The Destruction of Lidice
On 10 June 1942, Nazi forces completely destroyed the Czechoslovakian town of Lidice which is located just north-west of Prague. They surrounded the village and rounded all 173 of the men up, taking them to a local farm where they were all shot to death. The women and children were separated and unspeakable atrocities were then committed against them. Four pregnant women had their unborn children forcibly aborted and they were then sent to concentration camps while the majority of the rest of the women were sent to work at Ravensbrück concentration camp where most of them perished.
Lidice Children's Memorial. Photo credit: Moravice [Source]
Eighty-eight children were transported to the Polish city of Lodz, south-west of Warsaw. Seven of them were selected for Germanisation but the rest were taken to nearby Chelmno on 2 July 1942 and were gassed to death.
The village of Lidice was razed to the ground, buildings were destroyed and even graves in the cemetery were dug up and destroyed. The absolute cleansing of Lidice was complete.
The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich was a Nazi official and one of the major architects of The Holocaust. He spoke at the Wannsee conference in January 1942 where he called for Jews to gathered from across Europe to be worked to death in concentration camps or exterminated.
He was assassinated on the morning of 27 May 1942 by British trained Czech and Slovak parachutists. His death caused an intense stage of mourning amongst Nazi circles and Hitler called for the explicit destruction of any village found to be harbouring Heydrich’s killers. He ordered that all males should be killed, women transported to a concentration camp, children Germanised or otherwise dealt with, and the village razed to the ground.
Heydrich’s car at scene of assassination. Photo credit: Bundesarchiv [Source]
Intelligence incorrectly linked the towns of the Lidice and Ležáky and Hitler’s orders were carried out to the letter in a terrible and brutal act of revenge carried out against innocent men, women and children.
In the aftermath of Heydrich's assassination, Adolf Hitler is said to have proclaimed that “Lidice shall die forever!” When he heard of Hitler’s plan to destroy Lidice and the terrible price that the people Lidice paid, a Labour MP in Stoke on Trent, England decided to start the Lidice Shall Live campaign.
Through his work, Lidice was rebuilt and a home created for the 153 women and 17 children who returned after the war.
You can read more about Barnett Stross’s work and the incredible generosity of the people of Stoke on Trent in helping to rebuild Lidice over at Dáithaí C’s blog: Lidice Lives. You can also read about the anti-fascist art exhibition in Melbourne in 1942 (partly inspired by the events at Lidice) at the Art and Architecture, Mainly blog: Anti-Fascist Art Exhibition, Melbourne 1942