Biography of Charles-André de Gaulle (1890-1970)

Military and French politician, leader of free France during the second world war and President of the French Republic V, born in Lille on November 22, 1890 and died on November 9, 1970 at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. He/She was born in a conservative, Catholic and monarchist, family that converged Normans and Flemish ancestors.

He studied primary education at the College of Santo Tomás de Aquino of Paris and secondary studies at the school of la Inmaculada Concepción of Paris and at the Jesuit College of Antoing, near Tournai (Belgium). In 1909, he/she entered in the Academy military of Saint-Cyr in Paris. Although it was not a brilliant student (graduated with the number 13 in his class), noted for his extraordinary memory and his passion for literature and history. In 1912, at the end of their military training, he/she joined 33 infantry regiment from the city of Arras, on the orders of the then Colonel Henri Philippe Pétain.

In the course of the first world war he/she was wounded three times and captured by German troops, who held him as a prisoner for two years. With its release, following the signing of the Armistice, he/she enlisted as a volunteer to fight the Red Army in Poland. When he/she returned to France, in 1921, he/she completed his theoretical training in the warfare School of Paris, he/she was appointed Professor of military history at the Academy of Saint - Cyr and married Yvonne Vendroux, coming, as he, a Catholic and bourgeois family of the North. De Gaulle had three children: Philippe, in 1921, Elisabeth, in 1924 and Anne, in 1928.

In 1924, Charles de Gaulle published his first work, the discorde chez l'ennemi ('discord in the enemy'), which analyzed the methods of warfare used in Germany, evoking various episodes of its contemporary history. In 1932, came to light Le Fil de l' épée ('the edge of the sword'), a trial of military philosophy to explain the idiosyncrasies of life in the army to future professionals. Both stories discover its strong nationalism, love of the motherland and confidence in the exceptional destiny that awaited him.

In 1925, he/she joined the Superior Council of war led by Marshal Pétain. The following year, he/she joined the greater State of the army of the Rhine and was sent to Germany to drive the 19 battalion of hunters of Trier. In 1934, he/she received the insignia of officer of the Legion of Honor, and he/she was appointed Professor at the center of high military studies in Paris. In 1937, he/she agreed to the rank of Colonel and led the regiment number 507 of cars in Metz. In 1940, after the outbreak of the second world war, he/she was temporarily promoted to Brigadier general and sent at the head of the 4th armored division to fight against Germany. A few months later, the Government of Paul Reynaud appointed him Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of national defense and war.

During these years, de Gaulle wrote various treatises on military strategy in which, against the official doctrine, advocated mechanized war and the modernization of the French army: Vers l' armée de métier ('towards the professional army') in 1934 and La France et are armée (France and his army') in 1938. With the same subject, published several articles in French journals on military issues, including the Revue militaire française and la Revue militaire d'information.

On June 18, 1940, de Gaulle condemned the Armistice which had to be requested from the Germans by Marshal Pétain, and the microphones of the BBC in London, issued his famous proclamation announcing that France was continuing the war by Great Britain. This earned him to be recognized as the head of the free France, while accused traitor and sentenced to death by the Vichy Government. He/She organized and led to the tough from the French Committee of national liberation (CFLN) which, in 1944, in anticipation of the Allied Normandy landings (see: Normandy landings), became known as the Provisional Government of the French Republic. He/She returned to France on June 14, 1944 and August 26, made his triumphal entry as liberator in Paris, parading down the Avenue of the Champs-Elysées to the Ovation of two million French.

On November 13, 1945, after the war, the National Assembly appointed, unanimously, President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic. The main task of the new Government was the reconstruction of a country devastated by the war. For this reason, economic planning is launched, nationalized key economic sectors and important social reforms were approved. In January 1946, general De Gaulle presented his resignation, in protest to the deep division of the political scene and the indifference of French society. He/She retired to his family home in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, in the Haute-Marne region, and devoted himself to writing his memoirs, published under the title Mémoires de guerre ('memories of war'), in three volumes, appeared in 1954, 1956, and 1959. Although, during the following years, general De Gaulle remained out of the French political scene, closely followed the activities of the Gaullist Party Rassemblement du Peuple Français (RPF), founded in 1947, and the evolution of the international context dominated by the constraints of the cold war.

In 1958, when he/she was 67 years old, general De Gaulle returned to the reigns of the French State, summoned by a political and parliamentary majority which has been declared incapable of solving the main problem that then tormented the country: the colonial war in Algeria. On 1 June, the French National Assembly ascribed full power and the mission to carry out a constitutional reform. On December 21, after the electoral victory of his new party, the Union pour la Nouvelle République (UNR), was proclaimed President of the French Republic. It remained in power from 1958 to 1969, thanks to the successive victories of the UNR in the elections of 1962, 1965, 1967 and 1968.

On September 28, 1958 was approved in a referendum a new Constitution (the fifth French Republic birth certificate), which granted extensive privileges to executive power and, especially, the President (the first Minister was relegated to a subordinate role). De Gaulle had hands free to implement its foreign policy project, based on the defence of national independence and the urgency of raising the rank of France in the international arena (politics of Grandeur). This led him to reject the Division of the world between two hegemonic blocs (United States and the USSR), condemn any interference in another State, build an autonomous defense force de frappe nuclear-based and implement ambitious technological projects, taking advantage of the context of expansion of the French economy: supersonic aircraft Concorde, Plan Calcul de Informática, SECAM TV colour system, etc.

From 1958 to 1962, general de Gaulle focused their energies on the settlement of colonial conflicts. In 1960, he/she completed the decolonization of Madagascar and the black African countries. In 1962, Algeria acceded to independence after the signing of the Evian accords, putting an end to the French colonial empire. In 1963, De Gaulle signed, along with Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the Treaty of Elysee of Franco-German cooperation. In 1964, it re-established diplomatic relations with the people's Republic of China. In 1967, he/she condemned israeli expansionism in the six-day war and began the approach to the countries of the Arab world. Hostile to the supremacy of the English speaking world, he/she vetoed the entry of Great Britain in the common market, it ordered the withdrawal of French forces from the integrated command of NATO, promoted the approach to the countries of Eastern Europe, criticised the hegemony of the dollar in the international monetary system and condemned U.S. interventions in Latin America and Viet Nam.

The crisis of May 1968, which converged student protests and workers, significantly weakened his authority. On April 27, 1969, the French rejected in referendum projects of regional and labour reform. De Gaulle fulfilled his promise to withdraw if the result was adverse to him. The next day, he/she announced his resignation and returned to his family home to devote himself to his memoirs, which withdrew definitively from the French political scene. He/She died on November 9, 1970 at Colombey-les-Deux-Églises.