Friday, 18 June 2010

70 years ago de Gaulle said 'Non'

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, celebrated with British Prime Minister David Cameron today, June 18th, the 70th anniversary of de Gaulle’s broadcast appeal rallying the French to pursue the fight against Nazi Germany. It is the first time that a French president has travelled to London to mark de Gaulle’s historic ‘appel du 18 juin’.

The full text of de Gaulle's speech:

‘To be sure, we have been submerged, we are submerged, by the enemy’s mechanised forces, on land and in the air.

It is the Germans’ tanks, planes and tactics that have made us fall back, infinitely more than their numbers. It is the Germans’ tanks, planes and tactics that have so taken our leaders by surprise as to bring them tot he point that they have reached today.

But has the last word been said? Must hope vanish? Is the defeat final? No!
Believe me, for I know what I am talking about and I tell you that nothing is lost for France. The same means that beat us may one day bring us victory.

For France is not alone. She is not alone! She is not alone! She has an immense Empire behind her. She can unite with the British Empire, which commands the sea and which is carrying on with the struggle. Like England, she can make an unlimited use of the vast industries of the United States.

This war is not confined to the unhappy territory of our country. This war has not been decided by the Battle of France. This war is a worldwide war. All the faults, all the delays, all the sufferings do not do away with the fact that in the world there are all the means for one day crushing our enemies. Today we are struck down by the mechanised force; in the future we can conquer by greater mechanised force. The fate of the world lies there.

I, General de Gaulle, now in London, call upon the French officers and soldiers who are on British soil or who may be on it, with their arms or without them, I call upon the engineers and the specialised workers in the armaments industry who are or who may be on British soil, to get in contact with me.

Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not and shall not go out.’

In our June 2010 issue, Jonathan Fenby goes in-depth to explore the historical background and impact of de Gaulle’s historic speech.

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