The visit to Lidice caused me to do some additional research to write my post (that post had gotten quite involved before I decided to scale it way back and have readers, if interested, look at two linked sources). In that research I found that
It wasn't until after I posted about Lidice that I found a succinct description of what happened and why. From the web site http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/holocaust/h-lidice.htm:
On May 27, 1942, SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, had been attacked in Prague by Free Czech agents who were trained in England and brought to Czechoslovakia to assassinate him. They shot at Heydrich as his car slowed to round a sharp turn, then threw a bomb which exploded, mortally wounding him. Heydrich managed to get out of the car, draw his pistol and shoot back at the assassins before collapsing in the street.
Heydrich survived for several days, but died on June 4 from blood poisoning brought on by fragments of auto upholstery, steel, and his own uniform that had lodged in his spleen.
In Berlin, the Nazis staged a highly elaborate funeral with Hitler calling Heydrich "the man with the iron heart."
Meanwhile the Gestapo and SS hunted down and murdered Czech agents, resistance members, and anyone suspected of being involved in Heydrich's death, totaling over 1000 persons. In addition, 3000 Jews were deported from the ghetto at Theresienstadt for extermination. In Berlin 500 Jews were arrested, with 152 executed as a reprisal on the day of Heydrich's death.
As a further reprisal, Hitler ordered the small Czech mining village of Lidice to be liquidated on the fake charge that it had aided the assassins.
In one of the most infamous single acts of World War Two, all 172 men and boys over age 16 in the village were shot while the women were deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp where most died. Ninety young children were sent to the concentration camp at Gneisenau, with some taken later to Nazi orphanages if they were German looking.[ It has to be noted that the vast majority, more than 80, were gassed by carbon monoxide in a truck specially built for that purpose - AMT].
The village of Lidice was then destroyed building by building with explosives, then completely leveled until not a trace remained, [even corpses were removed from the cemetary - AMT]. with grain being planted over the flattened soil. The name was then removed from all German maps.
In an interesting footnote, several towns around the world changed their name to Lidice, or changed the name of streets and squares, after the scope and horror of that tragedy became known.
Towns and villages
St. Jerónimo – Lidice, D.F. Mexico
Lidice, Illinois, USA
Gan Yaoneh, Israel
Squares, streets, monuments, parks, schools and associations
Callao, Peru Molo, Peru H
avana, Cuba Caibarien, Cuba
Tabor, South Dakota
London, Great Britain
Golla, Great Britain