Appeal of June 18
The Appeal of June 18 was a famous speech by Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the Free French Forces, during World War II. The appeal is the origin of the French Resistance to the German occupation. De Gaulle spoke to the French people from London after the fall of France to Nazi Germany. He declared the war for France was not yet over, and rallied the country in support of the Resistance. It is one of the most important speeches in all of French history.
General de Gaulle was the de facto leader of the Free French Forces which had escaped to London in World War II. Marshall Henri Philippe Pétain, a hero of World War I, had signed an armistice (agreement to end fighting) with the invading forces of Nazi Germany, and led the Nazi-collaborating government of Vichy France in the south. The Nazis had occupied the north of France. De Gaulle was opposed to surrender and had left France on June 15, 1940 when Pétain did so. Three days later, de Gaulle obtained special permission from Winston Churchill to broadcast a speech via BBC Radio over France, despite the British Cabinet's efforts to block the broadcast. In the speech, de Gaulle reminded the French people that the British Empire and the United States of America would support them in an effort to retake their land from the Nazis. On June 18, 1940, at 7:00 PM, de Gaulle's voice was broadcast nationwide, saying:
- "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 not must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished. Tomorrow, as today, I will speak on Radio London."