France’s roads to ex­o­dus

BBC History Magazine - - Letters -

Gary Old­man’s Churchillian meta­mor­pho­sis in the film Dark­est Hour (pic­tured right) is to be praised. I hope it helps peo­ple to un­der­stand what was hap­pen­ing in France at the time. The Routes de l’Ex­ode (Roads to Ex­o­dus) saw per­haps 8–10 mil­lion French peo­ple thrown onto the road, head­ing west. That rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion, joined by Bel­gian, Lux­em­bourger and Dutch fam­i­lies – the whole lot ter­rorised by the Nazi on­slaught.

They had good rea­sons to be scared, as the Luft­waffe had the de­light­ful trick of gun­ning down the civil­ians on th­ese roads. I owe the fact I can write this let­ter to the Ger­man pilot who must have run out of bul­lets, thus sav­ing my own fa­ther’s life. My dad was 10 at the time.

I am grate­ful to this film for re­mind­ing our Anglo-Saxon friends of this re­al­ity. My rel­a­tives drove and walked up to the sea, be it a Nor­mandy beach, Saint Nazaire or Brest. They walked on and back home, women and chil­dren alike. Mean­while just un­der 2 mil­lion sol­diers would be lan­guish­ing in prison camps for the next four years. Lis­ten­ing to the BBC would be the only re­lief. Ex­o­dus in­deed.

Therese Prieur, Hum­ber­side

We re­ward the Let­ter of the Month writer with our ‘His­tory Choice’ book of the month. This is­sue, it’s Stormtroop­ers by Daniel Siemens. Read the re­view on page 73

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