Propaganda, Rumors and Migration. The evacuation case of the German-French Border 1939/40

18 October 2019 | 12:00 — 14:00

FBK Aula Piccola

Fondazione Bruno Kessler - Polo delle Scienze Umane e sociali

FBK Aula Piccola

Fondazione Bruno Kessler - Polo delle Scienze Umane e sociali

While France and Great-Britain were about to declare war on Germany, more than one million persons were evacuated from the Franco-German Border. Led on both side of the border by civilian and military authorities, the Alsatians, Lorrainers, Badners and Saarlanders living between the defence lines (Maginot-Line, Siegfried Line) were transported inside their own country. These evacuations measures formed – after the mobilization on the front of the men in-age to fight – the second important measure of war, which turned these civil societies into war societies. This transformation has not only consequences on political, economic and social level, but also on communication. The evacuations phenomena allow us to shed light on state propaganda on a national and international level, to reveal the communication methods and interactions between the local authorities and the evacuees and finally to show the communications systems within groups of evacuees by analysing rumours on pillages of the evacuated region. This approach highlights a history of communication in both French and German war society based on top-down and bottom-up perspectives and on comparative and transnational analyses. Communication in war society appears as the fruit of negotiations and interactions in constant evolution between agents with different interests. This study emphasized the limits of the state’s influence over the population, both in a republican democratic state as the French Third Republic and in a dictatorial state with totalitarian ambitions such as the “Third Reich”.

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