“Woe, woe, woe, thrice woe to the Germans, we will liquidate you!” – Edvard Benes, President of Czechoslovakia
The Prussian village of Metgethen October 1944
“Kill them all, men, old men, children and the women, after you have amused yourself with them!” – Ilya Ehrenberg
German occupation of Czechoslovakia was far from benign. Alfred de Zayas estimates that between 75,000 and 250,000 Czechs perished during the Nazi occupation. 4 However, R.M. Douglas points out that Czech munitions workers received higher rations than their German counterparts 5 and “real income rose around 20 percent for working class men, and almost 30 percent for women, between 1939 and 1945” 6 Giles MacDonogh claimed, “Nazi brutality was measured: apart from the massacre at Lidice . . .there were no startling atrocities.” 1 This must be measured against the barbaric reprisals inflicted on the Czechs in response to acts of sabotage. In retaliation for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Reich Protector, the village of Lidice was destroyed. 184 of the men over 15 years of age were executed and 184 women and 88 children were sent to concentration camps. Of these only 153 women and 17 children returned after the war. This does not necessarily mean the missing women and children were killed, only that they were the only ones to return. The Nazi massacre at Lidice is well known. It is even the subject of a movie. 2
The Lidice massacre can be contrasted with an incident at Hori Modtenice. On June 18–19, 1945 Slovakian soldiers removed 71 German men, 120 women and 74 children from a train and made them dig their own graves. They did not transport the women and children to camps. Like the men they were shot in the back of the head. 3
4 de Zayas, Nemesis at Potsdam, p. 35.
5 R. M. Douglas, Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War, p. 22.
6 Ibid., p. 259.
1 Giles MacDonogh, After the Reich, p. 130.
3 R. M. Douglas, Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War, p. 96.