From Lidice to Deir Yassin: the Unbearable Shame of Forgetting

By Vacy Vlazna

The villages, Lidice in former Czechoslovakia and Deir Yassin in Palestine are harrowing examples of ethnic cleansing and collective punishment perpetrated on the innocent by Nazis and Israelis respectively.

Significantly, on moral grounds, they serve to demonstrate that profound human lessons of WWII went tragically unheeded.

The memory of the slaughter of Lidice villagers was pragmatically forgotten when in 1947 the government of  Czechoslovakia, hastily following the money, collaborated in the slaughter of Palestinian villagers in Deir Yassin and 500 other villages that were systematically destroyed under Plan Dalet by the terrorist Stern, Irgun, Lehi and Haganah militia armed by Czechoslovakia. These terrorist groups evolved into the Israeli military which continues its ethnic cleansing of Palestine to this very day through its illegal occupation slavishly supported by the Czech Republic government.

Imperialist Betrayals of Palestine and Czechoslovakia

The Czech betrayal of Palestine is all the more bewildering and unsettling because imperialist Britain and France were major players in similar historical betrayals of Palestine and Czechoslovakia.

Desperate to get Arab support in the war against the Ottomans, Britain agreed to Arab independence in the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, (July 14, 1915 to January 30, 1916). However on 16 May 1916, France and Britain’s Sykes-Picot Agreement secretly carved up the Middle East between them should the Ottomans be defeated. Then on 9 November 1917, the British Balfour Declaration guaranteed a homeland for Jews in Palestine.

These agreements and betrayals arose from the mindless arrogance of imperialism; “that way of looking at a distant foreign reality by subordinating it in one’s gaze, constructing its history from one’s own point of view, seeing its people as subjects whose fate can be decided by what distant administrators think is best for them”. (Edward Said)

In 1938 France and Britain along with Italy and Germany signed the Munich Pact that led to the Nazi annexation and dismembering of Czechoslovakia. The British PM, Neville Chamberlain’s supine appeasement of Hitler with his sacrificial betrayal of Czechoslovakia to avert war…

“However much we may sympathize with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbor, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in war simply on her account.” … failed with far-reaching repercussions:

Munich was also a great diplomatic victory for Hitler. The Western democracies had permitted Hitler to occupy the Rhineland, given Mussolini a free hand in Ethiopia, invoked a non-intervention farce against Loyalist Spain, and had not lifted a finger for Austria. For the first time at Munich, Hitler made them do his dirty work for him. The democracies dismembered their own ally. Handing Czechoslovakia over on a silver platter. (David Sedivy)

On 15 March 1939, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist when it was pronounced the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia under the brutal control of the Butcher of Prague, Deputy Reichsprotektor, Reinhard Heydrich.

Nazis Wipe Lidice off the Map

Despite Nazi occupation, in 1942, Lidice, about 20 kilometers from Prague, with its 503 inhabitants, was a typical Czech village which had existed for hundreds of years quietly flowing with the life cycle of schooling, courtship, marriages, births, anniversaries and funerals. Most of the men worked hard in factories and mines in nearby towns, the women stayed at home with the children. It was a village where the bells rang from the church on Sundays.

Catastrophe struck when two Czech resistance fighters, trained by Britain, ambushed and killed Heydrich. Lidice, falsely linked to the assassination, bore the brunt of Hitler’s command for reprisals. On 10 June, 1942,  173 men over 15 years were shot, Of the 203 woman and 105 children, some were transported to concentration camps and some were later shot. Eichmann ordered the extermination of 81 children who were gassed in Magirus gas vans. Ultimately 340 villagers died and only 153 women and 17 children survived the war. The village was blown up by the SS, bulldozed and wiped off the map.

A few days later the village of Ležáky suffered the same fate. In total 1300 Czechs were killed in the man-hunt and reprisals.

More Betrayals

Three years later, 4-11 February 1945,  at the Yalta Conference (and the later Potsdam and Tehran Conferences) the victorious imperialists, Britain, Russia and the USA, discussed more betrayals for the postwar re-organization of Europe. Czechoslovakia was  annexed into the Eastern Bloc under Russian communist domination.

Five years later  on 27 November 1947, UN  Resolution 181 recommending the partition of Palestine was adopted. Unconscionably, a nation twice betrayed, like a pathetic victim apeing the bully, Czechoslovakia, joined in the betrayal of Palestine and voted for the partition with Britain and France.

Zionists Wipe Deir Yassin off the Map

From 1947, the Butchers of Palestine embarked “on a war of conquest, especially after the arrival of major shipments of modern arms from Czechoslovakia… [500] Arab villages in fact were not only captured, they were literally wiped from the map to make way for Jewish villages in their place. Morris reported: “Brigade and battalion commanders were given permission to raze or empty and mine hostile or potentially hostile Arab villages.” The Israeli officer also described how Zionist radio stations and loudspeakers mounted on armored cars and touring a targeted area would work to induce panic. They suggested to the Arab population that unless they fled, they would catch cholera and typhus, and that even ‘innocent people’ who remained behind would be targeted to pay a heavy price for Palestinian attacks on Jews. The psychological blitz also included loudspeakers mounted on jeeps broadcasting, amid barrel bombs, recorded sounds of horror and shrieks and wails of frightened Arab women occasionally interrupted by “a sepulchral voice calling out in Arabic: ‘Save your souls, all ye faithful! Flee for your lives! The Jews are using poison gas and atomic weapons. Run for your lives in the name of Allah. (Adel Safty; Might Over Right: How the Zionists Took Over Palestine)

Deir Yassin was a typical Palestine village, about 5 kilometres from Jerusalem that had existed for hundreds of years quietly flowing with the life cycle of schooling, courtship, weddings, births, anniversaries and funerals. Most of the men worked hard stone-cutting or in their fields and orchards, the women tended the children. It was a village where the muezzin called the people to prayer from the mosques daily.

In the early hours of Friday April 9, 1948, the Irgun, in collaboration with the Stern Gang and with the knowledge and assistance of the Haganah, raided Deir Yassein as its people slept unsuspectingly. The Jewish gang members cold-bloodedly slaughtered 250 men, women and children, many of whom had been mutilated and raped. David Shipler of the New York Times cited Red Cross documents showing that the Zionist attackers “lined men, women, and children up against the walls and shot them”.

“Whole families”, wrote one Israeli historian, “were riddled with bullets and grenade fragments and buried when houses were blown up on top of them, men, women, and children were mowed down as they emerged from houses; individuals were taken aside and shot. At the end of the battle, groups of old men, women, and children were trucked through West Jerusalem’s streets in a kind of ‘victory parade’ and then dumped in (Arab) East Jerusalem.”When the systematic killing was over, a final body count of 254 was reported by the New York Times on April 13, 1948. The cemetery was later bulldozed and Deir Yassin was wiped off the map.” (Adel Safty; Might Over Right: How the Zionists Took Over Palestine, p189)

Czech Betrayal of Palestine

The Israeli myth, that in the creation of the state of Israel, the Zionists were poor little David overwhelmed by Goliath Arab forces, like all Israeli hasbara is pure fabrication as proven by the massive illegal Czech (and others) arms contribution that violated the international arms embargo against both Jews and Arabs.

To boost the depleted post-war coffers, the Czechs fell over themselves to supply tens of thousands of rifles, machine guns, bayonets, pistols, semi-automatic weapons, 80,400,000 rounds of ammunition, 25 Avia S-199 fighters and 61 Supermarine spitfires. The Czechs also trained Haganah pilots, ground crew specialists as well as a brigade of Jewish volunteers.

Indubitably, Czech bullets were buried in the bodies of Palestinian children, women and men throughout 1947-48 Nakba.

The communist coup of Czechoslovakia in 1948 suspended the special relationship until 1990 and now the Czech Republic government is one of the loudest parroters of Israeli hasbara: in 2009, when it held the presidency of the EU it controversially supported  Israel’s right to defend itself in its disproportionate and brutal 2008/9 war crimes against unarmed Gazan families. The Czechs also absurdly declared that the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla “ was a planned provocation designed to entrap Israel”.

EU governments are bound to EU rules on the defense industry which forbid ‘weapons sales in cases where they may exacerbate regional tensions or where there is a strong likelihood they will be used in violation of human rights. Regardless, after France, the largest exports come from Germany, Britain, Belgium, Poland, Romania’ and, of course, Israel’s Czech mate.

On 30 November 2012, the Czech government, Israel’s BFF, shamefully providing the lone European ‘No’ vote, joined Israel, the United States, Canada, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Panama voting against a motion to grant the Palestinian Authority observer status at the United States as a “non-member state”.

While the Czech government prides itself as Israel’s staunchest ally, the Czech people, who have been the real sufferers of Western betrayals, Nazi and Russian occupation, massacres, human and political rights abuses, know well the aspirations and the agony of the Palestinian soul. The Czech people brought about their  velvet freedom and it is they who can, in the name of a shared humanity and struggle, revolutionize their government’s contemptible Israel apologetics into justice for Palestine.

– Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She came to Australia as a refugee from the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia. She contributed this article to

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  1. Deir Yassin is a Christian Palestinian village. My aunt lived in nearby suburb of Jerusalem and later wbas herself expelled from her home at gunpoint by the Haganah

  2. Arabs did not accept the partition plan for Palestine and threatened to wipe out jews from their territory. That means , arabs prefered the logic of war over peace and this fact has consequences

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