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Charles De Gaulle

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Un général, écrivain et homme d'État français, commandant des Forces françaises libres. | Was a French general and statesman. Died in 1970.
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Charles de Gaulle, né le 22 novembre 1890 à Lille et mort le 9 novembre 1970 à Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, est un général, écrivain et homme d'État français, commandant des Forces françaises libres pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, fondateur de la Ve République, dont il est le premier président de 1959 à 1969.

 

Élevé dans une culture de grandeur nationale, Charles de Gaulle choisit la carrière d'officier. Prisonnier lors de la Première Guerre mondiale, il sert et publie dans l'entourage de Philippe Pétain, prônant l'usage des divisions blindées dans la guerre moderne auprès de personnalités politiques. En mai 1940, colonel, il commande une des rares contre-attaques blindées de la bataille de France. Promu général de brigade, il est secrétaire d'État dans le gouvernement Reynaud, pendant l'exode de 1940.

 

Il rejette l'armistice demandé par Pétain à l'Allemagne nazie. De Londres, il lance, à la BBC, l'appel du 18 juin au peuple français pour résister et rejoindre les Forces françaises libres. Condamné à mort par le régime de Vichy, il veut incarner la légitimité de la France et être reconnu en tant que puissance par les Alliés. Contrôlant presque toutes les colonies, reconnu par la Résistance, il compose à Alger un gouvernement provisoire de la République française et dirige le pays à la Libération. Favorable à un exécutif fort, il s'oppose aux projets parlementaires des partis et démissionne en 1946. Il fonde le Rassemblement du peuple français (RPF), mais son refus de tout compromis avec le « régime des partis » l'isole dans une traversée du désert.

 

De Gaulle revient au pouvoir lors de la crise du 13 mai 1958, pendant la guerre d'Algérie. Investi président du Conseil, il fait approuver la Ve République. Élu président de la République, il veut une « politique de grandeur » de la France. Il affermit les institutions, la monnaie (nouveau franc) et donne un rôle de troisième voie économique à un État planificateur et modernisateur de l'industrie. Il renonce par étapes à l'Algérie française, malgré l'opposition des Pieds-Noirs et des militaires, qui avaient favorisé son retour. Il décolonise aussi l'Afrique noire, en y maintenant l'influence française. De Gaulle prône l'« indépendance nationale » en rupture avec le fédéralisme européen et le partage de Yalta : il préconise donc une « Europe des nations » qui irait « de l'Atlantique à l'Oural », réalise la force de dissuasion nucléaire française, retire de la France du commandement militaire de l'OTAN, pose un veto à l'entrée du Royaume-Uni dans la Communauté européenne, soutient le « Québec libre », condamne la guerre du Viêt Nam et reconnait la Chine communiste.

 

Sa vision du pouvoir (un chef directement approuvé par la Nation) l'oppose aux partis communiste, socialiste, centristes pro-européens et d'extrême-droite, qui critiquent un style de gouvernance trop personnel, voire un « coup d'état permanent », selon la formule de François Mitterrand. Il est réélu en 1965 au suffrage universel direct. Il surmonte la crise de mai 68 après avoir semblé se retirer, convoquant des élections législatives qui envoient une écrasante majorité gaulliste à l'Assemblée nationale. Mais en 1969, il engage son mandat sur un référendum et démissionne après la victoire du « non ».

 

Charles de Gaulle, considéré comme l'un des dirigeants français les plus influents de son siècle, a écrit des Mémoires, dans lesquelles il s'identifie à « une certaine idée de la France ».

 

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ENG:

 

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (22 November 1890 – 9 November 1970) was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969. A veteran of World War I, in the 1920s and 1930s, de Gaulle came to the fore as a proponent of mobile armoured divisions, which he considered would become central in modern warfare. During World War II, he earned the rank of brigadier general (retained throughout his life), leading one of the few successful armoured counter-attacks during the 1940 Battle of France in May in Montcornet, and then briefly served in the French government as France was falling. De Gaulle was the most senior French military officer to reject the June 1940 armistice to Nazi Germany right from the outset.

 

He escaped to Britain and gave a famous radio address, broadcast by the BBC on 18 June 1940, exhorting the French people to resist Nazi Germany and organised the Free French Forces with exiled French officers in Britain. As the war progressed, de Gaulle gradually gained control of all French colonies except Indochina. By the time of the Allied invasion of France in 1944 he was heading what amounted to a French government in exile. From the very beginning, de Gaulle insisted that France be treated as a great power by the other Allies, despite her initial defeat. De Gaulle became prime minister in the French Provisional Government, resigning in 1946 because of political conflicts.

 

After the war ended he founded his own political party, the Rally of the French People (RFP) on 14 April 1947. Although he retired from politics in the early 1950s after the RPF's failure to win power, and had limited access to government-controlled TV and radio, he was voted back to power as President of the Council of Ministers by the French Assembly during the May 1958 crisis. De Gaulle led the writing of a new constitution founding the Fifth Republic, and was elected President of France.

 

As President, Charles de Gaulle was able to end the political chaos that preceded his return to power. A new French currency was issued in January 1960 to control inflation and industrial growth was promoted. Although he initially supported French rule over Algeria, he controversially decided to grant independence to that country, ending an expensive and unpopular war but leaving France divided and having to face down opposition from the European settlers and French military who had originally supported his return to power.

 

Immensely patriotic, de Gaulle and his supporters held the view, known as Gaullism, that France should continue to see itself as a major power and should not rely on other countries, such as the United States, for its national security and prosperity. Often criticized for his Politics of Grandeur, de Gaulle oversaw the development of French atomic weapons and promoted a foreign policy independent of American and British influences. He withdrew France from NATO military command—although remaining a member of the western alliance—and twice vetoed Britain's entry into the European Community. He travelled widely in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world and recognised Communist China. On a visit to Canada in 1967, he gave encouragement to Québécois separatism with his historical "Vive le Québec Libre" speech.

 

During his term, de Gaulle also faced controversy and political opposition from Communists and Socialists, as well as from the far right. Despite having been re-elected as President, this time by direct popular ballot, in 1965, in May 1968 he appeared likely to lose power amidst widespread protests by students and workers, but survived the crisis with an increased majority in the Assembly. However, de Gaulle resigned in 1969 after losing a ref. rendum in which he proposed more decentralization. He is considered by many to be the most influential leader in modern French history.

 

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10th September 09

updated: 2013-03-13

 

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