"I had to go study mechanical engineering because my father expected me to take over the enterprise. My brother studied economy, and we were supposed to run the factory together. It was designed in a way that there could be lighter operation. He made plans, but then they took the factory from him. They even locked him up. And in the end, they tore the factory down. I witnessed all of that. My father was jailed for a while, charged. But, they could prove nothing, because he had done nothing wrong. So, they released him. I had had my share of this stuff."
"Marie told me that she visited Lidice on her own once, and that she got the idea to make sculptures of the eighty-two children who who were executed there. She said they'd symbolize the expected 10-12 million children victims of WW II all around the world. The idea was for all children of the world to have a memorial here in the heart of Europe. Some mocked it and said it was nonsense. And nobody came to see it. We were working on it and were ignored because the official artists were against it, fearing it could become a renowned work of art. But, others were in favor. Even communist PM Štrougal said: 'Why not? Let them make it there'."
"They invited us to the ministry, telling us we couldn't force Lidice to accept it. The sculptor Svoboda was there, representing the fine artists. He said there was no way. They suggested to buy out the unfinished thing, and exhibit it in the Central Bohemian Gallery in Nelahozeves, and asked us to name its price. So, we went to a commission which gathered in Mánes. But, we didn't go there to sell it for two million. Some philosopher said that dreams are not for sale. So, I told them no. But, we still went there, because we expected someone to say it should be placed in Lidice. Only later, had we learned that Müller told each member that if they disagreed they would get in trouble. And so, it was about the artists' well-being. It was a commission composed of sculptors and an architect. And obviously, they proposed to buy the unfinished thing. We said we had to finish it. And under these conditions, Marie passed away. It was dramatic."
I had to finish the monument because of the children who were murdered, and because of my wife Marie
Jiří Hampl was born on the 10th of September, 1929, in Prague. He is a son of the former owner of the construction company, Stako. In the course of post-1948 expropriation, the enterprise was nationalized. While he received a degree from Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Czech Technical University in Prague, in 1960, he finished an arts school. Thus, Jiří began making a living as a sculptor, painter and designer. He worked side by side with his wife, the sculptor, Marie Uchytilová. Their life-long work is the vast sculpture in memory of children victims of WW II, which they decided to place into the village of Lidice. They started with the memorial which consists of 82 statues of children in 1975. Their work was met with no recognition, for the communist authorities didn’t wish for the memorial to come to life. While working, Marie Uchytilová ended up exhausted, and eventually died of a heart attack on the 16th of November, 1989, one day before the outbreak of the revolution which toppled the communist regime. Jiří Hampl carried on and set out to finish her work. He spent years funding money, and in the end, finished the memorial in 2000. Jiří donated it free of charge to the village of Lidice. The memorial has won acclaim all over the world. He died on May 21st, 2022.