Appeal of 18 June | Study Guide

Charles de Gaulle

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Appeal of 18 June | Quotes


The leaders who, for many years, were at the head of French armies, have formed a government.

De Gaulle's first sentence dismisses Pétain and the other military men in his government, who had opposed De Gaulle's military plans before the war. By not even naming them, de Gaulle shows how little he thinks of them.


This government, alleging our armies to be undone, agreed with the enemy to stop fighting.

De Gaulle strikes a defiant note in the second sentence. He does not admit defeat but says that the government "alleges" it. He also suggests that the government has done something treacherous in agreeing "with the enemy." His opening words put him squarely in opposition to the acting French government.


Infinitely more than their number, it was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans which made us retreat.

De Gaulle absolves French soldiers from any blame for the German victory. The Germans' mechanized might and tactics caused the French defeat—not a lack of valor among the French soldiers. This is a shrewd point to make, as he will end his speech by appealing to those soldiers to keep fighting. De Gaulle needs them to feel capable and confident, not defeated.


... The tactics of the Germans that surprised our leaders to the point to bring them there where they are today.

De Gaulle closes his first paragraph by again censuring the military leaders who rejected his prewar ideas. They were "surprised," which suggests they were inept. That surprise has brought them "where they are today." This phrasing deflects France's predicament. It is not the country that is defeated but its leaders.


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

De Gaulle answers his three rhetorical questions with defiance. Here the speech turns from looking backward to looking forward—and to instilling hope.


Believe me, I speak to you with full knowledge of the facts and tell you that nothing is lost for France.

De Gaulle recognizes that his hopeful words might sound absurd with Germans holding Paris and surrender imminent. By stating "full knowledge of the facts," he is urging the French to trust him.


The same means that overcame us can bring us to a day of victory.

De Gaulle returns to this idea a couple of times in the speech. If Germany won through the force of arms, it can be defeated through the force of arms. He is trying to substantiate his offer of hope with rational argument.


For France is not alone! She is not alone! She is not alone!

De Gaulle uses repetition to emphasize his point. His French listeners, huddled in their homes in defeat, no doubt felt alone. By repeating the point, he tries to make it more convincing.


She has a vast Empire behind her.

De Gaulle's appeal to the French empire initially proved to be too optimistic. While French Equatorial Africa sided with his Free French government, French West Africa aligned with the Pétain regime until 1943. Even worse, French Indochina (consisting of the present-day countries of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam) in Southeast Asia was ceded to Japanese control in late 1940. Thus, no aid could come from Indochina. Nonetheless, support from the colonies would be significant later in the war.


She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of United States. [See earlier query about dropped article here.]

De Gaulle, like the British, relied on U.S. industries to produce the armaments and supplies needed to carry on the war. At the time of this speech, the United States had not entered the war.


This war is not finished by the battle of France. This war is a world-wide war.

De Gaulle puts the fall of France in a broader context. Though "unfortunate," as he says, the loss of France is simply one battle in a larger conflict. It is not the end of the war, but a stage in that war. He is telling the French that they are not defeated. Rather, they have suffered a setback.


Vanquished today by mechanical force, we will be able to overcome in the future by a superior mechanical force.

De Gaulle returns to his theme of hope. We only need enough military power to match and overcome Germany's military power. Other than the one reference to the United States, he does not offer a detailed explanation of where that military power will come from.


All the faults, ... all the suffering, do not prevent there to be ... the necessary means to one day crush our enemies.

Early in the speech, de Gaulle made clear that the "faults" were those of the generals whose poor decisions led to the loss of France. The "suffering" belongs to the French people, but he offers them hope. They merely need the "necessary means" to one day defeat the Germans.


I, General de Gaulle, currently in London, invite the officers and the French soldiers ... to put themselves in contact with me.

Curiously, de Gaulle identifies himself for the first time late in the speech. Since he was calling for the French to rally to him, he needed to say who he was and where he was. Free French forces were few early in the war. By 1944, however, de Gaulle led an army of some 300,000 fighters—including many from the French colonies.


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

De Gaulle concludes with a rousing call to continue the fight against Germany. Resistance cells sprang up throughout France, and guerrilla fighters called the Maquis (French for "underbrush," suggesting their undercover work) fought the German occupation throughout the war.

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