Tag Archives: World War Two

One World Festival: Excursion to Bletchley Park

On this historical day trip, Birkbeck’s international students took a firsthand look at the key role played by British codebreakers during the Second World War.

The One World Festival is a programme of free events to celebrate Birkbeck’s diverse, international culture. The first outing in this year’s festival took place on Saturday 16 November, with Birkbeck’s international students gathering at Euston Station for a day trip back in time.

In just under an hour, students were transported out of Bloomsbury and into the secretive world of Bletchley Park, the headquarters of British codebreakers during the Second World War. Besides its historical context, Bletchley Park offers stunning scenery and an insight into the world’s earliest computers. Furthermore, with the legacy of Alan Turing hanging in the air, Birkbeck’s international students were able to experience what a difference a great mind can make with determination.

Students spent the day exploring the secretive world of Bletchley Park.

Throughout the Second World War, Bletchley Park led the British efforts to decode the encrypted Enigma messages of the German armed forces. After years of trials and tribulations, Alan Turing was successful in leading a team of mathematicians to success. In creating what was at the time one of the world’s most intricate computers, the German Enigma code was cracked against the odds.

A team of mathematicians developed computers to decode German communications.

Whilst it is always refreshing to experience a change of scenery, this excursion allowed Birkbeck’s international students to see another side of Britain and its history. With a great deal of emphasis placed on the role of the armed forces in times of war, Bletchley Park tells the story of academic genius and its potential to change the course of history.

Bletchley Park grounds: a refreshing change of scenery from central London.

La Young Jackson and Will Richards would like to thank all students who attended, and look forward to more exciting One World Adventures in the future.

Further Information:


WAR-net meeting

This post was contributed by Kate McLoughlin of the Department of English and Humanities.

On 9 March 2012, I organised the fourth biannual WAR-Net meeting at Birkbeck. The meeting was a showcase of members’ interests. Papers ranged from Virtual Iraq to the comedy of war in eighteenth-century novels and prints. Panels covered Holocaust representation, the First World War, the Second World War, visual representation and gender.

The opening keynote, by Professor Debra Kelly of the University of Westminster, was a fascinating exploration of the Free French presence in Second World War London, a presentation that resonated with many of the French delegates to the conference.

Professor Mary Favret closed proceedings with a keynote on wartime Britain’s Fast and Humiliation, a thought-provoking presentation on an eighteenth-century practice now most closely mirrored by the twenty-first-century apology.

You can download speakers’ abstracts and listen to podcasts of the keynote talks on the WAR-Net webpages.