The Appeal of 18 June (French: L'Appel du 18 juin) was a speech by Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the Free French Forces, in 1940. The appeal is often considered to be the origin of the French Resistance to the German occupation during World War II. De Gaulle spoke to the French people from London after the fall of France. He declared that the war for France was not yet over, and rallied the country in support of the Resistance. It is regarded as one of the most important speeches in French history.
In spite of its reputation as the beginning of the Resistance and Free French, historians have shown that the appeal was heard only by a minority of French people. De Gaulle's 22 June 1940 speech on the BBC was more widely heard.
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. 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 the 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.: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. 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, and few actually heard it. Another speech, which was recorded and heard by more people, was given by de Gaulle four days later. There is a record, however, of the manuscript of the speech of 18 June, 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, has been classed on 18 June 2005, by the UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme.
Translation of the speech
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On 18 June 1940, at 19:00 (GMT), de Gaulle's voice was broadcast nationwide, saying in French (author. translation):
The leaders who, for many years, have been at the head of the French armies have formed a government. This government, alleging the defeat of our armies, has made contact with the enemy in order to stop the fighting. It is true, we were, we are, overwhelmed by the mechanical, ground and air forces of the enemy. Infinitely more than their number, it is the tanks, the aeroplanes, the tactics of the Germans which are causing us to retreat. It was the tanks, the aeroplanes, the tactics of the Germans that surprised our leaders to the point of bringing them to where they are today.
But has the last word been said? Must hope disappear? Is defeat final? No!
Believe me, I who am speaking to you with full knowledge of the facts, and who tell you that nothing is lost for France. The same means that overcame us can bring us victory one day. 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 the United States.
This war is not limited to the unfortunate territory of our country. This war is not over as a result of the Battle of France. This war is a world war. All the mistakes, all the delays, all the suffering, do not alter the fact that there are, in the world, all the means necessary to crush our enemies one day. Vanquished today by mechanical force, in the future we will be able to overcome by a superior mechanical force. The fate of the world depends on it.
I, General de Gaulle, currently in London, invite the officers and the French soldiers who are located in British territory or who might end up here, with their weapons or without their weapons, I invite the engineers and the specialised workers of the armament industries who are located in British territory or who might end up here, to put themselves in contact with me.
Reception and influence
Although de Gaulle's speech on 18 June 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 given by an obscure brigadier general only recently appointed as a junior minister. Consequently, of the 10,000 French citizens in Britain, only 300 volunteered and 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. Despite this, de Gaulle's speech was undeniably influential and provided motivation for the people of France and for the oppressed of the rest of Europe.:226
The themes of the speech would be reused throughout the war as a means of inspiring French people to resist German occupation. Four days later, de Gaulle delivered a speech which largely reiterated the points made in his 18 June speech, and this was heard by a larger audience in France. The content of the 22 June speech is often confused for that of 18 June. 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). Variations of this poster would be produced and displayed in Africa, South America and France itself over the course of the war.
- L'Appel du 18 juin ‹See Tfd›(in French)
- 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.
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- The Guardian, "A Mesmerising Oratory", 29 April 2007.
- L'Appel du 22 juin 1940 Archived 6 June 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Charles de Gaulle.org (website of the Fondation Charles de Gaulle)
- "Appel du 22 Juin – Wikisource". fr.wikisource.org. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- "Memory of the World Register: The Appeal of 18 June 1940" (PDF). UNESCO. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- "Appel du 18 Juin – Wikisource". fr.wikisource.org. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- Text of the speech in English The Lehrman Institute
- "L'Appel du 22 juin 1940 - charles-de-gaulle.org". www.charles-de-gaulle.org. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- "L'affiche "à tous les Français" ayant suivi l'appel du 18 juin - charles-de-gaulle.org". www.charles-de-gaulle.org. Archived from the original on 18 June 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
- 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.
- "70th anniversary of the appeal of 18 June". European Commission. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- The Appeal of 18 June – Official French website (in English)