Charles De Gaulle

De Gaulle

He was the leader of Free France (1940–1944) and the head of the Provisional Government of the French Republic (1944–1946). In 1958, he founded the 5thRepublic and was elected as the 18th President of France, a position he held until his resignation in 1969. He was the dominant figure of France during the Cold War era and his memory continues to influence French politics.

De Gaulle chose the military career when he was only 18 years old, and in August 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War, he already was a lieutenant. He was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1916 and he will be released thanks to the armistice of September the following year. Charles de Gaulle became a captain and in 1922 he obtained the admission to the high school of war. In 1931 he was advanced to the Secretariat-General forNational Defence and Security and that’s where he got involved with the affairs of state. On 3 September 1939, when France declared war on Germany, he has already reached the rank of colonel.

For France it began a dark period, in which the so-called “collaboration” with the occupants was very active, thing which will bring a part of the French society, first of all the government, who was moved to Vichy, to share the hatredtowards the Nazis.De Gaulle seeks shelter in London. On 18 June, he launches a famous appeal to the French people through BBC, encouraging them to resist in front of the German occupation. A few days after the armistice was denounced, he earned himself a death sentence in his absence. From Africa, he organizes the forces of Free France and on 3 June 1944, he is appointed as interim president of the Republic by the Defence Council, an organ born in Congo in 1940. De Gaulle forms a government that in late October will be recognized by the great powers: USA, USSR and Great Britain.

With the Allied forces winning the war, the Nazis were expelled from France at the beginning of 1946. De Gaulle puts his candidaturefor the presidency elections in the not so hidden hope that the country will appeal to him again. But the elections which take place in that autumn sought him defeated. Hence, the Fourth Republic was born, which wasn’t very different from the previous one (de Gaulle had proposed in his program some complex reforms and a steady hand in economy). However, De Gaulle has launched himself in politics and in April 1947 he founded the movement called “Rassemblement du peuplefrançais”, which immediately brought a great result in the local elections. But in the 1951 policies, the positive effect deflated. For the General it began a voluntary period of political exile in his retirement house ofColombey-les-Deux-Eglise, while France was experiencing serious difficulties, partly because of the collapse of its colonial empire. Charles De Gaulle was recalled from his exile and on 1 June 1958, he was elected President of the National Assembly Council.

In 1968, Paris was boiling because of the riots of students and workers. For France, this was another dramatic moment. On 20 May 1968, ten million workers went on strike. Nine days after De Gaulle made contact with the military, in an effort to restore the order in the country,he announces on 30 May about the dissolution of the National Assembly. This was a proof of force which brought only half of a victory: the riots ceased, but in the elections, a strong right-wing majority won, denying the reforms that the General still wanted to introduce.

At the beginning of April 1969,Charles de Gaulle promotes a referendum to give more power to the regions and to the Senate, but his tentative was defeated. At ten minutes past the midnight of 28 April, he resigned as president. This was his blatant departure from the French politics scene. Therefore he self-exiled atColombey-les-Deux-Églises. Here,General Charles De Gaulle died on 9 November 1970.

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