He led an armored division during World War II, holding the rank of colonel. During the Battle of France de Gaulle launched a counterattack against the invading Germans at Caumont, one of the very few French successes during the invasion. He was then appointed Under-Secretary for War until France's surrender. Refusing to accept his government's armistice with Nazi Germany, de Gaulle exhorted the French population to resist occupation and to continue the fight in his Appeal of 18 June. He led a government in exile and the Free French Forces against the Axis. Despite frosty relations with Britain and especially the United States, he emerged as the undisputed leader of the French resistance. He became Head of the Provisional Government of the French Republic in June 1944, the interim government of France following its liberation.
De Gaulle resigned from the newly formed Fourth Republic in 1946, but was coaxed out of retirement by the May 1958 crisis, becoming prime minister, and presiding over the drafting of a new constitution. In 1959, he became the first president of the newly created Fifth Republic (and 18th President of France overall), and oversaw a gradual dismantlement of France's colonial empire. De Gaulle also asserted a "Politics of Grandeur" during the Cold War, with the goal of asserting France as a major power.
De Gaulle won re-election in 1965, but after the civil unrest in May 1968, and increasing resistance to his efforts to decentralize, he resigned in April 1969. He died of a burst blood vessel the following year at his home at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises.
Charles de Gaulle in The Hot WarEdit
Charles de Gaulle was in retirement at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises when the French Fourth Republic joined World War III. In June 1951, the Soviet Union successfully dropped an atomic bomb on Paris, effectively wiping out the French government. Several officials established a Committee of National Salvation, and asked de Gaulle to become its head. De Gaulle could not refuse France in her hour of need, and became France's new head of state.
De Gaulle's first task was to contact U.S. President Harry Truman for aid, including medical supplies and experts in treating radiation sickness. While de Gaulle and Truman had shared a deep antipathy from the closing days of World War II, Truman realized that de Gaulle could forge a separate peace with the USSR, and so did everything he could to meet de Gaulle's requests.
Despite the aid, de Gaulle was quite loud about how easy a time of it West Germany had during the war thus far. This was by no means accurate, but consistent with de Gaulle's view of Germany. Still, de Gaulle's government was more eager to fight than the Fourth Republic had been.
Charles de Gaulle in The Man With the Iron HeartEdit
Charles de Gaulle sought to reassert France's global importance after World War II. While the Allies did publicly treat de Gaulle with some deference, privately representatives of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union looked at de Gaulle as pompous and France riding on the coattails of its allies. Reinhard Heydrich held France in absolute contempt.
When the German Freedom Front destroyed the Eiffel Tower, de Gaulle announced that the Tower would rise again, but Nazi Germany would not. To that end, the French Army cracked down on its zone of Germany, touching off an uprising that was not backed by the GFF.
Charles de Gaulle in The War That Came Early Edit
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Colonel Charles de Gaulle was believed (correctly) to be France's number one expert on tanks and tank warfare. In December 1938, with Germany driving on Paris, de Gaulle led a tank regiment out to Charleroi in an unsuccessful effort to stop it.
Luc Harcourt saw de Gaulle standing in the cupola of a tank. He was surprised to see how tall the commander was, comparing him to a fishing pole, and even more surprised to learn that the commander was indeed de Gaulle, after his sergeant commented that he was two fishing poles (de Gaulle being close to the French for "two fishing poles", deux gaulles).
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