The village that would not disappear

RoseBookPage1-1Cerven 10.1942 — Cerven 10.2017 (June 10, 1942 — June 10, 2017)

The world’s responses have been swift and persistent, protesting the horrors Adolf Hitler inflicted upon the people of Lidice, Czechoslovakia, on June 10, 1942.

Artists, musicians, poets and horticulturists continue to interpret the significance of the Fuhrer’s vow to erase this Roman Catholic village from maps and memory. Despite Hitler’s pledge, the original village site — 15 miles northwest of Prague — has been preserved, and a new village named Lidice thrives nearby. Bridging the old and new: a public museum and art gallery flanking a vast memorial rose garden. Aerial shot of the rose garden, above, courtesy of Pamatmik Lidice (Lidice Memorial).

Opened on June 19, 1955, the Garden of Peace and Friendship continues to heal the wounds of war. It’s also a popular venue for wedding ceremonies and anniversary celebrations. Its 24,000 rose plants bloom in shades of white, pink, orange and scarlet, signifying “the lost children of Lidice,” the village men and boys murdered by Nazi firing squad, the village women who were sent to Nazi work camps, and the fire that ultimately destroyed the village, including structures dating to the 14th century.

As reports of Hitler’s atrocities rippled across the airwaves in 1942, people throughout the world kept alive Lidice’s memory by naming their babies, hospitals, communities, streets and parks “Lidice.”

The horrors of June 10, 1942, became a wake-up call for Allied Forces in WWII.

Pronunciation of Lidice: leed – yit – seh. Emphasis is on the first syllable.

Context at the crossroads

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Land of castles and legends, war and peace

By contrast to Prague’s bustle and its in-your-face memorial to heroes of the Heydrich assassination, the nearby villages of Lounovice, Benesov (top photo) and Lidice seem leisurely and pastoral. Like Prague, however, they shelter a rich collective cultural history shaped by coincidence and geographical coordinates.

As a whole, the Czech provinces —  Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Slovakia — are among the Old-World crossroads of Europe, where vivid legends fuse with centuries of cultural and political upheaval.  For centuries, artists, writers, musicians and merchants have traveled the road from Prague to Vienna and beyond. Armies — both religious and political — have fought to control the people and the land, and its rich natural resources. In war and peace, folk legends including heroic knights and their horses sleeping in caves deep within Blanik Mountain, above and below, have been passed down as beloved national treasures.

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