Charles de Gaulle

The World Wars

During World War I de Gaulle served with distinction until his capture in 1916. In The Army of the Future (1934, tr. 1941) he foresaw and futilely advocated for France the mechanized warfare by which Germany was to conquer France in 1940. In World War II he was promoted to brigadier general (1940) and became undersecretary of war in the cabinet of Premier Paul Reynaud.

De Gaulle opposed the Franco-German armistice and fled (June, 1940) to London, where he organized the Free French forces and rallied several French colonies to his movement. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a French military court. The Free French forces were successful in Syria, Madagascar, and N Africa. In June, 1943, de Gaulle became copresident, with Gen. Henri Honoré Giraud, of the newly formed French Committee of National Liberation at Algiers. He succeeded in forcing Giraud out of the committee, and in June, 1944, it was proclaimed the provisional government of France.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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