Charles de Gaulle

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Charles de Gaulle : biography

22 November 1890 – 09 November 1970

Military theoretician

In 1930ties lieutenant colonel, and later colonel, Charles de Gaulle became famous as the author of popular theoretical military works, such as “Le Fil de l’Épée”, “Vers l’Armée de Métier” and “La France et son Armée”. In his books, de Gaulle pointed at the necessity of all-around development of tank forces as the main kind of military forces in the nearest future war. In that relation his writings were close to Heinz Guderian’s works, who was the leading military theoretician of Germany. Unfortunately, de Gaulle’s offers were to appreciated by the highest military command of France and by politicians. In 1935 the national Assemble denied the project about reforming the national army, offered by prime-minister Paul Reynaud. The project was prepared according to the plan by Charles de Gaulle. The project was called useless, undesirable and contradictory to logic and history.

Since 1932 till 1936 Charles de Gaulle was the general secretary of High Defense Board. In 1937-1939 he commanded a tank regiment.

Second World War. The leader of resistance

The beginning of the war. Before leaving for London.

By the beginning of the Second World War, de Gaulle had rank of colonel. One day before the war started (it was 31 August 1939), he was appointed to lead the tank forces at Saarland. He also wrote about that: “I happened to take part in a horrible mystification.. Those few tens of tanks I am to command are just a speck of dust. We are going to lose to war in a pathetic way, if we won’t act”.

In January of 1940 de Gaulle wrote an article ‘Phenomenon of mechanized forces” I which he underscored the meaning of co-working of different kinds of land forces, such as tank forces and air forces.

On 14 May 1940 Charles de Gaulle was charged with commanding the new forming 4th tank division ( in the beginning there were 5000 of soldiers and 85 tanks). On 1 June de Gaulle temporary executed the duties of a brigade general (he was not officially affirmed in that rank and after the war he got pension from the fourth republic of only a colonel). On 6 June prime-minister Paul Reynaud affirmed de Gaulle in the rank of the deputy of Military minister. Having got such a rank, Charles de Gaulle strived against of plans of the truce, which was appealing to the leaders of French government and first of all to Philippe Petain. On 14 June de Gaulle went to London because of the case of interrogation about ships for evacuation of French administration to Africa. In addition to that, de Gaulle tried to convince Winston Churchill that they needed to make some dramatic step in order to provide Reynaud with support that he needed to induce the French government to continue the war. But on that very day Reynaud tendered his resignation and just after that Petain headed the government and the interrogation with Germany for the truce began immediately. On 17 June 1940 de Gaulle flew from Bordeaux, where the evacuated government was located, having no desire to take part in that process, and then arrived in London again. As Winston Churchill noticed, Charles de Gaulle was taking the honor of France with him, flying away on that plane.

First declarations.

That very moment became the point of change in Charles de Gaulle’s biography. In his “Memoirs of hope” he once wrote: “18 June 1940, responding to the call of my motherland, having no other help for saving his honor and soul, de Gaulle, alone, unknown, had to take the responsibility for the whole France”. That day Charles de Gaulle’s speech was translated by radio, the speech of the 18th of June, calling to create French Resistance. Soon leaflets with the general’s appealing speech were spear among French people. It said that the general was blaming Petain in betrayal and announced that he, de Gaulle, feeling his dept, spoke in the name of the whole France. There were some more de Gaulle’s leaflets.

In addition to that de Gaulle headed “Free France” (later called “Fighting France”), the organization, which was devoted to put up resistance to the occupiers and the collaboration regime. Legitimacy of the organization was based, as de Gaulle saw it, on the following principal: the legality of the officials should be based on the feelings it inspired and on its abilities to provide with national unity and continuity, when the motherland was in danger”.