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The story of Lidice and the 'Lidice shall live' campaign

About the Lidice Massacre

In March 1939, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic), in flagrant violation of the Munich Agreement.

Stoke-on-Trent and the 'Lidice shall live again' campaign

The horrifying news of the Lidice massacre spread quickly around the world.

In Stoke-on-Trent, in response to Hitler's proclamation that 'Lidice must die', a campaign to help rebuild the village was started by City Councillor Sir Barnett Stross.

Dr Barnett Stross (1899–1967), MP

Dr Barnett Stross (1899–1967), MP 1936

Margarete Marks (1899–1990)

Ben Uri Collection

Hundreds of people, including representatives from the miners, gathered for a meeting on 6th September 1942 in Victoria Hall in Stoke city centre. The Councillor and the miners pledged to give one day's pay per week to help the survivors of Lidice rebuild their village and to ensure that 'Lidice shall live again'.

Over three years, until the end of the war, the campaign raised £32,000, the equivalent of around £1 million today.

Lidice lives!

After the war, the funds donated by the people of Stoke helped rebuild the village of Lidice. In 1947, 143 women and 17 children returned home.

A large memorial was also built on the site of the old village to commemorate the terrible events of 1942 and the people who died. The village now has a population of just over 500.

Watch this video for a virtual tour of the memorial and the rebuilt village:

Lidice is Rebuilt: A Virtual Tour of Lidice

 

Teacher notes and links

  • Tell your students about the events in Lidice and the shockwaves that the massacre caused around the world.
  • Introduce the story of the 'Lidice shall live again' campaign organised by Councillor Barnett Stross.

Talking about the massacre with your students

The details of the massacre are harrowing and you will need to consider how much is appropriate to share with your students.

It might be helpful to use this animation, created with the community in Stoke as part of the Unearthed sculpture project, to discuss the massacre:

Lidice and the Second World War

If you are studying the Second World War with your class you could discuss the events of the massacre in relation to broader themes such as the Nazi expansion into Central Europe or the Holocaust.

The response of the people of Stoke could be looked at within a wider discussion of activities on the Home Front that supported the war effort.

This video, created as part of the Unearthed sculpture project, includes an outline of the events in Lidice and the campaign in Stoke. It might be helpful to show it to your students to introduce the story.

(Watch from the beginning until 1:27)

 

Further links

Find out more about the Lidice Massacre and the events surrounding it using the links below.

Wikipedia article on the Lidice Massacre

About the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich

Holocaust Research Project: the Massacre at Lidice

 

What is Unearthed (Lidice)?

The 2013 sculpture Unearthed (Lidice) was made by the artists Sarah Nadin and Nicola Winstanley. It commemorates the link between the people of Lidice and the people of Stoke-on-Trent. (It also serves to hide an ugly electricity substation.)

Unearthed (Lidice)

Unearthed (Lidice) 2013

Nicola Winstanley (b.1984) and Sarah Nadin (b.1983)

Lidice Way, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

More than just a sculpture

For the artists, an important part of creating the sculpture was ensuring that the terrible events in Lidice – and the story of how Sir Barnett Stross and the miners of Stoke helped rebuild the village – would be shared with, and remembered by, as many people as possible. (The history of the 'Lidice shall live again!' campaign had been largely forgotten in Stoke and the title of the sculpture Unearthed reflects their aim to unearth it.)

Sharing the story

As part of the sculpture project, the artists asked members of the public to tell two other people about the Lidice massacre and the miners of Stoke.

In total, 3,000 people from Stoke and around the world answered the call and pledged to share the story and their contribution would be reflected in the sculpture.

 

Activity: first impressions of the sculpture

Look at these photographs of the sculpture with your students and ask them to discuss their first impressions.

Use these prompts if helpful:

  • describe the sculpture – what shape is it? What is the surface of the sculpture made from?
  • do the metal plates that form the surface remind you of anything?
  • does it look like other sculptures you have seen?
  • do you like the sculpture? what does it make you think of? what does it make you feel?

 

Watch and discuss: The making of Unearthed (Lidice)

Watch this video with your students to find out more about the sculpture.

In the video, the artists explain their creative process from initial ideas to the final piece.

They describe how the design of the sculpture and its visual elements – its shape, its materials, its surface – have been carefully considered to reflect the story of the 'Lidice shall live' campaign.

Discuss the artists' ideas and approach with your students. It might help to discuss the different elements of the sculpture.

The shape of the sculpture

  • Why did the artists decide on this shape?
  • Does the shape remind you of anything?

Teachers' notes and thoughts

The sculpture looks like a building or structure. This is partly practical, as the artists' remit included designing a sculpture that would cover an ugly electricity box located next to the bus station. But the building-like structure of the memorial also symbolises the rebuilding of the village that was destroyed.

The artists wanted the sculpture to look as if it was emerging from the ground, suggesting the raising and rebuilding of Lidice. This also symbolises the unearthing of the story of the 'Lidice shall live again!' campaign and the contribution of the people of Stoke-on-Trent.

The location of the sculpture

  • Why is the location of the sculpture important?

Teachers' notes and thoughts

The sculpture stands in the city centre next to Victoria Hall where the people of Stoke gathered to pledge their support to the people of Lidice. The roof of the building points towards the hall.

Near the sculpture is a small tree. The tree was grown from a cutting taken from a pear tree in Lidice – one of the few things to survive the obliteration of the village.

Unearthed (Lidice)

Unearthed (Lidice) 2013

Nicola Winstanley (b.1984) and Sarah Nadin (b.1983)

Lidice Way, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

The surface of the sculpture

  • How have the artists reflected the miners' contribution through the surface of the sculpture?

Teachers' notes and thoughts

As well as commemorating the lives lost in Lidice, the artists wanted to commemorate the act of the miners in donating their wages to help the people of Lidice.

The metal tags that cover the surface of the sculpture were inspired by the metal tokens that miners wore to identify themselves. (These were used to inform colliery management of who was at work but were also vital if there was an accident at the mine and rescue services needed to know how many men were actually underground.)

The tags have different textures and are arranged in uneven bands to suggest the coal seams that lie beneath Stoke-on-Trent and beneath Lidice, which is also a mining community.

Detail of 'Unearthed (Lidice)'

Detail of 'Unearthed (Lidice)'

Sarah Nadin (b.1983) and Nicola Winstanley (b.1984)

Across the surface of the sculpture the words of Councillor Barnett Stross are inscribed:

'The Miners' lamp dispels the shadows on the coalface. It can also send a ray of light across the sea to those who struggle in darkness.'

Community spirit and contribution

Unearthed is much more than just a sculpture. As well as commemorating the events of 1942, the Unearthed project helped to spread the story of Lidice to around 10,000 people and ensure that its story is kept alive.

  • Discuss with your students how artists Nicola Winstanley and Sarah Nadin made the sharing of the Lidice story part of the sculpture.

Teachers' notes and thoughts

The contribution of the 3,000 people from Stoke and around the world who shared the story of Lidice is reflected in the sculpture with their initials stamped onto the metal tags that cover its surface. The artists made sure that the shape of the sculpture allows all of these tags to be seen.

It was important to the artists that the people of Stoke knew the story. They organised events in Stoke as part of the project. There were dramatic enactments of the miners' story and craft activities around the theme of remembrance. Videos were also made to tell the story and explain the plan for the sculpture.
 

Activity: sculptures from and for the community

Unearthed (Lidice) represents community spirit. Not only the spirit of the people of Lidice and Stoke in 1942 but also that of people in 2013 who helped make the sculpture happen by spreading their story.

As the artists commented:

'Unearthed celebrates what ordinary people can do when they come together for a common aim – in the past as well as in the present.'
  • Discuss other memorials with your students that were created collectively by communities in response to events.
  • There may be memorials local to your town or city – these could be sculptures or murals or commemorative gardens.
  • Or you could discuss national and international memorial projects such as the AIDS Memorial Quilt or the more recent National Covid Memorial Wall in London with your students. Both of these memorials were started by the people who lost loved ones as a way of remembering them and also sharing their memories with others.

The National Covid Memorial Wall

The National Covid Memorial Wall 2021

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice

Albert Embankment, Southwark

Explore community sculptures on Art UK

The sculptures in the slideshow below were made by or with the help of communities.

Some of them were made to remember people or commemorate events – others simply celebrate local communities.

Select one or two of the artworks to explore with your students. (Click on the image to open the artwork page, with more information and images.)

  • Encourage students to think about what is being commemorated, remembered or celebrated.
  • How were the community involved in helping to make the project happen?

Activity ideas

Design an artwork that remembers or celebrates

When Sarah Nadin and Nicola Winstanley were commissioned to design a sculpture to commemorate Lidice and the miners of Stoke, they created an artwork that symbolised the main elements of the story.

Task students with designing an artwork for a public location. This could commemorate a local event or story or a local hero – or simply the spirit of community.

They should think about:

  • What it will look like. It could be an abstract or representational sculpture (the shape should represent or symbolise the story in some way); a mural made of tiles or images; or your students may have ideas for another type of artwork such as a textile.
  • Where the memorial will be located – is there a place that is important to the event or person being remembered?
  • What it will be made from.
  • Ways in which they could involve the community in planning or making the artwork.

 

Design process

Sarah Nadin and Nicola Winstanley explained how they developed their sculpture from rough sketches, to models, to finished design.

Students should use similar steps to develop their designs, sketching ideas initially and then creating a model of their planned sculpture.

Although they won't be creating a finished full-scale sculpture, students could collage an image of their model onto a photograph of the location to create an artist's impression of how it might look in reality. (They could do this using digital photo-editing tools.)

If you have access to CAD tools, students could use these to create their designs.

Explore these Art UK learning resources for more public sculpture ideas.

'Titanic Sign' and sculptures that remember

Telling stories through sculpture

 

Create a punched metal artwork

Punched metal tags cover the surface of Unearthed (Lidice).

Other artists have also used punched metal inscriptions to create memorials.

The brass leaves of Tree Memorial by artist Nigel Kaines are punched with names and messages.

Tree Memorial

Tree Memorial 2016

Nigel Kaines

Abbey, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

If your school has metalworking facilities, task students with creating a metal relief or plaque using punched metal. The punched metal could spell out an inscription or a simple motif. (If you don't have metalworking facilities you could use foil to create the plaques.)

Students could either work collaboratively each creating a piece to form a collective artwork, or they could create individual artworks.

The punched metal designs could relate to themselves or someone that is important to them. Or, if a collaborative piece, they could act as a memorial or celebration of a local or school event.


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