Friday, May 22, 2009

Looking for General de Gaulle

I've mentioned before the number of buildings in Paris graced with historical markers. The one pictured here can be found in sites across France connected to Charles de Gaulle, the moral equivalent of "George Washington slept here." An additional plaque on this building on Boulevard Raspail, for example, notes that de Gaulle lived there from 1932 to 1937.

At any rate, I was under the impression that the text (see translation below) was from one of de Gaulle's radio addresses made from London to rally the French in the dark first hours of the German occupation. But curiously, although de Gaulle did make several well known addresses in June 1940 that have a similar message and spirit, the text here isn't from any of those. The best I can determine is that these plaques are copies of posters that appeared in London about that same time. Why this text was used for the historical marker is not at all clear. But still, it's a sobering reminder of what France lost for a while and thanks to both the Resistance and the allies, was eventually able to reclaim.

To all Frenchmen

France has lost a battle !
But France has not lost the war !

A makeshift government may have capitulated, giving way to panic, forgetting honour, delivering their country into bondage. Yet nothing is lost !
Nothing is lost, because this war is a world war. In the free universe, immense forces have not yet swung into operation. Some day these forces will crush the enemy. On that day, France must be present at the victory. She will then regain her liberty and her greatness. Such is my goal, my only goal !
That is why I urge all Frenchmen, wherever they may be, to unite with me in action, in sacrifice and in hope.

Our country is in mortal danger.
Let us all fight to save her.

Long live France !

Thanks to the site,, for this translation.


Bob said...

They were probably more for propaganda purposes as well as moral.

Chris said...

I noticed your list of books and in keeping with the theme in this post wondered if you had read either "Is Paris Burning?" by Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre or Wine & War: The French, the Nazis & the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure by Donald Kladstrup & Petie Kladstrup. Both are interesting stories of WW II. Thoroughly enjoy the blog.

Anne said...

Chris: Thanks for the book recommendations. My reading lately has taken me to England and Afghanistan, among other places, but perhaps it's time to return to France.

Cécile Qd9 said...

there is a website with all those marble historical pannels. do not remembeif it belongs to the Paris Mairie or to a ministary or another (defense, interior...) but it exists and you can make researches by area or by subject (like culture, WW2, names, etc.)

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