The village Lidice supposed to be wiped off the map during WW2. In 1942, Hitler ordered to kill all the inhabitants, after the successful assassination of Nazi ruler Reinhard Heydrich. If you are interested in the story behind the disappearance of Lidice, continue reading…
The Story of Lidice
Despite its tragic past, the former village of Lidice is an inviting place for a walk, just about 20 km from Prague. On top of the hill, you can find a memorial from which you can overlook the whole area where the village stretched out. There is even a 3D view where you can see every individual house on panorama in front of you.
You can explore the whole area with its memorial, large rose garden, remnants of the houses, and a local church. What I found particularly impressive is a group sculpture of 82 children of Lidice. The majority of them were killed, only a few survived.
This village and its 500 residents almost disappeared from this world. It was a decision of Adolf Hitler after the Czech resistance movement trained in Britain successfully assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi ruler over Bohemia and Moravia.
On 10 June 1942, a few hours after midnight, Gestapo raided to the village, collected all the men, shot them dead, and all women and children transported to concentration camps. Afterward, they set all the houses on fire and the remains of the buildings destroyed with explosives. Perpetrators filmed all those events, and it served as documentation against Nazi leaders during the Nuremberg trials.
With the end of the war, people haven’t forgotten about this event. Fortunately, about 160 women and children survived and returned back. The government rose a memorial and support the construction of new Lidice, where the survivors might come back. Today, in this newly constructed Lidice, you can visit the Gallery with a permanent exhibition and video projections of your choice.
As I already mentioned, the destruction of Lidice was a consequence of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. This operation, called Anthropoid, was carefully prepared by the Czechoslovak-exile government residing in London.
Two resistance members, Jozef Gabčík a Jan Kubiš, scouted Heydrich’s usual route from home to Prague Castle. They decided to execute their plan on 27 May 1942, in a sharp curve near the Bulovka hospital, where the car regularly slowed down. After the successful attack, Heydrich was transported to the nearby hospital, where he died on 4 June. At the approximate place of this event, you can find here the Operation Anthropoid Memorial of two soldiers and one civilian man on the top.
Gabčík and Kubiš, together with other resistant members (also sent from Britain for different operations) find a refugee in the crypt below St. Cyril and Methodius Church, near Karlovo náměstí. The SS troops find them thanks to the betrayal of one of the resistance members. After that, almost an 8-hours long fight started, and none of the resistance members survived.
Today, you can visit the church (where you can still find the holes after the battle) and the crypt with museum entitled the National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror. Entrance is free with a suggested donation.
The whole story of Operation Anthropoid is impressive and emotional. That is why it attracts the filmmakers as well. I would recommend a British film Anthropoid (2016) or Czech one Lidice (2011) that would draw you more tightly to these historical situations.
If you are interested in Czech history during the WW2, I would also recommend you to visit Terezín, the only concentration camp in Czech territory. It is a great idea to visit Lidice and Terezín during a day trip since it is almost on the way.