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An oral history
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This book provides a unique perspective on the Allied bombing of France during the Second World War which killed around 57,000 French civilians. Using oral history as well as archival research, it provides an insight into children's wartime lives in which bombing often featured prominently, even though it has slipped out of French collective memory. The book compares three French towns with different experiences of bombing: Boulogne-Billancourt , Brest, and Lille. Divided into three parts dealing with expectations, experiences and explanations of bombing, the book considers the child's view of wartime violence, analysing resilience, understanding and trauma. The first part of the book deals with the time before bombing. It examines how the French prepared for war and preparations made specifically for bombing, showing how state-level and municipal-level preparations. The second part considers the time during bombing and its aftermath. It discusses the experience of being bombed, examining children's practical, sensory and emotional responses. The fascinating and frightening scenes in the immediate aftermath of bombing that made lasting impressions on children, including destruction, chaos and encounters with violent, public death. Changes in status as a result of bombing becoming a sinistre, refugee or evacuee had far-reaching consequences in some children's lives, affecting their education and economic situation. The last section looks at the way in which air raids were explained to the French population. It considers the propaganda that criticised and defended the Allies, and an understanding of the history of Vichy.

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Lindsey Dodd

, and airfields in northern France. Throughout the war, RAF (Royal Air Force) Bomber Command bombed a range of French targets in line with campaigns taking place elsewhere. For example, the Battle of the Atlantic led to attacks first on German surface raiders docked at Brest until February 1942, and then heavy raids on the Atlantic ports of Brest, Lorient, Saint-Nazaire, La Pallice and Bordeaux in early 1943, which intended to destroy the U-boat bases. The RAF and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) attacked industrial targets across France, including the

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
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Lindsey Dodd

The bombs had indeed destroyed nineteen of the Renault plant’s buildings and more than 700 machine tools, left 600 seriously damaged, and affected 2,000 others. However, that still left 89 per cent of the buildings unscathed and 79 per cent of machine tools intact.2 This is not to suggest that Allied raids did not damage their targets:  by August 1941, the German warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Hipper, docked in Brest, were ‘immobilised’.3 Renault lost five months’ production following 3 March 1942 and six months’ after 4 April 1943.4 The latter raid also

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
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Refugees in Russia, 1914-18
Irina Belova

the past.57 Brest-Litovsk and refugee resettlement from Soviet Russia After signing the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty in March 1918 the Soviet government was obliged to prepare for the re-evacuation of prisoners of war and refugees on its territory. Many refugees soon started to return home. This was no great surprise. The People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs announced that state allowances paid to refugees would come to an end. Since most refugees in the countryside were unable to obtain farm tools and seeds, this was devastating news. The main reason was

in Europe on the move
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Lindsey Dodd

  – through regional (from 1941), departmental and municipal levels down to the chefs d’ilôts (block leaders) who had street-level responsibilities. Each prefect applied civil defence legislation within his department, but the duty of care for civilians rested on mayoral shoulders. Yet the mayor’s role was ill-defined: he was told to ‘lend his support’ to the prefect.9 The Practical Instruction of 1931 established departmental committees but in some areas, planning had started earlier. In June 1929, Brest’s Committee for Défense Passive produced a Defence Plan.10 In the

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
Lindsey Dodd

elderly people was ordered from Brest in February 1943. It was becoming too difficult to protect civilians from increasingly heavy raids. Yvette Chapalain was thirteen. She was sent with her younger siblings in tow to board in central Finistère. Her narrative lingered on the emotional deprivation that this separation from home had entailed, and on her residual anger. Becoming an evacuee was just one consequence of bombing in children’s lives. Air raids created acute local crises and sparked large-scale population movement, pre-emptive and responsive, voluntary and

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
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Lindsey Dodd

defence. The Défense Passive helped create the idea of future war through its educative output. Brochures often start with an instruction: if possible, leave.10 They contain information about military aviation, and discuss the effects of explosives, incendiaries and toxic gases. Brochures that gave about advice about shelters, masks, blackout and injuries painted a frightening picture. In early 1939, cinemagoers in Brest would have seen on screen the message ‘Think about défense passive: darkness is the best defence against aerial attacks’, and the Prefect of Finistère

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
Lindsey Dodd

range.2 The first campaign from June 1940 into 1941 sought to destroy the German invasion fleet amassing on the north coast, and to damage French airfields used by the Luftwaffe. Ports along the west coast were bombed as the Battle of the Atlantic got underway, and Brest became a key target from December 1940 because several German warships were docked there. Submarine bases along the Atlantic coast were targeted from late 1940, although this campaign peaked in early 1943 when Lorient fell victim to the Allies’ only official area bombing operation in France. From

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
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Lindsey Dodd

of that’, and Josette Dutilleul (Hellemmes) remarked ‘it was completely unexpected’. For Henri Girardon (Brest), ‘we never thought it could happen to us’, and Michel Jean-Bart (Lomme) said that no one had believed ‘that it could happen to their own home’. In some cases, long immunity from bombing gave rise to complacency. Édith Denhez in Cambrai during 1944, where planes had flown past so many times, remarked that ‘we didn’t believe in bombing anymore’. Max Potter in the eighteenth arrondissement of Paris agreed: ‘We didn’t think it could be for us, we didn

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45
John Lough

Chapter 3 looks at the impact of Germany’s reunification on views of Russia. It explains how this miraculous outcome occurred more by chance than because of a conscious policy of benevolence on the part of Moscow towards Germans. Reunification is associated with a time when it seemed that a united Germany was fully reconciled with both its western and eastern neighbours and at peace with Russia. In historical terms, it was the shortest of unsustainable moments when the USSR was in retreat, close to unravelling and ready to make sacrifices in relations with the West to gain time. This was Russia’s second Brest-Litovsk of the twentieth century. Consequently, German gratitude to Moscow for reunification, while understandable, is exaggerated. Gorbachev’s decision to allow the USSR’s satellites to go their own way had made the process unstoppable. Germany’s good fortune lay in the fact that the speed of events outstripped Moscow’s ability to keep up and excluded the possibility to use force to save the country at least temporarily. In addition, Gorbachev accepted the western arguments that it made sense to integrate a united Germany into NATO. Even if Russia’s current leaders would not have followed the same logic and despise Gorbachev for allowing the USSR to disintegrate, they are still happy for Germany to feel a sense of obligation towards Moscow for making reunification possible. The emotions associated with the issue form another part of Germans’ historical conditioning and provide a pressure point for Russia in its dealings with Germany.

in Germany’s Russia problem