"The private fears of kings, prime ministers and frightened children are going on show in a new British exhibition marking the lives touched by the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II.
Outbreak 1939, which opens Thursday at the Imperial War Museum in London, explores the build-up to Britain's September 3 declaration of war on Germany and tells the stories of those involved at the time.
The museum hopes the exhibition will resonate with the British public, now consumed with the mounting death toll of the war in Afghanistan, which hit 200 on Saturday.
"There are lessons to be learned," said James Taylor, the museum's head of research. "What we try to get in this exhibition is the effect on people," he told AFP.
"When we think of World War II and the numbers of deaths, it's very easy to see that as just a statistic. Like the men and women who are giving their lives in Afghanistan today, these are people as well and it's very often subsumed under huge numbers."
Among the items is prime minister Neville Chamberlain's pocket diary, which contains a simple entry for September 3, 1939: "War declared".
Also on show is a letter to his sister Ida recounting the week.
"I have had some dreadful anxieties especially during one sleepless night," he wrote.
"Of course the difficulty is with Hitler himself. Until he disappears and his system collapses there can be no peace".
A copy of king George VI's war diary reveals his sombre thoughts."
AFP: British exhibition marks 70th anniversary of WWII outbreak
British exhibition marks 70th anniversary of WWII outbreak
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