A “Lidice Lives” Committee

To the Writers’ War Board, the fate of Lidice presented the ideal opportunity for focusing the eyes of the American people on the malevolent ideology and methods of Nazi Germany. As early as June 12th, in their reporting of the atrocity, many newspapers in the USA emphasised a sense of incredulity and revulsion at the fate of the village.

What is more, in many cases, with great pathos, there was talk of retribution for Lidice and the need for a definitive end to Nazism. It soon became obvious to Clifton Fadiman and Rex Stout that a sub-committee devoted to Lidice themed propaganda was needed to creatively fuel and feed off this simmering sense of violation and injustice.

Elmer Davis

Therefore, in mid-June, the Writers’ War Board appointed a committee specifically for the cause of Lidice, under the chairmanship of Fadiman. The first official directive of Elmer Davis as the newly appointed Head of the Office of War Information ordered the agency to co-operate with the WWB specifically in its Lidice campaign, and three of the department’s workers became official members of Fadiman’s Committee to assist in this respect.

The first meeting of the sub-committee took place on June the 26th, 1942. Directly, it decided that a “front” committee should be formed, which, for purposes of publicity and pressure, should be perceived to do the work, while actually all the effort and control would remain a function of the WWB group.

The Lidice board quickly set about attracting useful and well-known patrons to its cause—celebrities, dignitaries, academics, and other respected international figures. It set up a clear cut and simple set of aims and objectives connected to the propaganda campaign they were to employ:

“The campaign will be continuous, that is to say, it would last the duration of the war or as long as seems necessary. Its purpose will be not so much to arouse sympathy, as the emotion of horror to be followed by the emotion of anger. Thus, the net effect will be militant and aggressive.

The Czech aspect is not to be stressed. Lidice is merely chosen as a symbol. Whenever possible this symbol is to be used as a method of further uniting the United Nations.”

For more information about the Lidice Lives committee and the psychological campaign to combat the Nazis read The Path to Lidice, available on all Amazon platforms, in hardcover, paperback and Kindle formats

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