Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic 20 km west of Prague. On 10 June, 1942 an unthinkable atrocity took place within the village that would create an everlasting bond between the people of Lidice and Stoke-on-Trent.
The events were triggered on May 27, 1942 with the assassination of the Nazi Lieutenant General and Deputy Reich Protector
of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich.
As Heydrich travelled through Prague, two Czech parachute agents carried out an attack in which A hand grenade was thrown in the direction of his transport vehicle. Though not mortally wounded by the blast itself, the attack led to an infection that killed him on June 4, 1942.
Hitler was wild with rage and wanted to make an example of the Czech people. He ordered the arrest and execution of thousands of Czechs and sanctioned the destruction of Lidice.
On June 10, 1942 Nazi soldiers entered Lidice. All of the village's 192 men were killed. 173 men were shot by Nazi troops on the day they entered Lidice. The Nazi’s later went onto shoot a further 19 men and 7 woman from the village on the 16 June in Kobylisy.
198 women and 98 children were separated and taken to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Of the 198 women taken to the
camp only 146 are known to have survived. It is believed the 3 women died on the death march and 49 women were tortured to
A total of 82 children were gassed at Chelmno on the orders of Adolf Eichmann with a further 6 children being killed elsewhere. Only 17 younger children survived the tragedy having been placed with German families. These children returned to Lidice after the war.
Lidice was then razed to the ground in order to wipe it off the map forever. News of the tragedy soon reached the rest of the world as it was filmed and broadcast by the Nazis.
The massacre inspired city councillor Barnett Stross to ‘Let Lidice Live’ and enlisted the help of local coal miners. Together they founded the campaign 'Lidice Shall Live' to raise funds for the rebuilding of the village.
The ‘Lidice Shall Live’ campaign was launched in a packed out Victoria Hall on 6 September, 1942.
In 1947 Lidice began to be rebuilt with the help of the £32,000 raised by people from the Potteries, this included more than 150 modern state of the art homes. In 1955 Barnett lead an initiative to construct the world’s largest rose garden with 23,000 roses donated by numerous countries around the world. The rose garden formed a bridge between the site of the old Lidice and the new Lidice. In 1966 Barnett Stross initiated the Lidice art Collection.
2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the tragedy. A programme of events is being planned so Lidice and the fundraising efforts of the people of Stoke-on-Trent will never be forgotten.
September saw a range of events taking place within Stoke-on-Trent to mark the 70th anniversary of the launch of the ‘Lidice Shall Live’ campaign including a preview of the Lidice documentery 'A Light Across the Sea' by local film maker Inspired Film and Video, and a concert on the Victoria Hall with performances from the Ceramic City Chior and Florance Brass.