Lidice, Central Bohemia, May 27 (CTK) – Lidice, a Czech village that the Nazis obliterated in 1942, on Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of its renewal and Lidice Mayor Veronika Kellerova thanked the Czechoslovak people, Britain, the United States and Russia for their contributions.
“We have realised that we – either us, or our mothers and grandmothers – have never thanked the Czechoslovak and now the Czech people for the building of our municipality,” Kellerova told CTK.
Symbolic keys to Lidice were handed to President Milos Zeman, British Ambassador Jan Thompson and U.S. charge d’affaires Kelly Adams-Smith.
Five days after a suicide attack by a British Muslim who killed 22 people, Zeman said secret services monitored a number of those who later committed a terror attack, but they did not do anything. He labelled this “cowardice masked as multicultural tolerance.”
Zeman said the the culture of Islamic radicals is incompatible with the European culture.
Kellerova said the fundraising campaign for the new Lidice started in Britain and the USA. “They raised a high sum that was handed to (Czechoslovak) President Edvard Benes,” she said.
Russian Ambassador Alexander Zmeyevsky received a Lidice rose for the building of the first memorial on the mass grave of the men of Lidice and for the Red Army liberating the Lidice women who were forced to join a death march from the German concentration camp in Ravensbruck.
Kellerova said the first object built on the spot of the destroyed village was this memorial. “It has remained there unchanged until now,” she said.
Thompson recalled the activities of Sir Barnett Stross, a British doctor and politician who led the Lidice Shall Live campaign. Stross pushed through the idea of the Friendship and Peace Rose Garden in Lidice, Thompson said.
Adams-Smith said countries must support their allies in need.
Zmeyevsky said the postwar rebuilding of Lidice was a symbol of the hard and victorious struggle against evil.
Lidice was obliterated by the Nazis on June 10, 1942, in retaliation for the assassination of high Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovak paratroopers trained in Britain. The Nazis shot all Lidice men dead, sent the women and most children to concentration camps, where many of them perished, and the remaining children to German families for upbringing.
Lidice had about 500 inhabitants and 96 houses before the massacre and 160 of them survived the war. Two women are still alive and 12 children, some of whom were born before the tragedy and some after it, Kellerova said.
The village currently has over 500 inhabitants.
The Nazis razed the village to the ground. The Czechoslovak government decided on the renewal of Lidice shortly after the end of the war, on June 6, 1945. The foundation stone of the new village was laid 300 metres northwest of the original settlement in mid-1947 and construction of the first houses started in May 1948.