Czech President honors anniversary of Nazi destruction of Ležáky

Petr Pavel noted the need for historical remembrance during a ceremony at the Ležáky Memorial on the 82nd anniversary of the destruction of the village.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 23.06.2024 15:12:00 (updated on 23.06.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech President Petr Pavel emphasized the importance of historical remembrance during a ceremony in Miřetice, East Bohemia, marking 82 years since the Nazi obliteration of the Ležáky village. He stressed the need for Czechs to remember their history, including the resistance fighters of World War II.

According to Pavel, there has been a recent imbalance in attention between the Lidice Memorial and the Ležáky Memorial. Lidice, a village near Prague with around 500 inhabitants, was destroyed on June 10, 1942, in retaliation for the assassination of high-ranking Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovak paratroopers trained in the UK.

Ležáky, a smaller settlement with 53 residents, met a similar fate two weeks later on June 24, 1942, in response to Heydrich's assassination. The resistance group Cenda operated in Ležáky, where the Gestapo discovered an illegal transmitter used to communicate with foreign anti-Nazi fighters.

On that fateful day, Nazis executed 33 adults from Ležáky and razed the village. An additional five people from Ležáky, along with over 40 others connected to the paratroopers, were killed in subsequent days. Eleven children were sent to the gas chambers at the Chelmno extermination camp on July 25.

Only sisters Marie and Jarmila Stulík survived the obliteration of Ležáky; they were sent to Germany for re-education at the ages one and two and a half, respectively. Today, granite gravestones with carved crosses mark the site of Ležáky's former nine houses, now a national cultural memorial.

"As far as Lidice and Ležáky are concerned, in recent years more attention has been paid to Lidice, while Ležáky has been in the background," Pavel said during today's commemorative event.

"The fact that the activities of the Silver A, Silver B and Anthropoid groups [of wartime Czechoslovak paratroopers] are intertwined here should be known to everyone, it is the most famous part of the World War II resistance."

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Financial constraints have affected both memorials; the Lidice Memorial near Kladno, in Central Bohemia, and the Ležáky Memorial near Chrudim, East Bohemia, have both cancelled events this year due to budget limitations.

"I think that if we want to pay some kind of dignified tribute to these places, it would be nice if sufficient money could be spent on them," Pavel added.  

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