Czech commemoration at site of Nazi massacre tomorrow will not feature xenophobic speaker
On Saturday, 15 June at 10 AM there will be a commemoration of the 77th anniversary of the annihilation of the settlement of Ležáky and the village of Lidice at the Lidice Memorial. A separate commemoration will take place in Ležáky on Sunday, 23 June.
Part of Saturday's commemoration will be the traditional performance by children's choirs, "Light for Lidice", featuring a children's choir from each region of the Czech Republic (14 total). Monika Absolonová is the artistic director of the performance.
The main speech will be given by the chair of the Chamber of Deputies, Radek Vondráček. The entire event is being held under the auspices of the Czech Culture Ministry in collaboration with the local assembly in Lidice and the District Organization of the Czech Freedom Fighters Union (ČSBS).
The Lidice Memorial announced in February that the chair of the ČSBS, Jaroslav Vodička, will not be invited to address either of the commemoration ceremonies. "We decided to take this step because of the appearances made by Mr Vodička, which have long been inappropriate, and because of the controversy surrounding him overall, which we believe is not on accordance with the dignity and gravity of the commemorative ceremonies at Lidice and Ležáky. Mr Vodička is quite likely to be replaced at the Lidice commemoration by Veronika Kellerová, the mayor of the village of Lidice and a member of the ČSBS District Organization in Lidice. At Ležáky there will be no speeches by any ČSBS representatives," reads the memorial's statement.
Vodička's anti-refugee, xenophobic speech in May 2016 at the Terezín commemoration became infamous. In March the Czech Senate also called on its members to stop inviting the ČSBS to speak at its own events associated with remembrance.
The Nazis burned Lidice to the ground on 10 June 1942 at a time when approximately 500 people lived there. The reason was the perceived association of one of its residents with the assassination of acting Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich.
A total of 173 men were shot dead at Lidice, while women from the village were interned at the Ravensbrück concentration camp and all but a few children were murdered by the Nazis in the gas chambers of an extermination camp. A total of 340 local residents died as a result of the massacre.
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