Scotland's Secret War

National Library of Scotland launches major summer exhibition

'Scotland's Secret War' is the National Library of Scotland's major summer exhibition for 2005. Opening on Friday 8 July, the exhibition will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and explores Scotland's involvement in the 'hidden' stories of the war.

The exhibition focuses on broad themes of Escape and Evasion; Propaganda; Science, Innovation and Invention; Defence; Maps and Cartographers, and will feature an Enigma machine.

Personal stories are key to this exhibition, which also highlights links and connections between the numerous subjects and exhibits.

Key themes include:

  • Donald Caskie, 'The Tartan Pimpernel'. Caskie worked with the French Resistance at Marseilles helping around 2,000 soldiers to escape via 'the underground railway'.
  • Peter Ritchie Calder, a socialist author and journalist from Forfar, was appointed as Director of Plans and Campaigns to the top secret Political Warfare Executive, the Government's newly formed foreign propaganda unit.
  • Robert Watson-Watt proposed a system of RDF (Radio Detection Finding), which became known as radar. This proved vital to the wartime defence of Britain, including successfully detecting the first Luftwaffe attack on the British mainland.
  • Enigma machine
  • Interactive areas including an operations table.
  • Mapping the war — the Bartholomew firm, world famous map publishers based in Edinburgh, made secret contributions to the war effort.
  • The Home Guard — the secret flight of Rudolph Hess to Scotland is notable in the story of the Scottish Home Guard.
  • The National Library of Scotland at War — the safekeeping of manuscripts and rare books during the Second World War forms an intriguing episode in the history of the Library and its collections.

The exhibition runs from Friday 8 July until Sunday 16 October in the National Library of Scotland's George IV Bridge building. Entry is free. A series of summer events has been organised to complement the exhibition.

4 July 2005

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