The Czechoslovakian village of Lidice was destroyed by the Nazi Germans on June 10, 1942. Jaroslava Sklenickova was among the few who survived the ordeal. She was only 16 at that time.
The destruction of Lidice was part of the retaliation done by the German troops for the death of the high-ranking Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich who was the assigned Reichsprotektor (Protector) of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia where Czeschoslovakia was part of.
Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated on a mission carried out on behalf of the Czech government on exile in London. The said mission was code-named Operation Anthropoid.
Jaroslava described Heydrich, who was put in charge of her country by Nazi Germany, as a hard and awful man. Operation Anthropoid was carried out successfully as Heydrich died in Prague’s Bulovka Hospital from Sepsis caused by the pieces of upholstery which entered his body when the car bearing him was bombed.
According to Jaroslava, his funeral was set on the 4th of June, 1942. It was during this time that Hitler decided the incident shouldn’t be tolerated with the Czechs doing away unpunished. As the villagers of Lidice were falsely connected to aiding the assassins who killed Heydrich and were suspected of hiding local partisans of the resistance, it was singled out among the many others to be wiped out.
Jaroslava recounted how the Germans came into their house in Lidice on that fateful day – June 10, 1942 – at 3:30 AM. According to her, the soldiers looked normal and just told them to leave everything as they were since they would just be transported to the school and were told that they would stay there for two days.
Unknown to her and other villagers of Lidice, that was the day when their homes were to be destroyed and the whole area flattened out in fire.
The Nazis razed the village of Lidice to the ground. They even brought a cameraman with them from Prague just to film the destruction of Lidice and present the footage to Adolf Hitler.
The men of Lidice – those aged 15 and up and – were rounded up and killed. There were 173 of them. The children were also grouped and were later massacred – all 82 of them – in the gas chambers. The women were taken to the Ravensbuck concentration camp.
Jaroslava had a close brush with death at the moment when the children of Lidice were separated from the women. A Nazi officer had placed her along with the young ones. However, when her birth records were checked revealing that she was already 16, she was sent on with the women into the concentration camp.
Jaroslava spent the three years in the camp hoping that she would be able to see her father again. However, when the war had ended, instead of going home to Lidice to celebrate, she arrived only to mourn. Her father were among the men of Lidice who were executed.
Jaroslava Sklenickova shared her story in BBC’s Witness.