Born: November 22, 1890, Lille
Died: November 9, 1970, Colombey-les-Deux-Églises
Height: 1.93 m
Spouse: Yvonne de Gaulle
Education: École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, Collège Stanislas de Paris
Awards: Légion d’honneur, Royal Victorian Order, Virtuti Militari,
A noted nation-builder and visionary leader, De Gaulle led the Free French Forces during Second World War, and founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958. He served as its first President from 1959 to 1969.
A veteran of the First World War, de Gaulle led the mobile armoured divisions. During the Second World War, he commanded armoured counter-attacks during the Battle of France. He escaped to Britain where he gave his famous radio address on the BBC (June 18, 1940), exhorting the French people to resist Nazi Germany. De GaulJe organized the Free French Forces with exiled French officers in Britain and became prime minister in the French Provisional Government.
After the war he founded his political party, the RPF. He was voted back to power as Prime Minister by the French Assembly. He led the writing of a new constitution founding the Fifth Republic, and was elected President of France, an office which now held much greater power than in the Third and Fourth Republics.
Immensely patriotic, he and his supporters held the view that France should continue to see itself as a major power and should not rely on other nations, like the US, for its national security and prosperity. 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 resigned after losing a referendum in 1969 but he is considered to be the most influential leader in modern French history.
“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” -Public address in Paris.