World War II is known to be the deadliest conflict in human history. Somewhere between 50 to 85 million people lost their lives due to the pointless, mindless war that was based on two Utopian ideologies. Needless to say, the combat only served the upper men instead of those who fought them. Unbelievably cruel massacres and atrocities were carried out both by Soviets and Nazis – the Holodomor, Holocaust, strategic bombing, etc. Yet, the memory of those wasted lives remains. One of the most atrocious acts done by Nazis was the wiping out of the Lidice village located in former Czechoslovakia (now in the territory of Czech Republic).
82 children in bronze overlook the old Lidice village
The bronze sculpture by Marie Uchytilova in Lidice, Czech Republic commemorates the children who were killed by Nazis in the summer of 1942. It honors a group of 82 children – 42 girls and 40 boys – all of whom were gassed at Chełmno. The Polish town housed an extermination camp built by Nazis during World War II. In fact, it was the first German extermination camp set up specifically to carry out ethnic cleansing through mass killings.
All of them were killed by Nazis during the World War II
Back in 1942, on June 10 Nazis had killed nearly all the residents in Lidice village. It was done as a reprisal for the assassination of Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, the Reichsprotektor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. The village was completely destroyed, men were killed, the women and children were separated and sent to concentration camps. That summer was the last one for them.
Their entire village was completely destroyed
After the assassination of Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, (the Reichsprotektor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia), Hitler immediately ordered mass killings in Czechoslovakia to avenge his death. He also wanted severe punishments to be carried out against any village that had harbored the assassins. To the residents of the villages, the following was bound to happen: all of the adult men would get killed, women – taken to concentration camps, the children who looked Aryan would be “Germanized” and the remaining ones – killed. Nazis specifically targeted Lidice because one local family had a son in the Czech army in England.
All of the men of the village were executed, while women were taken to concentration camps
In 1942, on June 10 Nazis killed all 173 adult men in Lidice village. The 184 women and 88 children were taken away. The children were then dumped in an unused factory in Lodz, Poland. Then, certain ones were chosen for Germanization. The remaining 82 children were taken to the Chelmno extermination camp to be gassed – some decades later, they will inhabit the village forever as haunting bronze statues.
The haunting memorial was created by a Czech sculptor, Marie Uchytilova
Marie Uchytilova-Kucova was a Czech sculptor as well as academic sculptor professor born in 1924. The artist was deeply touched by the unimaginably cruel crime committed in Lidice. In 1969, Marie decided to commemorate the victims by creating a bronze monument for all the young lives lost.
The sculptures took two decades to finish
It took two decades for Marie Uchytilova to create eighty-two statues of children which are all above life-size height. While the artist was working on the artwork, numerous people visited her atelier, and they later started collecting money for the monument. In March of 1989, Marie finished the sculptures in plaster, however, she never saw the money that was collected. Therefore, the artist cast the first three statues in bronze by using her own savings. The same year, Marie unexpectedly died and the project was left unfinished.
Now, they stand as a silent memory to those young lives lost in a cold and mindless massacre
After the sudden death of the sculptor, her husband J.V. Hampl continued the work on his own. In 1995, 30 children in bronze were finally ‘returned’ to their mothers in Lidice. From 1996, more statues were installed, while the last ones were uncovered back in 2000. Currently, there are 42 girls and 40 boys murdered in 1942 overlooking the valley.