I was shocked to read the article Wartime Tragedy Still Resonates (May edition). While Dr Blakemore did a good job of explaining the different experiences of France and the UK in the last war, I was embarrassed at his conclusion that perhaps it was time for the French ‘to take a new approach’ to their festivals of remembrance. Why should they?
Perhaps a country that suffered in this way twice in 20 years needs these festivals of remembrance in order to come to terms with suffering the horror of occupation.
Dr Blakemore can have no idea of the horrors of not knowing who you can trust around you, why a member of your family has disappeared under the Nazi Night and Fog arrests, or seeing a loved one, or rather a shadow of a loved one, eventually return from a concentration camp.
Marian Sweet, Hertfordshire
Dr Blakemore replies:
I am mystified that I should have given this impression, as I argued the French had suffered in a very different and personal way and “can therefore be excused for making more of the end of the war than Britain”. The concluding question was posed because of the misgivings of French politicians, not my own. My wife and I attend all our local commemoration events and join in the traditional refrain “mort pour la France”.