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Fourth Douglas Johnson Memorial Lecture in French History.

 

The Society for the Study of French History

&

The Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France

&

The Institute of Historical Research, London

present:


The Douglas Johnson Memorial Lecture, Wednesday 15 January 2014.

Andrew Knapp, Professor of French Politics and Contemporary History, University of Reading.

Bombing and Memory: Britain and France, 1940-1945

 

Play Podcast of lecture via School of Advanced Studies or download mp3 audio file. You can also download the Lecture slides which provide supportive detail for the lecture.


Synopsis

Between 1940 and 1945, Germany dropped some 75,000 tonnes of bombs – including V1s and V2s – on the UK, causing some 60,595 deaths. Even while it was happening, the Blitz was being woven into Britain’s national identity. It has stayed there ever since as the prime symbol of our finest hour.

Less well known is that over the same period, the Allies dropped roughly 518,000 tonnes on France, killing at least 57,000 French civilians, wounding perhaps 75,000 more, and leaving most of France’s towns and cities officially war-damaged, and some, such as Le Havre or Caen or Brest or Royan, practically flattened. This bombing campaign, lasting over four years, is known to military historians, and vividly remembered at the local level. But its place in a national narrative of France’s ‘dark years’, dominated by the heroism of the Resistance, the iniquity of Vichy, and the horror of France’s role in the Holocaust, is marginal.

Why should two experiences of bombing, so comparable in terms of human loss and material damage, occupy such different places in the memories of our two countries? What would a narrative of France’s war years that fully integrated the bombing look like? What specific moral problems does the bombing of France present, to the Allies and to the French? And, seven decades on from the year when most of the victims died, should we be remembering them more, on both sides of the Channel?

Professor Andrew Knapp


Poster

 

Douglas Johnson Annual Lecture

Previous Lectures:

The First Douglas Johnson Annual Lecture:
The Society for the Study of French History and The Institute of Historical Research, London present:
Julian Jackson (Queen Mary University of London), 'The Century of Charles de Gaulle' (November 2010).
[details and video/podcast of event]


The Second Douglas Johnson Annual Lecture:
The Society for the Study of French History and The Institute of Historical Research, London present:
Professor Richard Thomson (Edinburgh University), 'New Wine in Old Bottles: Adapting and Abusing Tradition in French Visual Culture, 1880-1910' (January 2012).
[details and podcast of event]


The Third Douglas Johnson Annual Lecture:
The Society for the Study of French History and The Institute of Historical Research, London present:
Professor Ruth Harris, (New College, Oxford), 'Rolland, Gandhi and Madeleine Slade: Spiritual Politics, France and the Wider World' (January 2013).
[details and podcast of event]

 

The Fifth Douglas Johnson Annual Lecture:
The Society for the Study of French History, the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France and The Institute of Historical Research, London present:
Professor John Horne, (Trinity College Dublin), 'Myth or Model? The French Revolution in the Great War' (January 2015).
[details and podcast of event]

 

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