The Story of Lidice and Stoke-on-Trent

Our project seeks to improve our understanding of the potential of arts and culture to develop reflection and empathy across geographical divides. It offers a unique case study: that of the relationship between Stoke-on-Trent and Lidice, a tiny village in the Czech Republic that was destroyed by the Nazis on 10 June 1942. In response to this horrific event, local  Doctor and Councillor Barnett Stross launched the ‘Lidice Shall Live’ campaign in September of the same year, rallying the local working people of Stoke-on-Trent to donate to a fund that ultimately contributed to the rebuilding of the village after the war. That ordinary working miners and pottery workers donated in many cases up to a week’s wages to this campaign in the middle of the hardship of the Second World War is an astounding testament to the ability of people to demonstrate empathy, compassion and understanding. The village of Lidice today expresses its story through arts and culture: visitors from all over Europe travel there to visit the largest rose garden in Europe, and the museum and art gallery that sit adjacent to the new village. A commemorative event takes place each year on the anniversary of the tragedy, attended by around 5000 visitors and Ambassadors from all over the world. In recent years, the links between Lidice and Stoke-on-Trent have been refreshed with cultural exchanges between the two places, involving a range of arts projects and events that celebrate the cultural ties between the two places. It is striking that in all of the civic engagement and partnership working recently developed between these places, we choose to explore, express and celebrate these ties almost exclusively through arts and culture.

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