Lidice, the name of this place is a synonym all over the world for German fascist barbarism against the Czech people. A small workers’ village near Prague became an object of revenge of the occupation regime 80 years ago, on June 9/10, 1942. After the successful assassination attempt against SS-Obergruppenführer and General of Police Reinhard Heydrich, who was called only “the executioner” in the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, the following “atonement measure” was decided in Berlin for the village of Lidice:
1. all male adults are to be shot,
2. all women are to be transferred to a concentration camp,
3. the children are to be collected and, if “incapable of being incarcerated,” given to SS families in the Reich. The rest are to be given to other education.
4. the village is to be burned down and razed to the ground.
This criminal order was justified by the claim that the assassins had supporters in this village.
SS, Schutzpolizei and Wehrmacht units committed this crime together. 173 men were shot, 198 women and 98 children were deported. Most of them were murdered in Chelmno concentration camp. The 93 houses were burned down, after the movable property and livestock had previously been looted for the benefit of the German Reich. Bureaucratically correct, all measures of extermination were registered. A village with the name Lidice should not exist anymore. Two weeks later, German troops murdered more than 30 men in Lezaky, about a hundred kilometers east of Prague.
News of these crimes spread around the world. Spontaneously, places in the USA, even in Cuba and Brazil, decided to rename themselves Lidice. US President Franklin D. Roosewelt declared, “The name of Lidice will be an everlasting reminder to us that Nazi violence cannot destroy the love of freedom or the courage to defend it.” He sent these words to the Stern Parks Garden (Illinois) community on the occasion of its renaming.
In Great Britain, as early as 1942, an international movement “Lidice shall live” was formed, which, on the one hand, wanted to keep the memory of this crime alive and, on the other hand, to work for the reconstruction of the community after the smashing of German fascism. Probably one of the most emotional events was the Lidice rally on March 12, 1944, in the ruined cathedral of Coventry, a city that became synonymous with German air raids on British cities and civilians (“coventrysieren”). British trade unions collected money, which after liberation in 1947 was given by Scottish miners to Czechoslovak trade unions to rebuild the village. Thus, in the early 1950s, the new village of Lidice was built on the edge of the historical area. As a place of remembrance, a rose garden was created in 1955, which still exists today.
It remains a legal scandal that not a single trial has been opened against those responsible for and involved in the massacre. Allegedly, no perpetrator could be directly identified. The police battalion involved was not investigated at all.
Dealing with remembrance at this site seems complicated to this day. After the memorial seemed to become a “victim of political change” in the early 1990s, the Czech Ministry of Culture now adequately equips it. Donations and grants contributed to the completion of Marie Uchytilova’s impressive sculpture for the children of Lidice. However, historical-political controversy led to the resignation of the then director in 2020.
For the FIR, Lidice is and remains an important memorial site, where it must be clearly emphasized: Not the anti-fascist resistance was responsible for this massacre, but the fascist occupation policy. We will not accept any relativization of fascist crimes and/or rehabilitation of fascist collaborators!