When Men Fell from the Sky: Civilians and Downed Airmen in Second World War Europe

Between 1940 and 1945, more than 100,000 airmen were shot down over Europe, a few thousand of whom survived and avoided being arrested. When Men Fell from the Sky is a comparative history of the treatment of these airmen by civilians in France, Germany and Britain. By studying the situation on the ground, Claire Andrieu shows how these encounters reshaped societies at a local level. She reveals how the fall of France in 1940 may have concealed an insurrection nipped in the bud, that the ‘People’s War’ in Britain was not merely a myth, and that in Germany, the ‘racial community of the people’ had in fact become a social reality with Allied airmen increasingly subjected to lynching from 1943 onwards. By considering why the treatment of these airmen contrasted so strongly in these countries, Andrieu sheds new light on how civilians reacted when confronted with the war ‘at home’.