Charles de Gaulle

Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.

Charles de Gaulle was born on September 22, 1890. With a school headmaster as a father, Charles studied French history with a passion. Charles ended up at a military university and, upon graduation, entered the army.

In his first action during World War I, Charles was one of the first wounded due to the outdated war strategy used by his commander. Charles quickly grew angry about the pointless losses for the French, and, as he began to rise in rank, he started employing many new strategies. After taking multiple wounds and even nearly three years in a German prisoner of war camp, Charles became convinced that a new war method was necessary. Unfortunately, he was one of very few who believed this, and his climb in rank stalled at Colonel. After World War II began, his tank regiment won one of very few French victories during the early stages of the war, and was promoted one last time to Brigadier General.

As political turmoil started in 1940, Charles, along with a few other officers, separated from the government and flew to Britain to start the Free French Forces. He was sentenced long-distance by the French government to death for treason. Even though he started the FFF with the intentions of being part of the Allied forces, he slowly became paranoid, and, after he took full control of the FFF, almost separated from the Allies completely, losing his temper multiple times, with Winston Churchill in particular.

After the war ended, de Gaulle took control of France for a year and a half, even though the end-of-war agreement didn’t allow him to. He ran the government with an iron fist, executing hundreds of people and publicly humiliating hundreds more.

After six years of running France, de Gaulle suddenly resigned. He stayed out of power until 1958, when he was re-elected to President. He allowed Algeria to have independence, a move which was widely unpopular. After his first seven-year term was over, he was re-elected, and spent most of his second term re-creating diplomatic relationships with most of the world. However, people viewed him as too old and self-centered, and huge protests occurred throughout the country. de Gaulle came close to moving the army in against the protesters, but, on April 28, 1969, ended up retiring instead.

Charles de Gaulle was watching the evening news on November 9, 1970, when a blood vessel ruptured in his neck. By the time help arrived, it was too late. Charles de Gaulle, 79, had died.

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