Professor, Ing., CSc. Jan Kučera

* 1946

  • “The legacy of Lidice. It is a kind of memento that must not be forgotten, but it’s important to realise it wasn’t the only village to be so cruelly destroyed during World War II, and unfortunately, nowadays we are witness to similar destruction and atrocities as the Gestapo conducted in Lidice. So the question of the growing violence in our times, whether it be in connection with militant Islam or other similar regimes, this must rouse everyone to be vigilant; and this vigilance stems, among others, from the events that occurred in Lidice during World War II. It is of paramount important not to forget the legacy of such tragedies, including the Lidice one, and to realise that sadly, we are not free of such tragedies even today.”

  • “They always showed a film about the destruction of Lidice in the Lidice Museum. The first version was the most drastic because it included shots filmed in Lidice by the Gestapo itself. So my grandmother would say, for instance: ‘That dog there that’s shot through the head, that was our Haryk.’”

  • “Besides the Frühaufs and the Horáks from our family, who were shot, little Jirka Frühauf, the son of my mum’s sister, was also killed. He was four years old when he was taken to Poland with the other Lidice children, and he died in a gas chamber there. Jirka was remembered a lot by the family also because the fate of the Lidice children remained unknown for a long time. There were attempts to track down the children that were dragged off to Germany, and so we’d occasionally have some gentleman arrive with the question whether he might be Jirka or not... and all he could remember was that he lived up a hill. So there were these identification interviews with Mum, my grandmother, and the potential Jirka. But the real Jirka never appeared.”

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    Ústav jaderné fyziky AV v Řeži, 13.10.2016

    duration: 01:42:35
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The memory of Lidice inspires vigilance

Jan Kucera - after the school-leaving exams
Jan Kucera - after the school-leaving exams
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jan Kučera was born on 4 March 1946 to Terezie and Antonín Kučera. His mother had trained as a shop assistant, she was from the Horák family of Lidice; his father was a trained waiter with abundant international experience from the times of the First Republic (interwar Czechoslovakia). Both parents had been living in Prague when the Lidice tragedy occurred. As they also had their registered abode in the capital city, they escaped the main focus of the Gestapo. Even so, the Nazis thorough plan for exterminating this central Bohemian village was a tragic blow to the family. Jan’s mother and grandmother spent three years in a concentration camp. His father was interned for two years for resistance activities. When Jan Kučera was born, as the first postwar Lidice child, Hana Benešová and Jan Masaryk (wife of President Beneš; foreign minister and son of first Czechoslovak president Tomáš G. Masaryk - trans.) volunteered as his godparents. He grew up with his parents in Prague; he took an early interest in chemistry, and his primary school activities in the field provided the foundation for his later studies at the Czech Technical University in Prague. He became a nuclear chemist, and he was awarded the George Hevesy Medal in 2006 in recognition of his work. He and his research team cooperated with Danish colleagues to significantly contribute to the scientific analysis of samples of the remains of Tycho Brahe, which was initiated by Jens Vellev. Professor Jan Kučera, who always felt bound by the ideals of his godparents, lives with his wife Alena in Lidice.