Little Bits of History

Big Chuck

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 26, 2012

Charles de Gaulle enters Paris

August 26, 1944: Charles de Gaulle enters Paris. De Gaulle was a French general who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He was born in 1890 and was a veteran of World War I. Between the wars, he was known as a proponent of the mobile armored divisions. During the second war, he led one of the few successful armored counter-attacks at the Battle of France in May 1940. He rejected the 1940 armistice with Nazi Germany from the outset. De Gaulle escaped to England before France fell to Germany in June 1940. Paris was occupied by conquerors on June 14, 1940.

De Gaulle, in England, gave a radio address broadcast by the BBC pleading with French nationals to resist the German invaders. He organized the Free French Forces using other exiles in Britain. He also slowly amassed the oversight of French colonial holdings except for Indonesia, which was under the control of a pro-German Vichy regime. Although he gained a reputation of being a difficult man to work with, by the time the French were ready to retake Paris, de Gaulle was essentially the leader of the French government in exile.

Roosevelt did not wish to set up a provisional government in France and wished to let the now free French vote for the leaders they wished. De Gaulle, however, disagreed and did not want an Allied military government in place. Churchill tried to mediate between the two leaders without much success. After the success of D-Day, the liberation of Europe was in full swing. The Germans were retreating as the Allies advanced. Paris was not a strategic site and not on the Allied list of important cities to control. De Gaulle, however, lobbied for it to be a priority. This was done and on this day, the French General was once again inside his own city.

After the war, de Gaulle was the prime minister of the provisional French government. He resigned in 1946 over political conflict. He was, however, voted back into power as prime minister in May 1958. A new constitution was written under his auspices and the Fifth Republic was founded. De Gaulle was elected President, an office with more power than under the previous constitutions. He resigned from the Presidency on April 28, 1969. He died at his home on November 9, 1970 just a few weeks shy of his 80th birthday.

All my life I have had a certain idea of France.

France has no friends, only interests. (In response to Clementine Churchill, “General, you must not hate your friends more than you hate your enemies.”)

Let us be firm, pure and faithful; at the end of our sorrow, there is the greatest glory of the world, that of the men who did not give in.

Politics, when it is an art and a service, not an exploitation, is about acting for an ideal through realities. – all from Charles de Gaulle

Also on this day:

The Terminal Man – In 1988, Merhan Karrimi Nasseri hit the airport.
Explosive – in 1883, Krakatau began to erupt.
Negligence – In 1928, the first negligence case was started.

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One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on August 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Mr. DeGaulle said to me that he resigned the Prime Minister position to work on the new constitution- not run away from any political conflict as this story would suggest. His biggest political opponent before and during WWII had dared him to stay in France, DeGaulle said to me, DeGaulle saying to me that he suspected that this political opponent wanted to DeGaulle to be killed in the fighting as his reason to dare him and then continually try to make DeGaulle look like a coward with talk such as “political conflict”. DeGaulle said to me that he was not a schoolboy anymore to “play such childish games”.


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