Marie Uchytilová-Kučová was born in Kralovice, Czechoslovakia, on the 17th of January, 1924. The daughter of a clerk, from 1945 to 1950 she studied sculpture under Otakar Španiel at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts. In 1956, she won a public competition to design the Czechoslovak one-crown coin, secretly basing the figure of a young woman on a current prisoner held by the Czech Communist government. On her own initiative, in the early 1960s, she decided to create a lasting monument in remembrance of all child victims of war, modelled on the children of Lidice.
Marie Uchytilová planned to not only commemorate the 82 Lidice children who died but symbolise the thirteen million child victims of the Second World War. Before starting on the castings, she met Lidice mothers and relatives to chat about their children and view them in photographs in order to form an impression of their physical characteristics and personalities. However, during the modelling process, she deliberately left their features vague to ensure the installation represented all child victims of war.
The Memorial to Child Victims of War
Marie’s dream would become a reality in bronze only after her death, when her husband, Jiří Hampl, took her sculptures and gained the support required to have them cast and sited on the memorial grounds between the years 1995 and 2000. The first thirty statues were installed in their positions in 1995. Some statues are so heavy that an A-frame had to be used in order to position them on their concrete foundations.
Finally, on the 7th of June 2000, the last remaining bronze statues were inserted into the ground, and the installation has now stood for 22 years, complete on the memorial grounds overlooking the site of the old village. The children’s representations are fixed at an oblique angle so that they look forlornly towards the common grave of their fathers, grandfathers, and friends. The artwork is a haunting tribute to come across, emotionally affecting all who experience it.