Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lidice

The village of Lidice is north and a little west of Prague. Martina, my tour guide from Wittman tours met me at the lobby of my hotel at 9:00AM. She had a taxi waiting to take on us on a 7 hour tour of the Lidice and Terezin memorials. She introduced me to Johnnie, our taxi driver, but that is not what she called him. Lidice is 40 min away. A side benefit of the tour is that I got to see the parts of Prague where the middle class actually live. The old town area where I'm staying is all tourists. I also got to see the Czech countryside. which was soooo green on a rainy Friday mornng. We seemed to go back in time as we passed village after village. The church spire was the focal point of each village, the red roofs circling each one, and then green hills, field and woods.
Lidice was one of those peaceful villages until an important officer in the Hitler's inner circle, Reinhard Heydrich, was mortally wounded in Prague by British-trained Czech paratroopers. Hitler decided to send a message to all who would resist the Reich by ordering the village of Lidice to be razed(pronounced like "raised"), completly destroyed or erased as a warning to all who would resist.
On the night of June 9, 1942, the murderers set up their operation in a house north of the village. Using police records, all the men in the village, who could be found, were taken to Horak's farm and held until the executions began a 7:00 the next morning. Mattresses were lined up against the wall of Horak's barn, and then all the men and boys aged 16 and up were brought in groups of 5 and later to speed up the process in groups of 10 where they were shot by the members of the German Army field police. As each group of men were executed the next group were lead in to stand in front of those who had just fallen and the executioners took two steps back until the ground was coverin the bodies of 173 men and boys.
Two days later the women and children were taken to a grammar school where the women were told that they would have to give up their children, but would be reunited in 1 hour. It was a lie. The women were sent to Ravensbrück. The children were sent to Łódź with instructions to give them no special care. There the children were required to write postcards to be sent to relatives to inform them that they were alive. Many asked for some bread or for shoes. The Nazis wanted their relatives to believe that the children were safe, but that was also a lie because even before postcards arrived 81 of the children were sent to the extermination camp at Chelmno and gassed the next day.

Sculptor Marie Uchytilová was deeply touched by the tragedy of the crime in Lidice. In 1969 she decided to create bronze monument of Lidice children that should be also understood as “A Monument of children’s war victims”.
The Lidice Memorial and museum on the right.

Foundations of one of the former village homes.

The plan of the original city of Lidice.

The foundations of the church.



The Rose Garden

The Park of Peace and Friendship is a Rose Garden given to the memorial by a group called "Lidice will live" whose chairman was Barnett Stross, the deputy of British parliament. This idea was imediately widely supported by many different countries. Great Britain gave this garden the largest variety of roses, but there are roses from all over the world, including Oklahoma.

Interactive map showing where each of the preceding items are located on the memorial site.

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