Wednesday, August 29, 2007

General Charles de Gaulle's appeal to the French people, 18 June 1940



A copy of General Charles de Gaulle's wartime "Appeal to the French".

On 18 June 1940 General Charles de Gaulle (1890 - 1970) made a radio broadcast from London appealing to the French people to resist the German Occupation that had just begun. Not without many difficulties Charles de Gaulle became the Head of the Free French State in exile. Later on in 1943 De Gaulle presided over the French Committee of National Liberation, and after the Normandy Landings of June 1944, Head of the provisional Government of the French Republic. After the Liberation of Paris in August 1945 De Gaulle based his provisional Government in the French capital.

Throughout France, there are many monuments commemorating Charles de Gaulle, often also displaying a copy of the 'Appel du 18 juin' (Appeal of 18 June). The copy of De Gaulle's 'Appeal' seen in the photograph is found on the plinth of a bust of Charles de Gaulle situated in the town centre of Lourdes, Hautes Pyrenées département. The 'Appel' begins with De Gaulle's historic words: "La France a perdu une bataille, mais la France n'a pas perdu la guerre " ("France has lost a battle, but France has not lost the war"). In fact, these celebrated words of Charles de Gaulle did not actually figure in the radio broadcast he made on 18 June 1940, but were included at the beginning of a poster proclaiming his appeal to the French people that was produced in July 1940.

In 1940 Charles de Gaulle was little known even in France. Yet, as the large number of monuments that can still be seen throughout France bears witness, by the end of the war and afterwards he had become one of the most famous and recognisable Frenchmen of the 20th Century. As was the case with Sir Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle attempted to promote his own personal view of his country in his written memoirs. Most people would probably respect De Gaulle for his stance in 1940, even if they disagreed with many of his other views and attitudes. Having personally studied the public life of Charles de Gaulle and read his memoirs my own view is that he was a very enigmatic character.


2 Comments:

Blogger Tomcann said...

There is no question of the popularity of de Caulle with at least half of all Frenchmen !

When he was however invited by the Canadian Prime Minister of the day - Pierre Elliot Trudaeu to make a stste visit to Canada - there was much speculation as to whether he would arrive on the newly commissioned "Normandie" the most luxurious Atlantic liner - or the British - French Concorde Jetliner - most people thought that he would probably walk across the Atlantic !
The visit ended disasterouly when in a speech on a public balcony to thousands assembled below he declared " Vive Quebec Libre " - he was on the next plane home !

Wednesday, 29 August, 2007  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

When I was 'but a lad' Charles de Gaulle was the first President of France I can remember, and when I visited France. I remember the incident you mention and in fact it was one of the key moments we studied for our university course about him.

Like Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle was probably the right man in the right place at the right time, at least for France. Whether he could actually have walked across the Atlantic - well perhaps he might have .....!

Wednesday, 05 September, 2007  

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