Lidice – 40th Anniversary of the Powerful Book by Ivan Cigánek – Orbis 1982

“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. Investigation 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 . . .”
Ivan Cigánek - Lidice - 1982 Orbis, Prague
Ivan Cigánek – Lidice – 1982 Orbis, Prague

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

Published by Orbis Press, Prague, while Czechoslovakia still functioned as a communist dictatorship, the work has a propagandist narrative.

However, the book is undeniably powerful and accurate in its treatment of events before and after the devastation of the village, as it draws on personal testimony. The book also features unattributed yet haunting illustrations of lino/woodcuts that trace out the fate of Lidice, making “Lidice” an essential purchase.

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