For more than three-quarters of a century, the story of Lidice has stood as haunting testimony of Czech suffering and victimhood at the hands of cruel Nazi occupiers.
The village, 16 miles from Prague, was razed to the ground, its adult male population murdered and its women and children transported to concentration camps–where the majority died–after Adolf Hitler singled it out in retribution for the assassination in 1942 of Reinhard Heydrich, deputy leader of the SS, by British-trained Czech and Slovak resistance fighters.
Now a political row has erupted over the atrocity after information emerged that a Jewish woman who had been secretly living there during the war was arrested–allegedly after being denounced by a neighbour – shortly before it was targeted for reprisal. She died in the Holocaust.
The disclosure, by a Czech historian, Vojtěch Kyncl, has cast a shadow over the village’s status as symbol of national martyrdom–a status cultivated first by the communist regime that ran Czechoslovakia until the 1989 “Velvet Revolution” and then by its democratic successors.