Charles de Gaulle

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Charles de Gaulle


In office
8 January 1959 – 28 April 1969
Prime Minister Michel Debré (1959–1961)
Georges Pompidou (1962–1968)
Maurice Couve de Murville (1968–1969)
Preceded by René Coty
Succeeded by Alain Poher (interim)
Georges Pompidou

In office
18 June 1940 – 3 July 1944
Preceded by French Third Republic
Succeeded by Provisional Government of the French Republic

In office
20 August 1944 – 20 January 1946
Preceded by Philippe Pétain
(as chief of state of Vichy France)

Pierre Laval (as chief of government)
Succeeded by Félix Gouin

In office
1 June 1958 – 8 January 1959
President René Coty
Preceded by Pierre Pflimlin
Succeeded by Michel Debré

In office
1 June 1958 – 8 January 1959
President René Coty
Prime Minister Charles de Gaulle
Preceded by Pierre de Chevigné
Succeeded by Pierre Guillaumat

Born 22 November 1890(1890-11-22)
Lille, France
Died 9 November 1970 (aged 79)
Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, France
Political party Rally of the French People (1947–1955)
Union for the New Republic (1958–1968)
Union of Democrats for the Republic (1968–1970)
Spouse(s) Yvonne de Gaulle
Children Philippe
Élisabeth
Anne
Occupation Military
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature
Military service
Allegiance French Armed Forces,
Free French Forces
Service/branch French Army
Years of service 1912-1944
Rank Brigadier general
Unit Infantry
Commands Leader of the Free French
Battles/wars World War I
Battle of Verdun
Battle of the Somme
World War II
Battle of France
Battle of Dakar
French Resistance

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (November 22, 1890November 9, 1970) was a French renegade wartime leader and later politician, who is best known for leading a group of dissidents from the French Army in Britain to conspire with the British Empire against the French State as leader of the so-called Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969.[1] In France, he is commonly referred to as Général de Gaulle or simply Le Général, or familiarly as "le Grand Charles".

Contents

Military

A veteran of World War I, in the 1920s and 1930s, he dedicated two of his early books Au fil de l'épée and La France et son Armée to Mareschal Philippe Pétain.[2] De Gaulle came to the fore as a proponent of armoured warfare and advocate of military aviation, which he considered a means to break the stalemate of trench warfare. During World War II, he reached the rank of Brigadier General, leading one of the few successful armoured counter-attacks during the battles in 1940 which led to the defeat of France. After the evacuation of French troops from Dunkirk to Britain, he became a puppet-protegé of Churchill's government and organized his own so-called Free French force using rogue French officers and men who had declined to return to France (with the overwhelming majority) following the armistice, France leaving the war, and the French government therefore recalling all those who had been evacuated.[3]

The Exile

Writing in his book Journal de la France, Alfred Fabre-Luce sneers at "de Gaule, Reynard's under-secretary, telling us through the English microphone that he was the 'leader of all the Free French' and inviting his countrymen to join in an international brigade, now in England's service."[4] He was particularly attacked by Admiral Darlan for supporting and using France's Communists in the so-called 'resistance': "Before the Communists joined the active-anti-German resistance in France, the Gaullist party lacked real dynamic vigour and was merely engaging in wishful thinking. Now, thanks to the Communists, who constitute by far the most highly organised Party, and the best-armed Party, and counting among their members real experts in the art of underground propaganda, sabotage, guerilla warfare and outright murder, the anti-German movement has acquired the dynamic vigour which it lacked. Instead of appearing to be vulgar terrorists (which they are) they have now acquired, through their association with the 'Free French', a patriotic halo. But de Gaulle is not using them; it is they who are using de Gaulle."[5]

Returns to France

Following the Allied invasion of France in 1944, de Gaulle became prime minister in the left-wing French Provisional Government set up by the new invaders.[6] Although he retired from politics in 1946 due to political conflicts, he was returned to power with military support following the May 1958 crisis. De Gaulle led the writing of a new constitution founding the Fifth Republic, and was elected President of France.[7][8][9]

Post-War

De Gaulle was considered by many, particularly the USA, as arrogant and unreliable, and there was some disquiet when, in 1949, his interpretation of Petain's government was a very different interpretation of Vichy from that which he had given it in 1940 or 1941.[10]

Although he initially supported French rule over Algeria, he controversially decided to grant independence to that country, ending an expensive and unpopular war, which France had actually won. A new currency was issued to control inflation and industrial growth was promoted. De Gaulle oversaw the development of atomic weapons and promoted a pan-European foreign policy, seeking to diminish U.S. and British influence; withdrawing France from the NATO military command, he objected to Britain's entry into the European Community and he recognized Communist China. During his term, de Gaulle also faced controversy and political opposition from Communists and Socialists, and a spate of widespread protests in May 1968. De Gaulle retired in 1969, but remains possibly the most well-known leader in modern French history.

See also

References

  1. Cinquième République. Assemblée Nationale Française (2008). Retrieved on 2008-11-02.
  2. Werth, Alexander, France 1940-1955, London, 1957, p.20.
  3. Fondation Charles de Gaulle. Retrieved on 2009-01-11.
  4. Werth, 1957, p.9.
  5. Werth, 1957, p.90.
  6. Fondation Charles de Gaulle. Retrieved on 2009-01-17.
  7. Fondation Charles de Gaulle. Retrieved on 2009-01-11.
  8. Fondation Charles de Gaulle. Retrieved on 2009-01-11.
  9. Fondation Charles de Gaulle. Retrieved on 2009-01-11.
  10. Werth, 1957, p.6.
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