Survivors of village massacre visit Stoke-on-Trent

People under umbrellas watch soldiers of an honor guard placing wreaths at a monument in Lidice. Photo: PA

Survivors from one of the most harrowing atrocities of World War II are visiting Stoke-on-Trent, the city that helped them to rebuild their lives 70 years ago, after Nazi soldiers destroyed their village in the Czech Republic.

Virtually every man in the quiet village of Lidice was unexpectedly executed following a direct order from Hitler.

Nearly 180 men were shot in the 1942 massacre near to Prague, with the vast majority of women and children gathered up and sent to concentration camps, or more harrowingly known as the 'Death Camps'. Most of whom never survived to return home.

Hitler wanted the village to be erased, as though it never existed.

The massacre was ordered by Adolf Hitler in retaliation of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the highest ranking Nazi official in the Czech Republic, known as 'the Butcher of Prague', he believed the village had affiliations with those responsible.

After the war a doctor from Stoke-on-Trent was touched by the massacre of Lidice and launched a campaign called 'Lidice Shall Live'. Doctor Barnett Stross decided that £1 million would be spent on rebuilding the village, this steadily grew to an international effort and by 1949 the village had been restored.

Today marks 70 years since the 'Lidice Shall Live' campaign was launched, this is being commemorated by the launch of the Barnett Stross and Lidice exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

This exhibition is a part of many events across the city to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the events that happened in Lidice and the campaign which followed.

Television personality Nick Hancock, who lives in Stoke-on-Trent, visited the village when he made a documentary about Lidice and recently attended a memorial service held for the victims in the city.

"I went out to Lidice to make a documentary about the massacre and it was of great interest to me to see the references to Stoke-on-Trent in the museum there.

"It brought it home to me just how much the city Stoke-on-Trent means to the village of Lidice, maybe the people of Stoke don't know as much about it as clearly they do."

– Nick Hancock

The exhibition will be made up of items from the Lidice Gallery as well as parts of The Potteries Museum collection. It will cover the events of 1942 and celebrate the involvement of Dr Barnett Stross and the people of Stoke-on-Trent in the 'Lidice Shall Live!' campaign.