Lidice – The Village That Refused to Die
A film dedicated to the memory of the residents of a Czechoslovakian village, which was obliterated during the Second World War, will be premiered in the Swansea Valley later this month.
Lidice: The Village that Refused to Die, written, produced and directed by Peter Williams, was partially filmed in Cwmgiedd, just outside Ystradgynlais, where a classic British propaganda film was shot eighty years earlier, in 1943.
The villagers of Cwmgiedd re-enacted the occupation and horrific destruction of the Czech village and its residents, and the film made it “unbearably palpable, for domestic viewers of the time, what is at stake for Britain in its defence against German invasion.”
In 1941, Free Czechoslovak agents assassinated SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler’s protege and Nazi in charge of occupied Czechoslovakia.
In retaliation, Hitler rounded up and killed 4,000 Jews and razed to the ground the mining village of Lidice, killing all the 199 men and boys over the age of 16.
207 women were transported to concentration camps and 87 children were gassed in specially adapted lorries. Eight children were chosen by the Nazis to survive, because of their fair hair and blue eyes; they were billeted on German families to be brought up as Aryan Nazis.
Hitler declared that the name of Lidice will be obliterated from the face of the earth.
Lidice: The Village that Refused to Die shows why this has not happened.
Returning to Cwmgiedd, Williams films the schoolchildren who still remember Lidice every year in poetry and song. He goes back to Lidice from Swindon in England with Win, the widow of a Lidice family, the Horaks, who were suspected of being involved in the successful plot to blow up Heydrich’s car.
The film uncovers the Nazis’ own film of the destruction of Lidice and a photograph of the smiling film crew which recorded this horrendous war crime.
And it embraces the Cwmgiedd propaganda film, Silent Village (1943 Crown Film Unit) which was directed by Humphrey Jennings. The film is billed as a tribute to the brotherhood of man and, particularly, of miners.
But Lidice refused to die. Against all the odds, a handful of the deported women and some of the children returned in the years after the war and a new village was built not far from the site of the 1942 atrocity, overlooking the valley in which the original Lidice once stood.
Lidice: The Village that Refused to Die has already won two awards – from the international IMPACT festival for its strong message, and from the international IndieFEST film festival in three categories – Documentary feature, History/Biographical and, to the director, an Award of Excellence.
The film will be premiered on Thursday September 28th at 7pm at The Welfare, Ystradgynlais, and at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff in the presence of the Lord Mayor, on Sunday, October 1st at 5.30pm. Cardiff tickets are available here
Profits from this film are supporting two charities: Lidice Shall Live, and the Josef Herman Foundation, Cymru.
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