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- 03 -132018

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« A dedicated life », episode 12: Charles de Gaulle

Birth: 22 November 1890
Death: 9 November 1970
Founder and Grand Master of the Order of the Liberation

After leaving Saint-Cyr Military School in 1912, he chose infantry, which he deemed the “most military” part of the army. A lieutenant in the 33rd Infantry Regiment, he was wounded in Dinant (Belgium) early on in the war, then again in Champagne in March 1915. The defence of the village of Douaumont at the start of the Battle of Verdun brought a sudden end to Captain de Gaulle’s presence at the front. Caught in fierce enemy fire and wounded, he was taken prisoner on 2 March 1916. Despite five escape attempts, he remained interned in Germany until the end of the war. The humiliation of captivity and a sense of uselessness further hardened his resolve to resist.

Promoted to the rank of general, he joined the government on 5 June 1940 during the debacle. He absolutely rejected the armistice. Convinced that honour required him to carry on fighting, he made his famous appeal of 18 June 1940 on the radio from London. He formed and directed the political and military organisation of Free France and led the country to the winners’ table in 1945.  After being brought back to power in 1958, he founded the Fifth Republic and became its president until 1969.

Credits: Captain Charles de Gaulle. © Archives de Gaulle, Paris, France / Bridgeman Images

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