The Lidice massacre - atrocity and courage

Sixty years ago this week, the Nazis wiped the Czech village of Lidice from the map. All the men were shot. Apart from a few who were adopted in Germany all the children were sent to the gas chambers, and the women to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. But two men from Lidice, Josef Horak and Josef Stribrny, survived. They were in Britain, fighting in the Royal Air Force. The Nazis treated their relatives back home with particular cruelty. All their family members were shot, with the sole exception of Josef Horak's sister Anicka, who was pregnant. Anicka survived, but was immediately separated from her newborn daughter. In England Josef - or Pepik - Horak had recently married a young Englishwoman, Wynne. Here Wynne remembers how she and her husband heard the news of the Lidice tragedy at the barracks where they were stationed in Norfolk.

"The boys came over from the mess with the news and Pepik walked off. So I went to follow him obviously. And Vaclav said to me: "No, leave him for a few minutes. He wants to be alone." So, that was the time. So he was in a terrible state. But I don't think he ever really expected them all to be gone except for Anicka until he got back. I don't think he ever grasped that it would be quite as bad. He obviously hoped and prayed that some of them might have survived. But of course they didn't. But he was always very proud of the fact that all the local people told him that his mother didn't bow her head, she didn't let them get her down. She marched away. By the time we heard of the tragedy it had already started for them, hadn't it. I can't imagine how Anicka lived through it... that time... and even worse once they took the baby away. But I think she always hoped that maybe she'd been one of those that were suitable for the German families but obviously she wasn't. It seems hard to believe that she'd be almost retiring age now."