On Monday I went with some friends to Lidice, north of Prague. After the NAZI regime annexed Czechoslovakia and set up a “protectorate” state, the Czechs assassinated the leader of the party, Reinhard Heydrich (who, in a public speech, had openly stated that the Bohemian and Moravian lands were to be eliminated and the entire area was to become Germany. Heydrich was one of the main architects of the Holocaust).
After his assassination, the NAZI’s picked a village (essentially at random) and completely destroyed it, killing all the men, taking the women to concentration camps, and gassing the children (except those children of the proper racial stock who were eligible for Germanisation).
I have been to Nürnberg; I have seen Hiroshima. When I go to these places, I’m overwhelmed that we, as a species, are capable of such insanity. There is nothing noble or grand about the propagation of death. The men from this village were lined up by the stone wall of a farmhouse and shot; I cannot fathom the killing of children.
On the site of the village, there is now a memorial and museum. In the field is a bronze sculpture of 82 life-size children; it commemorates those murdered from the village and the children massacred in the war.
I was greatly moved by this piece; it is simple and haunting. I was saddened by the thoughts of what had taken place here. However, I was given hope that, perhaps by memorials such as this, we are encouraged to prevent such things in the future.
Unfortunately, ironically, I learned later that, as I was standing at this memorial, as I was filled with the mix of sadness and hope, a man in Virginia began the worst shooting rampage in US history. Someday there will be a memorial to the people killed there. I could go on with a clot of cautionary and melancholy words; maybe I should. Today I will not. We, the senseless and the damned, never take note of them anyway.