The Society for the Restoration of Lidice was set up to ensure the plans for Lidice became reality, and it had strong British connections through some of its members’ historical wartime links within the Czechoslovak Government-in-exile and the Lidice Shall Live campaign.
The aim of the programme of cultural events was to give a platform to the young people of the occupied states of Yugoslavia, Czecho-Slovakia, Greece, and Poland, allowing them to explore, debate, fashion and creatively present the culture and heritage of their respective homelands to British audiences.
Not everyone was happy with efforts to rebuild Lidice. An article, anonymously penned by “The Calcutta Statesman” and published in the Evening Sentinel in October 1942, was keen to point out Britain’s lack of obligation towards the Czech people
The campaign was realised when The Exhibition of Czecho-Slovakian Friendship opened at the Prudential Buildings on Monday the 9th of October 1944 by a Czechoslovak Army Captain, in the presence of Dr Victor Fischl, the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, an associate of Jan Masaryk, and a company of Czech infantry from nearby Cholmondeley Castle.
The inaugural Lidice Shall Live Committee was formally constituted in Stoke-on-Trent in early October 1942 and comprised a mix of elected representatives, miners’ delegates, and members of the Czecho-Slovak – British Friendship Club, Rotary Club, North Staffordshire Architectural Society and influential members of the public…
“Lidice, by its destruction, became a symbol: it belonged not only to Czechoslovakia but to all nations. It should become for us a memento and a pledge never to allow the conditions to arise that would make an occurrence of this type possible again.”
The physical deconstruction and erasure of the old village of Lidice took over two years of solid graft, was financially costly, and was paid for by the victims’ bank accounts. It was not until September the 25th, 1944, that Karl Frank could finally announce with much satisfaction that the clearing work had definitively ended.
When the formation of the committee was formally announced on September the 21st, 1942 in Washington D.C., the Lidice Lives Committee declared its ambition to create
“a village named Lidice in each Allied country, reaching a number of 30 to 36 Lidices all over the world by the end of the war.”
“We are here to swear that the name of Lidice shall live forever and be famous in every continent as the happiest village in the freest republic in the world. The aim of this meeting is to fulfil the splendid conception of Dr Stross and raise a fund by which Lidice shall be rebuilt to become one of the finest mining villages in the world…”
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…