Commemoration in Lidice to mark 60th anniversary of Nazi massacre

Wynne Horak

Half the Czech government, as well as cultural figures and ambassadors from as far afield as Japan and Venezuela, attended a memorial ceremony and ecumenical mass on Saturday morning on the site of Lidice, the Czech village that the Nazis razed to the ground 60 years ago this week. On June 10th 1942, 173 men were shot and the women and children were transported to concentration camps. Of the children only seventeen survived. The only two Lidice men to survive were airmen who were fighting at the time in Britain's Royal Air Force. The English widow of one of the two men, Wynne Horak, told Radio Prague of her feelings on attending the event.

"Very, very sad. I'm glad I came though, because I think about the father-in-law, the mother-in-law I never met and my husband's not here either, so it's sad, but it's nice to come. I'm glad I came."

The only shadow over the commemoration was the arrival of a group of members of the extreme-right Republican Party who tried to approach to mass grave of the men of Lidice with their party banner. In his speech the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman condemned their action, as he later told Radio Prague.

"I think it was a misuse of this ceremony and that's why I condemned that. They are so naive that they try to win some political capital, even if it might be counter-productive."

The memorial mass was followed by the ceremonial reopening of a rose-garden, laid in memory of the villagers of Lidice who died. The Culture Minister, Pavel Dostal, pointed out that a new gallery is also to be opened this year in the village.