A People’s Wreath for LidiceBy: Theartbay Stoke-on-Trent
A People's Wreath for Lidice
June 10th 2012 sees the 70th anniversary of the obliteration of the old village and we would like to place a "People's Wreath" on the mass grave of the 173 executed men. We want as many British people as possible to contribute to it. Just as the working communities of Great Britain helped Lidice in 1942 by coming together in a common unifying cause for good, we want those same communities to show their friendship towards the people of Lidice today. The cost of a wreath befitting the contribution Sir Barnett Stross and the "Lidice Shall Live" campaign made towards the rebuilding of Lidice is roughly £150.
However we would like to set up an area in the "Park of Peace and Friendship" set aside for contributions from Great Britain. There are two salient reasons for this: representations from Great Britain are currently near zero compared to other nations and Lidice has lost many of its roses over the last few years due to harsh winters. Therefore we are asking for £500 in total. Anything more will extend the Great Britain section of the rose garden further and will contribute towards the roll of honour, the additions of people's names as donators of roses and the publishing of a commemorative message book we will lay alongside the wreath.
If you can donate £5 or more please send in a message, maximum 12 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the commemorative book to be laid alongside the wreath. Please include your full name and location (only)
If you can donate £25 or more please send in a message, maximum 12 words, to email@example.com for inclusion in the commemorative book to be laid alongside the wreath. Please include your full name and location (only). A rose bush will also be donated, in your name, to the "Park of Peace and Friendship"
If you can donate £50 or more please send in a message, maximum 12 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the commemorative book to be laid alongside the wreath. Please include your full name and location (only). A standard rose will also be donated, in your name, to the "Park of Peace and Friendship"
If you can donate £100 or more please send in a message, maximum 12 words, to email@example.com for inclusion in the commemorative book to be laid alongside the wreath. Please include your full name and location (only). A standard rose will also be donated, in your name, to the "Park of Peace and Friendship" and you will pay for 20 children to enter the UK Children's Fine Art Competition, whose values include determination, friendship, empathy and tolerance.
There will be over 100 international delegations laying wreaths at the 70th commemorative event but there will, probably, be no people's wreath paid for by the people for the people. We hope you will support this to ensure that the communities of Great Britain send out a firm positive message to the people of Lidice, Prague and the Czech Republic.
We have no posh video but the Youtube link shows you the Lidice "Park of Friendship and Peace" during Summer in all its glory. The photos which accompany the video show last year's wreath laying ceremony.
The Lidice Atrocity
The Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938 had tragic consequences for the small village of Lidice. SS Obergruppenfuhrer - Reinherd Heydrich was appointed deputy Reichs-protektor in September l941. During his short reign of terror, 5000 anti-Fascist fighters and their helpers were imprisoned and the Nazis even had people summarily executed without trial in order to spread fear throughout the country. Many people from Kladno district died on the scaffold or in concentration camps.
The operation by Czechoslovak parachutists in which Heydrich was mortally wounded on May 27, 1942 brought reprisals which shocked the whole world. Following a directive from Hitler himself it was decided that there be an act of vengeance for the death of "an outstanding man of the German nation", and for this they chose the people of Lidice.
The tragedy of this little village and its 503 inhabitants began on June 10, 1942 a few hours after midnight. The events of that summer day are recorded in a documentary, filmed by those who actually carried out the crime. At the orders of K. H. Frank 173 Lidice men were shot in the garden of the Horak farm. The women and children were taken to the gymnasium of Kladno grammar school. Three days later the children were taken from their mothers and, except for those selected for re-education in German families and babies under one year of age, were poisoned by exhaust gas in specially adapted vehicles in the extermination camp at Chełmno, Poland. The women were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp which usually meant quick or lingering death for the inmates.
The Nazis then began to systematically destroy the village itself, first setting the houses on fire and then razing them to the ground with plastic explosives. They did not stop at that but proceeded to destroy the church and even the last place of rest - the cemetery. ln 1943 all that remained was an empty space. Until the end of the war the sight was marked by notices forbidding entry.
The news of the destruction of Lidice spread rapidly around the world. But the Nazi intention to wipe the little Czech village off the face of the Earth did not succeed.
The atrocity committed by the Germans against this defenceless mining community outraged the British public, particularly in the mining communities of North Staffordshire and from Stoke-on-Trent came the defiant voice of Shelton GP and city councillor Dr Barnett Stross, who coined the slogan "Lidice Shall Live" in direct response to Hitler's orders that "Lidice Would Die Forever!". "The miner's lamp dispels the shadows on the coal face," Dr Stross wrote at the time. "It can also send a ray of light across the sea to those who struggle in darkness."
The "Lidice Shall Live" Movement was formally launched three months later, at a mass meeting in the Victoria Hall, Hanley, with the Czech president-in-exile, Dr Edouard Benes, as the chief speaker. This defiance spread across many other British communities where fundraising appeals were regularly held. And this gave the lead to the free world so that the campaign to rebuild the village after the war spread worldwide. After the war the equivalent of £1m was donated to the rebuilding of a new village.
Several villages throughout the world took over the name of Lidice in memory of that village, and many women born at that time and given the name of Lidice still bear it today. Lidice continued to live in the minds of people all over the world, and after the war the Czechoslovak government's decision to build it again was declared at a peace demonstration on June 10, 1945 at Lidice which was attended by Lidice women who had survived. 340 Lidice citizens were murdered by the Nazis, 143 Lidice women returned home after the war ended, and after a two-year search 17 children were restored to their mothers.
In 1947 the foundation stone of a new Lidice was laid 300 metres away from the original site and in May 1948 work began on building the first houses. A modern village of 150 houses gradually arose with the enormous help of volunteers from all over the Republic as well as from abroad. The present council house, post office, house of culture and shopping centre were built at the same time. The old site was preserved as a memorial including the common grave of the Lidice men, a monument and museum, and between it and the new village a "Park of Peace and Friendship" was opened on June 19, 1955 where thousands of rose-bushes from various parts of the world were planted.
copyright Lidice Memorial / Alan Gerrard
No updates for this project yet.
Stoke North Labour Party
Julie Tilstone / Sheila Poultney
Theartbay Corporate Art
Ray Johnson Productions