Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic just north-west of Prague. It is built on the site of a previous village of the same name which, as part of the Nazi created Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, was, as per orders directly from Heinrich Himmler, completely destroyed by German forces in reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in the late spring of 1942.
On June 10, 1942, all 192 men over 16 years of age from the village were murdered on the spot by the Germans in a much publicised atrocity. The rest of the population were sent to Nazi concentration camps where many women and nearly all the children were killed. The buildings were then bulldozed so that no trace of the village's former existence would be found.
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 (above), who coined the slogan "Lidice Shall Live" in direct response to Hitler's orders that "Lidice Would Die Forever!" This gave the lead to the free world, and the campaign to rebuild the village after the war, which had gathered huge support in North Staffordshire, with its thousands of mining families, spread worldwide.
"The miner's lamp dispels the shadows on the coal face," Dr Stross, a Polish, jewish immigrant, 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, on the afternoon of Sunday September 6th at a mass meeting in the Victoria Hall, Hanley, with the Czech president-in-exile, Dr Eduard Benes, as the chief speaker.
The people of Lidice remember the role played by Sir. Barnett Stross and the miners and other workers of North Staffordshire in rebuilding their village. In Lidice Stross's name is well known and there is a general awareness of a link between Stoke-on-Trent and Lidice even at school level. The Lidice Memorial Museum, which provides a very humbling experience to all who visit, attracts pilgrims from across the globe.