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Commemoration of 75th Anniversary of the Lidice Tragedy in Crest Hill

Commemoration of the 75 th Anniversary of the Lidice tragedy took place traditionally at the Lidice Memorial Park in Crest Hill on June 10, 2017. We offer you the address presented by Consul General of the Czech Republic in Chicago, Bořek Lizec. Many thanks to everyone who made the event possible and also to those who came to honor the memory of the victims.

Vážené dámy, vážení pánové,

Dear Representatives of Illinois, State Senator Pat McGuire, State Representative Larry Walsh, State

Representative Natalie Manley,

dear Representatives of Crest Hill, Mayor Raymond Soliman, Alderman Tina Oberlin,

dear Father Dušan Hladík,

dear Czech-Americans, Czechoslovak American Congress President John Pritasil, Ms. Jerri Zbiral,

dear friends of the Czech Republic,

Next year we will celebrate 100 years since the creation of Czechoslovakia, 100 years of the duration of the modern Czech Statehood.

The Assassination of Reinhard Heidrich and the highest price that so many Czech people had to pay in Lidice and other parts of my country is an important – essential part of the story of the Czech century. Without it I would not be able to stand here today as a representative of the sovereign and free Czech nation.

The successful assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the most powerful and also the most dangerous men of Nazi Germany, was one of the most important acts of antifascist resistance on the all European scale. It showed to the world that our nation had not given up and that we were able to resist the occupation. Thousands of people who became innocent victims of the inhuman vengeance – including the men, women and children of Lidice – were part of the price paid for our freedom.

Chicago played a great role during the journey towards the re-creation of Czechoslovakia after the World War II. After the Munich Agreement, which began Czechoslovakia’s dismemberment, the country’s second President Edvard Beneš resigned and left for exile. He accepted the offer to serve as professor of sociology at the University of Chicago under the auspices of the Charles R. Walgreen Foundation. On March 16, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded the rest of the territory of the Czech lands and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. On that same day, here in Chicago, Edvard Beneš decided to act again as Czechoslovak President and founded the first provisional political center of Czechoslovak resistance called “Foreign Action”. From here he ordered my predecessors – Czechoslovak diplomats all over the world, not to surrender the Embassies and Consulates General to Germany. President’s salary at the University of Chicago and contributions from Czech and Slovak Americans were the source of the financing of the campaign.

I say this with a tremendous gratitude to Czech and Slovak Americans who have helped us on so many occasions – not only financially, but also by fighting for our liberation in the wars. Thank you!

Soon in 1939, President Beneš was very warmly received by President Roosevelt who greeted him as president and added that for him the Munich agreement does not exist. “We helped you once before and we will help you also the second time,” said President Roosevelt and so the United States did. This leads to my second thank you – thank you to the United States of America which stood by us not only when the Czechoslovakia was being created and later rescued from Nazism, but also many other times, including when we needed to be anchored in Western European structures starting with NATO. We can see today how important this was when faced with the growing instability in the world.

President Beneš returned to Chicago in 1943, one year after the Lidice tragedy and honored the victims of Lidice by laying a wreath at this monument in Crest Hill. This also makes it a very special privilege for me to stand here today. Here is my third thank you at the end of my address. I would like to thank so much to those who continue to take care of the monument, including the representatives of Crest Hill, those who help to organize these annual commemorations, including the teachers of the Chicago Czech schools Irena Čajková, Klára Moldová and Pavlína Reichlová and their pupils, singers of United Moravian Societies and Moravian Cultural Society and members of Sokol Tábor and all of you who came today.

Thank you for keeping alive the legacy of the victims of Lidice and the parachutists who bravely gave up their lives. Thank you for honoring their memory.

Děkuji Vám!


More photographs are available at the official facebook page of the Consul General: