In the Tamworth Herald on the 19th of December 1942, it was reported how Alderman George Jones made a broadcast on the BBC’s European service to the people of Czecho-Slovakia, and especially to their miners. The article is published here. Jones, secretary of the Warwickshire Miners’ Association, the Midland Miners’ Federation, and committee member of the Lidice Shall Live movement said:
“I have been in your country on two occasions, I know something of your achievements in the last great war and something of the friendliness of your people. I was familiar with your miners’ leaders and your democratic ideals.”
He went on to refer to a conversation with a conductor of a bus while being driven around the city of Prague, commenting that the city had made tremendous improvements since his last visit, which had been ten years previously:
“He was a youngish man of about forty years of age,” said Jones, “and he told me something of his story, how he had fought in the last war and how he helped to achieve the independence of Czecho-Slovakia. His voice thrilled with the pride of a man who knew he was a citizen of no mean city, as he said, referring to a remark about the great achievements of his country. What we have done is nothing to what we will do if they (looking in the direction of Germany) will let us alone.”
He was very conscious of the threat to his country that the Hitler regime symbolised, and of all the countries in Europe, “there were perhaps only two which fully understood the meaning of the rise of Hitler to power. These two countries were your own and Russia. When I say these two countries, I mean where there was a general understanding among the working classes of the danger which threatened them with the rise of this wicked man.”
“Neither your people nor we in this country wanted war. We hated the very idea of war. So far as we were concerned, we would not believe that men could be so evil as to deliberately plan a war in which millions of their fellow men were going to be plunged into untold suffering, misery, and death. We underestimated the wickedness of the Nazis and Fascists. War came upon us like a roaring lion.”
Jones then referred to the bombing of the towns and villages of England, and related instances of suffering and bravery, particularly in Coventry and Nuneaton, and said they could be multiplied by thousands more throughout this country;
“But in spite of this suffering, the great waste, the horror and indignation sweeping this country, when we learned of the destruction of your mining village of Lidice when we miners learned of the heroism that had led the people of that village to stand up to the murderous Heydrich, of all the destruction which had come upon them as a result of their perfect patriotism, we felt that we wanted to do something which would show our sympathy and our solidarity with the miners of your country. The mineworkers in the North Staffordshire district of the Midland Miners Federation said that if the Germans could destroy that village they could not destroy the spirit of the people, and if Hitler thinks he has wiped that village out forever we will prove him to be a liar. They, therefore, proposed that the miners should lead the rest of this country in an effort to raise the money to rebuild your village of Lidice.
The miners throughout the country are subscribing, the money will be found, but we know that it cannot be rebuilt, as we want it rebuilt until we have done much more than subscribe our humble shillings. Lidice and all the things Hitler has done in other countries and in this country of England are crying out for retribution. The shadow of retribution is now beginning to throw itself across Germany. The smashing of Rommel’s Army in the Middle East is a sign and portent that the Germans are in the wrong. The miners of this country see quite clearly that it is the weight of metal and firepower in the hands of the soldiers, sailors, and airmen that will bring the desired result. We are therefore struggling to furnish out of our pits the coal that is needed, to produce coal to the utmost of our capacity.
You on your side can do something, too; you can go slow, for every ton more of coal we produce we want you to produce a ton of coal less; every ton you don’t produce will help to kill Hitler; every ton more we produce will go to the same purpose.”
Alderman Jones concluded his broadcast with these words:
“Your hour of liberation is drawing near. Hold fast to your faith, faith in your own leaders in this country, faith in the miners of this country, faith in the United Nations who will again restore to you the liberty which you have lost and peace to this tortured world.”