Most people hearing the term „Lidice man“ think about the Lidice martyrs who were murdered by the Nazis in June 1942. However, only a handful of insiders know that several men from Lidice fought for the independence and liberation of our homeland during both the First and Second World War.

Already during the first one, six of them joined the ranks of the Czechoslovak Legion and fought for our liberation and independence. The men of Lidice did not hesitate even during the Second World War. Josef Horák and Josef Stříbrný joined the fight against the hated Nazis as members of the British Royal Air Force, and a native of Lidice, Karel Radvanovský, served in a Czechoslovak military unit in the Middle East and Africa.


In bloody battles with multiple enemy superior numbers, the Legion regiments controlled the entire Siberian Main Line, preventing the movement of German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war from Russia to the Western Front.

Czechoslovak armored train „Orlik“ during patrolling activity on the Siberian Main Line. Its commander, Captain Václav Šára, would be executed by the Nazis as a brigadier general on October 1, 1941 in the riding hall of the Ruzyně barracks in Prague.

Armoured train „Orlik“

Czech soldiers fought in the ranks of the Austro-Hungarian army in the west and in the east. What kind of soldiers were they? How were the Czechoslovak Legions formed to oppose the Imperial armies? Were there clashes where Czechs fought against Czechs?

Personal card of legionary Josef Šebek from Lidice, member of the 1st company of the 7th Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment „Tatranský“.

Typical winter clothing of Czechoslovak legionaries.

The Czechoslovaks did not have to resist only the cruel enemy in Siberia. They also had to endure the extreme climatic conditions there, as evidenced by the photograph of a pair of Czechoslovak guards on duty in 40-degree frost.

Josef Šroubek (1894-1942) farmed in Lidice on farm No. 3. During the First World War he was a member of the 1st Czechoslovak Cavalry Regiment in Russia.
„Jan Jiskra from Brandýs“.

He also died on 10th June 1942 under the shots of a firing squad. Neither his wife Marie, murdered in Ravensbrück, nor his children Maruška and Josef, gassed in Chelmno, survive the war.

The longed-for return home turned into a bloody pilgrimage around the world.

Thousands of our legionnaires did not live to return to their free homeland. They fell far from home and their remains lay in a foreign land. Some of them found their final resting place in Vladivostok. In Lidice, too, they erected a monument to their fallen. The inscription on it proclaimed to those passing by:

Port of Vladivostok.

„To those who ensured your happiness by sacrificing their lives for the freedom of their homeland“.

After years of fighting and hardship in Russia, the Czechoslovak Legion finally left Vladivostok. But their suffering and high sacrifices were not in vain. It was thanks to the legionaries and their military successes that the Allied Powers granted the Czechoslovaks the right to an independent state.

In the south of Europe

The narrower committee of the Czechoslovak Volunteer Corps in Padula.

In addition to Russia and France, Czechoslovak volunteer units were formed in Italy, where 20,000 patriots passed through them. Among them was Antonín Spal from Lidice. The picture shows a smaller committee of the Czechoslovak Volunteer Corps in Padula. In the middle sits its founder, rifleman Jan Čapek, who, like Antonín Spal of Lidice, was a member of the 33rd Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment.

Lidice metallurgist Antonín Spal (1898-1942) defected to the Italians at the front and joined the Czechoslovak Legion. He was assigned to the 33rd Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment, with which he took part in the battles of Santa Dona di Piave and Doss Alto.

He too will be among the 173 Lidice men executed on 10th June 1942. Only his wife Anna will survive the war. Her 13-year-old son Miloslav will be murdered in Chelmno along with 81 other Lidice children.

Czechoslovak legionnaires at the observation post above the Adige valley near Roverett.

Members of the Czechoslovak legions after withdrawing to the second line on Monte Baldo.

Especially on the Italian front, the Czechoslovak legionnaires were threatened with death if captured. As alleged traitors (from the point of view of the Austrians) they were executed without mercy. The picture shows a trio of Czechoslovaks hanged in Piavone near Oderzo on 16 June 1918.

In Italy, our legionnaires died in the trenches and on the scaffold.

On Monday, October 28, 1918, the Czechoslovak Republic was established. The arrival of the new head of state, President T. G. Masaryk, who arrived in Prague on 21 December 1918, was an extraordinary event for all the inhabitants of the capital. His car was accompanied by legionnaires, falcons and members of the home army during its journey through the streets of the city.

Praha 21.12.1918

In the first weeks of its existence, the security of the borders of the new republic lay with the home army, but soon legionnaires from France and Italy were also involved.

The most extensive combat actions took place in Slovakia in 1918-1919. Of course, members of the 33rd Czechoslovak Rifle Regiment of the Italian Legions, including Antonín Spal from Lidice, also took part in them.

Pictured are members of the regiment in 1919 in Bratislava.

Although the shots of the Great War had died down, the last struggle had to be fought for Czechoslovakia.