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In Memory

The World Conflicts Documents Project is in memory of

J.C. Turks

(1938-2000)

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Appointment with the History

The figure of Charles De Gaulle seems to belong for predestination to that team of men who in some moments of the history, for merits or for occasion, they rise to the honors of the chronicles for their actions, which irreversibly influence the course of the events. Having born in 1890 in Lille, De Gaulle was student of Saint-Cyr. He took part to the World War I, distinguishing himself for value. At the end of the conflict, he had entered since 1925 in the Petain's government, and then he became vice-president of the Superior Council of the War. His life in the thirties was characterized by the theoretical interest in the organization of the French army that is transposed in three literature work; Le Fil de l'épée (1932), Vers l'armèe de métier (1934), la France et son armée (1938).

It was really because of the ostracism caused by his 1934 work that De Gaulle remained a figure of low profile until the burst of World War II. In fact, he fought for the creation of a professional army, based not more on the obligatory conscription of the juvenile classes, but on the contrary on soldiers of career, well remunerated, whom were helped by divisions of tanks that in his forecast of the future war they would have played a fundamental role in the land operations. The diatribe that was instigated with the high vertexes of the Superior Council of the War, it was in reference to the chain of command in which the armored divisions had to have been put. According to De Gaulle, the full independence of the armored divisions in autonomous corps of army would have allowed the full exploitation of the speed of this new weapon freeing it from connections with the slowest infantry corps. Contrarily, the denigrators, also personal, of De Gaulle's theory were castled on more traditional positions. Linking to e tactics and strategies used during the World War I, it was sustained that the role of the tanks had had to limit to the support of the infantry divisions: a kind of artillery with the wheels that acted as coverage of brief range for the advances of the soldiers on foot. The point of view, perfectly correct if analyzed under the light of the war of trench, it denoted its own limits if analyzed according to the most modern theories on the war of movement that they were affirming themselves in the German army. The tanks in Germany would have been used as principal mean of that blitzkrieg theorized in the 1914 war and never perfectly realized. De Gaulle had seen the essence of the use of the armored divisions anticipating of a shine what would have been the reality of World War II. Unfortunately, the absolute lack of estimators of his thought in the high ranks of command of the French army didn't allow the use of the armored divisions if not in the imminence of the burst of the conflict and in every case accorng to the old-fashioned presupposition that they had to act only as tactical support and nothing more.

At the beginning of the hostilities, the absolute calm of the western front let believe that that war was again a replica of the big battles of position in the style of Verdun. Strong of the fortifications of the line Maginot, the general commander Gamelin, remained in the absolute inactivity waiting the German offensive. Drawing experience from the campaign of Poland, where the German Wehrmacht had used some Panzerdivisionen as advanced point of invasion and prop for in depth offensive over the range of action of the infantry, De Gaulle, stepping over the hierarchical order in an action of open insubordination, directly wrote a letter to Paul Reynaud, President of the Council, in which, having seen the impossibility of an inside reform of the army, invited him to intervene through his political power in strengths' creation of autonomous armored divisions . During the Council of the Ministers on May 9th 1940, the reform was set to the day order without being adopted. Even if the results of the reunion had be different, they would have hardly influenced on what would have happened the following day: on May 10th the German offensive had beginning on the western front.

The disastrous French leadership of the operations and the rapid penetration of the armored armies of Guderian and Rommel, it was proposed as confirmation of the foundation of De Gaulle's fears. For sum irony, really in the worse moment for the transalpine, in the days that have gone since 16th until on May 18th, with the Germans on the road to Paris after being open a bridgehead in the zone of Sedan, De Gaulle became the command of the only armored division (4th) available to oppose the hostile advance. It was a hazard to define "division" what existed only on the paper until on May 11th. On 15th, when De Gaulle reached the place of command of the Division in Laon, he was the only present man. Reorganizing that little that he received the following day and making lever on a tactical ability not yet experimented, he succeeded in bringing in order of fight an enough strength to complete some operations. Although nothing was communicated to him, because of the terrible state of disarrangement in which the Fren lines of communication were, the in that time colonel decided to pass to action. Commanding only three battalions of tanks, some of which was nothing more than evolutions of means of World War I, he performed a penetration in the German rear areas, bringing back 120 prisoners in day. The narrowness of the resources at his disposition didn't allow him of stopping or slowing down the German advance, but it was enough to show how much autonomous armored divisions would have been able to be important for the French army.

How Napoleon during the French Revolution, so De Gaulle in the turbid of the last days of the French resistance came to the footlight on the political scene. He was vice secretary of State to the War in the last reshuffle of the Reynaud's cabinet. To dispatch the functions that compete to his position he would have been present in a meeting between the French Ministers and the English representatives in Briare, where he would have had have the occasion to take contact with Winston Churchill. Although De Gaulle originated from the same religious and conservatories environments that wanted to sign an armistice with Germany, he was always contrary. The idea to stop hostilities, capitulating to a surrender without conditions that it abandoned half the country in the hands of the enemy, let him horrify. It would have been able to continue the struggle in the colonies, transferring the legitimate government and the nearly entire fleet down there. Instead, the moral and physical exhaustion of French army brought to the contrary solution.

He went to London as government deputy on the day preceding the armistice, so he had the possibility to speak with Reynaud of a proposal of the English government that foresaw a fusion between the two allied Nations. Every English citizen would also have received the French citizenship and viceversa, creating an union between the two states that would have allowed the survived French army and fleet of continuing the war from the English territory. However, the moment of the reflections was already surpassed and the acceptance of such a juridical expedient presupposed long time to appraise the consequences and the only good which they didn't have the fall of Paris, it was time. If the government had not accepted the German proposal, the armies of the Reich would have continued the advance toward the Pyrenees and everything would have been lost for the French. To save at least part of the territorial sovereignty of France from Bordeaux, where the government has refuged, Reynaud introducedis resignations on June 17. The reins of the government were entrusted to the Marshal Petain who took the decision to proclaim the cease-fire.

The news of the separate armistice of France was received with certain amazement in London. Kept nearly to the dark of the French military flaking, the Anglo-Saxon ally had foreseen a great weary of time before the capitulation, a period to exploit for finding some valid alternatives to the lost French support on the continent. De Gaulle succeeded in taking in hand the situation introducing himself as the man of the providence. On day 17th June he was conducted to Downing Street at the presence of Churchill to vindicate the possibility to represent France in the continuation of the armed struggle. The English statesman, even if he was complaining about the absolute anonymity of De Gaulle, until that moment a simple diplomatic correspondent, he surrendered in front of the insistences allowing the use of the BBC for the next day. After the war, that radio proclamation would have been remembered as the first one of a long series of that stranger general who has arrogated the right to present himself as the truexponent of the political legitimacy of a defeated country. The reactions to the message in that time France were anything but exciting. It came twenty-four hours after the sorrowful speech of the Marshal Petain and from a man who didn't have the political stature of the great winning soldier of World War I, yet. The homeland was beaten on the field by the German strengths and it preferred to believe to its own military inferiority rather than to a utopian endless resistance claimed by De Gaulle. In practice the general who is, however, recognized by English as privileged interlocutor for the French business, had not other possibility rather than creating an exile cabinet and trying to reorganize the French troops evacuated from Dunkerque.

The difficulties that De Gaulle would have to face to create a government of Free France, are enormous. The shortage of financial availability forced to get as office an old commercial estate property, Stephen's House, in the heart of the London harbor. The obstacles to overcome for putting human strengths together were even more. English block his access to the fields where French attend the repatriation or in the most fortunate cases, they immediately pass after him to warn the men about the clauses of the armistice with Germany that they foresee the shooting for those people who had brandished the weapons under a foreign flag. The motives for this distrust towards the rebellious general are manifold. Firstly, although the Petain's cabinet had signed a separate peace with Hitler, it was sure that it constituted, at least in line of principle, the continuity and the legality of the French government. In addition to this, the population was tired of the fights and didn't see in the person of De Gaulle a trueommander to follow in the dark times that it presaged they would have come. Also with these big question marks on the true importance of the general, the Great Britain slowly understood his importance, above all to bring to its own part the large overseas possessions of France.

As already remembered in precedence, it was hypothesized the possibility of a transfer in Africa of the French government, but with the resignations of Reynaud the proposal had been set aside, leaving in practice to the fidelity of the colonial proconsuls the acceptance of the new government of Vichy or the adventure with Free France. In the Extreme East, Indochina, which soon would have been occupied by Japanese, remained out of the game. Among the most important colonies, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Syria arrived to the limit of the open disobedience towards Vichy for then to return on their own footsteps because of the lack of valid meetings with the men of De Gaulle. Only Equatorial French Africa was united in block under the fl of Free France. The territories that followed the government in exile were vast: two thousand square kilometers. Unfortunately they are the raw materials and human resources to be scarce. Three million native and some thousand white men were the strengths to reorganize an army from the nothing.

To obviate to the evident inferiority, which would have forced De Gaulle to a relationship of subjection with Churchill, it was for the first time mentioned the possibility of a raid against Dakar. The florid colony of the Senegal would not only have guaranteed a correct and necessary safety in fact of materials, but contemporarily a growth of prestige for the general. Initial idea had to be taking possession of the Gambia for then to penetrate in the Senegal, always by land. The feasibility of the action had been shown with the taking of power in Cameroon by Leclerc, faithful to De Gaulle. With a handful of soldiers he had earned the support of a whole colony. Besides, the autonomy in the conclusion of the operation would not have allowed English to gain any type of worth. In the middle of these preparations Churchill intervened in person. On August 6th he clearly showed to De Gaulle that his projects of a slow advance toward Dakar are not realizable in a short time, as instead it would have required the saty of the southern part of the Atlantic.

Just in that same period the submarine war blazed with the German U-boots that threatened the merchant traffic towards the United States and the oriental countries of the Commonwealth. To favor the result of the adventure, Churchill offered a British fleet that would have sustained the French intervention. In front of the English proposal, De Gaulle was interdict. It seemed to pass from a mission entirely French to a preponderant majority of forces of the Great Britain that would have been able to jeopardize the political finalities that didn't constitute a secondary element of the action at all. How would the governor of Dakar have answered in front of the request to open the doors to De Gaulle who was introduced as a liberator, but was accompanied by the Royal Navy in order of war? Besides secretiveness had to be absolute to prevent that reinforcements came so to modifying the balance of strength and accordingly also the political values.

The lines of behavior that brought to the frontal clash of Dakar are not clear, yet. On a solo point everybody agree that is on the embarrassing dilettantism with which it was treated the organization of the French attack. The rumors of the landing in Senegal were showed off by the soldiers in license who crowded the pubs of the city. Near the disorganization, there was a substantial reappraisal of the British support. It was initially ventilated by Churchill in the order of hundred ships, at the moment of the truth it was reduced to few more than twenty ships among which the only worthy of notes were the battleships of old type Barham and Resolution besides the aircraft carrier Ark Royal. The plan foresaw that in front of the huge unfolding of strengths of the English fleet, the governor of the Senegal would have had to deliver the keys of the city to the emissaries of De Gaulle who would have landed covered by the white flag without shedding of blood and with least employment of the weapons. Without enoughtrength to impose the pax imperii, no expected element was realized.

Already the atmospheric conditions on August 23rd 1940, X-day, were adverse: fog at the dawn on the whole harbor of Dakar. The spokesmen of De Gaulle, who landed, had not been received by the local governor, but they had to attend on the dock, for then to know his peremptory order to embark and to withdraw of twenty miles the displacement of the ships, not before having struck with artillery of big caliber the English cruiser Cumberland. In front of unexpected resistances, De Gaulle risked the movement to let a battalion of the Foreign Legion disembark. Rather than to succeed in the conquest of the city, it was repulsed into the sea. Failed the French intervention, the English fleet intimate two consecutive ultimatums on August 24th and 25th that were rejected. So the British squad was not able to do anything else other than opening the fire. The clashes that followed cost life to hundreds of men in both the parts besides the destruction othe French shipping present in the port of Dakar. To the advantage in terms of power of fire of English didn't correspond a real possibility of exploitation of it through the employment of landing troops, completely absent. Finding each other in a situation of stalemate, the retreat by sea has been the only practicable road. The recorded failure in the operation in Senegal mined the credibility of De Gaulle in France, without, however, notching its importance at international level.

Nevertheless, such importance started to decrease soon. The teams of De Gaulle's supporters remained always small and their military contribution to the continuation of the war was irrelevant indeed. Since the failure intervention to Dakar until the first days of 1941, the troops of Free France were limited to little more than lean commando to the order of Leclerc, Ornano, Legentilhomme and others. Autonomously, they had had success in isolated raid against the Italian Sahara, penetrating in it through the Ciad, and in actions of guerrilla in Eritrea, besides the job of escort of the convoy in the Atlantic, where the critical situation of the allies required every available skilled man. In good substance the contribution of French in the war was not superior to other occupied nations as Holland, Norway or Poland. Indeed the heroic exploits of the Polish aviators during the battle of England had assumed the tone of the legend, putting the other cobelligerent nations in a backseats. If it had maintained such stus quo it was probable, if not certain, that De Gaulle would not have preserved any possibility to practice a first rank role in after war France. The occasion of the revenge is found in 1941, with the English intervention in the French mandate of Syria and Lebanon. The colony, belonging to the Republic of Vichy that cluthced to its status of neutral state, had been officially used as road of passage by Germans to supply the rebels of Iraq. Once English crushed the armed rebellion of Rashid Ali, it had to resolve the presence of that "thorn in the side" formed of the territories of Syria-Lebanon.

The inevitability of the invasion was evident; it had to take possession of those lands not to take risks with the Iraq oil of vital importance for the campaign of Libya and for the war in general. A new English attack against French territories would have embittered the already strained relationships with Vichy and with whole France. Going against the suggestions of the nearest men, De Gaulle sent a commando of Free France with the English troops. This was also done for earning a political legitimization that the English government still refused him. In London, although he was treated as representative of France, his establishment was not recognized as the government in exile of the transalpine nation, thinking that it owed to still make reference to Vichy. So inside World War II began also a French civil war: the followers of De Gaulle against those of Petain, Free France against France of Vichy. Logistically, the French contribution of men was very little, about 5000-6000 soldiers, loading the whole weig of the attack on the English shoulders. It could not be hoped to act with an action of persuasion as it was already tried to do in Dakar. It had to use strength and it was clear that the troops of Vichy, to whose command there was general Dentz, would not have opposed a purely symbolic resistance. And so it was. Only the numerical superiority of English and the naval block of the restocking from the homeland allowed having reason of the resistance. Still more meaningful it was the cruelty of the clashes between French, always to the last blood. At the hostilities stopping, De Gaulle hoped to increase his supporters making proselytes among the defeated troops, without thinking at the love of their own country of his fellow countrymen. Only 15% of all the prisoners used, through the institute of the free option set in by the English, of the faculty to stick to Free France. The rest returned as prisoners of war in their own houses, thinking that at least for the moment it was preferable a peace under the Germacontrol rather than a De Gaulle's war.

A new chapter of the fratricidal fight was the operation " Torch ": the Anglo-American landing in the North Africa. The entrance in war of the United States didn't give any benefit De Gaulle, because the president Roosevelt still distrusted of that rebellious general. Passing above the personal distrust it remained, however, to establish who would have taken the power in the most important colonies of France, when the allied victory would have come. De Gaulle was seen as ensign-bearer of the liberty, but only in occupied France, where his discourses through Radio London inflamed the hearts of whom has to bear the enemy in his own house. In the territories of overseas the feelings were very different. Only the aggressions of De Gaulle against Dakar and Syria were remembered and nothing more. Therefore it is not able to say that it was a surprise the search of an alternative candidate to the command. Instead, it was amazing the name that was chosen by the allies to cover that position: Henri Honorè Giraud. Genal of long course was taken imprisoned during the 1940 defeat and after a daring flight from Germany he had retired to private life. American thought that he was the proper figure to earn the favor of the official representatives of the government in Africa of the North.

his at least it is the idea that circulated within the Allied General Command. They arrived to hypothesize to transfer under his command three whole American divisions, in way that the cities that opened to them the doors were surrendered to the strengths commanded by a French. This point will be fruit of innumerable incomprehensions and misunderstandings that will arrive to put in danger the result of the allied landing. On November 7th 1942 everything is ready to proceed to the unfolding of 113.000 men assembled for the conquest in succession of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia so that the road of the Rommel's retreat would have been cut (He was already in difficulty in Italian Libya). That day in the afternoon Giraud arrives to Gibraltar comaining the supreme command of the strengths of invasion confusing his rather marginal part with that of the protagonist. The resistances of American general Patton and of the English Macks conduct to the breakup with Giraud who called himself out of the bargain. The allies were without the man on whom they had confided for penetrating inside Africa with no difficulties, just before touching land! The French withstand the invasion fiercely following Marshal Petain's directives that sustained the inviolability of the French ground for whoever, German or American that was.

At the same time in London, De Gaulle is told that it is in action the landing. Held to the dark of all until after the first day of the operations, a lot of people thought that he, so bad natured as he was, would have fallen in a crisis of anger. Contrarily, he assumed the duty to inform through a radio speech Metropolitan French that the Americans have activated themselves for chasing away Hitler in Germany and the French of Africa of the North that the allies had not shut a hit more if they would have been welcomed in peace. The appeal had hardly gotten effect if it would not have entered in game a third man: the admiral François Darlan. He was accidentally present in Algiers at the moment of the taking of the city by the Americans. He was convinced to declare a cease-fire "in name of the marshal Petain” without reporting that the marshal didn't know his order and that when he knew it, he disowned it at once. The taking of power of Darlan created a grotesque situation. France is divided in four parts: theerritories occupied by the German, under direct administration of the Nazi; the remainder of the metropolitan state under the authority of Vichy; Equatorial Africa and Syria that obeyed to De Gaulle and then Morocco and Algeria as prefectures of overseas to the orders of Darlan.

The last two quoted factions that to rigor of logic would have had to be on the same part side, didn't succeeded in finding an agreement for the reorganization of the recently freed territories. These lands would have constituted an inexhaustible source of wealth for whoever had controlled them. The clash between the two factions was near to open war in the moment in which the homicide of Darlan happened. He was not never officially brought back never to any agent. The men behind him were never discovered. De Gaulle was suspected for a long time, but Giraud surely drew well great interest of it because with the death of Darlan he returned on the scene, taking back that power that he had disdainfully refused in Gibraltar on the daof the landing. From such a threatening crime perpetrated against the admiral, the ignoble game that was developing behind the public struggle, emerged. De Gaulle never hid his personal ambition, but never during World War II he preceded his private affairs to the good of France or, in some cases, he operated in such way that they coincided.

The loss of all the territories of overseas in Africa it gave a shake inside the government of Vichy. Petain was on the point to leave the capital city to unite to the rebels of Algeria. Such an audacious movement belonged to the emotional baggage of the marshal who had also had put it in action if he would have had thirty years less and a direct intervention of the German army in the Republic of Vichy would have not pointed out. His lack of audacity forced him to share the destiny of the government that was slowly degenerating toward criminality, adjusting it to the Nazi affairs. It can be recovered in this period the biggest turnaround of the French public opinion. People saw for the first time, which was the essence of Petain: an octogenarian who had made enormous services to his country, but who by now lived out of the reality. Eighteen months before the landing in Normandy, the nation looked for a new leader and tracked down him in the only person who since the beginning had fought against the ambiguityf the collaborationism: Charles De Gaulle.

The first overwhelming allied victories, due to the intervention in great style of the American army, were dissipating the clouds of storm that had thickened threatening on Europe in the moment of maximum splendor of Hitler. The Wehrmacht now languished in the Russian steppes, jammed to the ground by the terrible General Winter. In Great Britain it had already had beginning the unfolding of the strengths for the D-Day and either to Roosevelt either to Churchill, 1943 seemed the better moment to organize an international conference between the allies where they were be able to write the drives of the future war or at least to try to do so. It was shown a complicated deal the convocation of the guests. English and Americans worked for more than two weeks alone, but in the moment to make public the definitive resolutions, they could not ignore the existence of the French ally.

After the death of Darlan, De Gaulle and Giraud had created two separate Committees of Liberation, one in Algiers and the other in Londo They acted autonomously and often in contrast each other. An only French front with which speak it was reputed of fundamental importance by the Anglo-Americans who thought joint the moment of a conciliation between the two contenders just during the conference of Casablanca. Giraud accepted the invitation, while De Gaulle huffily refused. The general remembered to Churchill that the congress of the nations was being held in French territory, but with the protection of foreign soldiers. It was a not at all veiled way to blame him to have been held to the dark of the operation Torch up to the last minute. The English statesman scarce of moderation to bargain over with correspondent French, threatened with going to look for a new interlocutor if he would have not been seen in Morocco. De Gaulle, sight in danger his position, surrendered to the "polite" invitation and under escorts of the RAF he came in the Moroccan city in the last days of the conference. Forced to undertake a trip of which he didn't want to kw, the general stayed firm on his positions. He refused to sign compromise of whatever kind with Giraud and the only concession that he did it was to make a photography together with the other French. On his behalf, Giraud allowed that an envoy of the Committee in London entered to full title as representative in the committee in Algiers, marking a point in favor of the adversary who would have had upper hand well soon.

This reached minimum plan of accord was vital for the fates of France of the postwar period, but it was not enough to satisfy three great allied, yet. Great Britain, United States and Russia would still have been met in Teheran since on November 28th to December 2nd 1943. Stalin, strong of the dawning Russian successes in the winter country on the oriental front, succeeded in making the part of the lion. It was discussed the future order of the world after the fall of the Nazism and the Soviet ally was not be able to understand the motives that push Churchill to press for a reconstitution of France to the rank of the big power. The Russian arrives to accept the presence of China in what then will be the Security Council of the United Nations, because the Asian country furnished big aid to the Soviet Union, stopping the Japanese expansionism in the Pacific, but, however, recognized Petain as legitimate French ruler. Accordingly, collaborating Vichy with Germany, it was unthinkable to return the French coloni empire at the end of the conflict. Churchill instead, unlike Roosevelt who had not yet understood the nature of Stalin, wanted an enough strong France to oppose the Soviet dominion in Europe: an allied and not one subdued. Only the evolution of the war and the landing in Normandy with the consequent French liberation conducted by the Anglo-Americans it will allow to prevent the realization of the Stalinist intentions.

1943 is also the year of the consolidation of the French Resistance. The news from the front for the Germans continued to worsen. The landings in series of the allies in Italy showed the possibility to invade central Europe through the coast of the English Channel or the Provence. The principal groups of resistance said " maquis " were especially assembled in the mountainous zone of the Giura, near the Swiss border. Initially deprived of material support and of scarce numerical consistence, they saw increasing their own strength at every German reverse. English have turned a special office, the Special Operation Executive, to the organization of a continental informative net that, however, doesn't hold account of the peculiarities of the French situation. The maquis directly threatened the capital Vichy making insecure to maintain there the government that would have soon run away toward Paris under control of the Germans. Existing Two different units for the North and for the South of the state it was diffilt for the resistance to act co-ordinatly.

The solution would have been the creation of an organism that emanated directives for the local cells. The difficult enterprise was completed by De Gaulle. After having founded a Central Office of Information and Action in London, he has the great ability to organize in Paris, in occupied territory, a reunion to which they participated all the greatest responsible of the maquis. During it, the National Council of the Resistance basing its decision on a delegation of the powers done by De Gaulle himself, implicitly recognized his quality of head of state. The pacification of the groups of the Resistance corresponded to only a part of the difficult work of reorganization of the French armed strengths. The second phase would have been the constitution of an overseas army in the Algeria of around 400.000 men. Giraud as commander in head had hocked to furnish three divisions of ready employment for Italy as soon as possible. Delaying to keep the promise he exposed himselto an intervention of De Gaulle. On June 3rd 1943 the two men agreed on dividing the presidency of the Committee of National Liberation. Theoretically, the preexisting dualism was eliminated, in practice it was accented. The armed strengths that De Gaulle had, inferior in number, they are the same that have fought at Dakar and in Syria and that to the moment of the armistice, had already chosen Free France. Instead, the men of Giraud are extracted by the troops that had taken oath to the marshal Petain and that had scattered allied blood in the battle for Morocco and Algeria. From these contrasts only ulterior dissentions were able to born. The favors of the fate seem to go to Giraud who gathers the opportunity given to him by the German evacuation of Corsica.

The Garrison of the island, exhausted by the lack of provisioning followed to the invasion of Italy, was proceeding to the immediate embarkation of all the divisions and the material. English that would have had to furnish the troops for the taking of rsica declared them unable to do it because of the enormous obligation that they have assumed to climb up again the Italian boot. So Giraud, who from time prepared the conquest, can intervene with 15.000 men. The resistance was void, since the Germans were worried more to put themselves in safe rather than to defend the island. The liberation of the first metropolitan department did not grant a lot of time to the glory of its organizer. De Gaulle, chivalrously taking the low blow given by competitor, earned the majority inside the Committee of Liberation getting at the end the exemption from the military command of Giraud. The maneuver, not really clear from the moral point of view, it showed the whole ability of De Gaulle who succeeded in overcoming a practical en passe through the political game.

Eliminated the inside adversaries and centralized in his own person all the powers of representation, De Gaulle was able to be defined as the president of a government in exile. The same point of view was not adopted by the Americans during the landing in Normandy. In the days immediately precedent to June 6th, the general fought for a long time to see implored infamy to submit freed France to an Allied Military Government for the Occupied Territories (AMGOT). In a turbulent conversation intervened between Winston Churchill and he, he let notice that France could not be compared to the colonies occupied until that moment, because it had a government that represented it and he (De Gaulle) was there for showing this concept. He would not have accepted petty politician and foreign coin on the French ground or, otherwise, he would have withdrawn from politics. Vexed by the tantrums of French, Churchill tells in his memories that he showed himself inflexible, inviting De Gaulle to a clarifying conversation with Eenhower, military commander of the landing. The discussion with the American general was, if possible, still less cordial. According to agreement taken previously to the moment of the invasion, all the heads of state of the occupied countries would have had to take the word on BBC for a joined speech, followed by a discourse of Eisenhower and concluded by the words of De Gaulle. Nothing to object if it had not been for a sentence contained in the writing that the American would have read. He would have declared that once finished the war French would have been able to choose what type of government would have ruled on France. For De Gaulle it was nothing more than an insult. If he represented the French government, He had to have the power to reorganize the nation. Only in a second time he would have guaranteed free elections. Because of the incompatibility between the AMGOT and the Committee of National Liberation, he decided that no conclusive message would have been made.

It was perhaps this, the page less happy for De Gaulle. To dissuade the bad light in which he had put himself luckily came the sorrowful call, which he effected the evening on June 6th through Radio London. In his statement he quoted only in a hurry the enormous effort of the Americans and English, but never in a solo passage of what he read, he diminished them or he dissociated from the behavior of the operations. A sibylline sentence was launched: "The battle is of France and for France… […] France will have to conduct it in good order. First condition is that the orders given by the French government and by the qualified French heads have been meticulously followed… […]." Not quoting which were the French government and who the qualified head, it didn't leave a lot of space to the imagination. The answer was Charles De Gaulle and the Committee of National Liberation. Even if Eisenhower or who for him had wanted to oppose the intentions of De Gaulle, it would not have been possible. The great machine of thcivil revolt was by now in motion. The maquis took the weapons anywhere, freeing the countries and complaining the control in the name of Free France. The Germans had to oppose enough resistance to the invasion to worry about purely political matters.

The few months that have gone since the May to August of 1944 also mark the end of the Republic of Vichy. Still before the landing in Normandy it resulted clear that it was impossible to maintain in life a puppet state without the help of the Nazi hierarchy. Petain, in his ingenuity, will arrive in May even to send a letter to De Gaulle, requiring to share with him the power, in sight of handing over the offices once the allies disembarked. This solution was already impracticable because of the too narrow bonds the regime of Vichy had with the Germans; it becomes impossible that the defenses of the Atlantic rampart were crumbled. Laval, the Prime Minister of Vichy, would have tried to save what was be able to save, resorting to the National Congress, the constitutional organ that already in 1940 had brought to the republic of Vichy. The intemperances of Germany, tired of bearing the difficulties of the small French ally, will let fail the maneuver. First Laval and then the Petain himself will end to be arresd by the Gestapo, letting miserably end that small appearance of legality that they obstinately wanted to preserve.

In this sequence of events De Gaulle also had the time to avoid the very feared ghost of the AMGOT on freed France. On June 14th 1944 he is already in the native land in Bayauex, nothing more than a taste, considering that the following day he departed towards Algiers. From there, he convinced Roosevelt to receive him at the White House. The American president had never been very favorable to the general, because he saw him too anchored to the imperialistic vision of France. However, in the healthy pragmatism that characterized him, he had confided to his collaborators that in the case French people had recognized De Gaulle as its own representative he would also have adapted himself. After the landing, the effected surveys revealed that De Gaulle was seen as provisional authority and for so much Roosevelt decided that it would be self-defeating for the affairs of the United States to use a military government rather than a civilian one. Gotten guarantees on the political administration, the summer months ofhat year were spent in the expectation of the most important event for French during World War II: the liberation of Paris. The allies once went out of the knapsacks of the landing in Normandy, they were found with the flattened road toward the historical capital. Strategically, different motives existed to avoid investing the city with an army. Being a big urban agglomeration, Paris was able to become the grave of the armored troops, surely more protected in open field than in the city streets.

Stalingrad had taught that some troops well motivated could prevent the city conquest to indefinite time. Secondarily, passing to the wings of the Seine would have produced two important effects: in the North the allied troops would have rake up the coast of the Channel, interrupting the V2 throwing that tortured London and in the South they would have been able to redo the Germans' road toward Sedan, entering in the heart of Germany. Having to choose between the military and politics demands, De Gaulle acted in ordethat the latter was realized. Through a not easy work of conviction, he brought the general Bradley, the operational head of the operations on the continent, to prefer the direct attack against Paris.

Taken the decision to arrive to the capital city it was still unknown the name of the unity that would have completed the historic action. Set aside the hypothesis that American or English men could arrive first, the choice fell on the second armored division of Leclerc, a faithful follower of De Gaulle. However, the estimated triumphal entrance in Paris had to meet with the unexpected rebellion of the Parisian maquis. In maximum part composed by nucleuses of communist ideology, they wanted to gather the opportunity of the war against the Germans to lead off the proletarian revolution. If they would have succeeded in freeing the city alone, the arrival of De Gaulle and his divisions had passed unobserved. The German commander of the city, Choltitz, had received the order to transform he it in a "Festung", a fortress, but he didn't have any wish to act in that direction. It missed little that he declared Paris open city. His stiffening and the consequent clashes were due to the untimely partisan revolt that wt to strike the German rear areas. Unfortunately for the rebels, the strengths to their dispositions were not absolutely enough to defeat the occupants of the Wehrmacht. The annihilation of the resistance was avoided only for the magnanimity of Choltitz that granted a cease-fire, conceding Leclerc the necessary time to arrive to Paris. The entrance of the French tanks and of De Gaulle on the Champs Elysèe on August 26th was so greeted as the true liberation stopping all the parallel plots.

The winter 1944 and the spring 1945 see France by now freed, but still with big problems at all the levels. The victories of the allies let presage a near end of the war and it is thought therefore to what has to be done with the defeated Germany. During the Conference of Casablanca, Roosevelt had pronounced for the first time the theory of the unconditional surrender. The formula was borrowed by that used by the general Grant during the siege of Fort Donelson in the War of American Secession. Germany would have had to surrender the weapons without any condition, delivering itself inactive in the hands of the winners. This vision was supported by the De Gaulle because he was aware that any other kind of peace would not have been lasting. This nevertheless when it came to the light the so-called Morgenthau's plain (from the name of the Secretary to the treasure of Roosevelt), that foresaw to reduce the German nation to a totally and only rural country, the general opposed with stubbornness. As Churchill, De Glle also recognized in Germany a rampart against the communism to preserve after having freed it from the Nazism. His moderate vision didn't help him during the last difficult winter of war. All the brigades of the National Council of Resistance have been dissolved by him and so the French army was composed almost entirely by people of the North Africa. For all the others, the liberation of France meant the end of the war. Black market, hunger and prostitution became part of daily life.

The De Gaulle's government, although approved by the people, met continuous difficulties to reaffirm its own authority particularly on all the prefectures bordering with the front. Everything was able to degenerate in the chaos if the big German offensive of the Ardennes would have succeeded. In the most acute moment of the allied crisis, the Germans were on the point to regain the French city of Strasbourg. The loss of that suburb, symbol for all the Alsatians of French language would have coincided with the definitive undoi of the national unity because of a perhaps founded conviction of a Nazi return. It was to protection of those few still complete houses that France gave the better test of itself during the war, defending every road and every bridge as if it would have been matter of life or death. Affirming that the French behavior had let fail the offensive it would be certain hazardous, but with great conviction it can be said that it had contributed to give a professional virginity to an army too tried by the 1940 defeat.

The collapse of Germany and the birth of the fourth republic in France would have put a hero of the greatness of De Gaulle apart. He would be protagonist again in 1958 during the presidential reform. Of the man, it could be criticized the character and the ambitions, of the statesman the scarce sense of the proportions for the role that France had in World War II, of the patriot it would not be able to find a solo negative point.

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