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De Gaulle, Charles

De Gaulle, Charles 1890-1970

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Charles de Gaulle was the leading French statesman of the twentieth century. His military career spanned both world wars and his political career, interrupted by a temporary retreat from public affairs in the 1950s, occurred during the hardships of the 1940s and then a number of serious challenges to political stability in the 1960s. As a military commander, he advocated an aggressive, tactical approach to warfare; as a politician, he was often careful in internal matters but more outspoken in international affairs.

De Gaulle was raised in a Roman Catholic family, and at an early age he showed an interest in military affairs. He entered the Military Academy of Saint-Cyr at the age of nineteen and then joined the military in 1913, commissioned as a lieutenant. He fought in World War I (1914-1918), including at the famous 1916 battle at Verdun, and he spent almost three years as a prisoner of war. After the war, he taught at his alma mater and also attended the École Supérieure de Guerre (a war college). In 1925 Marshal Philippe Pétain (1856-1951) promoted him to the staff of the Supreme Defense Council. Two years later de Gaulle began serving as a major in the occupation army for the Rhineland, an experience that illustrated the German potential for military action. Although the French prided themselves on what they saw as the impenetrable Maginot Line, in 1933 de Gaulle wrote an article arguing for a professionalized and armored French army.

When World War II (1939-1945) began, de Gaulle was commander of a tank brigade. In 1940 he was promoted to brigadier general, a position he held until his death. In the same year, he became the French undersecretary of state for defense and war, but he left the government almost immediately when Pétain became head of the government and indicated that he wanted an armistice with the Germans. De Gaulle went to England, where he began to encourage the French to continue fighting the Germans. In August 1940 he was sentenced to death by a French military court for treason. Although de Gaulle had no political base, he was deeply committed to a free France. He formed a shadow government, eventually known as the Free French Forces, although his military background was not attractive to French liberals and his condemnation of the Pétain government meant that French conservatives held little regard for him. He also had problems with the Allies, often because of his strong commitment to a free France. De Gaulle maintained contact with French resistance groups, and he broadcast radio appeals to his fellow citizens, creating increased national recognition of his leadership.

In 1943 he moved to Algiers, Algeria, where he formed the French Committee of National Liberation. He served as co-president of the committee with Henri Giraud (1879-1949), but successfully moved Giraud out of the role, signaling his political abilities. In August 1944 de Gaulle returned to Paris with the victorious Allied armed forces; he refused to meet with the envoy Pétain sent to establish peace, and de Gaulle became head of the new French government.

De Gaulle resigned, however, in 1946 because of his dissatisfaction with the power of the various political parties that formed a new Fourth French Republic. For twelve years de Gaulle argued against the republic because he saw it as too similar to the Third French Republic, which he thought had been unable to govern effectively. He organized a loose party, the Rally of the French People, which became powerful enough to win a sizable number of seats in the French National Assembly, but he left the group in 1953. His political activity ended temporarily in 1955, when he began to work on his memoirs, but in 1958 he returned to public life.

By the end of the 1950s, France was embroiled in a military and political conflict in one of its colonies, Algeria. De Gaulle presented himself as a candidate for prime minister in 1958, and the National Assembly authorized him to change the French constitution; in December 1958 de Gaulle was elected president of France. His changes to the nations constitution strengthened the position of the presidency, including giving the president ruling powers during emergencies. Despite that centralization of power, de Gaulle supported the democratic principles of the government; he also made sure he was a highly visible and even personable president, spending a great deal of time giving addresses and speaking with individual citizens. De Gaulles ministers were often friends from World War II, and they assisted him in maintaining a strong presidency.

Algeria presented a very difficult set of problems when de Gaulle became president, a situation that deeply split French liberals and conservatives. The former argued for Algerian independence, while the latter advocated that Algeria ought to remain a colony. The Algerian insurrectionists wanted only freedom, and de Gaulle recognized that he had to free the country. French military leaders in Algeria, however, moved against de Gaulle, forming the Secret Army Organization and taking control of Algeria in 1961. This organization indicated that it was ready to actually attack France, but de Gaulle used his presidential powers to thwart them; French citizens and the French military sided with de Gaulle. Although the Secret Army Organization continued to fight de Gaulle, using bombings and assassinations, de Gaulles broad support resulted in his ability to establish Algerias independence in 1962.

Once the Algerian situation was settled, de Gaulle moved to other national issues, including reinvigorating the economy, developing Frances own atomic bomb, and instituting constitutional changes to establish independence for Frances other colonies. Nevertheless, the position that he held upon his election in 1958 was no longer as secure because he had solved the Algerian problem. He again turned to constitutional changes as a means to strengthen his position. Previously, an electoral college consisting of local politicians elected the president; in 1962 French citizens chose between de Gaulles resignation and a constitutional amendment that allowed direct election of the president. The referendum was a decisive victory for de Gaulle, and his party gained control of the National Assembly later that year. As a result, de Gaulle was able to further his plans to develop France into an international power, focusing on independent actions. For example, the year after his reelection as president in 1965, he withdrew France from the military branch of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), although France remained part of the Atlantic Alliance, a political association.

In international affairs, de Gaulle sought to convince nations that neutrality was preferable to aggression, but that approach meant he was seen as opposing the United States because he wanted the United States to withdraw from Vietnam. He also encouraged stronger relations with the Soviet Union, Eastern European countries under Soviet rule, and the Peoples Republic of China. De Gaulle argued that Europe had the potential to disengage from the influence of the United States. Internal strife, however, resulted in a serious weakening of de Gaulles position; in May 1968 university students and left-wing unionists in France nearly toppled the government, and de Gaulle had to return from an international trip to initiate a state of emergency. Although the coalition of leftist resistance quickly fragmented because the French Communist Party did not view the students as genuine radicals, de Gaulle did not emerge as a victor. French citizens opposed the rebellion and supported de Gaulle, but when in 1969 he again proposed a constitutional change, this time to reorganize the Senate, the voters rejected the proposal. De Gaulle resigned from the presidency, and Georges Pompidou (1911-1974), who had served as Frances prime minister from 1962 to 1968, became president. De Gaulle retired, planning to finish his memoirs; he died of a heart attack in 1970.

Charles de Gaulles stature, in France and internationally, seems to be readily apparent and yet resists interpretation. He was able to form a liberation army and government during World War II, and he brought France through the bloody war for independence in Algeria. Although he was at the center of so much military and political activity, he resisted personification of his work, asking his supporters not to use his name as a party identification; nevertheless, they were indeed known as Gaullists. His attempts to create an internationally independent France attracted a great deal of attention, but did not necessarily result in political influence.

SEE ALSO Battle of Algiers, The; Decolonization; Liberation; Nazism; Neutral States; Vietnam War; Weaponry, Nuclear; World War I; World War II

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cogan, Charles. 1996. Charles de Gaulle: A Brief Biography with Documents. Boston: Bedford.

De Gaulle, Charles. 1971. Memoirs of Hope: Renewal and Endeavor. Trans. Terence Kilmartin. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Lacouture, Jean. 1990-1992. De Gaulle. 2 vols. Trans. Patrick OBrian and Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton.

Peyrefitte, Alain. 1994-2000. Cétait de Gaulle. 3 vols. Paris: Editions de Fallois, Fayard.

Williams, Charles. 1993. The Last Great Frenchman: A Life of General de Gaulle. London: Little, Brown.

Philo A. Hutcheson

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Charles André Joseph Marie De Gaulle

Charles André Joseph Marie De Gaulle

The French general and statesman Charles André Joseph Marie De Gaulle (1890-1970) led the Free French forces during World War II. A talented writer and eloquent orator, he served as president of France from 1958 to 1969.

Charles De Gaulle was born on Nov. 23, 1890, in the northern industrial city of Lille. His father, Henri, was a teacher of philosophy and mathematics and a veteran of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, in which the Prussians humiliatingly defeated what the French thought was the greatest army in the world. This loss colored the life of the elder De Gaulle, a patriot who vowed he would live to avenge the defeat and win back the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. His attitude deeply influenced the lives of his sons, whom he raised to be the instruments of his revenge and of the restoration of France as the greatest European power.

From his earliest years Charles De Gaulle was immersed in French history by both his father and mother. For many centuries De Gaulle's forebears had played a role in French history, almost always as patriots defending France from invaders. In the 14th century a Chevalier de Gaulle defeated an invading English army in defense of the city of Vire, and Jean de Gaulle is cited in the Battle of Agincourt (1415).

Charles's great-great-grandfather, Jean Baptiste de Gaulle, was a king's counselor. His grandfather, Julien Philippe de Gaulle, wrote a popular history of Paris; Charles received this book on his tenth birthday and, as a young boy, read and reread it. He was also devoted to the literary works of his gifted grandmother, Julien Philippe's wife, Josephine Marie, whose name gave him two of his baptismal names. One of her greatest influences upon him was her impassioned, romantic history, The Liberator of Ireland, or the Life of Daniel O'Connell. It always remained for him an illustration of man's resistance to persecution, religious or political, and an inspiring example he emulated in his own life.

Perhaps the major influence on De Gaulle's formation came from his uncle, also named Charles de Gaulle, who wrote a book about the Celts which called for union of the Breton, Scots, Irish, and Welsh peoples. The young De Gaulle wrote in his copybook a sentence from his uncle's book, which proved to be a prophecy of his own life: "In a camp, surprised by enemy attack under cover of night, where each man is fighting alone, in dark confusion, no one asks for the grade or rank of the man who lifts up the standard and makes the first call to rally for resistance."

Military Career

De Gaulle's career as defender of France began in the summer of 1909, when he was admitted to the elite military academy of Saint-Cyr. Among his classmates was the future marshal of France Alphonse Juin, who later recalled De Gaulle's nicknames in school—"The Grand Constable," "The Fighting Cock," and "The Big Asparagus."

After graduation Second Lieutenant De Gaulle reported in October 1912 to Henri Philippe Pétain, who first became his idol and then his most hated enemy. (In World War I Pétain was the hero of Verdun, but during World War II he capitulated to Hitler and collaborated with the Germans while De Gaulle was leading the French forces of liberation.) De Gaulle led a frontline company as captain in World War I and was cited three times for valor. Severely wounded, he was left for dead on the battlefield of Verdun and then imprisoned by the Germans when he revived in a graveyard cart. After he had escaped and been recaptured several times, the Germans put him in a maximum security prison-fortress.

After the war De Gaulle went to general-staff school, where he hurt his career by constant criticism of his superiors. He denounced the static concept of trench warfare and wrote a series of essays calling for a strategy of movement with armored tanks and planes. The French hierarchy ignored his works, but the Germans read him and adapted his theories to develop their triumphant strategy of blitzkrieg, or lightning war, with which they defeated the French in 1940.

When France fell, De Gaulle, then an obscure brigadier general, refused to capitulate. He fled to London, convinced that the British would never surrender and that American power, once committed, would win the war. On June 18, 1940, on BBC radio, he insisted that France had only lost a battle, not the war, and called upon patriotic Frenchmen to resist the Germans. This inspiring broadcast won him worldwide acclaim.

Early Political Activity

When the Germans were driven back, De Gaulle had no rivals for leadership in France. Therefore in the fall of 1944 the French Parliament unanimously elected him premier. De Gaulle had fiercely opposed the German enemy, and now he vigorously defended France against the influence of his powerful allies Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Franklin Roosevelt. De Gaulle once stated that he never feared Adolf Hitler, who, he knew, was doomed to defeat, but did fear that his allies would dominate France and Europe in the postwar period.

By the fall of 1945, only a year after assuming power, De Gaulle was quarreling with all the political leaders of France. He saw himself as the unique savior of France, the only disinterested champion of French honor, grandeur, and independence. He despised all politicians as petty, corrupt, and self-interested muddlers, and, chafing under his autocratic rule, they banded against him. In January 1946, disgusted by politics, he resigned and retreated into a sulking silence to brood upon the future of France.

In 1947 De Gaulle reemerged as leader of the opposition. He headed what he termed "The Rally of the French People," which he insisted was not a political party but a national movement. The Rally became the largest single political force in France but never achieved majority status. Although De Gaulle continued to despise the political system, he refused to lead a coup d'etat, as some of his followers urged, and again retired in 1955.

Years as President

In May 1958 a combination of French colonials and militarists seized power in Algeria and threatened to invade France. The weakened Fourth Republic collapsed, and the victorious rebels called De Gaulle back to power as president of the Fifth Republic of France. From June 1958 to April 1969 he reigned as the dominant force in France. But he was not a dictator, as many have charged; he was elected first by Parliament and then in a direct election by the people.

As president, De Gaulle fought every plan to involve France deeply in alliances. He opposed the formation of a United States of Europe and British entry into the Common Market. He stopped paying part of France's dues to the United Nations, forced the NATO headquarters to leave France, and pulled French forces out of the Atlantic Alliance integrated armies. Denouncing Soviet oppression of Eastern Europe, he also warned of the Chinese threat to the world. He liberated France's colonies, supported the Vietnamese "liberation movement" against the United States, and called for a "free Quebec" in Canada.

De Gaulle had an early success in stimulating pride in Frenchmen and in increasing French gold reserves and strengthening the economy. By the end of his reign, however, France was almost friendless, and his economic gains had been all but wiped out by the student and workers protest movement in spring 1968.

De Gaulle ruled supreme for 11 years, but his firm hand began to choke and then to infuriate many citizens. In April 1969 the French voted against his program for reorganizing the Senate and the regions of France. He had threatened to resign if his plan was rejected and, true to his word, he promptly renounced all power. Thereafter De Gaulle remained silent on political issues. Georges Pompidou, one of his favorite lieutenants, was elected to succeed him as president. Charles De Gaulle died at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises on Nov. 9, 1970.

Further Reading

De Gaulle's War Memoirs (3 vols., 1954-1959; trans. 1955-1960) is available in a single volume as The Complete War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle (1964). The first volume of his postwar memoirs is Memoirs of Hope (trans. 1971). His The Edge of the Sword (1959; trans. 1960) is a personal credo on the qualities of leadership. Jean Lacouture, De Gaulle (1964; trans. 1966), is one of the best biographies, written by an astute French observer. Jean R. Tournoux, Pétain and De Gaulle (1964; trans. 1966), is a study of the relationship of the two men from World War I. A biography in three parts, examining De Gaulle's roles as soldier, savior of his nation, and statesman, is David Schoenbrun, The Three Lives of Charles de Gaulle (1966). Other more specialized studies include Jacques de Launay, De Gaulle and His France: A Psychopolitical and Historical Portrait (trans. 1968); Anton W. DePorte, De Gaulle's Foreign Policy, 1944-46 (1968); and Raymond Aron, De Gaulle, Israel, and the Jews (1968; trans. 1969). □

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de Gaulle, Charles

Charles de Gaulle

Born: November 23, 1890
Lille, France
Died: November 9, 1970
Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, France

French premier, general, and president

The French general and statesman Charles de Gaulle led the Free French forces in their resistance of Germany during World War II (193945). A talented writer and spirited public speaker, he served as president of France from 1958 to 1969.

Early life and inspirations

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was born on November 23, 1890, in the northern industrial city of Lille, France. His father, Henri, was a teacher of philosophy and mathematics and a veteran of the Franco-Prussian War (187071), in which Prussia (today known as Germany) humiliatingly defeated the French. This loss colored the life of de Gaulle's father, a patriot who vowed he would live to avenge the defeat and win back the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. His attitude deeply influenced the lives of his sons, whom he groomed to aid in France's restoration to the greatest European power.

From his earliest years, both his father and mother immersed de Gaulle in French history. For many centuries de Gaulle's ancestors had played a role in French history, almost always as patriots defending France from invaders. In the fourteenth century, a Chevalier de Gaulle defeated an invading English army in defense of the city of Vire. Jean de Gaulle is cited in the Battle of Agincourt (1415).

Perhaps the major influence on de Gaulle's formation came from his uncle, also named Charles de Gaulle, who wrote a book about the Celts, the ancient people of western Europe. The book called for union of the Breton, Scots, Irish, and Welsh peoples. The young de Gaulle wrote in his copybook a sentence from his uncle's book, which proved to be a prediction of his future life: "In a camp, surprised by enemy attack under cover of night, where each man is fighting alone, in dark confusion, no one asks for the grade or rank of the man who lifts up the standard and makes the first call to rally for resistance."

Military career

De Gaulle's career as defender of France began in the summer of 1909, when he was admitted to the elite military academy of Saint-Cyr. Among his classmates was the future marshal of France, Alphonse Juin (18881967), who later recalled de Gaulle's nicknames in school"The Grand Constable" and "The Big Asparagus" (because of his height).

After graduation, in October 1912, Second Lieutenant de Gaulle reported to Henri Philippe Pétain, who first became his idol and later his most hated enemy. (In World War I [191418] Pétain was the hero of Verdun. During World War II [194145] he surrendered to German leader Adolf Hitler [18891945] and collaborated with the Germans while de Gaulle was leading the French forces of liberation.)

De Gaulle led a frontline company as captain in World War I and was cited three times for valor, or courage. Severely wounded, he was left for dead on the battlefield of Verdun and was later imprisoned by the Germans when he revived in a graveyard cart. After he had escaped and been recaptured several times, the Germans put him in a maximum security prison-fortress.

Between wars

After the war de Gaulle went to general-staff school, where he damaged his career by constantly criticizing his superiors. He criticized the concept of trench warfare and wrote a series of essays calling for a strategy of movement with armored tanks and planes. His superiors ignored his works. The Germans, however, did read him and adapted his theories to develop their triumphant strategy of blitzkrieg, or lightning war, with which they defeated the French in 1940.

When France fell, de Gaulle, then an unknown brigadier general (a military officer above a colonel), refused to surrender. He fled to London, convinced that the British would never surrender and that American power, once committed, would win the war. On June 18, 1940, on British Broadcasting Company (BBC), he insisted that France had only lost a battle, not the war, and called upon patriotic Frenchmen to resist the Germans. This inspiring broadcast won him worldwide honor.

Early political activity

When the Germans were driven back at Normandy in 1944, de Gaulle had no rivals for leadership in France. Therefore, in the fall of that year, all of the members of the French Parliament agreed in their vote and elected him premier. De Gaulle had fiercely opposed the German enemy, and now he vigorously defended France against the influence of his powerful allies Joseph Stalin (18791953) of Russia, Winston Churchill (18741965) of Great Britain, and Franklin Roosevelt (18821945) of the United States. De Gaulle once stated that he never feared Hitler, who he knew was doomed to defeat. He did, however, fear that his allies would dominate France and Europe in the postwar period.

By the fall of 1945, only a year after assuming power, de Gaulle was at odds with all of the political leaders of France. He saw himself as the unique savior of France, the only champion of French honor, grandeur, and independence. He despised all politicians as corrupt and only out for their self-interests. The politicians then banded against him. In January 1946, disgusted by politics, he resigned and retreated into a silence to ponder the future of France.

In 1947 de Gaulle reemerged as leader of the opposition. He headed what he termed "The Rally of the French People," which he insisted was not a political party but a national movement. The Rally became the largest single political force in France but never achieved majority status. Although de Gaulle continued to disagree with the political system, he refused to lead a coup d'etat, or a sudden overthrow of the government. He retired again in 1955.

Years as president

In May 1958, a combination of French colonials and militarists seized power in Algeria and threatened to invade France. The weakened Fourth Republic collapsed, and the victorious rebels called de Gaulle back to power as president of the Fifth Republic of France. From June 1958 to April 1969 he reigned as the dominant force in France.

As president de Gaulle fought every plan to involve France deeply in alliances. He opposed the formation of a United States of Europe and British entry into the Common Market. He stopped paying part of France's dues to the United Nations, forced the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters to leave France, and pulled French forces out of the Atlantic Alliance integrated armies.

De Gaulle had an early success in stimulating (to make excitable) pride in Frenchmen and in increasing French gold reserves and strengthening the economy. By the end of his reign, however, France was almost friendless, and his economic gains had been all but wiped out by the student and workers protest movement in spring 1968.

De Gaulle ruled supreme for eleven years, but his firm hand began to anger many citizens. In April 1969 the French voted against his program for reorganizing the Senate and the regions of France. Immediately afterwards de Gaulle resigned and remained silent on political issues. Charles de Gaulle died at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises on November 9, 1970.

For More Information

Gaulle, Charles de. The Complete War Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle. New York: Da Capo Press, 1984. Reprint, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1998.

Whitelaw, Nancy. A Biography of General Charles de Gaulle: "I Am France." New York: Dillon Press, 1991.

Williams, Charles. The Last Great Frenchman. New York: J. Wiley & Sons, 1993.

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de Gaulle, Charles

Charles de Gaulle (shärl də gōl), 1890–1970, French general and statesman, first president (1959–69) of the Fifth Republic.

The World Wars

During World War I de Gaulle served with distinction until his capture in 1916. In The Army of the Future (1934, tr. 1941) he foresaw and futilely advocated for France the mechanized warfare by which Germany was to conquer France in 1940. In World War II he was promoted to brigadier general (1940) and became undersecretary of war in the cabinet of Premier Paul Reynaud.

De Gaulle opposed the Franco-German armistice and fled (June, 1940) to London, where he organized the Free French forces and rallied several French colonies to his movement. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a French military court. The Free French forces were successful in Syria, Madagascar, and N Africa. In June, 1943, de Gaulle became copresident, with Gen. Henri Honoré Giraud, of the newly formed French Committee of National Liberation at Algiers. He succeeded in forcing Giraud out of the committee, and in June, 1944, it was proclaimed the provisional government of France.

The Postwar Period

De Gaulle's government returned to Paris on Aug. 26 and was recognized by the principal Allies. He was unanimously elected provisional president of France in Nov., 1945, but he resigned in Jan., 1946, when it became obvious that his views favoring a strong executive would not be incorporated into the new constitution. Many of the rightist elements had gathered under the Gaullist banner, and he became (1947) head of a new party—Rassemblement du Peuple Français [Rally of the French People]—which claimed to speak for all Frenchmen and to be above factional strife but which, nevertheless, took part in subsequent elections. The party had some temporary electoral success, but in 1953 de Gaulle dissolved it and went into retirement.

Algeria and Internal Affairs

In 1958, after the military and civilian revolt in Algeria had created a political crisis in France, he was considered the only leader of sufficient strength and stature to deal with the situation. He became premier with power to rule by decree for six months. During this time a new constitution, which strengthened the presidency, was drawn up (1958). The constitution also provided for the French Community, the first step toward resolving imperial problems. De Gaulle was inaugurated as president of the new Fifth Republic in Jan., 1959. He decided to allow Algeria self-determination. This decision led to several revolts in Algeria by French colonists who opposed independence. Finally in 1962 an agreement was reached that provided for Algerian independence.

In domestic affairs de Gaulle attempted to restore French national finances by devaluing the franc and creating a new franc worth 100 old francs. Much of de Gaulle's program consisted of an attempt to raise France to its former world stature. He argued for French parity with the United States in NATO decisions and promoted French development of atomic weapons. In 1966, he withdrew French troops from NATO and ordered the withdrawal of NATO military installations from France by Apr., 1967.

The Final Presidency

De Gaulle was reelected to a second seven-year term in 1965. Although he rejected limitations on French sovereignty, he supported participation in the Common Market but strongly opposed British membership in it. He fostered ties with West Germany and established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. In May, 1968, student demonstrations protesting French political and educational systems were followed by huge workers' strikes that nearly toppled the Gaullist government. Nevertheless, in elections held in June, the Gaullists were returned to power. In 1969, after being defeated in a referendum on constitutional reform, de Gaulle resigned as president.

Bibliography

See De Gaulle's War Memoirs (tr., 3 vol., 1955–60; repr. 1984) and Memoirs of Hope (tr. 1972); biographies by P. Masson (1971), B. Crozier (1973), D. Cook (1984), J. Lacouture (2 vol., 1990–92), C. Williams (1995), and J. Fenby (2012); A. Werth, The De Gaulle Revolution (1960), P. M. Williams and M. Harrison, De Gaulle's Republic (1960), R. Aron, An Explanation of De Gaulle (1965), J. Hess, The Case for De Gaulle (1968), A. Hartley, Gaullism (1971), P. Alexandre, The Duel: De Gaulle and Pompidou (1972).

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De Gaulle, Charles André Joseph Marie

De Gaulle, Charles André Joseph Marie (1890–1970) French general and statesman, first president (1959–69) of the Fifth Republic. De Gaulle's experience of World War I (captured 1916), convinced him of the need to modernize the French army. In 1940 he became undersecretary of war, but fled to London after the German invasion. He organized French Resistance (Free French) forces, and in June 1944 was proclaimed president of the provisional French government. Following liberation he resigned, disenchanted with the political settlement. In 1958, he emerged from retirement to deal with the war in Algeria. In 1959 a new constitution was signed, creating the French Community. In 1962, De Gaulle was forced to cede Algerian independence. France gained an independent nuclear capability, but alienated the UK and USA by its temporary withdrawal from NATO and by blocking British entry into the EEC. De Gaulle's devaluation of the franc brought relative domestic prosperity. He was re-elected (1965), but resigned following defeat in a 1969 referendum.

http://www.charles-de-gaulle.org

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Gaulle, Charles de

Charles de Gaulle: see de Gaulle, Charles.

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