We’ve got an enormous 26 twin and sister cities across the world, promoting cultural exchanges, business and tourism links, and healing the scars of the past.
Here are just a few of those links – and why they’re important to us.
Lidice, Czech Republic
The modern village of Lidice is built near the site of an older one, that was decimated in an act of Nazi revenge.
British-trained Czechoslovakian commandos assassinated one of the most powerful men in WW2 Germany, Reinhard Heydrich, in 1942. German intelligence agents falsely linked the resistance agents to the village of Lidice, and they utterly destroyed it in a brutal reprisal.
Representatives from Coventry Council were there at the laying of a foundation stone for a new village in 1947, and sent a thousand roses for their memorial garden in the 50’s.
This is one way in which Coventry uses its twin city arrangements – to help each other heal the scars of the past.
He had a huge hand in the shape of modern Oz – campaigning on issues like uniting the Australian colonies, self-governance, stopping convicts being exported to the continent, and working on a huge rail network across the vast land.
Parkes once visited a gold-rush town in 1871, just before his first election as Premier of New South Wales – and they named the town after him.
He would go on to have 5 stints as Premier – but he died in poverty in 1896. Five years later, his dream of a united Australia would be realised.
Coventry sent a plaque to the town of Parkes in 1956 to commemorate the great man – and to show the locals where their namesake came from.
The three Coventrys of the USA
Our city is twinned with three towns that share our name in the USA, in Connecticut, New York State, and Rhode Island.
Rhode Island’s Coventry is one of the oldest towns in the states, and one of the biggest in that small state – though no doubt they’d be overawed if they came to visit our much bigger original.
Our link with the one in Connecticut started when we sent a delegation to them in 1962, to help them celebrate their 250th birthday.
The Coventry in New York State was founded by settlers from our city – there’s even a nearby hamlet called Coventryville for good measure.
These show another use for twin cities – celebrating shared heritage.
Kiel and Dresden, Germany
During the Second World War, the UK and Germany did an enormous amount of damage to each other using bombs – first to hit industry, and then to terrorise each other’s cities and people in the hopes that one would surrender first.
After the dust had settled, Coventry twinned with two German cities that had also suffered from air raids – Kiel and Dresden.
Our relationship with Kiel in northern Germany began when a British serviceman got the Mayor of Kiel to send a letter to Coventry’s leaders – in 1947, we sent a cross to Kiel, made from the nails of the destroyed Coventry Cathedral.
In an act of reconciliation, we partnered with Dresden in 1956 – Allied bombers obliterated the city centre in 1945, killing around 25,000 in 3 days.
One of our very first partnerships was born during the Second World War, with the city of Volgograd, or Stalingrad as it was known at the time.
During the brutal German siege of the city, women from Coventry managed to get together and send messages of hope to the civilians in Stalingrad, who were refused evacuation by the Soviet dictator Stalin.
A tablecloth was signed by 900 women, and it’s on display at a Volgograd museum. The people of Coventry also sent supplies and medicines to the Russians.
Whatever happens in the destructive games of dictators and madmen, it’s sympathy, empathy and the sharing of hope helps to keep us human.
This is just 8 of our 26 international partnerships – you can find the story behind the rest on the Coventry City Council website here.
Did you know these stories behind our twin cities? Which would you like to go and see? Comment below, or talk to us on social media.