National day commemorating the historic appeal of General de Gaulle, June 18, 2024 – News

National day commemorating the historic appeal of General de Gaulle, June 18, 2024 – News
National day commemorating the historic appeal of General de Gaulle, June 18, 2024 – News

Updated 06/14/2024

London, June 18, 1940. London, capital of England and already a bit of a fighting France, since the day before it welcomed a general who cannot bring himself to see his country capitulate to the enemy. He is 49 years old and his name is Charles de Gaulle.

Shipwrecked by defeat, without troops, without means, without much credit yet. But it is when he is alone and deprived of everything that the essential is revealed, on which the entire future will be built: an invincible faith in the destiny of France, an unshakeable confidence in the victory of the Allies, and in the French, who he knew, deep down, would not accept submission.

London, June 18, 1940, 6 p.m., at BBC headquarters. In the midst of the debacle, at the heart of the most atrocious collapse in our history, a voice is raised. An authority forged in the apocalypse. A Frenchman speaks to the French. A fine-tuned speech, barely 400 words, a few brief minutes which lay the foundations for recovery and exorcise compromise.

That day, General de Gaulle expressed the expression of a refusal, a simple “no”, three letters of such vitality that the defeat had not succeeded in diminishing. No, France is not alone. No, the war is not over. No, there is no reason, neither in heart nor in mind, to accept the infamous armistice.

That evening, with this speech that so few have heard but so many will repeat, the general lit a spark. A spark that lit a fire, which some thought was straw, and which continued to grow. Sacred fire becoming an inferno, when anonymous people in turn joined the Resistance to blow on its embers. He awakened wills which, before June 18, quivered with indignation and freedom, and which rose up after him.

His emissaries, bearers of the flame, few in number at first, ended up forming an army. Fighters of the Free French forces, resistance fighters from within of all political colors, united in the face of danger. Anonymous people who hid a Jew or a hunted man, students who traced a cross of Lorraine on the city walls, reckless people who laid a wreath on November 11th. The spirit of resistance will be everywhere, it will spring from the old, dislocated country that the increasingly ferocious Nazi repression will no longer be able to prevent from coming together.

All these French people shared a certain idea of ​​France and refused to abandon it to those who had invaded it. They were scouts of freedom who redeemed the honor of a country that others had betrayed.

London, June 18, 1940, and until the end of the war. It was in this city, later in Algiers, that the general became the architect of resistance and then reconstruction. It was there that he wrote some of his greatest speeches and expressed his vision for France. London at a time when the BBC has never been so French, London where “long live France!” » mixed with an English accent accompanied the general’s wanderings. London both host and incarnation of the desire for resistance.

The unknown general was no longer unknown. He had become the leader of a France in exile, but fighting and free. Recognized by his English-speaking allies, uniting behind him the troops of the empire, those who would later distinguish themselves at Bir Hakeim and in the sands of Koufra, at Oyonnax and in the maquis, around Commander Kieffer and in the mountains of Monte Cassino, aboard the Surcouf or the battleship Richelieu, in the Normandy-Niemen squadron.

84 years ago, by writing down his speech with ardor in the anonymity of a summer afternoon, General de Gaulle also wrote our destiny, and our history.

On this day, as the grateful Nation commemorates the 80th anniversary of the Landings and the Liberation, our gratitude is expressed to him, to his companions and to all those who joined and followed him. Together, they expressed a simple idea, but consistent with what France is: that nothing could exist or remain without freedom.

Long live the Republic !

Long live France !

Message from Patricia MIRALLES
Secretary of State to the Minister of the Armed Forces, responsible for
Veterans and Memory



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