The history of The war children’s victims monument

Lidice children

The destiny of Lidice children is the saddest part of the Lidice tragedy. The children were separated from their mothers in the gymnasium of the Grammar school in Kladno. The children were moved by train to Lodz where they had lived for 3 weeks in a collection camp.

The youngest child was only 1 year and six days old the oldest boys were under the age of 15, girls were under the age of 16. On June 2 their destiny was decided. Few children had secretly received correspondence lists so that they could write to their relatives. Afterwards there was a command for their movement to the extermination camp in Chelmn.

The victims were taken to a castle and were told that they would continue their journey. They had to undress; they only could keep underwear, a towel and a soap so that they could take a shower before the journey. Afterwards they were taken to a truck that was specifically modified for 80-90 people, where they were killed by exhaust gas in 8 minutes. This is where the trace of Lidice children ends.

From 105 of Lidice children only 17 survived. 9 were adopted by German families, 7 youngest children under the age of 1 were placed into a German children shelter in Prague. One boy died in the shelter. After the tragedy in Lidice 7 children was born to the mothers however only two survived. One boy was born in the concentration camp but was killed right after the birth.

On June 10 at the day of the first memorial meeting, straight after the ceremony, one of the Lidice women, Anna Hroníková asked the whole nation for one thing: „ Please, help us find our children“.
There was nothing known about their destiny.

With a help of Mrs. Hana Benešová a group of two police members and two Lidice mothers went to search for the children’s trace. The investigation ended in May 1947 when the last child Václav Zelenka was found.

Out of the 105 children    82 died in Chelmn
6 died in the infantile home
17 returned back home

The children’s war victims monument

An academic sculptor professor Marie Uchytilová was deeply touched by the tragedy of the crime in Lidice. In 1969 she decided to create bronze monument of Lidice children that should be also understood as “A Monument of children’s war victims”.

To create eighty-two statues of children in an above-life-size height took her two decades. The atelier where the monument was created was meanwhile visited by tens of thousands of people from the whole world. They started collecting money spontaneously so that the monument could be realized as it already touched everyone who had seen it.

In March 1989 the author finished her art work in plaster however she never saw any money from the collected donations. Therefore she cast in bronze the first three statues from her own savings. Unfortunately in autumn 1989 she unexpectedly died. She could only see her whole life work placed in Lidice in her imagination.

Her husband J.V.Hampl continued in the work since 1990 on his own. In spring 1995 there was a concrete rest cased by marble blocks made on the marked place. Afterwards the moment that was awaited for long time came. 30 children in bronze shape returns to their mothers in Lidice.

Since summer 1996 more statues were installed with a different time in between each installation. The last seven were uncovered in 2000. Currently there are 42 girls and 40 boys murdered in 1942 looking at the valley.

The academic sculptor Marie Uchytilová
17.1. 1924 – 16.11. 1989

She spent her childhood and the student years in Pilsner where she studied sculpture by the professor Otakar Walter. In 1945-1950 she used to visit the Art Academy in Prague where she studied by professor Otakar Španiel (subject medal-sculpture). Afterwards she became a professor of sculpture at a special school of arts in Prague.

She created a large number of plastics, portraits and medals. She created a statue of Barunka for Česká Skalice and her one crown coin motive of a woman planting a basswood offspring used to be our currency used for the longest time. Since 1969 she continuously worked on the “Monument of children’s war victims” the first one of its kind in the world.

She died unexpectedly of a heart attack the evening before November 17 1989.

A huge appreciation belongs to everyone who supported the idea of Marie Uchytilová and Jiří V. Hampl both morally and financially.

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