Den 1:a september 1939 inleddes andra världskriget. Exakt 72 år senare drog ett ambitiöst projekt igång på Twitter, vars syfte är ett historiskt återskapande av kriget på exakt den dag och tid som händelserna skedde. Genom kontot @RealTimeWWII kan man alltså följa utvecklingen av detta världskrig i realtid. Inläggen är många, och eftersom vi är knappt två månader in i ”kriget” återstår cirka sex års skrivande. Jag kontaktade personen bakom detta, Alwyn Collinson, för att förstår syftet och tanken bakom.
Why did you start this project?
- I want to help connect people to history by giving the events of the war a feeling of immediacy. When you read tweets of important news events kicking off today, the liberation of Libya or Tahrir Square in Egypt, for example, you get a sense of excitement and anticipation, and also a little fear. That is the feeling I want to give people about history – that these events are important, and real, and you don’t know what will happen next.
Also, I want to bring home the human costs of the war. Stalin is supposed to have said ”One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic.” I think it’s easy to lose perspective of how terrible the war was. I can’t tell the stories of all those who died, but I hope to put a human face on the statistics.
Who is behind the account?
- Just me. I’m a former history student of Oxford University, and now I work for a magazine in Oxford.
Where do you get all the facts?
- A wide variety of sources, both online and in print. I start preparing for each day with online timelines which list significant events. Then I research each of those via Google and my own books. I also read a lot of newspaper articles, past and present, and general histories of the war and file away stuff that might come in handy. I don’t have any special access – this is material that anyone could fin ., and I encourage people to use my tweets as a jumping-off point: everything is there if you look!
Do you have people helping you out?
- At present, it’s just me doing the original tweeting. I have to mention, however, the fantastic guys behind @tiemporeal_IIGM and@war_only, who translate my tweets into Spanish and Russian, respectively. They volunteered out of the blue, and haven’t missed a tweet yet. I will probably need some help soon. Interested volunteers, contact me!
Are you sure that you will endure for six years, until ”the war” ends?
- I fear I may have to do so. When I was first asked that, I had 340 followers, and I said I’d keep going until the fall of France (next year) and possibly longer. This has become bigger than I expected, and now I think I’m going to be tweeting for some time.
What do you think will happen after you’re finished?
- Many funny people have already suggested I change it to ”Real Time Cold War”. That, however, would kill me. I might start on a loop… but I think it more likely I will appreciate a long deserved rest!
Alwyns engagerade svar förtjänade att bli publicerade på engelska. Den storslagna tanken om att historien ska hjälpa oss att förstå det som sker idag är fascinerande. I skrivande stund är den senaste uppdateringen att Hitler har beordrat sina generaler om en invasion. Följ utvecklingen på http://twitter.com/RealTimeWWII