James E. Connolly
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Liberation, remembering and forgetting

This chapter provides a brief summary of the experience of liberation in the Nord, notably the Germans’ violent retreat involving scorched-earth tactics, the forcible evacuation of civilians, and the jubilant reception those civilians who remained offered to liberating British and Canadian troops. It briefly discusses the disenchantment with the Allied re-occupation and the difficulties posed by reconstruction, before turning to the way in which the occupation was remembered. The chapter argues that occupation misconduct remained present in collective consciousness in the immediate months after liberation; some claimed that punishments for such behaviour were too lax or too rare, although there were some trials. Misconduct soon faded from memory, whereas resistance remained a stronger, key component of the ‘official’ and local memory of the occupation into the 1930s, especially visible in monuments, ceremonies, and the local press. The book’s conclusion highlights the marginal nature of the occupied Nord’s experience of the war, re-states the case for an occupied culture, and expresses the hope that this work has provided an insight into the complex range of behaviours and responses to the German presence in the occupied Nord in 1914-1918.

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The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18

Living with the enemy in First World War France


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