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Quotes of the day: Charles de Gaulle

Published Saturday, November 08, 2014 @ 8:24 PM EST
Nov 08 2014

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (November 22, 1890 - November 9, 1970) was the dominant military and political leader of France for much of the period from 1940-1969. Refusing to accept his government's armistice with the German invaders in 1940, he set up his base in London, proclaimed himself the incarnation of France, and created the Free French movement. During the war he rallied the overseas colonies (especially in Africa), organized the Resistance from abroad, and struggled to gain full recognition from the British and Americans. A firm proponent of democracy, he became the leader of the Provisional Government of France following its liberation in 1944 and destroyed the vestiges of the authoritarian Vichy regime. He retired from office in 1946, but returned in 1958 as France verged on civil war over the Algerian crisis. As president (1958-69) during the new Fifth Republic, he revised the constitution to provide for presidential control of foreign and military policy, granted independence to Algeria and the African colonies, stabilized politics, and restored the nation's economic health. Forging a close bond with West Germany, he sought to dominate the European Common Market by vetoing British entry and keeping the United States at arms' length. Exhausted politically and emotionally, he finally left office in 1969. His reputation as the strongest and greatest of French leaders since Napoleon continues into the 21st century. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


At the root of our civilization, there is the freedom of each person of thought, of belief, of opinion, of work, of leisure.

Authority doesn't work without prestige, or prestige without distance.

Character is the virtue of hard times.

Deliberation is the work of many men. Action, of one alone.

Diplomats are useful only in fair weather. As soon as it rains they drown in every drop.

For glory gives herself only to those who have always dreamed of her.

France has no friends, only interests.

Greatness is a road leading towards the unknown.

How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?

I respect those who resist me; but I cannot tolerate them.

In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.

In politics it is necessary either to betray one's country or the electorate. I prefer to betray the electorate.

It is better to have a bad method than to have none.

Let us be firm, pure and faithful; at the end of our sorrow, there is the greatest glory of the world, that of the men who did not give in.

Men can have friends, statesmen cannot.

No country without an atom bomb could properly consider itself independent.

No policy is worth anything outside of reality.

Nothing great is done without great men, and they are great because they wanted it.

Old age is a shipwreck.

Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.

People get the history they deserve.

Silence is the ultimate weapon of power.

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is always astonished when others do.

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

The sword is the axis of the world and its power is absolute.

The true statesman is the one who is willing to take risks.

Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.

You may be sure that the Americans will commit all the stupidities they can think of, plus some that are beyond imagination.

You start out giving your hat, then you give your coat, then your shirt, then your skin and finally your soul.

You'll live. Only the best get killed.


(November 9 is also the birthday of Carl Sagan and Sargent Shriver.)

Categories: Charles de Gaulle, Quotes of the day


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