In memoriam: Marie Šupíková, one of the last survivors of the Lidice massacre

Marie Šupíková, photo: archive of Post Bellum

Marie Šupíková, one of the last survivors of the Lidice massacre, has died at the age of 88. Mrs Šupíková, who was ten at the time of the event, was one of the few children selected for re-education, escaping death in a concentration camp. In the course of her life she worked selflessly to help educate young people about the Holocaust.

Marie Šupíková, née Doležalová, was born on August 22, 1932 in Lidice, where she lived with her parents and her older brother Josef. After the attack on Lidice on 9 June, 1942, Marie was separated from her mother and put on a train to Polish Lódź with other children.

This is how she remembers the event in an interview for Czech Radio:

“After we reached Poland, they held us in a detention camp in a former factory. There we were, 89 children with lice, hungry and longing for home. We were alone and didn’t know what to do.

Destruction of Lidice,  photo: Czech Television

“Then one day soldiers came, wearing high polished boots. One was carrying a stick. He told us to sit down and he walked among us, pointing at someone’s shoulder from time to time, indicating for them to stand aside.”

In the end, seven children, including Marie, were selected for re-education and sent to a children’s home near Poznan. The rest were sent to a concentration camp in Chełmno, where they were murdered.

In 1943, Marie was adopted by a German family and renamed Ingeborg Schiller. In 1946 - thanks to the activities of the Czechoslovak repatriation committee - she was reported to the Czech authorities by her adoptive family and returned to Czechoslovakia in July of the same year.

Upon her return, she discovered that her father had been shot in Lidice on the night of the attack together with other men, while her mother had been deported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, from which she returned broken in health and spirit, dying in December of 1946.

Upon her return, Marie lived with her aunt in Kladno-Kročehlavy where a lot of the Lidice survivors settled as well. After completing her education, she worked as an administrative worker and in 1951, she moved to Ostrava and got married.

Lidice Memorial,  photo: Ondřej Tomšů

When her daughter was born in 1955, Marie moved with her family to the newly rebuilt village of Lidice. She worked for the Lidice Memorial and later for the National Committee in Lidice, serving as its secretary from 1970 until 1986.

Marie Šupíková has been one of the most active Lidice survivors, helping to keep the memory of the tragic event alive as a memento for future generations.

“It is an irony. On the one hand, they robbed me of my family and home, and they destroyed part of my childhood. On the other hand, I have to be grateful that I was able to survive the ordeal.

“When I had my own family, I often thought of that moment when our mother had to let us go, what must have passed through her mind in those few seconds, when her whole life flashed before her eyes.”