Monday, April 13, 2015

Churchill - De Gaulle Exhibit opens in Paris

A history resource article by  © 2015

Winston Churchill at Madame Toussaud's Wax
Museum in London.  Photographed by
Mary Harrsch © 2006
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of famous British statesman Winston Churchill and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of France during World War II, the Musée de l'Armée in Paris is hosting a joint exhibition examining the intertwined careers of Churchill and Charles de Gaulle.

The exhibit begins with the Munich agreement, a settlement permitting Nazi Germany's annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the country's borders mainly inhabited by German speakers, for which a new territorial designation "Sudetenland" was coined. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe, excluding the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. Today, it is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement toward Germany. The agreement was signed in the early hours of 30 September 1938 (but dated 29 September).

"In 1938, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle did not know yet each other. Their notoriety, for which they were responsible, was not in proportion with one another. However, they shared a very close vision of the rising dangers of the Thirties, as well as the strategic and diplomatic shortcomings of their respective countries. But the politician “in the wilderness” and the military theorist ignored by the military hierarchy were isolated and in the minority in the face of public opinion which was convinced that the Maginot line and the concessions granted to the dictators would prevent a new war. Both therefore react very strongly following the signing of the Munich accords, a simple of this policy of renunciation and cowardice."

Servicemen and politicians, Churchill and De Gaulle were also writers, orators and even, in Churchill’s case, a journalist and a painter. The intersecting paths of these major figures - both allies and enemy brothers - will be explored through objects, paintings, uniforms and archives, some never before exhibited or published. Multimedia displays will provide the military and historic context.

The exhibit will be accompanied by lectures on Churchill and De Gaulle in the media, in North Africa and as subjects of sculptors.  There will also be concerts and a film festival including the late Sir Richard Attenborough's 1972 film "Young Winston", the 2009 Thaddeus O'Sullivan film "Into the Storm" as well as the popular films "The Eagle Has Landed" and "The Day of the Jackal".

The exhibit will be on display until July 26, 2015.

The last time I was in Paris in 2008, I didn't have an opportunity to visit the Musée de l'Armée but I hope one day to return and will place this museum on my itinerary.