reprisal (192 men, 60 women and 88 children).
Determined to obligate Lidice, the Nazis destroyed every building in sight and even dug up the town’s cemetery. They dumped massacre victims in a mass grave dug by the massacred victims themselves. Pregnant women and babies under the age of one were separated from the others, as were several children with Germanic facial features. German doctors measured the children’s facial features, identifying those with “Aryan” characteristics as candidates for Germanization - a process where suitably feature non - German children were adopted by German families. The village of Lidice was set on fire and the remains of the building destroyed with explosive. All the animals in the village were slaughtered. Lidice was razed to the ground in order to wipe it off the map for ever. News of the tragedy soon reached the rest of the world as it was filmed and broadcast by the Nazis.
Aftermath of the Massacre-
After the war ended, only 153 women and 17 children returned. They were re-housed in a new village of Lidice that was built overlooking the original site, built using money raised by the ‘Lidice Shall Live’ campaigned. An art gallery, which displays permanent and temporary exhibitions, is in the new village 500 metres from the museum. The annual children’s art competition attracts entries from around the world.
Today, Lidice- a small town of about 540 residents, rebuilt alongside a memorial and museum commemorating the tragedy- stands in defiance of the Nazis attempted extermination: 82 larger than life bronze statues , each representing a lost child of Lidice, greet visitor. More than 25,000 roses are planted at the Lidice Memorial rose garden to give new life to the ‘Departed Soul’.