Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.
‘Britain at War’. On 3rd September 1939, Britain declared war against Germany. How did the country respond to this immediate challenge? Fully expecting imminent German air attacks, the country undertook the evacuation of children and vulnerable civilians from cities, as well as implementing conscription, food rationing and blackouts. With references to first-hand experiences, we will examine how the British reacted to what is known as the ‘Phoney War’.
‘Bombs, Blitz and Civil Defence’. The ‘Phoney War’ was an anti-climax. But in April and May 1940 Hitler invaded the countries of western Europe. Would Britain be next? We will investigate how the British coped first during the Battle of Britain, and then the nightly bombing raids on the industrial infrastructure of the country during the Blitz, September 1940 – May 1941. How did civilians defend their country?
‘Dig for Victory’. Britain was now alone. Normal supply routes of food and other consumer goods were severely disrupted or non-existent. How did the country survive? We will examine the far-reaching measures introduced to mobilise families, workers, even children to ensure that factories supported the war-effort, and a nation did not go hungry. We will focus too on women who played such a crucial role during these challenging years.
‘The Domestic War’. Who were Britain’s domestic enemies during the Second World War? Despite the ‘Blitz spirit’, there were sections of society whose loyalty to the country was decidedly questionable. We will seek to understand the motives and behaviour of both criminals and the more serious group known as the ‘Fifth Column’ whose objectives were to facilitate a German victory. What if Germany had invaded? What measures did Britain adopt to prepare for such an eventuality? We will explore the stories of those who engaged in what Churchill referred to as the art of ‘ungentlemanly warfare’.
‘Keeping up Morale: Facing the Future’. What happens to civilian morale, to people’s attitudes and behaviour when families are separated, and everyday life is such a strain? We will first examine the social and cultural aspects of life on the home front before looking at how the government managed the domestic challenges of war, and then turned its attention to providing its people hope and a vision for the future.