published: 10.10.2012, 17:53 | updated: 10.10.2012 18:23:47
Lidice - President Joachim Gauck today visited the Czech village of Lidice that was razed to the ground by the Nazi regime in 1942, as the first German head of state.
Gauck was accompanied by his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus.
Gauck thus wanted to pay respects to the victims of the Lidice massacre.
Lidice, central Bohemia, was obliterated on June 10. In Lidice, all 173 men were executed, women and children were sent to concentration camps, while some of the children were selected for re-education in Germany. After the war, only 143 women and 17 children returned to the country.
The village was razed to the ground in retaliation for the killing of Deputy Reich-Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovak paratroopers in May 1942.
Gauck is for the first time in the Czech Republic in his capacity as German president. He said this afternoon he had mainly come in order to visit Lidice, while he would not like to open other historical themes.
"I do not want to speak about other things here. With my visit to Lidice, I would like to voice my respects to the victims," Gauck said.
In June, Gauck sent a letter to Klaus on the 70th anniversary of the destruction of the Czech villages of Lidice and Lezaky, east Bohemia, by the Nazis.
In his response to Gauck, Klaus wrote that he considered the letter a strong statement about the tragic period of occupation and the crimes of Nazism, and that the letter was a positive gesture towards the Czech Republic.
The survivors of the massacre have also reacted positively to Gauck's letter, Lidice Mayor Veronika Kellerova said, adding that she considered it beautiful and humane.
Out of German senior officials, former chancellor Helmut Kohl went to Lidice in 1988. Last year, Lidice was visited by Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer and two years ago, by supreme representative of Sudeten Germans Bernd Posselt.
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