Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
French and Francophone Studies
This thesis includes translated sections of Clément Horvath’s Till Victory: Lettres du Jour J à la Victoire. The book contains the letters of soldiers and their families from the time of D- Day until the end of the war. These soldiers came from all over including France, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Canada. The book covers historical events in chronological order incorporating testimonials of those who witnessed these events to paint a picture of what the war was really like. It is almost unbelievable to read about what these soldiers went through and the relentlessness that was required for the Allies to win the war. The stories also show the heroism and selflessness of these individuals as they answered the cries for help without asking any questions, many of whom were fighting for completely foreign lands. Given that World War II is falling further into our past, it is important to preserve these testimonials as it reminds us of the horror of war. This sentiment is clearly expressed in a quote from an American Soldier that Horvath used to open his book: “If only we could transcribe on paper what we see, I am sure that there wouldn’t be another war for many years, and maybe never again.”
The author, Clément Horvath, is a French historian who has spent the last 15 years researching World War II and collecting these testimonials. He released the first volume of Till Victory called Till Victory: The Second World War by Those Who Were There in 2018 and was praised by critics for the work winning a “2019 History” prize. Interestingly, he explains in the introduction that he is neither a trained historian nor a professional writer. He simply wanted to share these recently released firsthand accounts of the war that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Not only is he giving a voice to the heroic soldiers who risked their lives during World War II but he is also reminding us of the unimaginable horrors associated with war. Horvath has dedicated himself to interviewing the dwindling World War II veteran population in an attempt to collect any remaining testimonials. He reminds us that a brighter future depends on never forgetting the past.
My main motivation for studying these letters was to better understand the French’s appreciation of the Allied forces. When my dad, an American born after the end of the war, first met my great grandmother, a French woman born in 1898, she thanked him for World War II. This story always stuck with me as I couldn’t understand why she was thanking a man who clearly had no part in fighting for her freedom. Ultimately, these vivid descriptions of the war helped me understand her appreciation. The soldiers who came from abroad were willing to risk their lives and live through horrific conditions to free a land that wasn’t their own. Although the war was devastating, the soldiers that were willing to fight were truly heroic.
Bates, David, "Partial Translation of Clément Horvath’s Till Victory: Lettres du Jour J à la Victoire" (2021). Honors Theses. 2442.