Hundreds of people attended a memorial on Sunday observing the 74th anniversary of the razing of the village of Ležáky by the Nazis and the murder of 52 of its citizens. Speaking at the ceremony, the chairman of the lower house of the Czech Parliament, Jan Hamáček, said Ležáky was an eternal reminder of the bad that people were capable of when they were guided by a hateful ideology. The village was burnt down on 24 June 1924, two weeks after a similar attack on Lidice. Both atrocities were part of reprisals for the assassination of Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich.
A commemorative ceremony took place at the Church of Cyril and Methodius in Prague on Saturday to commemorate the brave act of resistance of Czechoslovak paratroopers who assassinated Acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. Jozef Gabčík and Jana Kubiš, together with five others who were part of Operation Anthropoid hid in this Prague church for five days until they were tracked down by the SS, leading to a final, desperate gun battle on June 18th. Heydrich’s assassination became a symbol of Czech independence and was later hailed as an important moment in the resistance movement. His death led to a wave of revenge acts, including the Lidice and Ležáky massacres.
President Miloš Zeman, Defense Minister Martin Stropnický and other officials attended a ceremony at the Lidice memorial on Saturday to mark the destruction of the village by the Nazis in 1942 in revenge for the assassination of Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. All the men in Lidice were shot, women and children were taken to concentration camps and the village razed to the ground. The Archbishop of Olomouc, Jan Graubner, celebrated a mass in the village to commemorate the victims. Speaking at the ceremony, President Miloš Zeman warned against the spreading of neo-Nazism, explicitly mentioning Marian Kotleba, leader of the extreme right People's Party Our Slovakia and leader of the far-right Workers' Party of Social Justice Tomáš Vandas. Around one thousand people attended Saturday's ceremony in Lidice.
Several hundred people, including war veterans, government ministers, parliament deputies, church dignitaries and cultural figures gathered at Terezín National Cemetery on Sunday to pay homage to victims of the Holocaust. Speaker of the Senate Milan Štěch said in his speech that this dark chapter of history required self-reflection and objectivity. He stressed that one could not put on par the atrocities of the criminal Nazi ideology with the post-war expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia. The Nazis interned 155,000 Jews at the Terezín camp between 1941 and 1945. Up to 100,000 of them were transported to Auschwitz and other death camps, around a fifth of those interned in Terezín met their deaths there.
War veteran and RAF pilot Jaroslav Hofrichter has died at the age of 95, the Czech Spitfire Club reported on Tuesday. For close to four years Hofrichter flew with 311 Bomber Squadron of the RAF. The war hero, who received three Czechoslovak War Crosses and a medal for bravery, was later persecuted by the communist regime and relegated to manual labour until his retirement in 1975. Prime Minister Sobotka and Defense Minister Stropnicky expressed their condolences to his family and friends.
A number of memorial events took place on Sunday across the Czech Republic to mark the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II. The main ceremonies were traditionally held in Prague and in the west Bohemian town of Pilsen, which was liberated by US Army. President Miloš Zeman and prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, along with Cardinal Dominik Duka and other politicans and military officials attended a ceremony at Prague's Vítkov memorial and laid wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Two gripen fighter jets flew over the memorial to mark the national holiday.
Four-day Freedom Celebrations got underway on Thursday in Pilsen to mark the liberation of the city by the US army in 1945. The event started with a reading of the names of Holocaust victims’ in the city centre on the occasion of Yom Ha Shoah, the day of remembrance of Holocaust victims. This year’s celebrations will offer commemorative meetings, military presentations, concerts, exhibitions, as well as meetings with veterans. A Ride of Freedom, including historical Jeeps with war veterans, will cross the town centre on May 7.
A memorial ceremony was held at Czech Radio’s Prague headquarters on Thursday to mark the start of the Prague uprising against years of Nazi oppression at the end of the Second World War. It was a radio broadcast which sparked the rising and the building became the focus for some of the fiercest fighting over the following days in the capital and surrounding countryside.
A new documentary called “Na sever” (“Into the North”) recounts the story of over 300 Jewish teenagers from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, who found refuge in Denmark during the Holocaust thanks to the kindness of hundreds of Danish families. The story was discovered by chance just few years ago by a Czech journalist Judita Matyášová. Now, a Czech Israeli-based filmmaker Nataša Dudinská decided to bring the testimonies of some of these “children” to the screen.