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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Friday Lecture Series

Free lecture series—open to the public

Setting Europe Ablaze: Britain and the European Resistance — Ray Callahan, Ph.D.

Fridays, 12:30 p.m.–1:45 p.m.
October 13–November 17, 2017
Arsht Hall, Room 108/9

After World War I, as Britain dedicated monuments to its 750,000 war dead, military thought turned, unsurprisingly, to how to do it better “next time.” Out of this came the concept of swiftly-moving tank armies as well as the idea of strategic bombing. Both would have enormous impact on the way World War II was waged.

There was however a third new idea which would make a profound impression, not only on World War II but on events down to the present day: using resistance groups inside an enemy’s territory to distract and damage your opponent. Frowned upon by orthodox soldiers, irregular warfare might have remained marginal but for Winston Churchill. Confronted by an existential challenge in 1940, he grasped the idea, overrode all opposition and created the Special Operations Executive, telling its first head, “Now go set Europe ablaze.”

What happened next is the subject of this series of lectures about the organization that was the model for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (which in turn gave birth to the CIA).

No registration is required for this series; it is free to all lifelong learning members and the public. Bring a friend!

Ray Callahan is a University of Delaware professor emeritus of history, where he taught for 38 years. In addition, he is former director of UD’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program (MALS), and served as associate dean of arts and sciences. Author of Churchill and His Generals, Callahan’s most recent book is Triumph at Imphal-Kohima: How the Indian Army Finally Stopped the Japanese Juggernaut.