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18/06/2009

Appeal of June 18th, Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), Statue of Jean Cardot, Paris


This is a photo of the statue of Charles de Gaulle in Paris on the Champs-Elysées, designed by sculptor Jean Cardot, who also made a popular bear-like statue of Sir Winston Churchill (standing 50 metres from the one of De Gaulle).
Charles de Gaulle, (22 November 1890 – 9 November 1970) was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces (Forces Françaises Libres, FFL) during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969.
A veteran of World War I, in the 1920s and 1930s de Gaulle came to the fore as a proponent of armored warfare and advocate of military aviation, which he considered a means to break the stalemate of trench warfare. During World War II, he reached the rank of Brigadier General, leading one of the few successful armored counter-attacks during the 1940
Battle of France, and then organized the Free French Forces with exiled French officers in England. He gave a famous radio address on the June 18th 1940 , exhorting the French people to resist Nazi Germany (see translation of the speech at : Appeal of June 18). Following the liberation of France in 1944, de Gaulle became prime minister in the Provisional Government of the French Republic. Although he retired from politics in 1946 due to political conflicts, he was returned to power with military support following the May 1958 crisis. De Gaulle led the writing of a new constitution founding the Fifth Republic, and was elected President of France. As president, Charles de Gaulle ended the political chaos and violence that preceded his return to power. Although he initially supported French rule over Algeria, he controversially decided to grant independence to that country, ending an expensive and unpopular war. A new currency was issued to control inflation and industrial growth was promoted. De Gaulle oversaw the development of atomic weapons and promoted a pan-European foreign policy, seeking to diminish U.S. and British influence; withdrawing France from the NATO military command, he objected to Britain's entry into the European Community and he recognized Communist China. During his term, de Gaulle also faced controversy and political opposition from Communists and Socialists, and a spate of widespread protests in May 1968. De Gaulle retired in 1969, but remains the most influential leader in modern French history.

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