If the First World War divided Europe into ‘fronts’ and ‘home fronts’, it also created a third space – that of the lands caught behind enemy lines. Some 40 million civilians across Europe lived through the war under military occupation, in a space that was neither front nor home front. They were not in the firing line, but they suffered violence and occasionally inflicted it; they could not sustain their ‘own’ armies in munitions factories or hospitals, but many were made to work for an invading army, while others actively resisted. All in all, military occupation was a baffling experience, and so, at war’s end, ‘liberated’ civilians cast about for a way to make sense of it.
This lecture will take place in Grimond Lecture Theatre 1 and will begin at 18.00.
Sophie De Schaepdrijver is Professor of Modern European History at Pennsylvania State University and is the 2016-17 Leverhulme Visiting Professor here at the University of Kent, where she works together with historians of the First World War and with the Gateways to the First World War initiative.
She has published widely on the social and cultural history of the First World War and is an active public historian. Recent publications include Gabrielle Petit: the Death and Life of a Female Spy in the First World War and An English Governess in the Great War: The Secret Brussels Diary of Mary Thorp (co-written with Tammy Proctor).
Next to her academic work, she has curated the historical exhibition Bruges in the First World War, has written for The Guardian online, offered comments for BBC Radio Four, and co-wrote and presented the prize-winning television documentary Brave Little Belgium.
For more information about The Leverhulme Trust, please visit www.leverhulme.ac.uk.