France’s roads to exodus
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