June 10th marks the anniversary of the destruction of the Czechoslovak village of Lidice by the Nazis during World War 2. In 2012 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 its 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 was an honour to be involved with events in 2012 and to produce our film. It is a story of internationalism and solidarity and we were proud to produce it with the support of some fantastic individuals and organisations. We also enjoyed working with Historian, (former) Stoke MP and Director of the V&A, Tristram Hunt who presented the film.
It was an incredible experience to be able to produce this film and meet with the participants. We made several trips to the Czech Republic to meet with the ‘Children of Lidice’ and to record their stories for use in the film. It was an inspiring, humbling experience to meet with the Lidice Children and to discuss their memories of 1942 and also to hear about their love and admiration for Barnett Stross and the people of Stoke-on-Trent.
Lidice – A Light Across The Sea 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.
You can watch the film here – https://www.youtube.com/