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Defiant De Gaulle War Broadcast Remembered

A French General (L) gives a helping hand to a British World War II veteran (C) ahead of a parade in front of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British PM David Cameron in London, 18 Jun 2010
A French General (L) gives a helping hand to a British World War II veteran (C) ahead of a parade in front of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British PM David Cameron in London, 18 Jun 2010

June 18, 2010

(VOA)  Seventy years to the day, Charles de Gaulle’s historic broadcast signaling the beginning of the French Resistance movement during World War II was remembered.  On June 18, 1940,  Mr. de Gaulle opened his microphone in London in a radio transmission sent to occupied France.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy traveled to Britain to mark the anniversary.

History was remembered Friday at the building housing the radio headquarters of the BBC in central London.  It was there, at Broadcasting House, on this date in 1940 that General de Gaulle fired an opening verbal salvo against the Nazis, when he urged his fellow countrymen and women to resist their German occupiers.

Using emotive language, the general said, “Whatever happens, the flame of the French Resistance must not and will not be extinguished.”

Mr. De Gaulle had just escaped from France with some of his men, and they knew a long, difficult road lay ahead.

Remembering those tough days, French President Sarkozy and his wife, Carla, visited the very studio where Mr. de Gaulle uttered his words.

Mr. Sarkozy expressed his eternal gratitude to the British.

The French president then moved on to a wreath-laying ceremony at the location where Mr. de Gaulle coordinated the resistance from his wartime offices. Mr. Sarkozy was joined by Prince Charles.

Mr. Sarkozy also held talks with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, who said the general’s speech had everything to do with one word: hope.

“Seventy years ago, when darkness was creeping across our continent, when the shadow of tyranny was stretching over France, a flame of hope was lit, not very far from here by General de Gaulle,” said Cameron.

In addition to the sense of history, Mr. Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron also discussed the pressing issues of the day over lunch at 10 Downing Street, including shared priorities over defense and a unified approach to the tough economic climate.

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