Beckett's Resistance activities recalled


Samuel Beckett’s flight from the Nazis because of his involvement with the French Resistance in the second World War is recalled in a new exhibition in Dublin.

“He didn’t talk about it much after the war: it was something he did, he was very active but he didn’t go around shouting it from the roofs,” said Lar Joye, curator of The Irish and France: Three Centuries of Military Relations, at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks.

The writer, he said, “felt strongly against the Germans: it was a point of principle”.

Although in Ireland when the war broke out, Beckett returned to Paris, where he joined the information network Gloria SMH, which worked with the special operations executive of the Resistance. He translated confidential documents which were microfilmed and smuggled to London.

Eventually betrayed to the Nazis, he fled Paris to the south of France with his partner Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil where he continued to store arms for the Resistance. After the war he given the Croix de Guerre, a French military award for heroism, though he later referred to his wartime activities as “boy scout stuff”.

Beckett’s covert operations are just one aspect of Irish-French military history celebrated in the exhibition produced by the Musée de l’Armée in Paris. Running in Dublin until June, it is the first event of Culture Connects, Ireland’s EU cultural programme for 2013.

It was unveiled yesterday by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan and Emmanuelle d’Achon, French Ambassador to Ireland. It covers events from the Battle of the Boyne to the recent UN mission to Chad.

“I was very happy that we could transport it to Dublin and translate it also,” said Mrs d’Achon.

“We also think that school children can come here and learn more, perhaps about the past and the wars of the times but also to learn about peace in Europe because a good part of the exhibition is about what Europe is doing now to protect peace and to encourage peacekeeping.”