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The Lidice Massacre

Discussion in 'Massacres and Atrocities of the Second World War' started by Jim, Sep 23, 2006.

  1. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Thank you to everyone who has posted on this thread. A great discussion. I am very tempted to visit Lidice myself now.
    Will update my World War 2 poetry blog with the C. Day-Lewis poem titled 'Lidice'.

    Finally- for the moment at least- I was looking at 'The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 2 My Country Right or Left 1940-1943' . There is an extract from Orwell's War Diary for 11th June 1942 therein , at this time Orwell was working for the BBC. Orwell of course completely condemned the atrocity, and stressed that German radio had announced the event, presumably on the day itself. The BBC were monitoring German radio, so in turn, were able to report it. But seems that the German authorities wanted the fate of Lidice to be publicised as warning that resistance would be met with terrible consequences.

    UPDATE Lidice post on blog will be delayed. Have just discovered a Radio Prague post titled 'The literary legacy of Lidice ' : Seems that there is a great deal more poetry about Lidice then I first thought.
    The literary legacy of Lidice | Radio Prague
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  2. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    Lidice was betrayed by Jaroslav Pála, a well known Czech businessman. He received an improperly addressed love letter, destined to his female worker. Among others, it read "What I wanted to do, I did."
    Convinced it was written by one of the assassins he informed the authorities.

    Like most stories happening during the occupation of Eastern Europe, you have at some point of time choose between the red and the blue pill. Because the things were usually quite different than shown by Hollywood.
    It was not only him, at least 77 Czech citizens provided valuable information to the authorities and were rewarded handsomely with money. The assassins had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Their compatriots were at best indifferent, frequently hostile.

    The traitor.
    In Czechia, if you stumble upon batteries with a white horse and "Bateria Slaný" they were produced in his former factory.
    1920px-Jaroslav_Jan_Pála.jpg
     
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  3. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    An American poster (1942)
    Ben_Shahn_Lidice_poster.jpg
     
  4. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Have started my first blog post about Lidice and the C. Day-Lewis poem. Discovered that a poet called Viktor Fischl wrote a poem titled 'The Dead Village' that was published by 'Young Czechoslovakia ' in 1943. I managed to read the poem in full at the British Library yesterday. I will write about the poem separately on another blog post.

    Worldwar2poetry.blogspot.com

    The British Library catalogue lists the poem as being translated by Laurie Lee ( English author / poet who fought in the Spanish Civil War) ....the published poem just states English version by Laurie Lee.
    Also trying to find out more about Viktor Fischil. I will post separately about him on the World War 2 poetry thread . Seems that he lived from 1912- 2006 and changed his name to Avigdor Dagan in 1955.

    First heard about Viktor Fischil / Avigdor Dagan from this article from the Radio Prague website. 'The Literary Legacy of Lidice ' by David Vaughan

    The literary legacy of Lidice | Radio Prague
     
  5. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Had heard of Jaroslav Pala, but did not realise that so many Czech citizens had offered information.
    Talking of betrayal, an interesting claim has been made that a Jewish woman was in hiding in Lidice.

    I have been watching a Dutch TV series titled 'Himmlers hersens heten heydrich ' ( 'Himler's Brain is called Heydrich' ) on Youtube. Based on a book 'HHhH' by a French writer called Laurent Binet, published in 2010, which is a historical novel. I haven't read it.

    In episode 6 of this series, there is an interview with a Czech historian Vojtech Kyncil who states that police archives show a Jewish woman was in hiding in Lidice,
    was betrayed a few days before 10th June 1942, caught by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz. The woman who betrayed her was amongst the Lidice women who were sent to Ravensbruk, and survived, though died in 1946. Vojtech Kyncil maintains that the betrayal has been covered up.

    Said interview is in German with Dutch subtitles. Would be great to get it translated into English. ( About 38 minutes in...)



    Regards

     
  6. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Seem to unearth more and more about Lidice.
    Found this short film clip about the 'Lidice Shall Live' movement about the support for Lidice in the North Staffordshire district, particularly amongst the miners. Launched on 6th September 1942, at Stoke On Trent. In recent years the area has renewed its contact with Lidice.

    The local MP, Barnett Stross, was from a Polish Jewish background, and played a vital role in starting 'Lidice Shall Live'

    The Friends of Barnett Stross

     
  7. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    In comparison with executions in Poland Lidice was basically a who-cares event. But it was the only one confirmed by the Germans so it was very useful for propaganda purposes.
    News from Poland were considered by the British to be "he said, she said", unconfirmed and usually forbidden to disseminate, i.e., were censored.
     
  8. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    It should be noted the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was a neutral country, ruled by a Czech government, with their own army, police and basically everything else. The Germans were only concerned with security and the arms industry.
    The Czech government and their president voluntarily accepted the German protection, they didn't even try to resist (another such a case was Denmark.)

    So from the point of view of an ordinary Czech citizen, two foreign terrorists infiltrated their country and murdered a foreign diplomat, so it was his/her civic duty to help to apprehend the perpetrators.
    At the time of the assassination, the Munich Agreement was still considered binding by the British, the Czechoslovak government-in-exile wasn't fully recognized.
    Lidice and Ležáky changed that.
    Czech publications openly admit that it was the goal from the beginning.
     
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  9. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    wm - thanks for such thoughtful posts as always.

    Looking at 'Lidice Shall Live' .and Britain.

    Yes, I think that to a degree Lidice became symbolic. Of course a horrific amount of destruction was going on during World War 2 . But a focus on such a blatant attempt to wipe a village off the map, and the fact that the Germans broadcast what had occurred, became a useful rallying point to support the war effort in Britain. There was a great drive towards national unity, getting the Trade Unions to support the War, and so evoking Lidice as an issue of Working Class solidarity was helpful . And there was still a relatively small pacifist movement in Britain , who would often argue that news of Axis atrocities was just 'propaganda' so having an example where Germans actually boasted of their misdeeds was useful. I think that for Britain 1942 , there was still the fear that the War could still be lost, so anything that could be used to promote social and political cohesion was seized upon.
     
  10. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    ....In respect of Czechoslovakia , indeed it is easy to overlook that there was a Czech administration in Bohemia and Moravia. One reason I find Lidice such an intriguing subject is that although so well documented there is still a lot that it unclear. For example was there Czech involvement in the actual surrounding of the village, the massacre and deportations, the raising of the village? And were Czech police involved in the overall clampdown after Heydrich's death?
    Decades later, it could be more expedient to shift sole emphasis on the role of the Germans.

    With reference to the Munich Agreement - I read somewhere that the clampdown following Hedyrich's death in turn led to the Allies counting the Munich Agreement being annulled . And this led to the policy of returning the Sudetenland to Czechoslovakia following the Allied victory. I hadn't made the connection myself.

    Regards
     
  11. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    From watching the aforementioned Dutch TV series ' Himmlers hersens heten Heydrich ( 'Himmler's brain is called Hedyrich' - allegedly a claim made by Goering ) , learnt about the British comedian John Martin who has been researching the Heydrich assassination for decades now.
    John has written a book titled 'The Mirror Caught The Sun-Operation Anthropoid 1942' , which I am about to send off for and maintains a related website
    Operation Anthropoid 1942 | Reinhard Heydrich | Josef Gabcik Jan Kubis.
     
  12. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    According to Czech Wikipedia, Czech gendarmes took part in the operation against Lezaky but it says nothing about Lidice.
    But I think it's certain they were there, the Germans were very good at policing wast territories with minimal forces (the "non-minimal" forces badly needed at the fronts) and because they were spread so thin they required help in such massive operations.

    There wasn't that much clampdown it was mostly a massive manhunt and Czech police took part in it. The Czech government declared their unwavering loyalty to Germany during huge hundreds of thousands-strong demonstrations and even wanted to send the Czech Army to fight the war on the German side.
     
  13. MichaelBully

    MichaelBully Active Member

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    Appreciate your insight as always wm. Just wondering if there was a reference to Czech police involvement in the Lidice massacre when the incident was announced on German radio? Obviously we can't assume that the German authorities were telling the truth....but one particularly interesting aspect of the event is that the Germans even announced via a radio broadcast what had occurred at Lidice . George Orwell, working for the BBC, heard about it very quickly.
    Would be interested to know if there were many Czechs who fought on the German side against the Soviets. A high number of German sympathisers from many different European countries took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union
    Regards

     
  14. USAAFson

    USAAFson Member

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    Is there information about the ethnicity of Czech officials involved? Ethnic Germans held high positions in the Czech government and after VE Day there were horrific reprisals against ethnic Germans.
     
  15. wm.

    wm. Well-Known Member

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    The official German communiques weren't that detailed, they were short and German-like.
    But I think local announcements, for the Czech population, mentioned it and the policemen were thanked for their participation plus the usual; for the future of Europe, in defense of Europe - that was quite common everywhere.
    btw Czech police didn't take part in the atrocities they mostly protected the operation.

    The offer, to send the Army, was refused so the Czechs didn't get much chance to fight "for Europe," and I don't think many were eager to fight. The Czechs were mostly passive (although the Nazis very liked Czech workers performance and dedication). Not that people in other occupied countries were such heroes either.

    The administration and the government were purely Czech.
    Ethnic Germans were given German citizenship (and were sent to die "for Europe" so I suppose was kind of a bummer - the Czechs didn't have to do that) and rather weren't interested in working in the Czech administration.
    Ethnic Germans held high positions in the Czech government, earlier in independent Czechoslovakia but (I suppose) not in the Protectorate.

    You can get feel for the period watching Czechoslovak movies about it, for example: "Closely Watched Trains", "The Cremator".
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019

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