Lidice Memorial Visit

Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic just northwest of Prague. It is built near the site of the previous village of the same name which, as part of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, was on orders from Adolf Hitler and Reichsführer- SS Heinrich Himmler, completely destroyed by German forces in reprisal for the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in the late spring of 1942. (the Nazis assumed the village had been implicated the Heidrich’s killing – but it was a false assumption). 10 June 1942, all 173 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered. Another 11 men who were not in the village were arrested and murdered soon afterwards along with several others already under arrest. Several hundred women and over 100 children were deported to concentration camps; a few children considered racially suitable for Germanisation were handed over to SS families and the rest were sent to the Chełmno extermination camp where they were gassed to death. After the war ended, only 153 women and 17 children returned.

The visit stars with a small documentary about the story of the village. It could have a better script, but it fulfils its purpose. You then continue to the exhibition itself. It’s in a open space room, all ‘raw’ concrete, with different spaces being set by independent concrete walls, giving it a ‘bunkerish’ and claustrophobic feeling. The exhibition has several small movies,very emotional, one about the letters the children wrote the night before they were murdered, and another made of interviews with the survivors. Get ready, as it will be very hard not to feel like they did when the events occurred. One of the testimonial is particularly impressive, as it is of a mother talking about how the children were taken from her. You then follow to the place were Lidice once was. And it’s nothing short of amazing how you still fell like there is still people living there, taking their everyday life.

The Lidice children statue is, quite simply, one of the most moving things one can ever see.