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Donkin's World: A time To Remember Or Time To Forget?

Richard Donkin says there is still a sensitivity to doing anything to remind French people of their country's capitulation during World War Two.

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Recently we were driving on the outskirts of Bordeaux. I hadn't realised that Bordeaux's U-Boat pens had been captured near the end of the Second World War. They remain almost as they were when they were built. But they stand empty and closed to visitors.

I would have thought the French would have turned something as historically significant as this in to a museum but even more than 60 years after the war, there are still sensitivities to doing anything that reminds people of France's capitulation. It's not a chapter of history that the French take pride in recalling.

Yet not far to the East of Bordeaux at Chasseneuil-sur-Bonnieure, there is a reminder of another, more noble page in that chapter in the French Resistance memorial and war cemetery. There were hundreds of resistance attacks in the region after D-Day June 6, 1944, mainly aimed at delaying the progress north of the SS tank division, Das Reich, seeking to join the fighting.

An imaginative marina development, alongside some restoration of the pens, with possibly the inclusion of a working U-Boat would help to remind future generations of the importance of this area for German naval operations in the Second World War - but perhaps that's the problem.


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