Six-year project to tweet the Second World War
AN OXFORD history graduate has begun a six-year project to tweet events from every day of the Second World War as they happened 72 years ago.
'Warsaw's heroic defense shows soul of Poland is indestructible', says Winston Churchill in one tweet
The account, @RealTimeWWII, features up to 40 tweets each day and has attracted almost 45,000 followers as German forces tear across Europe in the autumn of 1939.
It covers major military and political developments, as well as featuring eyewitness testimony from the battlefield, contemporary photography and newsreel footage.
Created by 24-year-old Alwyn Collinson, the project is an attempt to “help people feel like they’re there”.
“I'm hoping to use Twitter to help bring the past to life, helping people understand the past as people at the time saw it, without the benefit of hindsight,” he said.
“I want them to see that people then were just like they are.”
The busiest day for the account so far has been September 26, when the Wermacht mounted its final assault on Warsaw.
Mr Collinson illustrated the battle using eyewitness accounts from Polish soldiers and civilians, abridged to comply with Twitter’s 140-character limit.
“The stream of wounded is unceasing. We leave the dying in the corridor - no room in the wards," reads one tweet from Jadwiga Sosnkowska, a nurse.
“The volume of tweets is definitely driven by events,” said Mr Collinson. “Materials that show what people at the time cared about, like newspaper reports, are all easily available online.”
“I’m updating the feed on my own at the moment, but there are already volunteers translating the tweets into Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.”
Mr Collinson has committed himself to tweeting the entire six-year duration of the conflict. His maternal grandfather was captured by the Japanese during the fall of Singapore in February 1942.
“I’m not looking forward to doing that bit,” he said. “I know that affected him for the rest of his life.”