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PSC 302: Comparative Government

Outline of PBS, "De Gaulle: A Vision of France" documentary video

revised 6 Nov. 2006 by Jeremy Lewis.


video documentary.
Central figure in 3 French Crises: 1940, 1958, 1968.
Youth:
  • Born 1890 into upper middle class family.
  • Vision of restoring glory of nation through mil. service.
  • 1930s: military maverick.
  • France paralyzed by Left-Right cleavage & memories of destruction of WWI.
  • Crisis of 1940:
  • Failure of leadership after Nazi invasion;
  • 1940 Petain collaborated.
  • Vichy Govt sentenced DG to death.
  • DG formed Free French Army.   Needed political skills to overcome lack of forces, developed myth of spirit of France, themes of honor, tradition.
  • Early wartime difficulties:
  • Setback when allies bombarded Vichy navy at Toulon, undercut DG's support.
  • Used Africa as base, lacking navy. Dakar setback. Vichy supported by French Navy and conservatives.
  • French population mostly supporting Vichy regime until Nazi abductions alienated some.
  • Early peripheral victories:
  • Syrian victory with Brits, and DG obliged Brits to treat him as leading authority there.
  • Vigorous defense of French vision despite weak negotiating position. Sensitive as man with skin flayed off; very difficult ally.
  • Built his name via radio speeches. Formal yet warm & inspiring.
  • FDR deep dislike of DG, found him disloyal and a dangerous threat.
  • Pearl Harbor, Dec 7 1941: power center shifted west to Wash DC.
  • DG needed to reassert French authority, via Free French navy.
  • French Islands off Canada taken independently: infuriated FDR.
  • Held Bir Hakim: minor land victory, showed tenacity by small Free French infantry for two weeks against strong German offensive.
  • Allied Invasion of Algeria, led by Gen. Patton: favored Darlan over DG.
  • US did not notify DG in advance, captured Petain's deputy Adm. Darlan and recognized him as official (if temp.) leader of N. African forces -- outraged DG.
  • Darlan was assassinated Dec. 1942, as traitor and replaced by Gen. Giraud, Vichy officer.
  • DG insists with Churchill on French choice, outmanoevres Giraud.
  • Vichy loses support as PM Lavalle drafts workers 1943, under STO program, for Nazis.  Resistance develops by army officers, communists, Gaullists and others.  They unite under DG.
  • Thousands of civilians rounded up by Germans in resistance areas, many tortured and shot.  Resistance grows.
  • D-Day & post-Liberation:
  • DG had limited role. Gave own speech, the decisive battle, France, submerged but not defeated, is standing up to take its part.
  • DG's trip to Washington successful with speeches in English, but FDR still did not trust him.
  • Liberation speech in Paris, Paris has won liberation with its own hands, but its people with the help of the French army.
  • Leading role in post-Liberation trial of Petain: DG brought back justice system to reduce recriminations against collaborators.
  • DG declined to give opinion on trials of Vichy leaders, let justice system run independently.
  • Disbanded Resistance for safety. Lavalle executed, but DG commuted Petain's sentence.
  • DG toured provinces to unify country under his leadership, presented as a mediaeval style Champion, heavily symbolic.
  • DG reviewed troops but a poor interpersonal communicator, stiff and distant.
  • Yalta conference: not invited; insulted and never forgave the omission.
  • Had no party, remained above politics; refused to lead a faction -- so failed to develop a power base.
  • Resigned, retreated to Colombey village and retired to solitude for 12 years.
  • Return of the General
    Post war Period:
  • DG spoke inspiringly of France's destiny, of a free Republic, and formed RPF.
  • Called for strong Presidency, fear of anarchy under Fourth Republic [government by weak assembly].
  • 1947 municipal elections: 40% of seats won by RPF. But gradually declined later.
  • More powerful presidency proposal attracted support in poverty of late 1940s, but as economy recovered, there was less interest in such reform.
  • Algerian War:
  • unique among colonies: part of Metro France with 3 Departments. 10% settlers (pieds noirs with French citizenship, colons) and 90% Algerians.
  • 1954, FLN begins bombing remote outposts; by 1957, 400K troops sent.
  • Officer corps conservative; draftees unsure.
  • Torture & atrocities develop, damaging France in world opinion.
  • Plastiquages, assassinations, thousands left homeless.
  • French planes bombed village in Tunisia, hit Red Cross camp, damaged Frech reputation.
  • Gov.t in Algeria collapses, Gen. Massu leads Ctee of Public Safety. Delbeque reads DG speech to crowd.
  • DG insisted on strong exec. But said 67 too old to be dangerous. Paras pressured the politicians w/ threatened Op. Resurrection. PM Pflimlin resigned.
  • Accession to Presidency:
  • DG comes to power with power to create new Constn.
  • 4 months to absolute power.
  • Algerian Crisis, 1958-62:
  • DG Fills vacuum of power.
  • 1958 to Algerians: "I have understood you!" But all, both races are Frenchmen with rights. "Long live French Algeria".
  • Did not believe privately muslims could be integrated with France: would lead to 80 Deputies for 1M black muslims.
  • Referendum on Constitution: "Oui!"
  • Costs of Algerian war increase: 10,000 soldiers dead.
  • [Already had lost in Indo-china.]
  • 1960-62 DG calls for negotiations with FLN.
  • Colonists revolted as FLN flag was displayed.
  • Removed Gen. Massu ... general strike. FLN rejected overtures, but French rebel officers collapsed.
  • 1961 Referendum on Algeria in all Greater France:
  • 3 options of independence, union, or association which he preferred.
  • Algerian independence legitimated.
  • DG's own paras revolted. "Aidez-moi" speech for support from draftees against paras.
  • Evian negotiations: Sahara to remain French. Needed for atomic testing and for oil.
  • 1962 OAS violence and riots, Algeria is given up.
  • French police clubbed Algerian demonstrators in France to death. 350 OAS bombings in France. Massed funerals. DG seemingly at a loss. Gave up Saharan position. Revenge terrorist against pieds noirs, and 90% of them left for France.
  • ROLE IN EUROPE, Balance of Power Principle:
  • 1959 Atomic bomb
  • German alliance in EEC, as an equal partner.
  • Fear of British as Trojan horse of American influence.
  • Vetoed British entry to EEC because of conditions attached after months of negotiations.
  • DG refused to subordinate to US, but supported US in Cuba 1962.
  • Call for gold, not $ standard.
  • Removal from NATO structure.
  • Overtures to USSR for national friendship (not ideological).
  • Domestic Change & Reelection:
  • Direct Election of President. (ref 62% "Oui".)
  • Miner's Strike: rapid industrialization creates social tensions.
  • DG: build France by whatever means necessary.
  • 1965 DG failed to earn 1st ballot success. "Devil in the Confessional speech" ridiculing party politics in presidency.
  • DG's address on his personal record despite parties' carping.
  • Reelection on 2nd ballot as "arbiter" above politics.
  • International Posture:
  • "Vive Quebec libre" speech.
  • 1966 NATO secession.
  • Visit to USSR: nations transcend ideological differences.
  • (First statesman to step above the cold war in favor of cultural exchanges.)
  • Against Vietnam war.
  • Trip to Cambodia: overtures to 3rd World, self-determination.
  • Trip to Quebec: emotional speech with off-the-cuff reference to Independence.
  • 1967 Assembly elections: narrow Gaullist majority.
    The Generation Gap, & Decline & Fall:
  • Evenements de 1968 ("Happenings.") Revealed generation gap, DG out of touch.
  • DG never understood communists, esp. New Left.
  • DG radio speech built support (again.)
  • [Prague 1968 showed Communist repression.]
  • 1968 election: too many Rightist Deputies.
  • Referendum (on DG himself) "Non!".
  • Resigns immediately, quits politics forever, lives privately with family.
  • DG seems an anachronism.
  • May Day parade disrupted by young New Left.
  • Riot police retake the Sorbonne: first such intervention in history. Demos escalate for 9 hard days, & 5 weeks of general protest.
  • DG lost 35 points of approval.
  • May 10th raised barricades, police charged. General strike.
  • DG left for Rumania believing order would be restored. Spoke to Rumanian students and workers, not French.
  • Workers joined students in strikes.
  • Returned: "recess is over": Pompidou must restore order.
  • Retake Odeon, TV and Sorbonne.
  • Pompidou gives 35% increase to Renault ... but rejected!
  • Communists outflanked.
  • DG tv address failed. Too old at 78. Secret trip en famille to West Germany, to Massu.
  • Returns to speak against the dangers of the left, much stronger speech. Brought out the mainstream French against the students and workers.