Haunting Sculpture Honors 82 Kids That Were Handed Over To The Nazis And Murdered
This sculpture honors a group of 82 kids (42 girls and 40 boys) who were gassed at Chelmno.
World War II was one of the most horrific conflicts in history, with a number of 50 - to 85 million people being killed. Cruel massacres and atrocities were carried out both by the Soviets and Nazis. Millions of people lost their lives due to this war that only served the upper class, and not the people who fought it. Among the most atrocious acts done by the Nazis was the wiping out of the Lidice village, in former Czechoslovakia.
To commemorate the kids who were killed in 1942 by the Nazis, Marie Uchytilova made a bronze sculpture in Lidice, Czech Republic. The sculpture honors a group of 82 kids (42 girls and 40 boys) who were gassed at Chelmno. There, during WWII, the Nazis built an extermination camp, set up specifically to carry out ethnic cleansing through mass killings.
In June 1942, the Nazis had killed almost everyone living in Lidice, as a reprisal for the assassination of Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, the Reichsprotektor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. They destroyed the entire village. The men were killed and the women and kids were separated and sent to concentration camps.
After the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler immediately ordered mass killings in Czechoslovakia. He demanded severe punishments against any village which had protected the assassins. All the men in the village would be killed and all women would be taken to concentration camps. The kids that looked Aryan would be \"Germanized\", and the remaining ones murdered. Nazis particularly targeted Lidice because one local family had a son in the Czech army in England.
173 adult men were killed in Lidice, on June 10th, 1942. 184 women and 88 kids were taken away. The children were dumped in an abandoned factory in Lodz, Poland, and some were chosen to be Germanized. The remaining 82 kids were sent to the Chelmno extermination camp to be gassed.
Decades later, the 82 kids inhabit the village forever, as haunting bronze statues.
Marie Uchytilova-Kucova was a Czech sculptor and an academic sculptor professor. She was born in 1924 and was moved by the awful crimes committed in Lidice. In 1969, she decided to commemorate the victims, by creating a bronze monument.
It took 20 years to create the 82 statues that are all above life-size height. While she was working on the statues, many people visited her and collected money for the monument. In March 1989, Marie finished the sculptures in plaster, but she never saw the money that was collected. The artist cast the first three statues in bronze by using her own savings, and the same year she unexpectedly died, living her project unfinished.
After Marie's death, her husband J.V. Hampl continued the work on his own. In 1995, 30 kids in bronze were finally 'returned' to their mothers in Lidice. More statues were installed from 1996, with the last one being uncovered in 2000. Now, 42 girls and 40 boys who were murdered in 1942 are overlooking the valley.