Lidice A Light Across The Sea
June 10th marks the 75th anniversary of the destruction of the Czechoslovak village of Lidice by the Nazis during World War 2. Five years ago we were honored and privileged to work with the Lidice Memorial Museum, Stoke on Trent City Council, Stoke City Football Club, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Friends of Chatterley Whitfield to produce a documentary film and accompanying exhibition and education pack to mark the 70th anniversary.
For anyone not aware of the Lidice story and it’s importance to Stoke on Trent a brief synopsis is below but we would encourage anyone to find out more by doing your own research or by visiting the Lidice Memorial Museum should you be lucky enough to visit Prague.
In 1942 the Nazis – under the command of Adolf Hitler – destroyed the small Czechoslovak town of Lidice, killing all the men and sending the women and children to concentration camps. The ‘Lidice Shall Live’ campaign was launched in Stoke on Trent in September 1942 at the Victoria Hall. The campaign was lead by local MP Barnett Stross who asked workers and miners to donate a weeks wages to help rebuild the village. Around one million pound (in today’s money) was raised to rebuild the village. A remarkable amount when you consider the UK was at war and rationing was in place across the country.
It’s an incredible story of internationalism and solidarity and we were honoured and proud to produce a film about these events. Historian, (former) Stoke MP and Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt presented the film and we worked with him at locations across the UK, including the House of Commons. We met with historians in the UK, the Czech Ambassador and people who were at the launch of the campaign at the Victoria Hall in 1942 to capture their memories for the film.
We flew to the Czech Republic where we met with the ‘Children of Lidice’ – the survivors of the atrocity, who had been sent to concentration camps or to live with German families. It was an inspiring, humbling experience to meet with the Lidice Children and to spend time with them discussing their memories of 1942, not just the crimes committed by the Nazis but also the solidarity and the love that they felt from the UK and Stoke-on-Trent in particular.
The Lidice film will always be one of our proudest moments, showing the film at the Czech Embassy in London and meeting the niece of Barnett Stross and then being able to share it with a packed theatre in Stoke on Trent were fantastic experiences. However showing the film in Lidice at the Museum to an audience including the Lidice Children and honouring their memories was an incredibly moving experience and perhaps the highlight of our career as documentary filmmakers to date.
The film went on to be shown on TV in the UK, Czech Republic and the USA. It also formed part of an education pack, which was distributed to schools across Stoke on Trent and was shown at the Britannia Stadium to an audience of school children.
As we approach the anniversary of the destruction of Lidice we have added the film to You Tube for people to watch and share.