Children's exhibition commemorates the victims of a wartime atrocity

To the sound of local children playing traditional Czech folk music, a rather special exhibition of paintings was opened at the end of last week. Several hundred works by children from all over the world have gone on show in the unlikely setting of a small village in the countryside near Prague. But this village, Lidice, is different. Every year in June Lidice remembers one of the most horrific moments in the modern history of the Czech nation, when in 1942 - at the height of the German occupation - the Nazis wiped the village off the map. All the men and 82 of the village's children were murdered. The exhibition is a way of remembering these children. Zdenek Lycka from the Czech foreign ministry told David Vaughan about it.

"Going back to the history, this exhibition was started in 1968 as a Czech exhibition. In 1972 it changed to an international one and since then children from all over the world are invited. For every year there is a theme, a special theme, and for this year the theme is music. So the children can paint what they want, but it's more or less focused on the theme, which is announced every year."

And the pictures come from an amazing variety of countries, don't they? I see there are pictures from Mongolia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Seychelles...

"Yes, there are I think sixty-two countries this year, and for us it is exotic and interesting to know what other children in other parts of the world are thinking. It is children between four and fifteen years who are participating. So it really is something. You have to see it."

Zdenek LyckaZdenek LyckaThere were eighty-two children from Lidice who were murdered when the village was destroyed by the Nazis, in what way does this exhibition help to keep their memory alive?

"First of all, any time when a child is killed, it is something which is very shocking and not normal, and I think this is one of the possibilities who not to forget, to keep the memory alive, just to remember, because nowadays children cannot imagine situations like that, we are living in democracy, we don't have problems like that. I think it is good to commemorate, at least once a year."

And this exhibition is going to continue in various parts of the Czech Republic and also abroad, I believe.

"Yes, this exhibition will be shown here at Lidice in the new gallery, and then at some other exhibition places in our country, and then will be shifted to the Czech Centres in Europe and some Czech Embassies, which are helping us to establish the exhibition abroad."

And if you want to find out more about the Lidice children's painting exhibition, have a look at www.lidice-memorial.cz