Fleeing Hitler: France 1940

Fleeing Hitler: France 1940

by HannaDiamond (Author)


Wednesday 12th June 1940. The Times reported 'thousands upon thousands of Parisians leaving the capital by every possible means, preferring to abandon home and property rather than risk even temporary Nazi domination'. As Hitler's victorious armies approached Paris, the French government abandoned the city and its people, leaving behind them an atmosphere of panic. Roads heading south filled with ordinary people fleeing for their lives with whatever personal possessions they could carry, often with no particular destination in mind. During the long, hard journey, this mass exodus of predominantly women, children, and the elderly, would face constant bombings, machine gun attacks, and even starvation. Using eyewitness accounts, memoirs, and diaries, Hanna Diamond shows how the disruption this exodus brought to the lives of civilians and soldiers alike made it a defining experience of the war for the French people. As traumatized populations returned home, preoccupied by the desire for safety and bewildered by the unexpected turn of events, they put their faith in Marshall Petain who was able to establish his collaborative Vichy regime largely unopposed, while the Germans consolidated their occupation. Watching events unfold on the other side of the channel, British ministers looked on with increasing horror, terrified that Britain could be next.


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More Information

Format: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Publisher: OUP Oxford
Published: 14 Jun 2007

ISBN 10: 0192806181
ISBN 13: 9780192806185

Media Reviews
Diamond has providedus with a compelling account of the exodus, one which vividly brings to life a period of profound upheaval in French society. * Lynne Taylor, The English Historical Review *
The strength of Diamond's book is to convey the poignancy, drama and ambiguity of an experience that directly touched the lives of many more people than the Resistance ever did... her readable book superbly conveys the strange unreality of those hot summer days of 1940. * Julian Jackson, Times Higher Education Supplement *
A fascinating story, rich in biblical drama, and one that has not been previously told in English. [Diamond] is excellent at describing the political machinations that culminated in Paul Reynaud's resignation...[a] valuable book. * Walter Cook, Tribune *
Gripping reading. * Max Hastings, Sunday Times (Culture) *
Hanna Diamond...tells the story vividly and even-handedly. [This] book benefits greatly from the vast number of r witness memoirs. * Allan Massie, Literary Review *
A vivid and poignant account... a forgotten moment of the devastation of war brought to life. * Robert Gildea, author of 'Marianne in Chains' *
Diamond has an excellent eye for the striking detail...as a work of history, this book is an invaluable account of the fall of France, seen through the lens of the sufferings of its citizens. * Carmen Callil, Financial Times (FT Magazine) *
a major contribution * Modern and Contemporary France, Volume 15, Number 4 *
Author Bio
Hanna Diamond is Senior Lecturer in French History in the Department of European Studies at the University of Bath. She lived and taught in Paris for many years and has spent her career researching into the lives of the French people during the twentieth century. Her previous book, Women and the Second World War in France 1939-48: choices and constraints is also based on personal narratives and oral history. It was the first to explore the range of women's experiences of the war. She is currently working on a micro history of a mining community in southern France.