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Appeal of 18 June

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Photograph of Charles de Gaulle, pictured making a subsequent radio broadcast in 1941
Photograph of Charles de Gaulle, pictured making a subsequent radio broadcast in 1941

The Appeal of 18 June (French: L'Appel du 18 juin) was the first speech made by Charles de Gaulle after his arrival in London in 1940 following the Fall of France. Broadcast to France by the radio services of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), it is often considered to have marked the beginning of the French Resistance in World War II. It is regarded as one of the most important speeches in French history. In spite of its significance in French collective memory, historians have shown that the appeal was heard only by a minority of French people. De Gaulle's 22 June 1940 speech was more widely heard.[1]


De Gaulle had recently been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and named as Under-Secretary of State for National Defence and War by Prime Minister Paul Reynaud during the German invasion of France.[2][3] Reynaud resigned after his proposal for a Franco-British Union was rejected by his cabinet and Marshal Philippe Pétain, a hero of World War I, became the new Prime Minister, pledging to sign an armistice with Nazi Germany. De Gaulle opposed any such action and facing imminent arrest, fled France on 17 June. Other leading politicians, including Georges Mandel, Léon Blum, Pierre Mendès France, Jean Zay and Édouard Daladier (and separately Reynaud), were arrested while travelling to continue the war from North Africa.[4]: 211–216 

De Gaulle obtained special permission from Winston Churchill to broadcast a speech on 18 June via BBC Radio from Broadcasting House over France, despite the British Cabinet's objections that such a broadcast could provoke the Pétain government into a closer allegiance with Germany.[5] In his speech, de Gaulle reminded the French people that the British Empire and the United States of America would support them militarily and economically in an effort to retake France from the Germans.

The BBC did not record the speech,[a][7] and few actually heard it. Another speech, which was recorded and heard by more people, was given by de Gaulle four days later.[citation needed] There is a record, however, of the manuscript of the speech of 18 June,[7] which has been found in the archives of the Swiss intelligence agencies who published the text for their own uses on 19 June. The manuscript of the speech, as well as the recording of the 22 June speech, were nominated on 18 June 2005 for inclusion in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register by the BBC, which called it "one of the most remarkable pieces in the history of radio broadcasting."[8]

Translation of the speech

On 18 June 1940, at 19:00 (GMT), de Gaulle's voice was broadcast nationwide, saying in French (author. translation):

Memorial plate with Appeal of 18 June, Vienne, Isère
Memorial plate with Appeal of 18 June, Vienne, Isère

"The leaders who, for many years, were at the head of French armies, have formed a government. This government, alleging our armies to be undone, agreed with the enemy to stop fighting. Of course, we were subdued by the mechanical, ground and air forces of the enemy. Infinitely more than their number, it was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans which made us retreat. It was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans that surprised our leaders to the point to bring them there where they are today.

"But has the last word been said? Must hope disappear? Is defeat final? No!

"Believe me, I speak to you with full knowledge of the facts and tell you that nothing is lost for France. The same means that overcame us can bring us to a day of victory. For France is not alone! She is not alone! She is not alone! She has a vast Empire behind her. She can align with the British Empire that holds the sea and continues the fight. She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of United States.

"This war is not limited to the unfortunate territory of our country. This war is not finished by the battle of France. This war is a world wide war. All the faults, all the delays, all the suffering, do not prevent there to be, in the world, all the necessary means to one day crush our enemies. Vanquished today by mechanical force, we will be able to overcome in the future by a superior mechanical force. The destiny of the world is here. I, General de Gaulle, currently in London, invite the officers and the French soldiers who are located in British territory or who would come there, with their weapons or without their weapons, I invite the engineers and the special workers of armament industries who are located in British territory or who would come there, to put themselves in contact with me.

Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished.[9]

Reception and influence

The speech of 18 June occupies a prominent place in the popular history of France, as in this street named after it in the town of Jonquières.
The speech of 18 June occupies a prominent place in the popular history of France, as in this street named after it in the town of Jonquières.

After the war, de Gaulle's 18 June broadcast was often identified as the beginning of the French Resistance, and the beginning of the process of liberating France from the yoke of German occupation.[10]

Although the 18 June speech is among the most famous in French history, few French listeners heard it that day. It was broadcast on the BBC, a British radio station, practically unannounced and was delivered by an obscure brigadier general who had only recently been appointed as a junior minister. Consequently, of the 10,000 French citizens in Britain, only 300 volunteered. Of the more than 100,000 soldiers temporarily on British soil, most of them recently evacuated from Norway or Dunkirk, only 7,000 stayed on to join de Gaulle. The rest returned to France and were quickly made prisoners of war. However, de Gaulle's speech was undeniably influential and provided motivation for the people of France and for the oppressed of the rest of Europe.[4]: 226 

The themes of the speech would be reused throughout the war to inspire the French people to resist German occupation. Four days later, de Gaulle delivered a speech that largely reiterated the points made in his 18 June speech, and the second speech was heard by a larger audience in France. The content of the 22 June speech is often confused for that of 18 June.[11] In addition, in early August a poster written by de Gaulle would be distributed widely in London and would become known as L'affiche de Londres (The London Poster).[12] Variations of this poster would be produced and displayed in Africa, South America and France itself over the course of the war.[12]

The 70th anniversary of the speech was marked in 2010 by the issuing of a postage stamp (designed by Georges Mathieu)[13] and a €2 commemorative coin.[14]

France has lost a battle, but has not lost the war

De Gaulle's famous quote: "La France a perdu une bataille! Mais la France n'a pas perdu la guerre" ("France has lost a battle, but France has not lost the war") is often associated with the Appeal of 18 June, but actually stems from a motivational poster featuring De Gaulle, A Tous Les Français, which was distributed all over London on 3 August 1940.[15][16]

See also



  1. ^ De Gaulle's son wrote: "I remember very well his fury when he came home rather late that night [the 19th of June] after the broadcast. He had learned from the BBC that his radio broadcast the day before had not been recorded."[6]


  1. ^ L'Appel du 18 juin (in French)
  2. ^ Fenby, Jonathan (2010). The General: Charles De Gaulle and the France He Saved. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 127. ISBN 978-1847373922. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Cabinet Paul Reynaud". Assemblée Nationale Française. 2008.
  4. ^ a b Lacouture, Jean (1991) [1984]. De Gaulle: The Rebel 1890–1944 (English ed.).
  5. ^ The Guardian, "A Mesmerising Oratory", 29 April 2007.
  6. ^ de Gaulle, Philippe; Tauriac, Michel (2003). De Gaulle, mon père [De Gaulle, My Father]. 1. Plon. p. 139. ISBN 978-2-7028-9385-2. OCLC 1107684996. Je me souviens très bien de sa fureur quand il est rentré assez tardivement ce soir-là [le 19 juin] après l'émission. Il avait appris à la BBC que son appel de la veille n'avait pas été enregistré.
  7. ^ a b L'Appel du 22 juin 1940 Archived 6 June 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Charles de (website of the Fondation Charles de Gaulle)
  8. ^ "Memory of the World Register: The Appeal of 18 June 1940" (PDF). UNESCO. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  9. ^ Text of the speech in English The Lehrman Institute
  10. ^ Evans, Martin (8 August 2018). "Review: A History of the French Resistance". History Today. Vol. 68 no. 8. London: Andy Patterson. ISSN 0018-2753. However, after the Second World War, de Gaulle’s speech of 18 June 1940 became enshrined in French history as the starting point of the French Resistance, which led directly to the Liberation four years later. This founding narrative allowed French people to forget the humiliation of Nazi Occupation and rebuild national self-esteem.
  11. ^ "L'Appel du 22 juin 1940 -". Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  12. ^ a b "L'affiche "à tous les Français" ayant suivi l'appel du 18 juin -". Archived from the original on 18 June 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  13. ^ Corréard, Stéphane (November 2014). "Georges Mathieu, the 'Undead'". Arts Magazine. No. 92. pp. 16–17. Retrieved 19 June 2018 – via Georges Mathieu official web site.
  14. ^ "70th anniversary of the appeal of 18 June". European Commission. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  15. ^ "24 octobre 1940 : Entrevue de Montoire entre Pétain et Hitler". 29 December 2016.
  16. ^ "La France a perdu une bataille, mais la France n'a pas perdu la [...] - Charles de Gaulle".

External links

This page was last edited on 26 October 2021, at 03:37
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