August 19, 1944: Liberation of Paris

Tuesday, August 19, AD 2014

The City of Lights liberation by the Allies began seventy years ago today.  It started, fittingly enough, with uprisings of Free French resistance forces throughout the city, launching attacks on the German garrison.  Some 800 Free French fighters would die in these attacks.  The Free French quickly held most of the city, while lacking the firepower to attack German strongpoints.  The entry into Paris of the 2nd Free French armored division on August 24, along with the 4th US infantry division, caused the capitulation of the German garrison on August 25, and Paris went mad with joy.

General Charles de Gaulle, normally a rather cold and distant man, gave a speech in liberated Paris on August 25, 1944 that gave full voice to this rapture:

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One Response to August 19, 1944: Liberation of Paris

  • France was fortunate enough to be liberated by the armies of the United States and Great Britain as well as the Free French, Free Poles, etc.

    Poland was “liberated” by the Red Army. Today, some French complain about the phenomenon of the “Polish plumber”.

Bastille Day and the Transformative Power of History

Monday, July 14, AD 2014

(I originally posted this in 2012.  I rather liked this post, so here it is again.)

 

The La Marseillaise scene from Casablanca.  Today is Bastille Day, the great national holiday in France, the equivalent of our Independence Day.  In France it is known as La Fête Nationale, the National Celebration, or Le quatorze juillet, the fourteenth of July, rather like Independence Day is often known here as the Fourth of July.  There the similarities end.  Although almost all Americans look back at the American Revolution with pride, many of us dedicated to the great truths embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution is looked upon much more ambiguously in France.

Bastille Day recalls an event July 14, 1789 in which the mob of Paris, joined by mutinous French troops, stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris which had in the past held political prisoners.  The Bastille fell to the mob after a fight in which some ninety-eight attackers and one defender were killed.  After the fighting, in an ominous sign of what was to come in the French Revolution, the mob massacred the governor of the prison and seven of the defenders.  The Bastille held a grand total of seven inmates at the time of its fall, none of political significance.

So began the Revolution which promised Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in theory and delivered in practice, Tyranny, Wars and Death, with France embarked on a witches’ dance of folly which would end at Waterloo, after almost a quarter of a century of war which would leave Europe drenched in blood.  Edmund Burke at the beginning of this madness, in 1790, saw clearly where all this would lead:

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3 Responses to Bastille Day and the Transformative Power of History

  • Liberating the Batille’sprisoners was incidental to liberating its armory.

    That’s the history lesson for Americans.

    Those especially who think the Second Amendment is about hunting and sport shooting.

  • The immediate and lasting result of the fall of the Bastille was that it sparked « Le grand Peur »
    [the Great Fear] that broke out in different areas, like Franche-Comté and Ruffec, south of Poitiers around the 17th July 1789 and spread rapidly over the whole country.

    Manor houses were burned, along with terriers and tithe-rolls, baillies, seneschals and tithe-proctors fled for their lives (most of the seigneurs themselves were absentee landlords) and, on 4th August 1789, the thoroughly alarmed National Assembly abolished feudal tenures and rights of superiority, with the support of most of the terrified nobles and clergy and with the acquiescence of all of them. That was the great transformation that proved irreversible, not only in France, but everywhere that her armies went on to occupy.

    Lord Acton was right, when he said that “The hatred of royalty was less than the hatred of aristocracy; privileges were more detested than tyranny; and the king perished because of the origin of his authority rather than because of its abuse. Monarchy unconnected with aristocracy became popular in France, even when most uncontrolled; whilst the attempt to reconstitute the throne, and to limit and fence it with its peers, broke down, because the old Teutonic [Frankish] elements on which it relied – hereditary nobility, primogeniture, and privilege — were no longer tolerated. The substance of the ideas of 1789 is not the limitation of the sovereign power, but the abrogation of intermediate powers.”

    The love of equality, the hatred of nobility, and the tolerance of despotism often go together; it is felt that, “if the supreme power is needlessly limited, the secondary powers will run riot and oppress.” (Acton again)

  • Quick note:
    I tried to post a reference to Fr. Z’s action item, which is to be seen, after typing “whoops”. The attempt was under the post about disallowed parody at the parade. After time for a quick nap, my screen showed a server problem at TAC.

Anne de Gaulle

Tuesday, August 6, AD 2013

Anne De Gaulle

(I wrote this post back in 2009.  I am republishing it now because it has always been one of my favorites and the blog readership is far higher now.  Additionally it is one of several posts that I have written that I think, in retrospect, may have been God’s way of preparing me for the loss of my son Larry on May 19 of this year. )

 

 

Charles de Gaulle could be a very frustrating man.  Churchill, in reference to de Gaulle, said that the heaviest cross he had to bear during the war was the Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of the Free French forces.  Arrogant, autocratic, often completely unreasonable, de Gaulle was all of these.  However, there is no denying that he was also a great man.  Rallying the Free French forces after the Nazi conquest of France, he boldly proclaimed, “France has lost a battle, France has not lost the war.”  For more than a few Frenchmen and women, de Gaulle became the embodiment of France.  It is also hard to dispute that De Gaulle is the greatest Frenchman since Clemenceau, “The Tiger”, who led France to victory in World War I.  However, de Gaulle was something more than a great man,  he was also at bottom a good man, as demonstrated by his youngest daughter Anne de Gaulle.

Charles and Yvonne de Gaulle were both devout Catholics, so when their youngest daughter Anne was born on New Years Day in 1928, they had a strong faith to fall back on when they learned that Anne had Down Syndrome.   She also had birth injuries that meant that she would never walk unaided. There was never any question about Anne being institutionalized.  She was a member of their family, and she stayed with the family in all their travels.  There was one sacred rule in the de Gaulle household:  Anne was never to be made to feel different or less than anyone else.  Charles de Gaulle was noted for his reserve and even with family members he was usually not very demonstrative.  Not so with his daughter Anne, who received a warmth that he had seemed to be storing for his entire life just for her.  “Papa” was the one word that Anne could say clearly.  He would sing to her, read her stories and play with her.  She was, he said simply, “My joy”.   As de Gaulle said, “She helped me overcome the failures in all men, and to look beyond them.”

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8 Responses to Anne de Gaulle

  • Gen and Mme de Gaulle frequently attended the 6.30 am weekday mass at the Madeleine, quite close to the Elysée Palace. I saw them there once, on my occasional visits in the early 1960s.

  • That is a very moving story and one that I was unaware of. Certainly a different attitude than the one Joseph Kennedy had for his daughter Rosemary.

  • “(Now, she’s like all the others.)”

    Every so often, Mac, you have remind me why I read this blog.

    This darned eye allergy . . .

  • Why therefore, given examples like these, can’t liberals understand that a defect doesn’t make one defective and unworthy of living, but rather gives cause to live even more brilliantly (i.e., luminously) than those without defect?

  • Paul, your response was perfect for Charles’ and Anne’s love story – one which we all need to be reminded of from time to time.

  • It’s not my response originally, Steve W., but St. Paul’s in 2nd Corinthians chapter 12:

    7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Can it not be argued that what made Charles de Gaulle truly strong was not his intellect, or his ability at strategy and tactics, or his acumen as a political leader, but rather the strength of his “weak and defective” daughter, a strength born and made perfect in such weakness and defect?

    OK, that’s enough sobriety and sanity from me for one day. Back to “Neutrons ‘R us”. 😉

  • Thank you for posting this. It is a beautiful story and should be shared frequently.

  • Pingback: My Tutor The Bard Teaching Children Shakespeare - BigPulpit.com

Bastille Day and the Transformative Power of History

Saturday, July 14, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.   The La Marseillaise scene from Casablanca.  Today is Bastille Day, the great national holiday in France, the equivalent our Independence Day.  In France it is known as La Fête Nationale, the National Celebration, or Le quatorze juillet, the fourteenth of July, rather like Independence Day is often known here as the fourth of July.  There the similarities end.  Although almost all Americans look back at the American Revolution with pride, many of us dedicated to the great truths embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution is looked upon much more ambiguously in France.

Bastille Day recalls an event July 14, 1789 in which the mob of Paris, joined by mutinous French troops, stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris which had in the past held political prisoners.  The Bastille fell to the mob after a fight in which some ninety-eight attackers and one defender were killed.  After the fighting, in an ominous sign of what was to come in the French Revolution, the mob massacred the governor of the prison and seven of the defenders.  The Bastille held a grand total of seven inmates at the time of its fall, none of political significance.

So began the Revolution which promised Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in theory and delivered in practice, Tyranny, Wars and Death, with France embarked on a witches’ dance of folly which would end at Waterloo, after almost a quarter of a century of war which would leave Europe drenched in blood.  Edmund Burke at the beginning of this madness, in 1790, saw clearly where all this would lead:

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17 Responses to Bastille Day and the Transformative Power of History

  • He actually mentions the Allies in passing. Sacre bleu!

  • Bastille Day is a great tragedy in Western Civilization.

    Spawning Communism, Socialism, and sexual deviancy.

  • If Paris is worth a mass, all of France is worth a La Marseillaise?

    Henri IV got the better bargain.

  • It was, indeed, a tragedy. And really it happened for no better reason than the French bankers, despairing of repayment by the bankrupt French government, engineered the Revolution so that they could loot the Church and thus recover their money. Of course, it did get out of hand – the Revolution threw up plenty of men who had other ideas beyond the age-old desire of robbing a Church or two along the way. But, really, it was a disgrace from start to finish – begun with ill motives, descending in to madness and then military dictatorship and endless war.

  • The most significant event in the French Revolution occurred, not on the 14 July, but on the 17 June previously. Then, the deputies of the Third Estate declared themselves be the National Assembly and told the other two estates, the nobility and clergy, in effect, “We represent the nation; you represent only yourselves and your private interests.” As the priest-philosopher, Abbé Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes had written, in a recently-published book, the Third Estate represented the unprivileged majority of France. To constitute itself as the nation, it needed to assume power and abolish all privileges that placed the ruling minority above and outside the nation. Those who associate themselves with the common struggle for equality, the rights of Man and against privileges, these constituted the nation.

    This theory contains two elements that have become dominant in the French concept of the nation First, the nation is the community of all those who are not exempt from taxation, military service and other public duties, and, second, it includes all those, and only those, who are willing and capable of sharing in the service of the country. This is what Renan meant a hundred years later, when he said the nation was based on a « plébiscite de tous les jours » – on a daily vote of confidence.

    This was the great legacy of the Revolution; the monarchy could be restored, but it was impossible to re-impose feudal dues, heritable jurisdictions or the detested dine or tithe on the 10 million peasants, whom the Revolution had turned into heritable proprietors. This was also true everywhere that the armies of Napoléon had given a code of laws to a continent and restored the concept of citizenship to civilisation.

    Abbé Sieyes, by the by, was the instigator of Napoléon’s coup d’état of 18 Brumaire; so long as the nation was subject to one equal law, he saw no reason why it should not be ruled by one man.

  • “Bastille Day is a great tragedy in Western Civilization.

    Spawning Communism, Socialism, and sexual deviancy.”

    The modern doctrine of Communism awaited Karl Marx. Primitive communist doctrines have been around since antiquity. Socialism found its first modern proponent, at least in theory, in Saint Thomas More’s Utopia. The idea of common sharing of goods and a powerful state to maintain such equality also goes back to antiquity. As Holy Writ indicates, sexual deviancy is as old as Man. The French Revolution did abolish the penalties for sodomy, but such offenses were still punished under statutes against public lewdness. There were few prosecutions, as there had been few prosecutions against sodomy under the Old Regime, although homosexuality was rife among the nobility at Versailles as many memoirs of the nobility indicate.

  • “And really it happened for no better reason than the French bankers, despairing of repayment by the bankrupt French government, engineered the Revolution so that they could loot the Church and thus recover their money.”

    No, that is simply not true. Financial bankruptcy in state finances caused Louis to call the Estates General, but the idea that the French Revolution was caused by a cabal of French bankers to loot the Church is rubbish.

    For those interested in learning the true historical causes of the French Revolution, a good starting point is Alexis de Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution, which may be found online at the link below. Chapters XVI-XX can’t be beat for explaining why the Revolution happened.

    http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2419

  • They sang them into the ground!

    The LOVE of the people for their country, the home of their families as long as they can remember.. I love that clip– the german soldiers occupiers were musical aggressors –even the music seems bellicose-and those de la Patrie sang them into the ground. Yay!

  • Donald R McClary

    On the supposed connection between the French Revolution and Socialism, there is a very interesting speech of De Tocqueville that he delivered as a deputy to the National Assembly on 12 September 1848.

    He says (my translation) “And finally, gentlemen, liberty. There is one thing that strikes me above all. It is that the Old Regime, which doubtless differed in many respects from that system of government which the socialists call for (and we must realize this) was, in its political philosophy, far less distant from socialism than we have believed. It is far closer to that system than we are. The Old Regime, in fact, held that wisdom was only in the State and that the citizens were weak and feeble beings who must always be held by the hand by the hand, lest they fall or hurt themselves. It held that it was necessary to obstruct, thwart, restrain individual freedom, that to secure an abundance of products, it was imperative to regiment industry and impede free competition. The Old Regime believed, on this point, exactly as the socialists of today do. It was the French Revolution which denied this.”

  • Mrs Thatcher on the French Revolution

    Human rights did not begin with the French Revolution; they stem from a mixture of Judaism and Christianity. We had 1688, our quiet revolution, where Parliament exerted its will over the King. It was not the sort of Revolution that France’s was. ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity’ — they forgot obligations and duties I think. And then of course the fraternity went missing for a long time.

    on Bastille Day
    Who can trust a people who celebrate, as their national event, a jailbreak?

  • Donald,

    In 1789 the National Assembly declared the property of the Church to belong to the State and did this in order to resolve the financial crisis of the French government. It was robbery, pure and simple. It was the bankers of France – who had loaned the French government vast sums the government simply could not repay – who financed the revolutionary pamphlets as well as providing funds to bring out the mob on queue (what the heck was the purpose in attacking the Bastile? Only something to get the mob fired up and, of course, fearful of Royal retribution if the King’s authority should be restored). The financiers staged the revolution – which was not needed as the King was in favor of deep and lasting reforms of French government – in order to grab the only source of money in France which could possibly repay the bankers: the Church, which owned about 10% of all property in France as well as still having the right to collect the tithe (which was also seized for the State). To be sure, there were starry-eyed (and fanatically hating) people who were willing to ride the revolutionary wave to places the bankers didn’t want to go, but someone like Robespierre could never conduct a Revolution…such as him could only take control of it after others had got rid of the old regime and replaced it with something weaker.

    The whole thing was a terrible tragedy – and the worst part of it was that Louis XVI could have stopped it had he ordered his soldiers to shoot…but honorable and gentle Christian monarch that he was, he wouldn’t do it…he didn’t realize what demons were lurking in his domains and that a little blood shed early would have saved rivers of blood later.

  • never, never, never underestimate the willingness of financiers to use whatever comes to hand to avoid the bankruptcy they all so often richly deserve. Heck, our whole system of fake money and mounting debt was put in place simply to allow bankers to pretend they hadn’t screwed the economic pooch…and they have just carried it on and on and on through a century of mounting economic disintegration…and if they can get away with eventually shoving all their idiocy on to our backs via hyperinflation, they’ll do it (because the only place left to steal money to save the bankers is in the savings and property of the middle class…ruin the dollar and the bankers can pay back their idiot debts with debased money and still come out of it rich…the people will be ruined, but since when has that ever disturbed a banker?).

  • Mark Noonan

    The English legal historian, F W Maitland is very good on the Revolution and corporations

    “The State and the Corporation.—in this, as in some other instances, the work of the monarchy issues in the work of the revolutionary assemblies. It issues in the famous declaration of August 18, 1792: “A State that is truly free ought not to suffer within its bosom any corporation, not even such as, being dedicated to public instruction, have merited well of the country.” That was one of the mottoes of modern absolutism: the absolute State faced the absolute individual. An appreciable part of the interest of the French Revolution seems to me to be open only to those who will be at pains to give a little thought to the theory of corporations. Take, for example, those memorable debates touching ecclesiastical property. To whom belong these broad lands when you have pushed fictions aside, when you have become a truly philosophical jurist with a craving for the natural? To the nation, which has stepped into the shoes of the prince. That is at least a plausible answer, though an uncomfortable suspicion that the State itself is but a questionably real person may not be easily dispelled. And as with the churches, the universities, the trade gilds, and the like, so also with the communes, the towns and villages. Village property—there was a great deal of village property in France—was exposed to the dilemma: it belongs to the State, or else it belongs to the now existing villagers”

    It is easy to see how this reasoning would apply to the property of ecclesiastical corporations, sole or aggregate. Plainly, the individual bishop or rector was not the owner of the lands of his benefice, for he could not dispose of them, so who was?

    Recall that the notion of a trust is quite unknown to French law of any period.

  • No Mark that is simply incorrect. Blaming the Bankers for the French Revolution is ahistoric rubbish. Please cite one reputable history that supports this view. As for hapless Louis XVI, the man lacked the ability to be the mayor of a small town, let alone be king of a great power. He would have been better off as a locksmith. A dramatic demonstration of the weakness of hereditary monarchy: invariably the luck of the genetic draw will place on the throne for life someone completely unsuited for the job.

  • Mark, I have small tolerance for conspiracy mongering as opposed to historical knowledge. Rants against various groups are no substitute for historical fact. I am placing you on moderation for the time being.

  • Donald – it is your blog and you may do as you wish. But you are “Moderating” me because you cannot, by use of historical fact, controvert what I said.

    Goodbye, God bless and the best of luck to you.

  • No Mark, you are being moderated because you persisted in blaming Bankers for causing the French Revolution, which is simply erroneous. I invited you to cite one reputable history to support your thesis and you failed to do so. History is very important to me, and I will not allow it to be treated cavalierly on this blog.

Anne de Gaulle

Wednesday, October 28, AD 2009

Anne De Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle could be a very frustrating man.  Churchill, in reference to de Gaulle, said that the heaviest cross he had to bear during the war was the Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of the Free French forces.  Arrogant, autocratic, often completely unreasonable, de Gaulle was all of these.  However, there is no denying that he was also a great man.  Rallying the Free French forces after the Nazi conquest of France, he boldly proclaimed, “France has lost a battle, France has not lost the war.”  For more than a few Frenchmen and women, de Gaulle became the embodiment of France.  It is also hard to dispute that De Gaulle is the greatest Frenchman since Clemenceau “The Tiger”, who led France to victory in World War I.  However, de Gaulle was something more than a great man,  he was also at bottom a good man, as demonstrated by his youngest daughter Anne de Gaulle.

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16 Responses to Anne de Gaulle

  • Lovely! Thanks for sharing, Don.

  • It is a remarkable story Rick. It had to be for me to write positively about de Gaulle, not my favorite historical figure.

    http://www.cavortingwithstrangers.com/bookVIII-Gaulle.php

  • Yeah, I guess that’s part of why the story is so good. That a total *Richard Cranium* like de Gaulle could be capable of loving someone other than himself deeply and sincerely is a welcomed thought. It was a great love story in its own right, but also one of those things that reminds us of the dignity of the person and demonstrates that God is at work in all hearts – whether or not the effects can be seen.

  • A lot of what made de Gaulle such a pita was that he simply *had* to be in order to pull France through the crises it faced. The wounded national psychology required a kingly figure–in fact, a king in all but name, imperious and proud. It was a role imposed by the times, a necessary facade. Anne provides a welcome glimpse behind it.

  • What we need in our own time is a figure – kingly or not – who can persuade the general public that you cannot consume 4% more than you produce for 27 years without a serious danger that your creditors will (rather abruptly) ask for some of the principal of that loan back.

  • Art Deco;

    I read your post and thought Carthago delenda est.

    Not that you are incorrect, but that this does not seem like the appropriate place to bring up defecit spending

  • Beautiful story. Ofttimes a little glimpse into the private history of famous (or infamous) characters can make or break the surface impression formed by public history.

  • First time an article about de Gaulle ever made me cry.

  • Not that you are incorrect, but that this does not seem like the appropriate place to bring up defecit spending

    It was in response to Mr. Price’s comment on Gen. de Gaulle’s qualities as a leader. Our contemporary problems (and I am not referring to the public sector) are intractible but less intense than those faced by France in 1940. If it bothers you, c’est dommage.

  • Yes, I remember deGaulle from the days of WW2. The US of A helped win his country France for him, handed it back to him, and then he kicked the Americans (SHAPE headquarters) out of France. We have been despised by the French ever since.

  • I never realized DeGaulle had a daughter with Down syndrome until I read “Cultural Amnesia” by the Australian critic and writer Clive James. “Cultural Amnesia” is a wonderful book, a compendium of essays about literary, cultural and political figures ranging from Mao and Trotsky to Chesterton, Gibbon – and Louis Armstrong! The villians of the book are the murderous tyrants of the 20th century and their apologists and enablers (Sartre gets a drubbing).

    Here’s what James said about DeGaulle:

    Had he (DeGaulle) been a megalomanic, he would have been less impressive. Napolean, owing allegiance to nothing beyond his own vision, was petty in the end, and the fate of France bothered him little. De Gaulle behaved as if the fate of France was his sole concern, but the secret of his incomparable capacity to act in that belief probably lay in a central humility.,…, the touchstone of his humanity was his daughter. Nothing is more likely to civilize a powerful man than the presence in his house of an injured loved one his power can’t help. Every night he comes home to a reminder that God is not mocked, a cure for invincibility.”

  • WW2 Marine Veteran: First of all, thank you for your service.

    Things have come to a pretty ironic pass these days, haven’t they? The pro-American Sarkozy, elected to replace the anti-American Chirac, has found the new American president is rather cool toward his countries’ allies. Sarkozy publicly chided Obama several weeks ago for being naive about the intentions of the Iranians. It came as a shock to me to realize I agreed with the French president and not the American one.

  • “Nothing is more likely to civilize a powerful man than the presence in his house of an injured loved one his power can’t help.”

    Amen Donna. Thanks also for the tip about Cultural Amnesia. I am going to pick it up.

  • That quote also made me think of Lincoln and the personal tragedies he had to deal with while acting as Commander in Chief.

    I heartily recommend Cultural Amnesia; it’s one of the most original and thought-provoking books I have read in years. If you are like me and enjoy books with a wide historical and cultural range, I’ll bet you’ll like it.

  • I can assure you that the majority of French people hold no grudges against Americans, on the contrary they are deeply grateful for their role in liberating occupied Europe from Nazi Germany. I am currently reading a biography of De Gaulle by his on Philippe (an admiral) who knew him well and am discovering a very different man who had to fight many private battles in his life. He was critized and misunderstood even by his own countrymen. His pride and determination was for his country, but he accepted humbly many personal defeats as a true Christian. He was also a daily communicant.

  • There is an enormous amount of biographical information on Charles de Gaulle. Reading the essential sources by writers from different point of (political) views could make one clear that:
    – De Gaulle had a very sincere conviction about his mission; when he fled to Great Britain in 1940, he had nothing but his beliefs and his family;
    – De Gaulle was a profound democrat; he was the first president not elected by the parliament, but by the people (one man one vote), on his own initiative;
    – De Gaulle gave the French women the right to vote;
    – He was asked to replace the government to save France from chaos as the fourth republic had 22 governments between 1945 and 1958 – the masses demonstrated in the streets at the end of the fifties to call him;
    – De Gaulle gave all French colonies the possibility to gain their independence by vote;
    – De Gaulle had to unite and cure a country that was torn apart by pre-war corruption, largescale wartime collaboration with the Nazis and postwar chaos; by no means he could just go by his own will; he had to be cunning and in many instances had to weigh the bad against the worst;
    – De Gaulle had to fight the permanent threat of mutiny by the highest ranks of France’s military officers in the years of the Algerian independence war – the last attack on his life was on August 15th (sic!) of 1964 by the French terrorist OAS;
    – De Gaulle never threw the US out of France; he did not want a nuclear war between the USA and the USSR being fought at the cost of the European population; for that reason he refused to handover the command in the Mediterranenan area to foreign (read: American, British etc.) powers; for that reason too he created France’s ‘force de frappe’, the necessary nuclear strike to deter any aggressor from threatening Europe’s and especially France’s safety (at that time, we were in the Cold War); moreover his distrust in especially the British government is very understandable as they initially handed over power to pro-Vichy and anti-semitic factions in French colonies in the Middle/Near East at the end of WWII;
    – De Gaulle held F.D. Roosevelt and J.F. Kennedy in a very high esteem;
    – by reading and listening to De Gaulle’s books and speeches and taking his strategic insights into account, much of the misery in Vietnam in the sixties and recently in Iraq would have been avoidable;
    – you cannot measure a statesman’s acts by the way you and your neighbor are supposed to act when discussing the fence that divides your gardens;
    – all sources affirm his immense strategic insights;
    – on humility: in the famous Panthéon in Paris where all great French are (re)buried, De Gaulle is absent; he insisted on being buried next to his daughter Anne; he insisted too that his funeral in his village Colombey-les-deux-églises in Northern France there was not meant to be attended by politicians, by statesmen or by any other celibrity whatsoever, but just by his fellow villagers and his companions of the WWII-resistance; actually, there were more than 30.000 people gathered there, while in Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral the powerful and famous attended the ‘official’ service while all over France church bells were ringing; De Gaulle served as a colonel when WWII started; he was made a brigadier-general by what developed as the Vichy-regime; when he was outvoted by referendum in 1969, he refused his pension as a brigadier-general; he also refused his pension as a president; the pension of a colonel was what he chose; De Gaulle did not wear any signs of honor or distinction other than his brigadier-general’s uniform after WWII (the lowest general in rank); he had not built prestigious personal projects by the time of his stepping down as his successors did; instead, in the sixties he started France’s freeway project, an impulse to France’s weak economy at that time; once he stated that the French were too attached to their belongings and affluence;
    – and so on.