Lidice Memorial Park - Crest Hill, IL
Posted by: cldisme
N 41° 33.279 W 088° 06.171
16T E 408029 N 4600918
Quick Description: On June 10, 1942, the village of Lidice of (then) Czechoslovakia (now, Czech Republic), was literally flattened by German forces in reprisal for the assassination of an SS officer. This memorial was erected to commemorate those deaths.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 9/19/2007 12:05:43 PM
Waymark Code: WM27YB
The monument states:
In memory of Lidice, Czechoslovakia whose citizens perished by Nazi Brutality June 10, 1942
Lest We Forget
Truth Shall Prevail
A Brief History
Under Adolph Hitler's order, the small Czechoslovakian village of Lidice, near Prague, was wiped out as punishment for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi controller of Bohemia and Moravia. It was never clear why Lidice was chosen for the reprisals; however, the village was implicated when the Gestapo learned that two men from the village who had fled in 1939, Josef Horák and Josef Stríbrný, were rumored to be in England, where the Czech Army operated in exile. Thus, without proof of culpability in Heydrich's death, the entire village was massacred and obliterated.
Heydrich and his driver were attacked the morning of May 27, 1942 by Czechoslovakian partisans Jan Kubiš and Josef Gabcík while driving in his car. Kubis and Gabcik were parachutists with the Czech Army who had been flown in from London, where the assault had been planned, to Czechoslovakia the previous December. They had spent the winter and spring of 1942 hidden in the area, doing reconnaissance to learn Heydrich's routine and habits.
After the assault, the injured Heydrich was taken to Bulovka Hospital in Prague. By the end of the day, the Nazis had declared a state of emergency and Prague was under curfew. The next day, the Nazis engaged in a massive manhunt involving 21,000 men to find the assassins; in all, some 36,000 homes were searched. Heydrich died of his wounds June 4, 1942 due to blood poisoning (septicemia). By then, 157 people had been executed, and by the time of Heydrich's funeral on June 9, more than 1,000 people had been killed during the reprisals - but the search had failed, and no information was forthcoming.
The enraged Hitler wanted an entire village leveled and its residents exterminated in repayment for Heydrich's death. On the evening of June 9, 1942, the Nazis surrounded Lidice, entered the village, and separated the women and children from the men and boys over age 16. The 173 men and boys were moved to the Horak farm. The 203 women and 105 children were taken to a village school.
At daybreak on June 10th, the men and boys were shot by a firing squad, at first in groups of five, then in groups of 10 to speed up the process. An additional 19 men, who were working during these executions, were rounded up and sent to Prague to be shot. Meanwhile, the women and children were moved to a school in nearby Kladno, where the children were taken from their mothers, and held there for two days. Four pregnant women were sent to the same hospital where Heydrich had died to have their fetuses forcibly aborted, after which those women were sent to different concentration camps.
On June 12, 184 women of Lidice were sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, where they were isolated in a special block, then put into forced labor. Meanwhile, 88 Lidice children were sent to a holding facility in Lodz, where seven deemed suitable for Germanization were immediately separated, to be handed over to German SS families and be raised as Germans; the other 81 suffered from illnesses and lack of hygiene and received no care.
Immediately after Lidice had been emptied, the Nazis leveled the area: the entire village and landscape was destroyed and ploughed flat, including churches and graveyards, to the point of even changing the course of a stream that had flowed through the town. Thus, the Nazis forever changed the landscape, wiping the village off of the map both figuratively and literally, so that the land looked as though the village had never existed (German maps were later changed to eliminate all mention of the former village). Once the destruction was completed, something nearly as mindboggling occurred: the Nazis announced the destruction and murders to the Allied forces and the world over a radio broadcast, to discourage further insurrections. A worldwide furor arose.
Because of the furor, the Nazis hesitated briefly in deciding what to do with the remaining Lidice children. However, by late June Adolf Eichmann had ordered their death, and on July 2, the 81 children were moved to the Chelmno extermination camp in Poland, where they were gassed to death.
Later, Kubiš and Gabcík died along with five other partisans in a gun battle with the Nazis on June 18; they had been betrayed to the Germans by one of their own. The small village of Ležáky was also destroyed two weeks after Lidice, because Gestapo agents had found a radio transmitter there of the underground team that had parachuted in with Kubiš and Gabcík.
About 340 people from Lidice died because of the reprisals (192 men, 60 women and 88 children), and a total of more than 1,300 people were murdered to avenge Heydrich death. After the European armistice, only 153 women and 17 children returned to the area that had been Lidice. Of the 105 Lidice children, 82 died in Chelmno, six died in the German Lebensborn orphanages and 17 returned home. A new village of the same name was built west of where the old village had stood; the Lidice women who had survived the Ravensbruck camp were resettled there.
How did Lidice become Crest Hill's sister city?
Two days after this horrific brutality, Dominic Romano, who was developing the Stern Park subdivision, renamed it Lidice; he was the first in the world to rename a town in honor of the extinguished town. A few months later in 1942, the then exiled President of Czechoslovakia attended the dedication of the original monument, which stood at first in an empty cornfield (the subdivision later grew around it). The first monument was toppled by vandals in 1995 and replaced by the Czechoslovakian American Congress with a new one of granite, funded by donations from individual members and Czechs all over the Midwest. The area has now been incorporated into Crest Hill, which separated itself from Joliet in 1960. The city of Crest Hill created a small plaza and park around the monument, and Crest Hill is now a sister city of the rebuilt Lidice in the Czech Republic.
About the Rose Garden
In Lidice, Czechoslovakia, a "Park of Peace and Friendship" was opened and thousands of rose bushes were planted. Similarly, rose bushes of several varieties have been planted near Crest Hill's memorial; the goal is to eventually have 82 rose bushes to commemorate the 82 Lidice children who were murdered in Chelmno.
Disaster Date: 6/10/1942
Date of dedication: 7/14/1942
Memorial Sponsors: the Czechoslovakian American Congress; the City of Crest Hill, IL developed the plaza and surrounding park.
Disaster Type: Sociological
Relevant Website: [Web Link]
Parking Coordinates: Not Listed
A photo of the memorial from a different angle or view than what is already posted is requested. If a camera is not available, please give a detailed description so that we can get an idea of your visit. Please list anything that has changed since the waymark was created.