Thursday 5 November 2015

Charles DeGaulle's "Appeal of 18 June"

In June of 1940, the Paris streets were filled with people fleeing the city by car, by train, by bus or by bicycle, including authors H. A. and Margret Rey (  The Nazis were at the gates of the City of Light, ready to crush any resisters.  Prime Minister Paul Reynaud resigned, essentially giving up the fight.  Disappointed, General Charles DeGaulle refused to give up on his city and his country.  Leader of the Free French Forces, he fled to England on the 15th of the month where he delivered a passionate speech on the BBC radio.  

"But has the last word been said?  Must hope disappear?  Is defeat final?  No!  Believe me, I am speaking to you with full knowledge of the facts and who can tell you that nothing is lost for France.  The same means that overcame us can bring us victory one day.  For France is not alone!  She is not alone!  She has a vast Empire behind her.  She can align with the British Empire that holds the sea and continues to fight.  She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of the United States." (

The Free Forces, operating out of England, gradually took over colonial outposts in Africa (l'Armee d'Afrique).  They joined forces with the French Free Forces to form L'Armee Francaise de la liberation.  Multiplying to 400,000 strong by D-Day in 1944, they participated in the Normandy landings and the invasion of Southern France, culminating with the liberation of Paris.  Charles DeGaulle, who had inspired the movement, headed up the new post war government. (

Crowd members hold up sign saying "Vive de Gaulle" on Liberation Day in August of 1944 courtesy

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