The Butcher of Prague

This evening I watched a European film on Amazon Prime. More specifically, it was a Czech film from 2011 named Lidice, though it was released in America with the title ‘The Butcher of Prague’. If you know World War II history well then I don’t need to remind you that the Butcher of Prague was the nickname of Nazi SS henchman Reinhard Heydrich.

After Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia, Heydrich was posted to Prague as the Nazi lord of the Czechs, Slovaks, Moravians, and others. Heydrich ruled with notoriously bloody hands until he was assassinated near Prague by the resistance in 1942. To avenge their fallen thug Heydrich, the Nazis swarmed into a small village near Prague named Lidice and killed all the town’s men, sent the women to concentration camps, shipped many of the children to Germany to be raised as Germans, stole all property and livestock that they felt was worth keeping for themselves, and finally burned and destroyed every building in the town. This became known to history as the Lidice Massacre.

The film Lidice tells the tale of the massacre through the lives of several people. The leading character is a man from Lidice who, before the war begins, accidentally stabs and kills his own son with a wedding cake knife during a fight at the wedding. As a result, he is sentenced to 4 years in a Czech jail. While he is in jail, he is largely ignorant of the struggles that his town’s people endure with the German occupation. When he’s released from prison after serving his 4 years, he returns to Lidice to find no buildings standing and no people in sight.

When a movie focuses on this much misery, it is not quite accurate to claim that you enjoyed the film. The tale is sad and depressing, and it makes you angry too, but it was very well done. If you watch it on Amazon Prime, turn on the subtitles right away if you’re not fluent in Czech and German.