Please join us at Roosevelt House as we welcome historian Lynne Olson to mark the publication of her new book, Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War, a groundbreaking account of how Britain became the base of operations for the exiled leaders of Europe in their desperate struggle to reclaim their continent from Hitler.
Olson, the New York Times bestselling author of Citizens of London and Those Angry Days, will be in conversation with Benjamin Hett, professor of history, Hunter College, about London’s role as a refuge for the governments and armed forces of six occupied nations who escaped there to continue the fight. So, too, did General Charles de Gaulle, the self-appointed representative of free France. As the only European democracy still holding out against Hitler, Britain became known to occupied countries as “Last Hope Island.” Getting there, one young emigré declared, was “like getting to heaven.”
Olson and Hett will discuss lesser-known aspects of World War II history, including the crucial efforts of Polish pilots during the Battle of Britain; the vital role played by French and Polish code breakers in cracking the Germans’ reputedly indecipherable Enigma code; and the flood of top-secret intelligence about German operations — gathered by spies throughout occupied Europe — that helped ensure the success of the 1944 Allied invasion.
Last Hope Island recalls with vivid humanity that brief moment in time when the peoples of Europe stood together in their effort to roll back the tide of conquest and restore order to a broken continent.
This program is made possible through the generous support of Max Wolfson Schapiro.