A motion to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Lidice atrocity in 2022 has been agreed at a Stoke-on-Trent City council meeting.
On the 10 June 1942, Nazis entered the village of Lidice, shot 173 men, removed all the women and children and razed the village to the ground. The women were transported to Ravensbruck, some children were selected for ‘re-education’ in German families, children under one were taken to a hospital in Prague. Subsequently, 82 children were murdered at Chelmno extermination camp. After the war only 143 women and 17 children returned out of 503 residents.
On 6 September 1942, the Lidice Shall Live campaign was launched at a mass meeting in the Victoria Hall, Hanley. The campaign was led by local GP and Councillor Barnett Stross with the North Staffordshire Miners’ Federation, where he stated ‘Lidice shall Live’ in defiance of the atrocity. The Czech president-in-exile, Dr Eduard Benes, was the chief speaker.
At the Lidice Shall Live meeting held in the Victoria Hall in 1942 Dr Benes, the Czech President in exile stated “From now on, Stoke-on-Trent will forever live in the hearts of every Czech citizen.”
The 28th October is national day of the Czech Republic. A date that celebrates the formation of the sovereign state of Czechoslovakia when the country officially gained independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918.
On 6 September 2012 a Memorandum of Understanding between Lidice, the Lidice Memorial and Stoke-on-Trent City Council was signed and exchanged in the Council Chamber.
Each year a reverent commemoration event is held in Lidice to mark the anniversary of this most tragic day in the history of the village. 2022 marks the 80th anniversary of the Lidice atrocity.
The motion was proposed by Councillor Cheryl Gerrard, who is one of key leads in the ‘Lidice Lives’ organisation which aims to raise awareness of Lidice and the links with Stoke-on-Trent, together with the work of Sir Barnett Stross and Lidice Shall Live Campaign. It was seconded by Councillor Andy Platt.
A number of elements are highlighted under the motion. They include a commemorative programme of events organised by ‘Lidice Lives’, to be supported by the council, illuminating Stoke Town Hall in the colours of Lidice (10 June 2022), flying the flag of the Czech Republic on three significant days each year (10 June, 6 September and 28 October) and a commemorative civic and friendship event on 10 June 2022.
Councillor Cheryl Gerrard said: “I’m really pleased that the Lidice Lives programme, a key part of this city’s history, is being formally recognised and supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council in this way. It provides a symbol of camaraderie for the people of Lidice at their time of remembrance. It celebrates the role our forefathers played in rebuilding the village of Lidice and celebrates our friendship with Lidice and all communities of the Czech Republic. I’m proud of this city for the role it played and it’s so important to see this legacy of kindness and support continue.”
Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Stoke-on-Trent was recently recognised as the kindest city in the UK. You can easily see why when you see initiatives like this come forward. The work of Cllr Barnett Stross was inspirational and it’s so positive to see Cllr Gerrard and others continue to take this forward. As a city council we’re committed to learning from history and this reminds us why it’s so important that we regularly look back in order to move forward.”