Despite all the efforts made, the Nazi security apparatus‘ search for the assassins was not successful.

The first whiff of death

The Nazis offered a reward of 10 million crowns for information leading to the capture of the assassins.

It was not until the sixth day after the assassination, Wednesday, June 3rd, 1942, that the situation changed from their point of view. A letter arrived at the Palaba factory in Slany addressed to the worker Anna Maruščáková.

The text of the fateful letter

The letter seemed suspicious to the factory owner, so he alerted the security forces. On the same day, Anna Maruščáková was arrested in Holousy, followed by Václav Říha from Vrapice, the author of the letter a day later. He tried to impress Maruščáková by giving her the impression of being involved in resistance activities, later using the same lie to end their relationship.

Unfortunately, it was Maruščáková who testified during the interrogation that Říha had asked her to deliver greetings from Josef Horák in Lidice. The Gestapo subsequently discovered at the gendarmerie station in Buštěhrad that Josef Horák and Josef Stříbrný had indeed come from Lidice, both former officers who had been missing since December 1939 and were probably members of the Czechoslovak foreign army. In order to keep the whole operation strictly secret, all the members of the Buštěhrad gendarmerie station were interned.

Josef Stříbrný and Josef Horák

At daybreak on June 4th, 1942, a search was conducted throughout Lidice. It was especially thorough in the families of the missing officers, otherwise it was only informative, as Miloslava Suchánková’s recollection proves. „On the morning of that day nobody from Lidice could go to work, and we received an apology for the employers from the municipal office, signed by the mayor František Hejma.“

When the Kladno Gestapo had finished interrogating the men from Čabárna, Anna Maruščáková and Václav Říha, Thomsen and Felkl proceeded to interrogate members of the Horák and Stříbrný families. However, even with the use of brutal violence, they learned nothing except that Josef Horák and Josef Stříbrný had gone into hiding in 1939 and had neither returned nor reported since. Harald Wiesmann explicitly stated after the war: "The result of the entire investigation remained negative." Thus, although it turned out shortly afterwards to be a false trail, this fact decided the fate of Lidice.

Lidice. An ancient Czech village dominated by the church of St. Martin. On the morning of June 10, 1942, it had 483 inhabitants.

The longest night

On the morning of Thursday, 4th June 1942, while Lidice was undergoing an extensive search, Reinhard Heydrich died in Prague as a result of an assassination attempt. On the following two days, 5th and 6th June, the Gestapo in Kladno drew up a report on the progress of the investigation at Lidice, which was sent to the Gestapo in Prague on June 6th, 1942. It stated that the result of all the investigations at Čabárna remained negative, and that in the case of the members of the Horák and Střbrný families, although there was a suspicion that the sons of both families might be members of the Czechoslovak army abroad, but no material could be obtained to confirm his suspicion.

The front page of a newspaper announcing the death of Reinhard Heydrych

In the meantime, Heydrich’s coffin was taken from the
Bulovka Hospital to Prague Castle, where a funeral
service was held on 7th June 1942, at which the
Protector’s successor, Kurt Daluege, spoke.

From there, Heydrich’s remains were transported to Berlin, where he was buried on 9th June 1942, the
in the presence of Adolf Hitler and the entire Nazi
It was the most pompous funeral in the history of the
Third Reich. The speeches over Heydrich’s coffin had not
yet been heard when it was decided to bring a bloody
end to Lidice „to atone for his death“. None of its
inhabitants on that Tuesday evening had any idea that
their fate had begun to be tragically fulfilled.

Funeral in Berlin attended by Nazi leaders

K. H. Frank

At 19:45, K. H. Frank to Prague that the Führer had
ordered the following measures to be taken in Lidice:
1. to shoot all adult males.
2. all women to be transported to a concentration camp
for life
3. the children who could be Germanized to be rounded
up and given to SS families in the Reich, the rest to be
brought up in other ways
4. the village to be burned and razed to the ground

Horst Böhme immediately set about implementing the measures ordered. Within hours the village was hermetically sealed. Those who wanted to enter Lidice were allowed to do so. However, no one was allowed out.

Horst Böhme

Geschke, Böhme, Wiesmann and Gendarmerie Lieutenant Colonel Vit had been arriving at the scene since 9:00 p.m. They set up their headquarters in house No. 93 of the Dolezal family, who were the first to be evicted from their home.

The mayor of Lidice, František Hejma, was brought to the
Doležal family house, who had to present to the Gestapo
the police registration forms of all the inhabitants and
the entire property of the village and the campsite.
When the meeting with the mayor was finished after
midnight, all the members of the Gestapo, security
services and protective police were assembled, joined by
members of the Wehrmacht. Horst Böhme addressed
the assembled.

In the meantime, Dr. Geschke and Harald Wiesmann appointed members of the Gestapo for individual tasks in carrying out the liquidation of the village. Wiesmann's deputy, Thomsen, together with Felkl, Forster and Pallasser, were assigned to the Horák farm, where all men aged 16 and over should be taken. Skalak, Faber and Petrat were sent to the local school, where they should to round up the women and children and take away their money and all valuables. Bürger was assigned to the economic manager Henz and with the manager of the state farm in Buštěhrad, Otto, they were to evacuate the living and dead inventory. The other members of the Gestapo were allocated to individual groups of the protective police with the task to search a certain part of the village. Gestapo member Vlček was in charge of the truck on which the fuel was loaded.

These were later distributed around the village to
individual houses that were believed to be, would burn
badly. When these groups were formed, Horst Böhme
issued an order entrusting Wiesmann with directing
further actions in Lidice. Everyone had to obey his orders
unconditionally. The Nazi leader Henze was also
summoned from Kladno, the so-called chief of staff at
the office of the Supreme Provincial Council, to be
present as an expert advisor for the evacuation of
livestock and all inventory.

Böhme asked Henze how long it would take to evacuate
the village. When he said, that it would take about 14
days, Böhme laughed in his face and immediately
ordered that all farm equipment, livestock and supplies
must be evacuated within a few hours.

A few hours after midnight on 10th June 1942, the actual action began. The various groups went house to house, waking up the citizens of Lidice and forcing them to dress as soon as possible, to take a blanket and all their valuable belongings with them, and to be ready to leave. Shortly thereafter, one of the groups would take the men to Horák's farm. In order to establish an accurate record of the men, Felkl brought a file of police applications from the municipal office. He made notes on each sheet so that he could keep track, who had already been brought in and who was still missing.

Lidická škola

Skalak, Faber, and Petrat took valuable items from the school at the entrance to the large classroom for the incoming women. Other groups of Gestapo and police officers carried out the evacuation and, after the Lidice men, women and children had left, searched the houses and took out valuable objects. Soon blankets, bed linen, radios, sewing machines, etc. were lying in the streets. Henze's group loaded the wagons with supplies of flour, grain and small livestock; everything was taken to the field barn north of from Lidice towards Buštěhrad. The rest of the inventory was taken directly to the state farm in Buštěhrad; all cattle, horses, wagons and agricultural machinery were also taken there.
After the evacuation of the women and children, members of the protective police unit from Halle an der Saale were called to the church square, where the commanding officer made the selection of men for the firing squad. Then they went to the garden of the Horák farmhouse, where they carried straws and mattresses from the surrounding houses and straightened them against the barn wall so that the bullets could not bounce off the wall.
At about seven o'clock in the morning the first five men were brought into the garden and lined up against the wall facing the twenty-man firing squad, about half a meter apart. Each of the Lidice men was shot with two shots in the chest and one in the head. After this volley, a non-commissioned officer approached the men who had been shot and shot each of them once more in the head.
Throughout the execution, Horst Böhme and his aide, the head of the Prague Gestapo, Dr. Hans Ulrich Geschke, as well as other Gestapo officials and members of the protective police, were present at the scene. The officer in charge of the firing squad always gave orders to prepare to fire and then looked back at Böhme, who merely nodded his head, and at this nod the officer brought down his rifle and a volley of rifles thundered.
Shortly after the first executions began, Horst Böhme became angry that everything was going too slowly and ordered the firing squad to be reinforced so that ten Lidice men could be killed at a time. The dead were left as they fell, and the other men who were brought to the execution ground had to stand in front of them. The firing squad always withdrew a few steps and the horrible spectacle was repeated again, with the only difference that the commanding officer no longer waited for Böhme's instruction and gave the command to fire independently. As Harald Wiesmann reported after the war, none of the men were brought in handcuffed or blindfolded.
Documents of murdered Lidice men
"The Lidice men walked freely, uprightly and bravely, there were no weak scenes. The sentence was not read to them, they were shot without justification of the execution."
By noon the executions were over. 173 bodies remained lying in the garden of Horák's farm. Side by side lay metallurgists, miners, students, apprentices, workers, owners of large estates and small peasants, innkeepers, butchers, shopkeepers, blacksmiths, masons, drivers, but also a miller, waiter, farm manager, storekeeper, chef, hairdresser, churchwarden, village constable, tailor, shoemaker, train driver, gravedigger, teacher, editor, construction manager, an old parson and two war invalids. The oldest of them was eighty-four-year-old Emanuel Kovařovský, who raised seven children. The youngest, Josef Hronik, was less than fifteen years old.
While the executions were taking place in Horák's garden, the Nazis began pouring petrol and kerosene on the houses in the direction of Makotřas and setting them on fire. The arsonists advanced from all sides into the centre of the village. Shortly before noon, Karl Hermann Frank arrived in Lidice for an inspection. He inspected the execution site, walked through Lidice and left for Prague.
In the southern part of the village, which was already in flames, nothing could be done at the moment and the northern part could not yet be set on fire because the evacuation was still underway. During the break, food and beer found in the houses was served. In the afternoon, a thorough evacuation of the northern part of the village took place, from where almost all tools and consumable items were removed. Around four o'clock the evacuation was completed and the buildings burned. The last houses in Lidice caught fire in the evening.
Remainings of Lidice houses
On Thursday, 11th June 1942, Siegfried Seidl, the commander of the Terezín ghetto, and Heinrich Jöckel, the commander of the Small Fortress, brought a group of thirty Jews to Lidice to dig a mass grave for the executed men of Lidice.
In the Kladno school
From Lidice, the women and their children were transported to Kladno, where the Nazis imprisoned them in the gym of the local Gymnasium.
Here the women of Lidice spent their last three days together on the bare ground, covered with straw and two nights of fearful anticipation of the things to come. The presence of several Gestapo officers, who paid great attention to the Lidice children, did not bode well. They called them and their mothers into the next classroom, where they took down their nationalities and family backgrounds, and found out if anyone in the family had been of German nationality in previous generations. They took a detailed interest in the illnesses they had suffered, found out the colour of the children's eyes and hair, and measured their skulls.
In the end, they selected only three Lidice children capable of Germanization. Six-year-old Dagmar Veselá, three-year-old Václav Zelenka and two-year-old Hanička Špotová. On Friday evening, 12 June 1942, one of the most shocking scenes of the Lidice tragedy took place in the gymnasium of the Kladno secondary school. The removal of children from their mothers.
A jméno obce bylo vymazáno…
Horst Böhme was arguing with Geschke, the head of the Prague Gestapo, in the Lidice village square about whether the church dome would collapse in a fire set by SD officers. When it did, he said with satisfaction, "My men are trained for this." This whole systematic destruction of Lidice was filmed and directed on the spot by the NSDAP’s expert advisor on film matters, Franz Treml, at the command of K. H. Frank.
He filmed in Lidice on 10th and 24th June 1942, together with Miroslav Wagner, using a pair of 16 mm Zeiss-Ikon Movikon 16 cameras. Accompanied by other members of the Gestapo, the visibly good-humoured and laughing head of the Kladno Gestapo, Harald Wiesmann, walks through the ruins of the burnt village.
In addition to Treml's and Wagner's cameras, the 35 mm camera of the Czech audio weekly Aktualita filmed in Lidice on 24th June 1942. The Germans initially counted to include a sequence about the destruction of Lidice in the official newsreel. In view of the international acclaim of the Lidice massacre, however, this never happened. At the time of the film about the destruction of Lidice, the Nazis certainly did not realize that they were creating a unique documentary that would one day become not only a horrific indictment of Nazism, but also indisputable proof of their crimes, and as such would be screened both before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and in 1946 at the trial of K. H. Frank in Prague.
After the burning of the village, the destruction of Lidice continued with heavy bombs until the afternoon of 1st July 1942. House after house and homestead after homestead were gradually transformed into piles of rubble, with deafening explosions audible in the wide surroundings. In addition to the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) and the Waffen-SS, the pioneer company "Morigl" of reserve engineer battalion 14 from Weissenfels also participated.
It is to its credit that the largest number of destroyed buildings is attributed: eighty-nine (RAD thirty-one, Waffen-SS thirteen). The largest volume of work related to the levelling of the village was, however, entrusted to the Reich Labor Service (RAD), whose troops arrived in Lidice as early as 11th June 1942.
In the first report of the head of the RAD, Alexander Commichau, on the progress of the work up to 3th July 1942, addressed to K. H. Frank, it is stated that during this period about one hundred RAD members worked daily on the liquidation of the village. They worked a total of 20,000 hours and discovered, among other things, cash amounting to 14,000 marks in the ruins of the destroyed buildings.
After the murder of the living and the destruction of their dwellings, the Nazis in Lidice concentrated on the dead. Even the majesty of death and the general human respect for the dead did not stop them. They barbarically destroyed the Lidice cemetery. They gradually looted sixty tombs, one hundred and forty large family graves and two hundred individual graves. All this was supposed to have an "educational effect" on the members of the RAD.
On the Kobylian execution ground
The tragedy of Lidice had its sad continuation on 16 June 1942, when twenty-six more of its inhabitants were executed in the evening hours at the shooting range in Prague – Kobylisy. Fifteen members of the Horák and Stříbrný families (brothers Bohumil, Josef, Stanislav and Štěpán Horák with their wives and children, the widow of František Horák with her son Václav, Bohumil Horák's son-in-law Václav Kohlíček and Maria Stříbrná with her son František) were arrested in Lidice as early as 4 June 1942 and seven workers (František Černý, Karel Hroník, Josef Kácl, Václav Kadlec, Václav Kopáček, Jaroslav Müller and Josef Petrák) who were on the night shift on the fateful 10 June 1942. Together with them, František Pitín stood before the firing squad who had originally managed to escape, but was caught by the Gestapo on the basis of a tip-off from the forest manipulator Josef Černý, Bohumil Pospíšil, who was brought here even with a plaster bandage on his leg from the Kladno hospital, and two recently 15-year-old boys Josef Doležal and Josef Nerad.

Kobylsy shooting range

Josef  Doležal

Josef Nerad