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Fallen from the sky. The fate of pilots shot down in Europe, 1939-1945.

CegeSoma Public History Meeting (2022-5)

Claire Andrieu, Tombés du ciel. Le sort des pilotes abattus en Europe, 1939-1945.

Conference-debate in French with guest Claire Andrieu (Sciences Po, Paris)

An interview conducted by Alain Colignon (CegeSoma/State Archives)

More than one hundred thousand airmen were thrown to the ground after their aircraft crashed between 1939 and 1945. More than half of this number lost their lives and a third were taken prisoner. Almost a tenth of them managed to escape from their pursuers. When confronted by these men who 'fell from the sky', civilians did not all react in the same way: the French of May-June 1940 resisted the invaders; the British took the Luftwaffe airmen prisoner in a civil manner; the occupied French hid downed Allied pilots and helped them reach England; Germans lynched them from 1943 onwards. In this innovative and wide-ranging study, Claire Andrieu has studied the behaviour of civilians and the causes of their diverse attitudes when faced with  an unexpected and urgent situation. The interest of Andrieu’s work lies not only in the precision of the facts recounted, but also in the comparative and explanatory dimension that she brings and, perhaps above all, in the reflections, the historiographical perspectives and the new fields of research that this topic invites.

The CegeSoma has the great pleasure and privilege of inviting you on 16 November for an exceptional Public History Meeting with Professor Claire Andrieu, guest of the International Chair of the Second World War in 2022-2023 and winner of the Baron Velge Prize in 2022 (Program of the Chair on the right). She will be interviewed by Alain Colignon (CegeSoma) about her latest book published in 2021 by Editions Tallandier. An English version will be published in December 2022 by Cambridge University Press.

Claire Andrieu is Professor Emeritus of Contemporary History at Sciences Po, Paris. A specialist of the Second World War and the Liberation of France and Europe, she is also a former member of the Study Mission on the Spoliation of Jews in France and a member of various foundations for the memory of the Shoah, the Resistance, the memory of slavery and the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Anti-Semitic Spoliation. She is the author of numerous works on the Resistance, Collaboration, the spoliation and persecution of Jews, the Liberation, etc.



Alain Colignon is a historian from the University of Liège. For many years, he has managed the library of the CegeSoma/State Archives. He is the author of various works on the history of the Occupation and the intimate life of the population in wartime, and he specialises in studies on the Collaboration and the Resistance, he is currently preparing a book on Walloon society between 1930 and 1940.