There are few figures in history as revolutionary as French General, Charles de Gaulle. On this day in History, French General Charles de Gaulle enters Paris. The year was 1944 and only one-day prior, France had been liberated from the strongholds of its oppressors. Charles de Gaulle was an outspoken advocate for French liberation and as he entered the Place de l’Hotel, he wasn’t welcomed with open arms. In fact, the situation became hostile almost instantaneously. He was so polarizing to the French collaborationists that upon seeing Charles de Gaulle they took a few sniper shots at him. And by a few, it’s recorded that they fired almost a dozen shots.
“There are many moments that go beyond each of our poor little lives,” he was quoted at the time of outrage and. “Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyrized! But Paris liberated!”
Charles de Gaulle was extremely proud of the liberation of Paris. It came just in time to end a long and sorted history of fighting and political turmoil with the Germans, who would continue to be a problem in the following World War II. De Gaulle didn’t escape his liberation efforts without some injuries.
He sustained multiple wounds fighting at Verdun during a battle in World War I. He escaped a few different German POW camps nearly five times. The Germans hated Charles de Gaulle so much that they went after him every single time. His point only to be recaptured each time. Some cite his lack of sneaky success as a credit to his stature. De Gaulle was a notoriously tall man, at 6 feet, 4 inches tall he towered over almost every single person he met. That kind of height can’t be easily hidden.
Charles de Gaulle was heavily respected by the beginning of World War II and was given the position of commander of a tank brigade. He was made a brigadier general in May 1940. On June 18, de Gaulle became a radio star. He took to the radio airwaves to urge for an armistice being sought by Petain. However, he told his troops to keep fighting under his command. It took a while, but Britain formally acknowledged de Gaulle for his rightful position as the leader of the “Free French Forces.” It sounds all official, but the Free French Forces were actually just French troops stationed in England, volunteers from Frenchmen already living in England, and a few units of the French navy.
De Gaulle’s impressive navigation of wartime politics made him an indispensable leader for France. He was recognized by Dwight Eisenhower and went on to be the head of two provisional French Governments before he died of an aneurism at the age of 79. He lived a full and decorated military and political career. To this day he is respected as a highly functioning, adept military mind and was appreciated during the World War I, the liberation of France, and beyond.