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children_of_lidice.jpg

In early June 1942, members of the Ordnungspolizei and SD (Sicherheitsdienst) surrounded the village of Lidice. The Nazis suspected its residents of harboring local resistance partisans and were falsely associated with aiding “Operation Anthropoid” team members. A total of 203 women and 105 children were first taken to the nearby town of Kladno and detained in the grammar school and the children were separated from their mothers. Then 88 Lidice children were transported to the area of the former textile factory in Łódź where officials from the Central Race and Settlement branch chose seven children for Germanisation.

On 2 July 1942, on order of Adolf Eichmann, all of the remaining 81 Lidice children were handed over to the Łódź Gestapo office, which in turn had them transported to the extermination camp at Chełmno, where they were gassed to death in Magirus gas vans.

Of the 105 Lidice children, 82 died in Chełmno, six died in the German Lebensborn orphanages and 17 returned home.

A hauntingly beautiful sculpture by Marie Uchytilová stands today overlooking the site of the old village of Lidice. Entitled “The Memorial to the Children Victims of the War” it comprises 82 bronze statues of children (42 girls and 40 boys) aged 1 to 16, in honor the murdered children of the summer of 1942.

Sadly, Marie died in the fall of 1989, never seeing her vision fully realized but thanks to the continued efforts of her husband, J.V. Hampl over the next two decades, the placing of the last 7 statues in 2000 marked the completion of the monument and the return of the 82 children to their home.

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