In May 1942, the Czechoslovak government in London decided that the "blonde beast" and one of the main architects of the holocaust, Reinhard Heydrich, has committed too many crimes.
Even though he had never run in any elections, he was behaving as a kind of dictator on our territory, calling himself the "protector" of Bohemia and Moravia. Thousands of Czech people became the victims of his terror.
So much like in the case of Osama bin Laden, the government decided that the beast should be executed and from its London office, it sent a couple of paratroopers who simply executed him. The Czechoslovak government knew that every sensible German would agree, within a couple of years, with this decision.
However, at that time, many Germans failed to be sensible.
So in June 1942, the Nazis decided to revenge for the death of the beast. They irrationally misinterpreted a love letter addressed to someone in Lidice, or something like that, and decided that the village had to be destroyed. Sixty-nine years ago, on June 10th, 1942, they sent a couple of trained Nazi troops to the village, just Northwest of Prague. (Another village, Ležáky, was destroyed two weeks later.)
Lidice's children who were murdered. Memorial by Ms Marie Uchytilová who is also the author of the history's most famous Czechoslovak 1-crown coin with a woman seeding a plant. Click to zoom in.
I don't want to give you all the details. At any rate, all 190+ men were shot on the place and the kids and women were sent to concentration camps (with a few exception of newborn babies who could have been converted to Nordic Germans). Most of the kids were killed by gas, bringing the total casualties to 340+. All the trees and buildings were flattened. The village was, of course, revived after the war.
At the end of the war, it was clear that Czechoslovakia was incompatible with the Sudetenland Germans' past attitudes. The Nazis among them had previously demanded to become a part of the German federation. After the war, this desire was permanently fulfilled and the Sudetenland Nazis and their collaborators were expelled to Germany. Those Germans who could have proved their anti-Nazi resistance could stay but I assure you that it was just a tiny minority. Needless to say, the expulsion wasn't perfectly smooth and couldn't have been perfectly smooth.
Because of the communism that would start in Czechoslovakia just 3 years later, the Germans who were moved away really benefited economically but that's already a different chapter of the history. At any rate, I think it's obvious that after those years of Nazi terror that was almost universally supported by the German-speaking population, the emotions were inevitably high. I may get a bit upset even 69 years later, even though I had nothing to do with that history.
This year, on the very Lidice anniversary, the Sudetendeutschen Landsmannschaft, an organization of those Germans whose ancestors used to live in the Sudetenland and who would still love to rewrite the causal relationship between the different episodes above, demanded that the Czech president Dr Václav Klaus would apologize (again) for the imperfections that took place during the expulsion. This demand was articulated by Franz Pany.
Well, you may guess what the result has been. President Klaus said:
Apology has always made sense as a beautiful human individual gesture a person makes as one's own decision. [...]Well, very true.
Disputes over responsibility for World War Two and associated events cannot be resolved by apologies and certainly not by us, who live today, which means 66 years later. [...]
Some in Germany do not want to hear all previous apologising statements by the Czech side. [...]
Besides, demanding an apology on the day of the anniversary of the Lidice horrendous tragedy is a sign of extreme human insensitivity and inability to draw lessons.
A typical Czech man in the pub probably calls the Sudetenland leader Mr Berndt Posselt (on the picture above) "a bloated Sudeten pig". However, former nominally social democratic Czech prime minister Dr Miloš Zeman was more creative when he referred to Mr Posselt as "a Hitler returned from a fattening station".
At any rate, Mr Posselt has already complained that this kind of a declaration could have been heard before 1989. Well, that's right, before 1989, after 1989, and after 2089 as well. (The Landsmannschaft talks like the Sudeten Germans before 1945, by the way.) Mr Posselt has also claimed that he has visited Lidice and put a wreath over there. Well, maybe he has confused who has killed whom over there!
A new big movie, Lidice, just got into the Czech movie theaters.
Quite generally, the idea that the guilt for the inhuman acts that took place in the 1940s was "uniformly distributed" is fundamentally untrue and pernicious. Just because Czechoslovakia couldn't organize the punishment of the Sudetenland Nazis in a totally organized way doesn't mean that it was on par with the Nazi Germany.
Meanwhile, don't expect that Klaus's approval rate will drop because of this. Quite on the contrary! The Czechs are constantly being assured that no significant political force in Germany wants to revive the imperial desires of the Third Reich - which could threaten the ownership rights in the Czech borderland, among other things. At the same moment, with quite some regularity, the Czechs are being reminded that they must remain cautious and they should never become too certain about it.
Rewriting of the history is something that some people continue to do. As we're getting further from the 1940s, people are forgetting what the history actually was and it is actually becoming easier to rewrite the history.