40th Anniversary of “Lidice” by Ivan Cigánek

“The noose around Lidice, formed by a company of the Nazi Schutzpolizei was being tightened slowly but surely. Their commander, Major Marwelder, had been ordered to have his men posted so as to seal off Lidice hermetically by 10 p.m. Anyone wishing to enter Lidice was free to do so but nobody was to be allowed to leave the village. Shortly before 11 p.m. several cars rushed into the village, stopping near the first houses. Bohme selected the biggest of them, ordering its inhabitants out immediately and moving in, together with his staff. Within minutes, the Lidice Mayor was summoned, having been ordered to bring along all his documents. lnvestigatlon was completed after midnight. The Gestapo officers learned all they had to know. They, the security service and the Schutzpolizei, were then joined by Nazi army men. Bohme then briefed the Gestapo men about the contents of the following dispatch which, according to his notes, read as follows:

“On June 9, 1942 at 19:45 hrs I was advised by K. H. Frank from Berlin that, on the instructions of the Fuhrer, the following measures must be introduced to Lidice on the very same day:

  1. all adult male inhabitants to be shot;
  2. all females to be deported to concentration camps;
  3. all children suitable for Germanization to be interned and sent for education in SS families in the Reich. The rest of the children to be educated in a different way;
  4. the village to be burnt completely and razed to the ground . . .”

From the first chapter, “Prologue to a Tragic Night”, of the evocative 1982 book, “Lidice” by Czech author, Ivan Cigánek.

Published by Orbis Press, Prague, whilst the Czechoslovak nation still functioned as a communist dictatorship, the work has a predictably strong anti-fascist narrative, but is undeniably descriptively powerful and accurate in its treatment of events before and after the devastation of the village, and is therefore recommended reading in the opinion of this reviewer. The book also features unattributed, yet powerful, often shocking illustrations of lino/woodcuts describing the story of Lidice – making “Lidice” an essential purchase.

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