Signposts: Returning to War

Richard Overy examines recent analyses of how Europe became embroiled in major conflict just two decades after the trauma of the Great War and we look at events and broadcasts commemorating September 1939. 

There is no particular reason to mark the passing of 70 years but so enduring has been the fascination in Britain with the last truly global conflict that no opportunity is ever lost to revisit familiar stories. In the final anniversary week, through to September 3rd, BBC Television plans to broadcast short programmes of Home Front experiences. The outbreak of war is not quite the Blitz, but fears of bombing, the feebleness of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Hitler’s unappeasable territorial appetites, the stories of evacuation and the return of Churchill to high office are all the stuff of our collective imagination about 1939.

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