Dr Hanna Diamond, a leading Second World War expert from our Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies says the anniversary of French liberation is an important date to mark and reflect on.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the French Liberation, when over 130,000 Allied soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy to drive invading armies from France and re-establish the Republic on French soil.
Dr Diamond’s research has focused on the experience of war by ordinary people living in France at the time and in particular the role of women in liberation efforts. She is the author of ‘Women and the Second World War in France’ and ‘Fleeing Hitler – France 1940’ and its accompanying website www.fleeinghitler.org .
Speaking to our press officer Andrew Dunne, Hanna said: “The 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of France is an important anniversary to mark and reflect upon.
“This is the story of the liberation from Nazism of a major European country both through its own efforts and with the help of the Allies. Seventy years on from D-Day, it teaches us lessons about the struggle against tyranny and oppression and about the need for solidarity in the cause of freedom. These messages are as pertinent today as they were 70 years ago.”
Dr Diamond is currently involved in organising a major international conference, The Liberation of France: Histories and Memories, taking place at the Institut français in London on Friday 13 – Saturday 14 June. This event will be an opportunity to understand more about fighting in France and the role of ‘non- French’ – foreigners who were members of the Free French Forces – in the Liberation. It will also be an opportunity to discuss the ‘other occupation’ in France, of US forces.
The event features contributions from Lord Paddy Ashdown, author of the new book ‘The Cruel Victory – The French Resistance, D-Day and the Battle for the Vercors 1944’, and from Madame Rol-Tanguy, surviving widow of the Commander-in-Chief of the French Resistance forces who helped to liberate Paris.
Dr Diamond added: “Through first-hand accounts, visual records and new research emerging in the field, our upcoming event will help us to understand the Liberation not so much in terms of conflicts and armies and governments, but through the experiences of ordinary people who lived through it.”
Read Hanna's latest article published in today’s The Conversation, “70 years after D-Day, women of the French Resistance are finally being recognised”.