Charles de Gaulle speech was seminal moment in Second World War

Charles de Gaulle's rallying cry to the people of France on June 18 1940 is thought to mark the foundation of French resistance to the German occupation.

After refusing to support an armistice with France's invaders and facing imminent arrest, de Gaulle fled to London – arriving the day before he made his famous speech.

Broadcast in French on the BBC, de Gaulle told his countrymen: "The generals who, for many years, have been at the head of the French armies, have formed a government.

"This government, claiming the defeat of our armies, has made contact with the enemy to halt the fighting."

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Charles de Gaulle speech was seminal moment in Second World War
Charles de Gaulle’s June 18 call to resist Nazis still defines France 80 years on
The statue of General Charles de Gaulle is pictured in front of the Grand Palais ahead of the start of the ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of World War II victory in Europe, in Paris, on May 8, 2020, on the 53rd day of a strict lockdown in the country aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19, (the novel coronavirus). - The 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe should be all about parades, remembrances, and one last great hurrah for veteran soldiers who are mostly in their nineties. Instead, it is a time of coronavirus lockdown and loneliness spent in search of memories both bitter and sweet. (Photo by Francois Mori / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS MORI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
At the National Assembly, Felix Gouin reads General De Gaulle's resignation letter, January 1946, France. (Photo by: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Paris, France: General Charles De Gaulle, leader of the French "Rassemblement du Peuple Francais," rightist political praty, addresses a press conference in Paris after coming out of semi-retirement. De Gaulle challenged the strife-torn National Assembly to become a "truly representative body" or to make way for new elections, and new elective system.
(Original Caption) 2/15/49-Lille, France: Standing beneath the party emblem, Gen. Charles de Gaulle and other officials of the rally of the French people (R.P.F.) sing the French National Anthem at opening of second annual Congress in his native city. From left are: Andre Malraux; member; Gen. De Gaulle; Jacques Soustelle and Jacques Baumel. The General told delegates that his movement is the only bulwark against French Communism.
Generals Jean de Lattre de Tassigny of France and Omar Bradley of the United States and Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery of Great Britain attend a postwar conference at Fontainebleau, France, in 1949. During WWII Montgomery was the commander of Allied ground forces in Europe, Bradley commander of the Allied 12th Army Group, and de Tassigny commander of the First French Army under Charles de Gaulle. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
FRANCE - JUNE 18: Mont Valerien, Ceremony Of The 18Th Of June, General De Gaulle And Admiral D Argenlieu. 1949 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) during a visit at Lille (Nord, France). In 1949. (Photo by adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
General Charles Degaulle seated at conference table giving a press conference. (Photo by Nat Farbman/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
FRANCE - OCTOBER 01: Paris, General De Gaulle Press Conference At The House Of Resistance In October 1948 (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Gen. Charles De Gaulle welcomed by wellwishers w. a glass of champagne as he arives at airport from his campaigning through S.E. France for the post of the country's Premier, on the Island of Corsica.. (Photo by Dmitri Kessel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Gen. Charles de Gaulle stepping through doorway and shaking woman's hand. (Photo by Dmitri Kessel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Gen. Charles de Gaulle speaking to crowd from podium. (Photo by Dmitri Kessel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Crowd welcoming General Charles De Gaulle in Paris, France, 12th April 1948 (Photo by Dmitri Kessel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

The future president of France described how the country had been overwhelmed by Germany's blitzkrieg tactics and its seemingly "infinite" supply of tanks and fighter planes.

But he said: "Has the last word been said? Must all hope disappear? Is defeat definitive? No!

"Believe me, I am speaking to you with a full understanding of the facts and I tell you that nothing is lost for France."

Listing France's supporters, he said: "She is not alone! She is not alone!

"She has a vast empire behind her, she can form an alliance with the British Empire which holds the seas and continues the fight.

"She can, like England, call upon without limit the immense industry of the United States."

He continued: "This war is a world war. All the mistakes, all the delays, all the suffering do not prevent the fact there are, in the universe, all the means to one day crush our enemies.

"Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must never be extinguished and it will never be extinguished."

Despite reaching only a small French audience at the time, the speech is considered one of the most important in all of France's history and a seminal moment in the Second World War.

Its significance is comparable to Sir Winston Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches" speech delivered earlier that same month.

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