A NEW arts project is getting started to share the story of how miners from County Durham helped rebuild an eastern European pit village following a Nazi massacre.

The heartbreaking story of how 192 men and 94 children were murdered,and 184 women transported to concentration camps during the Second World War is the inspiration behind a new piece of music, to be created by County Durham-based InterOpera.

They want to tell the story of how miners in County Durham helped to raise the equivalent of £39million in today’s money to re-build the Czech village of Lidice following the massacre of 1942.

The village was razed to the ground but thanks to the efforts of the Lidice Shall Live campaign, enough was raised to rebuild it for the surviving 143 women and 17 children.

Artistic director Lesley Ann Dawes said: “The whole thing was incredibly horrific

“When it was reported in England and the miners got to hear about it and it was another mining area so they decided wouldn’t let Hitler get away with destroying the village and they raised the money to rebuild it.

“It came out of their war time wages and they managed to raise £1m to build the village and create a memorial to the children who were gassed.

“It’s very poignant and Durham miners are at the core of it. Part of what we are trying to do no is get people feeling proud of what has been done in the past.”

The company has been given Arts Council funding to carry out the first part of the project, but will need to secure more funding to complete the full piece, Massacre of the Innocents.

It will be putting on a performance on Saturday, which takes place at Ushaw College, near Durham, to introduce people to the project and to gain interest to try and secure the funds needed to produce the full piece.

This week, they have been working with 13 and 14-year-olds at at Shotton Hall Academy, in Peterlee, at Durham Johnston School, in Durham, and Teesdale School, in Barnard Castle to try and share the story further.

The concert on Saturday will include some of the company’s past commissions, as well as a piece called the Promised Child, which is part of the new project.

The concert features Easington Colliery Brass Band and Ushaw Chapel Choir, as well as Australian soprano Laura Wolk-Levanowicz and baritone Chris Childs Santos and is conducted by Alistair Dawes.

Tickets are £9 and are available from www.ushaw.org.