Research

Public invited to share Second World War stories

Dr Hanna Diamond

Dr Hanna Diamond, curator of the Fleeing Hitler website

A new interactive website that shares people’s experiences from the Second World War will be launched in Bath at a public event at the Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution (BRLSI) on Tuesday 29 January.

The Fleeing Hitler website is devoted to the experiences of men, women and children who escaped Paris in June 1940 and its creator, Dr Hanna Diamond from the University’s Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, hopes that people with personal experience, or interest in the events, will come along to discover and review the website.

Dr Diamond published a book in 2007 on the exodus from Paris and the response from people who got in touch to share personal or family memories, diaries and testimonies inspired her to create a website to become a home for their stories and a forum for discussion.

The website is designed and produced by Storm Consultancy, based in Bath and founded by University of Bath graduates. It is pioneering a new form of living history, using digital technology to enhance people’s personal experiences and stories.

Fleeing children. Photo courtesy of Roger Viollet/Topfoto

Children flee Hitler's advance in 1940. Photo courtesy of Roger Viollet/Topfoto

Prior to Dr Diamond’s publication the momentous event in French history was largely overlooked. As Hitler’s victorious armies approached Paris in June 1940, the French government abandoned the city and its people, leaving behind them an atmosphere of panic. Roads heading south filled with nearly two million ordinary people fleeing for their lives.

Dr Diamond said: “When I wrote my book back in 2007, little did I know it was going to open up all these stories. People have told me that my book allowed them, for the first time, to feel that they have a story to tell. The evacuation had become an unspoken secret, an experience that they couldn’t talk about.

“Now people feel they can speak about it and they want other people to know and for other people to use their stories, diaries and memoirs as a resource. I’ve mostly heard from British and American people who were caught up in the events, or the families of those who were there.”

Dr Diamond will present the website at BRSLI, 16 Queen Square, Bath at 7.30pm on Tuesday 29 January, with refreshments and an opportunity to browse the website and give feedback. Tickets cost £4 or £2 to members and students. For more information please see the BRLSI website or call 01225 312084.

The project has been funded by the University of Bath’s Knowledge Transfer Account from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and and the Bath Alumni Fund.

 

For media enquiries:

Alison Jones
University Press Office
44 (0) 1225 386986
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