“The objects of Free France” Speech delivered at a Meeting organized by Les Français de Grande-Bretagne
The traveller climbing a hill pauses from time to time to gauge the distance covered and take his bearings. In the same way, we thought it well to meet today in response to the moving invitation of the Français de Grande-Bretagne, to fortify ourselves with this concrete evidence of our unity and gather strength to go forward on the hard path of war in our country’s cause. This will be easy, because, despite the tumult of war, we now realize more clearly than ever what we are and what we are fighting for. We are confident that the path we have chosen is the best for France.
What are we ? The answer is simple. Seventeen months ago, all but one day, the question arose and was answered. We are Frenchmen drawn from every walk of life and from every party, who have decided to join forces and fight for our country. Each one of us has taken this step of his own free will, acting quite simply and without any mental reservations. It would, I think, be unfitting to dwell here on the sacrifices and sufferings this has meant for all. Each one of us alone knows in his secret heart what it has cost him. But it is from our self-denial, just as much as from our unity, that we draw our strength. From these embers has leapt a steady flame, burning brighter and higher day by day. It is the flame that burns in the spirit of France, the flame that tempers our strength.
We have obeyed the call of France. In that hour of disaster and despair when our world seemed to come crashing down, the question which had to be answered was whether our great and noble country, delivered to the enemy by an act of the blackest treachery in all history, would find among her sons men bold enough to raise her standards from the dust. The question was whether an unimpaired Empire of sixty million inhabitants would play any part in this struggle for the life or death of France. The question was whether any single belligerent part of our territories would remain at the side of our brave Allies who continued to fight for their salvation and our own. The question was whether France would be silenced for ever or, worse still, whether the world would think it recognized her voice in the execrable imitation given by traitors and foes.
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On June 18, 1940, at 19:00, de Gaulle’s voice was broadcast nationwide, saying:
This monument commemorates those who passed through Jersey in response to the appeal.”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 airplanes, the tactics of the Germans which are causing us to retreat. It was the tanks, the airplanes, 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 worldwide 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.
“Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished. Tomorrow, as today, I will speak on the Radio from London.
Source: The Appeal of 18th June – Charles de Gaulle
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