Moulin was one of the central figures of resistance in France. He served as General de Gaulle’s emissary in France, working to knit together the competing factions of resistance into a unified movement. He played a central role in creating the Conseil National de la Résistance, one of the foundation stones of the liberation of France.
Tragically, Moulin was captured soon afterwards in Lyon, and fell into the hands of the infamous SS torturer Klaus Barbie.
The University of Chichester was delighted to welcome three outstanding speakers to consider Jean Moulin and his memory - Professor Richard J Golsan (Texas A&M), Professor Hanna Diamond (Cardiff) and Dr Andrew W.M. Smith (Chichester).
Their presentations followed an enthusiastic scene-setting introduction by Martyn Bell, the Mayor of Chichester and co-founder of The Secret WW2 Learning Network, who's been a passionate Jean Moulin historian for almost all his adult life.
The speakers discussed the ways in which Moulin is commemorated today, and the trial of his torturer Klaus Barbie which brought that memory into question. Hanna Diamond revealed the thinking behind the new Jean Moulin museum in Paris, which is scheduled to open next year - and she treated the audience to some rare archive film and photos featuring Jean Moulin.
Throughout all the sessions there were lively thought-provoking exchanges between those on the platform and the audience, which included Chichester councillor Clare Apel and her husband Ralph; the Chairman, Director and Curators of the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum; Secret WW2's Chair Louisa Russell; and its co-founder Martyn Cox.
The event was made possible by the support of the Society for the Study of French History through a Visiting Scholar Grant and has been planned in conjunction with Dr Andrew WM Smith and Professor Hugo Frey at Chichester, and Dr Joan Tumblety of the University of Southampton.
Professor Golsan is one of the outstanding inter-disciplinary scholars of his generation working on the borderlines of French history, French literary studies and the broader field of the study of intellectuals and politics in Western Europe today.
Professor Diamond is an outstanding historian of France’s social and cultural history, who has written notably on the Exodus following the fall of France, the experience of women during the war and on the photography of the Occupation.
Dr Andrew W. M. Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary History and Politics at the University of Chichester and historian of the French and Francophone world. Professor Rod Kedward (Sussex) was, sadly, unable to attend due to illness.
Chichester is twinned with the city of Chartres where, at the time of German's occupation of France, Jean Moulin had been the Préfet - regional administrator - of the Eure-et-Loir département. Chartres was also where his first act of heroism saw him defy the impositions of the Nazi Occupier.
Likewise, it was from nearby RAF Tangmere that Moulin flew to France in March 1943, just two months before the creation of the CNR. The University continues to work with Tangmere Military Aviation Museum and The Secret WW2 Learning Network to commemorate this important local heritage, as it had with past commemorations of Jean Moulin’s crash landing at Tangmere and subsequent flight to Melay. In fact, Tangmere Military Aviation Museum will be running an exhibition on Tangmere and the Special Operations Executive (SOE) from Saturday 21 July until Sunday 2 September:
The photos below - courtesy of Louisa Russell and Martyn Cox - show the speakers in action, plus some post-event exchanges involving Hanna Diamond, Joan Tumblety, Hugo Frey, Richard Golsan & Martyn Bell.