Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

International event commemorates 70th anniversary of French Liberation

Fri May 09 16:18:00 BST 2014

A major international conference, convened by Second World War expert Dr Hanna Diamond this June, will hear first-hand witness accounts from survivors to consider the impact of occupation and Liberation on ordinary people living in France at the time.

 
Liberation fighters, Paris, at the end of August 1944.

Liberation fighters, Paris, at the end of August 1944.

 
 

Coinciding with D-Day, the event commemorates the 70th anniversary of the French Liberation, when invading armies were driven from France and the Republic was re-established on French soil. The event will include an interview with Madame Rol-Tanguy, widow of the Commander-in-Chief of the French Resistance forces who helped liberate Paris.

Taking place at the Institut français, London, on 13-14 June, it will be an opportunity to present new research about fighting in France, to understand more about the role of the ‘non-French’ – foreigners who were members of the Free French Forces – and to discuss the ‘other occupation’ in France, of US forces.

Commenting, lead organiser Dr Hanna Diamond, explained: "The 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of France is an important anniversary to mark and to reflect upon. 

"Through first-hand accounts, visual records and new research emerging in this field, our upcoming event will help us to understand the Liberation, not so much in terms of the conflicts of armies and governments, but in terms of the experiences of ordinary people who lived through it.

"This is the story of the liberation from Nazism of a major European country, by its own efforts and with the help of the Allies. It teaches us lessons about the struggle against tyranny and oppression and about the need for solidarity in the cause of freedom – as relevant today as it was 70 years ago."

The event will feature a keynote speech from Lord Paddy Ashdown, for whom the subject also forms the basis of a new book, ‘The Cruel Victory – The French Resistance, D-Day and the Battle for the Vercors 1944’, published on 5 June.  

Lord Ashdown added: "In early 1941, three separate groups of plotters – one military, one political, one intellectual – began to organise and plan on and around the forbidding mountainous plateau near Grenoble – the Vercors. Their aim was the same: to hasten the departure of the Germans; to restore the pride of France after its fall and the humiliations of the puppet Vichy government which followed; and to build a new France."

Access the conference programme and register to attend the event on The Liberation of France: Histories and Memories website

Dr Diamond is the author of ‘Fleeing Hitler – France 1940’ and an expert on the French experience of war.