Introduction: A journey through Lidice’s past and present

St.CyrilMethodiusExteriorHeroes_BethThe story begins

PRAHA (Prague), Oct. 5, 2017 — On a busy street deep in the heart of this city stands Saints Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, a Czech Orthodox church that houses the World War II National Monument to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror (Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády).

In late May 1942 the Czech government in exile, based in London, carried out a plot to assassinate “the butcher of Prague,” Reinhard Heydrich, whom Hitler had named reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia. Czech paratroopers were assigned to carry out the mission. They ambushed Heydrich on a street near Sts. Cyril and Methodius, fleeing afterward to its crypt, where they and other members of the Czech Resistance took shelter. Within a few days the Nazis discovered the assassins, along with their comrades and protectors. Nazi bullet holes are still visible in the exterior wall of the crypt where the assassins (heroes, by Czech standards) hid and died. Memorial tributes, flowers and other souvenirs continue to honor the heroes at the streetside memorial.

On June 10, 1942 (Cervna.10 1942), the massacre of the village of Lidice, northwest of Prague, was Hitler’s retribution against the Czech people for Heydrich’s death.

Photo below: the old church gates at Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Prague flank a plaque identifying the Czech Orthodox cathedral as the site of “The National Memorial to the heroes of the Heydrich terror.”

Photo, bottom: A glass case in the below-ground museum and crypt at the cathedral displays eye-color and skin-color charts used by Nazis to help determine who was fit to survive the atrocities they would commit across Europe. At Lidice, some children were selected for “re-education” and placed with German families instead of being gassed in a transport van with other children on their way to Chelmno, a concentration camp in Poland.  Some children placed with German families returned to Lidice. The rest are known as “the lost children of Lidice.”