The first president of Fifth French Republic, an outstanding military strategist, Charles de Gaulle
Birth and death: 1890-1970
Identification, personality: teacher
Family: President (term 1959-1969)
Charles de Gaulle was born into a family of wealthy Catholic teachers. In 1910 he was admitted to Military Academy of Saint-Cyr. In November 1922, de Gaulle was admitted to Military Academy for further education. In October 1925, French military director Pétain appointed de Gaulle as his staff and ordered him to be secretary of Secretariat of Supreme Council of National Defence.
De Gaulle in his youth
As President, Charles de Gaulle vacillated between US, Britain and Soviet Union and won for France right to participate in Allied administration of Germany after war and right to become a permanent member of UN Security Council, which made France one of great powers of world. All successive presidents after him have pursued a tough policy towards United States, formulated by him during his term in office, thanks to which France played an important role in international political arena.
Charles de Gaulle during World War II
After outbreak of World War II, Charles de Gaulle successively held positions of commander of a tank regiment, commander of a tank division, deputy minister of national defense and army. He proposed "lightning tactics" against Germany and creation of mechanized troops, but they were not accepted. In May 1944, German army bypassed Maginot Line of French army and captured a large tract of French territory. On June 14, Paris fell. On 16th, Renault announced his resignation and Pétain took over. On 22nd, new government capitulated to Germany.
De Gaulle attended Feast of Liberation of France
De Gaulle struggled to resist traitorous behavior of Petain government. On June 17, he took his family to London. On June 18, de Gaulle published a "Letter to French People" on British radio and laid foundation for Free French movement. He urged "...whatever happens, flame of French resistance will not be extinguished and will never be extinguished." The Free French movement attracted many French officers and soldiers to join Charles de Gaulle, and he soon formed a force of over 7,000 men. In 1943, de Gaulle became chairman of French National Liberation Committee. Under an agreement between British and American allies, four divisions of Free French forces formed French Expeditionary Force and participated in fighting in Italy. In June 1944, he became chairman of Provisional Government of French Republic.
De Gaulle became President of France on January 8, 1959
In 1944, Allied forces moved into France after Normandy landings. On August 25, de Gaulle brought Free French troops into Paris, and Paris was liberated. In May 1945, when Germany surrendered, Charles de Gaulle and Allied forces participated in surrender ceremony.
In January 1946, de Gaulle announced his retirement. For next two years, political situation in France was turbulent, and 25th cabinet changed successively, facing crisis of civil war. The Fourth Republic was supposed to give Charles de Gaulle full power and asked him to create a new political system. In January 1959, Charles de Gaulle was elected president of France. Thus Fifth Republic was born.
After Charles de Gaulle came to power, he took a number of tough foreign policy measures, including: maintaining national independence and striving for great power status; bipolarity contributes to multipolarity of world; creation of a "European Europe" with France as core; initiative to attack Middle East, Latin America and other places. This policy became known as "Gaulism". The implementation of this policy not only restored France's image as a great power in world affairs, but also enabled France to achieve unprecedented rapid economic growth.
In 1960, France tested an atomic bomb. On June 6, 1964, France became first major Western country to officially recognize China and establish diplomatic relations with each other at ambassadorial level. During this period, France also twice strongly rejected British request to join European Community and entered into a treaty with Germany. In December 1965, de Gaulle was re-elected president. In February 1966, de Gaulle announced France's withdrawal from NATO.
In April 1969, de Gaulle stepped down as president. He donated most of his earnings to creation of a children's health fund. On November 9, 1970, de Gaulle died of a heart attack.