english  česky 

Advanced search
Photo: Stoke-on-Trent
Article notification Print Decrease font size Increase font size

80 Years of Operation Anthropoid - Commemoration of the Lidice Massacre in Stoke-on-Trent

On Friday, June 10, we commemorated 80 years since the annihilation of Lidice, a village near Prague. After the assassination of the acting reichsprotector Reinhard Heydrich, a period of Nazi repression took place in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in order to punish those associated with the attack, the so-called “Heydrichiad”. Lidice became its most famous victim. Deputy Ambassador Michal Strouhal took part in commemoration the anniversary of the massacre held in the town of Stoke-On-Trent.

It was a love letter addressed to Anna Maruščákova from Václav Říha, a local from Lidice, that played a crucial role in the tragedy of the village. The letter happened to be read by Anna’s employer, collaborator Jaroslav Pála, and its content awoke suspicions that Říha might have been connected to Czechoslovak resistance activities. Therefore, a note was given to the local Gestapo department for further investigation. Subsequently, the Nazis undertook vast raids and arrests in Lidice, soon discovering that no suspect had anything in common with Heydrich’s assassination. However, even that did not save Lidice from its tragic fate.

To demonstrate the Nazi power, SS-Gruppenfuhrer Karl Hermann Frank ordered to raze the village to the ground, and on the morning of the 10 th of June, Lidice began to be cleared out and subsequently burned down. All men older than fifteen were shot, women were arrested in concentration camps and children were taken away for re-education or to exterminatory camp Kulmhof. The total number of victims of the massacre reached 340 (192 men, 60 women and 88 children). The village was destroyed entirely in 1943.

The news about Lidice reached as far as the city Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom, where Sir Barnett Stross, an MP, served as a member of the town council. The story of Lidice moved him so much that he decided to assemble the locals of Stoke-on-Trent to help restore the village. This initiative became the foundation of the “Lidice Shall Live” movement. It organized a fund-raising campaign for the reconstruction of Lidice and became so famous that several associations and supporters from other countries joined its activities. In addition to this collection, on the initiative of Sir Stross, a rose orchard was created in Stoke in the 1950s and 1960s, with specimens of roses from various parts of the world were planted. Stoke also hosts the Lidice Art Collection, which symbolizes the international solidarity of artists with the tragic fate of the village.

The initiative and efforts of Sir Barnett Stross have contributed to strengthening Czechoslovak-British relations and preserving the memory of the victims of the Heydrichade. In 1957, Stross became an honorary citizen of the restored town of Lidice, and the Lidice memorial also hosts an exhibition dedicated to him. In 2012, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the tragedy, a documentary titled “Lidice - A Light Across the Sea” was released, capturing the atmosphere of the time and the story of solidarity of the city Stoke-on-Trent.

The city of Stoke-on-Trent has maintained its connection to Lidice to this day. The tragic of Lidice is regularly commemorated every year, nowadays also by hoisting the Czech flag on public buildings in the city. This year, the city's representatives personally took part in commemorative events in Lidice, in the Czech Republic, and together with its inhabitants, the Deputy Ambassador, Mr. Michal Strouhal, also commemorated the sad anniversary on Friday 10 June in Stoke. For this year, the Embassy of the Czech Republic in London has prepared a series of information and commemorative events for this year entitled "80 Years of Operation Anthropoid", this event was part of this series.


Stoke-on-Trent Lidice 2022