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History As It Happens

Jun 15, 2021

In the first 24 hours of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, about as many French civilians were killed as Allied soldiers. From June 6 to August 25, in the areas of Northern France that saw the most fighting, “about twenty-thousand French civilians paid for liberation with their lives,” says University of Virginia historian William Hitchcock, the author of The Bitter Road to Freedom. In this episode, we compare history and memory of the invasion of Normandy and the power of liberation in our political vocabulary. By acknowledging the morally complicated nature of the liberation of France, U.S. leaders and citizens today might be more careful about invoking the Second World War to justify military missions of dubious necessity.