Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Lidice Massacre (9–10 June 1942)

Title: Ruins from the Lidice Massacre
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German wartime atrocity in Czechoslovakia. On 4 June 1942, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD, or Security Service) and Acting Reichsprotektor (administrator) of Bohemia and Moravia, died of wounds suffered when his car was attacked with grenades in Prague on 27 May 1942. The attack was carried out by two agents of the London-based Czech government-in-exile, Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik. German reprisals for the attack on Heydrich were swift and deadly. Ultimately, the Germans raided 5,000 towns and villages; in the process, some 3,180 persons were arrested, and 1,344 were sentenced to death. Adolf Hitler ordered additional severe reprisals against the Czechs, threatening to kill 30,000 of them. This threat was not carried out, but the mining village of Lidice near Kladno, 11 miles northwest of Prague, was chosen for a conspicuous reprisal, presumably because some villagers there had sheltered Heydrich's assassins and had been otherwise identified with the Czech Resistance.

The German operation against Lidice was carried out on 9–10 June by German police and SD personnel led by SS-Hauptsturmführer Max Rostock. German police and SD troops surrounded the village on the evening of 9 June, and the action began the following morning. First, the police and SD men rounded up and took away the children and most of the women. Then, an execution squad of 3 officers and 20 men methodically killed 172 males over the age of 16. Later that day, another 11 workers from the late shift at the Lidice mine were also executed, as were 15 relatives of Czech soldiers serving in Britain who were already in custody, bringing the total number of men murdered to 198. The Germans also executed 71 women in Lidice, and another 7 were taken to Prague, where they, too, were shot. Of the 184 Lidice women transported to Ravensbrück concentration camp and the 11 already in prison, 143 eventually survived. The 98 children in the village were transported to a camp at Gneisenau. Eighty-two of the children were gassed at Chelmno, and 8 are known to have been given to Schutzstaffel (SS) families to raise. In any event, only 16 surviving Lidice children could be identified in 1945. The village of Lidice itself was burned to the ground. The site was then dynamited and bulldozed, and the ground was sowed with grain.

A similar reprisal was carried out on the village of Lezaky, east of Prague, where the radio transmitter used by the Czech agents was discovered. All of the village's adult inhabitants were killed, and only 2 Lezaky children survived the war. On the orders of SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, 252 friends and relatives of the Lidice inhabitants were gassed at the Mauthausen concentration camp on 24 October 1942.

No link between Lidice and the Heydrich assassination was ever proven. The village was rebuilt nearby after the war and renamed Nove Lidice. SS-Hauptsturmführer Rostock was executed in 1951 for his part in the Lidice Massacre, which came to symbolize the Nazi oppression of Czechoslovakia.

Charles R. Shrader


Further Reading
Bradley, J. F. N. Lidice: Sacrificial Village. New York: Ballantine Books, 1972.; Goshen, Seev. "Lidice." In Israel Gutman, ed., Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, vol. 3, 870–872. New York: Macmillan, 1990.; Wittlin, Tadeuz. Time Stopped at 6:30. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965.
 

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