|Lidice Children’s Memorial|
Tonight some remarkable survivors of the Lidice Massacre will gather in Stoke on Trent to attend the unveiling of a memorial plaque to Sir Barnett Stross and a memorial concert at the Victoria Hall.
The Czech village of Lidice was ordered to be wiped from the map by Hitler in “retaliation” for the assassination of Reinherd Heydrich, architect of The Holocaust and the Nazi’s poster boy, by Czech Parachutists directed by the Czech Government in Exile based at Wingrave, near Aylesbury.
173 Lidice men were shot on 9 June 1942 in the garden of the Horak farm. The women and children were taken to the gymnasium of Kladno grammar school. Three days later the children were taken from their mothers and, except for those selected for re-education in German families and babies less than one year of age, were poisoned by exhaust gas in specially adapted vehicles in the Nazi extermination camp at Chełmno upon Nerr in Poland. The women were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp which usually meant quick or lingering death for the inmates.
|Sir Barnett Stross, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent|
At the time, the Labour Stoke-on-Trent MP. Barnett Stross heard of Hitler’s plan to wipe Lidice off the map, and started a ‘Lidice shall live’ campaign. From this, the people of Stoke-on-Trent raised money, and with support from countries all around the world the village of Lidice was re-built. Stross was a Labour MP and a doctor in a mining area like Lidice and was a fearless campaigner for safer work environments.
Marie Supikova along with Jana Hanzlikova and Pavel Horesovsky, who were unborn babies during the massacre and are now in their 70s, are visiting Stoke-on-Trent to mark the 70th anniversary of the launch of the campaign which eventually saw the successful rebuilding of the village of Lidice. The massacre inspired Stoke city councillor and local Labour MP Sir Barnett Stross and local miners to set up the Lidice Shall Live campaign in September 1942 to raise funds for the rebuilding of the village.
Marie Supikova, 80, was just nine-years-old when her home village, Lidice, near Prague in what was Czechoslovakia, was invaded by German soldiers on 9 June 1942. She was arrested by troops along with her parents and her brother Josef, who was 15. Nearly 180 men were executed in the village, including her father, and the village was burned down.
|The bodies of the men and boys over age 16 of Lidice, Czechoslovakia,
murdered by the Nazis on June 10, 1942, in reprisal for the assassination
of SS Leader Reinhard Heydrich.
|Members of the Schutzpolizei (German protective police) pose in
front of the Horak family farm, which they just destroyed.
Her mother was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, 50m (80km) north of Berlin, and Ms Supikova was put on a train to Lodz in Poland with other children. She said: “We cried and cried because we were very scared, upset and confused. We didn’t know what was happening. It was the first time I had experienced hunger and suddenly I had no food and I was sleeping on the floor. I couldn’t get clean or comb my hair and I didn’t have any other clothes to change into, so I wore the same dress the whole time which got torn.”
“We will always be very grateful for what the people of Stoke-on-Trent did for Lidice. I feel happy to be able to come to Stoke-on-Trent and remember the bond between the people here and in Lidice. It is very special.” – Marie Supikova, survivor of the Lidice Massacre speaking to the BBC
For the story of the massacre and Sir Barnett Stross’s “Lidice shall live!” campaign see;
The Lidice Municipal Memorial Site;