Lara R. Curtis, associate director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, presented a paper May 3 in Edinburgh, Scotland, at an international conference on “Relations between Britain and France in World War II.”
Curtis discussed Muriel Byck and Noor Inayat Khan, who were recruited as spies for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), which was an intelligence office within the cabinet of Winston Churchill established in 1940. Both women worked on behalf of Great Britain for the French Resistance, handling messages to and from London concerning the operations and projected strategies of Nazi Germany.
Curtis also participated in a closing roundtable discussion on the lessons and legacies of Franco-British relations during World War II, presided by Peter Jackson, chair in global security at the University of Glasgow and Emile Chabal, director of the Center for the Study of Modern Conflict at the University of Edinburgh.
Curtis said the conference addressed not only the relationship between France and Britain during the war, but also new debates about ways in which both countries are at the forefront of global political transitions. “At a time when Britain is preparing to the leave the European Union and France elects a new president, is it critical to understand how and why the historical past of both nations continues to influence the present,” she said.
The conference was sponsored by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.