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Authors: Buonaiuto, Zoe Rose
Advisors: Nord, Philip G.
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Commemoration
Military death
World War II
Subjects: Military history
European history
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In the seventy-five years since D-Day the military cemeteries in Normandy have become symbols of European and transatlantic unity and peace. This dissertation is, in part, a study of death and the Battle of Normandy during World War II. More than that, it uses the subject of war dead as a lens to analyze how local, national, and international politics intersected over the shared struggle to collect, bury, and commemorate soldiers who fell on Norman soil in the summer of 1944. This dissertation makes three primary arguments. First, Normandy developed a fervid local commitment to the commemoration of D-Day. The notion that Normandy was martyred for the West meant that its people could not forget the violence of the war, and allowed them to seize and shape the liberation story. This put Normandy at odds with France’s Provisional Government (1944-1946) under Charles de Gaulle, who sought to distance France from Allied, particularly American, influence. The Fourth Republic (1946-1958) was too distracted by colonial unrest to make commemoration a priority, so Normans themselves continued to be the brokers of D-Day’s memory into the future. Second, hosting German war graves made Normandy one of the earliest sites of Franco-German reconciliation in the postwar period. Welcoming mourning German families acknowledged their common humanity. Finally, as symbols of the wartime alliance, American cemeteries played an important role in tempering the antagonism between de Gaulle and the United States, limiting postwar Franco-American disputes. Normandy became synonymous with Anglo-American victory, and anniversary celebrations provided an international stage for diplomats eager to position the liberal democracies of the West against their new bogeyman: the Soviet Union.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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