Charles de Gaulle was born in Lille, France, 22nd November, 1890.
Educated in Paris.
Graduated from the Military Academy St. Cyr in 1912.
Commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Joined an infantry regiment in 1913.
In the First World War de Gaulle was wounded three times.
Promoted to rank of captain in February, 1915.
On 2nd March, 1916, was captured by the German Army.
Held in several prisoner of war camps.
After Armistice, was assigned to a Polish division.
Fought against the Red Army during the Civil War.
Won Poland's highest military decoration, "Virtuti Militari".
De Gaulle lectured at the French War College.
De Gaulle's released his book, The Army of the Future (1934).
De Gaulle published "France and Her Army" in 1938.
World War Two: De Gaulle took command of the 5th Army's tank force in Alsace.
Given command of the 4th Armoured Division.
5th June, 1940: French Prime minister, Paul Reynaud, appoints De Gaulle as minister of war.
After disagreements with a new government in France, on 4th July, 1940, a court-martial in Toulouse sentenced him in absentia to four years in prison.
A second court-martial sentenced him to death.
De Gaulle made attempts to unify the resistance movements in France.
30th May 1943: de Gaulle moved to Algeria.
De Gaulle reached France from Algiers on 20th August, 1944.
De Gaulle and his 2nd Armoured Division joined the USA Army when it entered Paris on 25th August.
13th November, 1945: the first Constituent Assembly elected de Gaulle as head of the French government.
He resigned 20th January, 1946.
Returned to politics in 1958 when he was elected president.
De Gaulle resigned from office April, 1969.
Died on 9th November, 1970.
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II and later founded the French Fifth Republic and served as its first President. In France, he is commonly referred to as Général de Gaulle or simply Le Général. Prior to World War II, de Gaulle was a tactician of armoured warfare and advocate of military aviation. During the war, he reached the rank of Brigadier General and organised the Free French Forces with exiled French officers in England. He gave a famous radio address in 1940, exhorting the French people to resist Nazi Germany. Following the liberation of France in 1944, de Gaulle became prime minister in the French Provisional Government. 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 the 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 Algeria, 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 recognised 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.
Charles De Gaulle was born in Lille, the third of five children of Henri de Gaulle, a professor of philosophy and literature at a Jesuit college, who eventually founded his own school. He was raised in a family of devout Roman Catholics who were nationalist and traditionalist, but also quite progressive. Charles De Gaulle's father, Henri, came from a long line of aristocracy from Normandy and Burgundy, while his mother, Jeanne Maillot, descended from a family of rich entrepreneurs from the industrial region of Lille in French Flanders. The de in de Gaulle is not a nobiliary particle, although the de Gaulle family were an ancient family of ennobled knighthood. The earliest known de Gaulle ancestor was a squire of the 12th-century King Louis VI. The name de Gaulle is thought to have evolved from a Germanic form, De Walle, meaning the wall (of a fortification or city), the rampart. Much of the old French nobility descended from Frankish and Norman Germanic lineages and often bore Germanic names. Charles De Gaulle was educated in Paris at the College Stanislas and also briefly in Belgium. Since childhood, he had a displayed a keen interest in reading and studying history. Choosing a military career, de Gaulle spent four years studying and training at the elite Saint-Cyr. Graduating in 1912, he joined an infantry regiment of the French Army. While serving during World War I, he was wounded and captured at Douaumont in the Battle of Verdun in March 1916. While being held as a prisoner of war by the German Army, de Gaulle wrote his first book, "L'Ennemi et le vrai ennemi" (The Enemy and the True Enemy), analyzing the issues and divisions within the German Empire and its forces; the book was published in 1924. After the armistice, de Gaulle continued to serve in the Army and on the staff of Gen. Maxime Weygand’s military mission to Poland during its war with Communist Russia (1919-1921), working as an instructor to Polish infantry forces. He distinguished himself in operations near the River Zbrucz and won the highest Polish military decoration, the Virtuti Militari.
He was promoted to Commandant and offered a further career in Poland, but chose instead to return to France, where he served as a staff officer and also taught at the École Militaire, becoming a protégé of his old commander, Marshall Pétain. De Gaulle was heavily influenced by the use of tanks, rapid maneuvers and limited trench warfare. He would also adopt some lessons, for his own military and political career, from Poland’s Marshal Józef Pilsudski, who, decades before de Gaulle, sought to create a federation of European states (Miedzymorze). In the 1930s de Gaulle wrote various books and articles on military subjects that marked him as a gifted writer and an imaginative thinker. In 1931 he published Le fil de l’epée (Eng. tr., The Edge of the Sword, 1960), an analysis of military and political leadership. He also published Vers l’armée de metier (1934; Eng. tr., The Army of the Future, 1941) and La France et son armee (1938; Eng. tr., France and Her Army, 1945). He urged the creation of a mechanised army with special armoured divisions manned by a corps of professional specialist soldiers instead of the static theories exemplified by the Maginot Line. While views similar to de Gaulle’s were advanced by Britain’s J.F.C. Fuller, Germany’s Heinz Guderian, United States’ Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton, Russia’s Mikhail Tukhachevsky, and Poland’s General Wladyslaw Sikorski, most of de Gaulle’s theories were rejected by other army officers, including his mentor Pétain, and relations between them became strained. French politicians also dismissed de Gaulle’s ideas, questioning the political reliability of a professional army — with the notable exception of Paul Reynaud and navy general Christoph Malton, who would play a major role in de Gaulle’s career. Charles De Gaulle would have some contacts with Ordre Nouveau, a Non-Conformist Group at the end of 1934 and the beginning of 1935.
At the outbreak of World War II, de Gaulle was only a colonel, having antagonised the leaders of the military through the 1920s and 1930s with his bold views. Initially commanding a tank brigade in the French 5th Army, Charles de Gaulle implemented many of his theories and tactics for armoured warfare. After the German breakthrough at Sedan on May 15, 1940 he was given command of the 4th Armored Division. On May 17, Charles de Gaulle attacked German tank forces at Montcornet with 200 tanks but no air support; on May 28, de Gaulle's tanks forced the German infantry to retreat to Caumont - some of the few tactical successes the French enjoyed while suffering defeats across the country. De Gaulle was promoted to the rank of brigadier general, which he would hold for the rest of his life. On 6 June, Prime Minister Paul Reynaud appointed him undersecretary of state for national defense and war and put him in charge of coordination with the United Kingdom. As a junior member of the French government, he unsuccessfully opposed surrender, advocating instead that the government remove itself to North Africa and carry on the war as best it could from France's African colonies. While serving as a liaison with the British government, de Gaulle proposed a political union between France and the U.K. with British leader Winston Churchill on June 16. The project would have in effect merged France and the United Kingdom into a single country, with a single government and a single army for the duration of the war. This was a desperate last-minute effort to strengthen the resolve of those members of the French government who were in favor of fighting on. Returning the same day to Bordeaux, the temporary wartime capital, de Gaulle learned that Field Marshall Pétain had become prime minister and was planning to seek an armistice with Nazi Germany. De Gaulle and allied officers rebelled against the new French government; on the morning of June 17, de Gaulle and other senior French officers fled the country with 100,000 gold francs in secret funds provided to him by the ex-prime minister Paul Reynaud. Narrowly escaping the German air force, he landed safely in London that afternoon. De Gaulle strongly denounced the French government's decision to seek peace with the Nazis and set about building the Free French Forces out of the soldiers and officers who were deployed outside France and in its colonies or had fled France with him. On June 18, de Gaulle delivered a famous radio address via the BBC radio service. Although the British cabinet initially attempted to block the speech, they were overruled by Churchill. De Gaulle's Appeal of 18 June exhorted the French people to not be demoralised and to continue to resist the occupation of France and work against the Vichy regime, which had allied itself with Nazi Germany. Although reaching only a few parts of France, de Gaulle's subsequent speeches reached many parts of occupied France and the territories under the Vichy regime, helping to rally the French resistance movement and earning him much popularity amongst the French people and soldiers. On July 4, 1940, a court-martial in Toulouse sentenced de Gaulle in absentia to four years in prison. At a second court-martial on August 2, 1940 de Gaulle was condemned to death for treason against the Vichy regime. With British support, de Gaulle settled himself in Berkhamstead (36 miles northwest of London) and began organising the Free French forces. Gradually, the Allies gave increasing support and recognition to de Gaulle's efforts. In dealings with his British allies and the United States, de Gaulle insisted at all times on retaining full freedom of action on behalf of France, and he was constantly on the verge of being cut off by the Allies. He harbored a suspicion of the British in particular, believing that they were surreptitiously seeking to steal France's colonial possessions in the Levant. Clementine Churchill, who admired de Gaulle, once cautioned him, "General, you must not hate your friends more than you hate your enemies." De Gaulle himself stated famously, "France has no friends, only interests." The situation was nonetheless complex, and de Gaulle's mistrust of both British and U.S. intentions with regards to France was mirrored in particular by a mistrust of the Free French among the U.S. political leadership, who for a long time refused to recognise de Gaulle as the representative of France, preferring to deal with representatives of the former Vichy government.
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Working with the French resistance and supporters in France's colonial African possessions after the Anglo-US invasion of North Africa in November 1942, de Gaulle moved his headquarters to Algiers in May, 1943. He became first joint head (with the less resolutely independent General Henri Giraud, the candidate preferred by the U.S.) and then sole chairman of the French Committee of National Liberation. At the liberation of France following Operation Overlord, he quickly established the authority of the Free French Forces in France, avoiding an Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories. He flew into France from the French colony of Algeria a few days before the liberation of Paris, and drove near the front of the liberating forces into the city alongside Allied officials. De Gaulle made a famous speech emphasizing the role of France's people in her liberation. After his return to Paris, he moved back into his office at the War Ministry, thus proclaiming continuity of the Third Republic and denying the legitimacy of the Vichy regime. He served as President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic starting in September, 1944. As such he sent the French Far East Expeditionary Corps to re-establish French sovereignty in French Indochina in 1945. He made Admiral d'Argenlieu High commissioner of French Indochina and General Leclerc commander-in-chief in French Indochina and commander of the expeditionary corps. Under de Gaulle's leadership, The resistance fighters and with the already fighting colonial troops enabled France to field one entire army into the western front via the invasion of southern France which helped liberate almost 1/3 of France. This group called the French First Army meant France actively rejoined the Allies fighting against Germany and captured a large section of German territory when the Allied invasion began. This also enabled France to be an active participant in the signing of the German surrender and receive through the intervention of the British at Yalta and the intense resistance of the Russians and the Americans a German zone of occupation. De Gaulle finally resigned on 20 January 1946, complaining of conflict between the political parties, and disapproving of the draft constitution for the Fourth Republic, which he believed placed too much power in the hands of a parliament with its shifting party alliances. He was succeeded by Félix Gouin (SFIO), then Georges Bidault (MRP) and finally Léon Blum (SFIO).
Charles De Gaulle’s opposition to the proposed constitution failed as the parties of the left supported a parliamentary regime. The second draft constitution narrowly approved at the referendum of October 1946 was even less to de Gaulle’s liking than the first. In April 1947 de Gaulle made a renewed attempt to transform the political scene by creating a Rassemblement du Peuple Français (Rally of the French People, or RPF), but after initial success the movement lost momentum. In May 1953 he withdrew again from active politics, though the RPF lingered until September 1955. He retired to Colombey-les-deux-Églises and wrote his war memoirs, Mémoires de guerre. During this period of formal retirement, however, de Gaulle maintained regular contact with past political lieutenants from wartime and RPF days, including sympathisers involved in political developments in Algeria.
The Fourth Republic was tainted by political instability, failures in Indochina and inability to resolve the Algerian question. It did, however, pass the 1956 loi-cadre Deferre which granted independence to Tunisia and Morocco, while the Premier Pierre Mendès-France put an end to the Indochina War through the Geneva Conference of 1954. On 13 May 1958, settlers seized the government buildings in Algiers, attacking what they saw as French government weakness in the face of demands among the Arab majority for Algerian inde Under the pressure of Massu, Salan declared Vive de Gaulle ! from the balcony of the Algiers Government-General building on 15 May. De Gaulle answered two days later that he was ready to assume the powers of the Republic. Many worried as they saw this answer as support for the army. At a 19 May press conference, de Gaulle asserted again that he was at the disposal of the country. As a journalist expressed the concerns of some who feared that he would violate civil liberties, de Gaulle retorted vehemently: Have I ever done that? Quite the opposite, I have reestablished them when they had disappeared. Who honestly believes that, at age 67, I would start a career as a dictator? A republican by conviction, de Gaulle maintained throughout the crisis that he would accept power only from the lawfully constituted authorities. The crisis deepened as French paratroops from Algeria seized Corsica and a landing near Paris was discussed (Operation Ressurrection). Political leaders on many sides agreed to support the General’s return to power, except François Mitterrand, Pierre Mendès-France, Alain Savary, the Communist Party, etc. The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, famous existentialist author, was quoted as saying I would rather vote for God. On 29 May the French President, René Coty, appealed to the most illustrious of Frenchmen to become the last President of the Council (Prime Minister) of the Fourth Republic. Charles De Gaulle remained intent on replacing the constitution of the Fourth Republic, which he blamed for France’s political weakness. He set as a condition for his return that he be given wide emergency powers for six months and that a new constitution be proposed to the French people . On 1 June 1958, de Gaulle became Premier and was given emergency powers for six months by the National Assembly. On 28 September 1958, a referendum took place and 79.2% of those who voted supported the new constitution and the creation of the Fifth Republic. The colonies (Algeria was officially a part of France, not a colony) were given the choice between immediate independence and the new constitution. All colonies voted for the new constitution and the replacement of the French Union by the French Community, except Guinea, which thus became the first French African colony to gain independence, at the cost of the immediate ending of all French assistance. According to de Gaulle, the head of state should represent the spirit of the nation to the nation itself and to the world: une certaine idée de la France (a certain idea of France).
In the November 1958 elections, de Gaulle and his supporters (initially organised in the Union pour la Nouvelle République-Union Démocratique du Travail, then the Union des Démocrates pour la Vème République, and later still the Union des Démocrates pour la République, UDR) won a comfortable majority. In December, de Gaulle was elected President by the electoral college with 78% of the vote, and inaugurated in January 1959. He oversaw tough economic measures to revitalise the country, including the issuing of a new franc (worth 100 old francs). Internationally, he rebuffed both the United States and the Soviet Union, pushing for an independent France with its own nuclear weapons, and strongly encouraged a Free Europe, believing that a confederation of all European nations would restore the past glories of the great European empires. He set about building Franco-German cooperation as the cornerstone of the European Economic Community (EEC), paying the first state visit to Germany by a French head of state since Napoleon. In 1963, Germany and France signed a treaty of friendship, the Élysée Treaty. France also reduced its dollar reserves, trading them for gold from the U.S. government, thereby reducing the US’ economic influence abroad. He vetoed the British application to join the EEC in 1963, because he thought that the United Kingdom lacked the political will to join the community. Many Britons took de Gaulle’s non as an insult, especially with the role the United Kingdom had played in the Liberation of France only 19 years earlier. Charles De Gaulle believed that while the war in Algeria was militarily winnable, it was not defensible internationally, and he became reconciled to the colony’s eventual independence. This stance greatly angered the French settlers and their metropolitan supporters, and de Gaulle was forced to suppress two uprisings in Algeria by French settlers and troops, in the second of which (the Generals' Putsch in April 1961) France herself was threatened with invasion by rebel paratroops. De Gaulle’s government also covered up the Paris massacre of 1961, issued under the orders of the police prefect Maurice Papon. He was also targeted by the settler Organisation armée secrète (OAS) terrorist group and several assassination attempts were made on him; the most famous is that of 22 August 1962, when he and his wife narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when their Citroën DS was targeted by machine gun fire arranged by Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry at the Petit-Clamart. After a referendum on Algerian self-determination carried out in 1961, de Gaulle arranged a cease-fire in Algeria with the March 1962 Evian Accords, legitimated by another referendum a month later. Algeria became independent in July 1962, while an amnesty was later issued covering all crimes committed during the war, including the use of torture. In just a few months in 1962, 900,000 French settlers left the country. The exodus accelerated after the 5th of July 1962 massacre. In September 1962, De Gaulle sought a constitutional amendment to allow the president to be directly elected by the people and issued another referendum to this end, approved by more than three-fifths of voters despite a broad coalition of no formed by most of the parties, opposed to a presidential regime. Thereafter the President was to be elected at direct universal suffrage. After a motion of censure voted by the Parliament on October 4, 1962, de Gaulle dissolved the National Assembly and held new elections. Although the left progressed, the Gaullists won an increased majority, despite opposition from the Christian-Democrat MRP and the National Centre of Independents and Peasants (CNIP) who criticised de Gaulle’s euroscepticism and presidentialism. Although the Algerian issue was settled, Prime Minister Michel Debré resigned over the final settlement and was replaced with Georges Pompidou.
With the Algerian conflict behind him, de Gaulle was able to achieve his two main objectives: to reform and develop the French economy, and to promote an independent foreign policy and a strong stance on the international stage. This was, as named by foreign observers, the politics of grandeur (politique de grandeur).
In the context of a population boom unseen in France since the 18th century, the government under prime minister Georges Pompidou oversaw a rapid transformation and expansion of the French economy. With dirigisme a unique combination of capitalism and state-directed economy the government intervened heavily in the economy, using indicative five-year plans as its main tool. High profile projects, mostly but not always financially successful, were launched: the extension of Marseille harbor (soon ranking third in Europe and first in the Mediterranean); the promotion of the Caravelle passenger jetliner (a predecessor of Airbus); the decision to start building the supersonic Franco-British Concorde airliner in Toulouse; the expansion of the French auto industry with state-owned Renault at its center; and the building of the first motorways between Paris and the provinces. With these projects, the French economy recorded growth rates unrivalled since the 19th century. In 1963, de Gaulle vetoed Britain’s entry into the EEC for the first of two times. In 1964, for the first time in 200 years, France’s GDP overtook that of the United Kingdom, a position it held until the 1990s. This period is still remembered in France with some nostalgia as the peak of the Trente Glorieuses (Thirty Glorious Years of economic growth between 1945 and 1974).
This strong economic foundation enabled Charles de Gaulle to implement his independent foreign policy. In 1960, France became the fourth state to acquire a nuclear arsenal, detonating an atomic bomb in the Algerian desert (a secret clause of the 1962 Evian Accords with the Algerian National Liberation Front stated that Algeria concede... to France the use of certain air bases, terrains, sites and military installations which are necessary to it France during five years. In 1968, at the insistence of Charles de Gaulle, French scientists finally succeeded in detonating a hydrogen bomb without US assistance. In what was regarded as a snub to Britain, de Gaulle declared France to be the third big independent nuclear power, as Britain’s nuclear force was closely coordinated with that of the United States. While grandeur was surely an essential motive in these nuclear developments, another was the concern that the U.S., involved in an unpopular and costly war in Vietnam, would hesitate to intervene in Europe should the Soviet Union decide to invade. Charles De Gaulle wanted to develop an independent force de frappe. An additional effect was that the French military, which had been demoralised and close to rebellion after the loss of Algeria, was kept busy. In 1965, France launched its first satellite into orbit, being the third country in the world to build a complete delivery system, after the Soviet Union and the United States.
Charles De Gaulle was convinced that a strong and independent France could act as a balancing force between the United States and the Soviet Union, a policy seen as little more than posturing and opportunism by his critics, particularly in Britain and the United States, to which France was formally allied. In January 1964, he officially recognised the People's Republic of China, despite U.S. opposition. Eight years later U.S. President Richard Nixon visited the PRC and began normalising relations. Nixon’s first foreign visit after his election was to France in 1969. He and de Gaulle both shared the same non-Wilsonian approach to world affairs, believing in nations and their relative strengths, rather than in ideologies, international organizations, or multilateral agreements. Charles De Gaulle is famously known for calling the United Nations le Machin (the thing).
In December 1965, de Gaulle returned as president for a second seven-year term, but this time he had to go through a second round of voting in which he defeated François Mitterrand. In February 1966, France withdrew from the common NATO military command, but remained within the organization. Charles De Gaulle, haunted by the memories of 1940, wanted France to remain the master of the decisions affecting it, unlike in the 1930s, when France had to follow in step with her British ally. He also declared that all foreign military forces had to leave French territory and gave them one year to redeploy. In September 1966, in a famous speech in Phnom Penh (Cambodia), he expressed France’s disapproval of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, calling for a U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam as the only way to ensure peace. As the Vietnam War had its roots in French colonialism in southeast Asia, this speech did little to endear de Gaulle to the Americans, even if they later came to the same conclusion.
During the establishment of the European Community, de Gaulle helped precipitate one of the greatest crises in the history of the EC, the Empty Chair Crisis. It involved the financing of the Common Agricultural Policy, but almost more importantly the use of qualified majority voting in the EC (as opposed to unanimity). In June 1965, after France and the other five members could not agree, Charles de Gaulle withdrew France’s representatives from the EC. Their absence left the organization essentially unable to run its affairs until the Luxembourg compromise was reached in January 1966. De Gaulle managed to make QMV essentially meaningless for years to come, and halted more federalist plans for the EC, which he opposed.
During Nigeria’s civil war of 1967-1970, de Gaulle’s government supported the Republic of Biafra in its struggle to gain independence from Nigeria. Despite lack of official recognition, de Gaulle provided covert military assistance through France’s former African colonies. The United Kingdom opposed de Gaulle’s stance, but he viewed the political position of the Igbo in Nigeria as analogous to that of the French Québécois living in Canada.
In July 1967, de Gaulle visited Canada, which was celebrating its centennial with a world's fair, Expo 67. On 24 July, speaking to a large crowd from a balcony at Montreal’s city hall, Charles de Gaulle uttered Vive le Québec ! (Long live Quebec!) then added, Vive le Québec libre ! (Long live Québec freedom!). The Canadian media harshly criticised the statement, and the Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, a soldier who had fought in World War I and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, stated that Canadians do not need to be liberated. De Gaulle left Canada of his own accord the next day without proceeding to Ottawa as scheduled. He never returned to Canada. The speech caused outrage in most of Canada; it led to a serious diplomatic rift between the two countries. However, the event was seen as a watershed moment by the Quebec sovereignty movement. In December 1967, claiming continental European solidarity, he again rejected British entry into the European Economic Community.
Charles de Gaulle resigned the presidency on 28 April 1969, following the defeat of his referendum to transform the Senate (upper house of the French parliament, wielding less power than the National Assembly) into an advisory body while giving extended powers to regional councils. Some said this referendum was a self-conscious political suicide committed by de Gaulle after the traumatising events of May 1968. As in 1946, Charles de Gaulle refused to stay in power without widespread popular support. Charles De Gaulle retired once again to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, where he died suddenly in 1970, two weeks before his 80th birthday, in the middle of writing his memoirs. In generally very robust health until then, despite an operation on his prostate some years before, it was reported that as he had finished watching the evening news on television and was sitting in his armchair he suddenly said I feel a pain here, pointing to his neck, just seconds before he fell unconscious due to an aneurysmal rupture. Within minutes, he was dead. Charles De Gaulle had made arrangements that insisted that his funeral would be held at Colombey, and that no presidents or ministers attend his funeral, only his Compagnons de la Libération. Heads of state had to content themselves with a simultaneous service at Notre-Dame Cathedral. He was carried to his grave on a tank, and as he was lowered into the ground the bells of all the churches in France tolled starting from Notre Dame and spreading out from there. He specified that his tombstone bear the simple inscription of his name and his dates of birth and death. Therefore, it simply says: Charles de Gaulle, 1890-1970. Unlike many other politicians, de Gaulle was nearly destitute when he died. When he retired, he did not accept pensions to which he was entitled as a retired president and as a retired general. Instead, he only accepted a pension to which colonels are entitled. His family had to sell the Boisserie residence. It was purchased by a foundation and is currently the Charles de Gaulle Museum.
France’s largest airport, in Roissy, outside Paris was named Charles de Gaulle International Airport in his honour. (See Things named after Charles de Gaulle.)
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Commissioned as a second lieutenant. Joined an infantry regiment in 1913.
In the First World War de Gaulle was wounded three times. Promoted to rank of captain in February, 1915. On 2nd March, 1916, was captured by the German Army. Held in several prisoner of war camps.
After Armistice, was assigned to a Polish division. Fought against the Red Army during the Civil War. Won Poland's highest military decoration, "Virtuti Militari".
De Gaulle lectured at the French War College. De Gaulle's released his book, The Army of the Future (1934). De Gaulle published "France and Her Army" in 1938.
World War Two: De Gaulle took command of the 5th Army's tank force in Alsace. Given command of the 4th Armoured Division. 5th June, 1940: French Prime minister, Paul Reynaud, appoints De Gaulle as minister of war.
After disagreements with a new government in France, on 4th July, 1940, a court-martial in Toulouse sentenced him in absentia to four years in prison. A second court-martial sentenced him to death.
De Gaulle made attempts to unify the resistance movements in France. 30th May 1943: de Gaulle moved to Algeria. De Gaulle reached France from Algiers on 20th August, 1944. De Gaulle and his 2nd Armoured Division joined the USA Army when it entered Paris on 25th August.
13th November, 1945: the first Constituent Assembly elected de Gaulle as head of the French government.
He resigned 20th January, 1946.
Returned to politics in 1958 when he was elected president.
De Gaulle resigned from office April, 1969.
Died on 9th November, 1970.