Opening the fund to build Lidice…

Following the launch, on Wednesday, the 9th of September, the Evening Sentinel reported a press release from the Lord Mayor’s Parlour at the Council Chambers in Stoke, that a fund for re-building Lidice had been opened by the Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, Cllr Harry McBrine, with a donation of £100, and that the North Staffordshire Miners’ Federation had contributed £1,250, a result of a levy which the men made themselves of 2/6s or half a crown.

The article was accompanied by a statement from the Lord Mayor which read:

“Lidice Shall Live was born in this city, and I hope that everyone who can, will assist. Mr Eden, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, told us through His Majesty’s Ambassador to Czecho-Slovakia, that we had hard heads and warm hearts. This is our opportunity of proving that his estimate of us is justified. The will to give life to Lidice will become a great national movement, and I naturally would have Stoke-on-Trent ever to the fore…” Donations should be made payable to Stoke-on-Trent “Lidice Shall Live” Fund and should be addressed to The Lord Mayor, Town Hall, Stoke-on-Trent – Yours sincerely, H. W. McBrine, Lord Mayor. Lord Mayor’s Parlour. Stoke-on-Trent, September 9th, 1942.

The Deputy Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, Cllr Arthur Hewitt, received the following letter from Mr Prokop Maxa, President of the Czechoslovak State Council:

“Having returned to London, I consider it my foremost and pleasant duty to thank you and all the members of the Stoke-on-Trent “Lidice Shall Live” Committee as well as all the speakers at Sunday’s meeting and all those who have contributed to its splendid success, on behalf of the Czechoslovak State Council for the great reception you have bestowed upon us and for the glorious way in which you have honoured our country in general and the victims of Lidice in particular.

We shall never forget this grand token of your friendship, which we trust will continue to strengthen and develop, and also enable us to repay you your generous hospitality, at least to some extent in our liberated homeland. I am sure that I am expressing a fervent common wish if I hope that the time of liberation is not too far off. Will you please kindly convey my message of gratitude also to the Right Honourable, the Earl of Dudley; His Worship the Lord Mayor; Dr Barnett Stross; and to all other committee members, speakers and functionaries who have assisted in arranging this memorable meeting.”

Prokop Maxa

A few weeks later the Secretary of the North Staffordshire Miners’ Federation, Hugh Leese received the following correspondence from Lieutenant Tomcik, of the Czechoslovak Forces in England:

Dear Sir,

As member of Czechoslovak Army Choir, I was present on last Sunday in Stoke-on-Trent at meeting in Victoria Hall, where the fund “Lidice Shall Live,” was raised and inaugurated. Being schoolmaster in my country and active in Labour movement in Moravia, now Lieutenant of Czechoslovak Army in England, I do appreciate the human spirit and deep sympathy of English people; let me say of English working class, I have seen on Sunday last in Victoria Hall, towards my unhappy country and people of Lidice. The meeting was so impressive, at once I saw and felt the real spirit of English people, of miners, which in past years was so often different from that one in Downing Street. It was most impressive moment for me, after staying in this country more than 2 years. I wished only, the women and children of Lidice could see it too.

Due to my bad English, I can’t express everything I felt at that moment and what I still do feel. I want to tell you only, that I am so grateful to you for everything you have done for “Lidice Shall Live” Committee. So, I would express my deepest gratitude to Staffordshire’s Miners and working people, who raised this idea and are carrying it out. Please excuse my mistakes. Wishing you all the best.

I remain yours very sincerely, Mr H. Leese

J. TOMCIK.

Another example letter, received by Leese on the 17th of September and shared in the North Staffordshire Miners’ Federation Year Book came from Hubert Ripka, former correspondent of the Czech newspaper Lidové Noviny, adviser to President Beneš and Czecho-Slovak Minister of State, who had this to say about the launch:

Dear Mr Leese,

I am writing to say how deeply moved I was by the Lidice Demonstration on September 6th. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing to you my heartfelt thanks for the support you have given to this scheme and to say how greatly we all appreciated your efforts on our behalf.

Yours sincerely,

HUBERT RIPKA.

Hubert Ripka

For more information about the Lidice Shall Live launch and its progress across Great Britain, read The Path to Lidice – the definitive account of the Lidice Shall Live campaign, and its legacy.
Available now, online from Amazon in hardcover, paperback and in ebook formats – free with Amazon Unlimited.

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