By Dr. Josef A. Mestenhauser
Most of us know that the entire village was leveled, that men and boys over 15 years were executed, that women and children were send to concentration camps, and that children were separated from parents. The brutality of this “event” far exceeds the common knowledge, however.
I was sixteen when Lidice and Lezaky “happened” and lived through the massive retaliation by the Nazis that followed the assassination of the Reichsprotektor Heydrich. The memory of these years came back when a Czech student of mine sent me two recently published books about Lidice, both in English. One is a carefully researched commemorative volume providing detailed information about the “old” Lidice, the events of June 10, 1942, and the town’s subsequent rebuilding. The second book is the memoirs of one of the very few survivors, written by Jarmila Sklenickova, the student’s relative. She has put to good use her photographic memory in accounting the gruesome events of that June and its aftermath, providing a graphic but unemotional picture of the bestiality of the Nazis that has not been generally known until recently. The peaceful village was encircled by more than 500 Nazi police, Gestapo and SS troops, who woke up residents with instructions to collect their most precious possessions and gather: men and boys over 15 to the Horak orchard, and women and children to the schoolhouse.