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80 years ago today

Illustration for article titled 80 years ago today

A dude with a big nose and a penchant for silly hats, who Winston Churchill had just plucked out of obscurity over the head of his boss, suggested to the assembled masses of France that they might like to consider not taking their government’s surrender to Germany too seriously.

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The assembled masses weren’t listening, since he was just some junior brigadier-general nobody had ever heard of and he was broadcasting unannounced on the BBC. Amusingly, there is no audio record of the speech, as BBC sound engineers didn’t regard it as important enough to bother: the “De Gaulle’s speech to the Free French” one hears today is a different one he gave 4 days later. But nonetheless this speech is widely regarded as one of the most important in French history: the initial rallying cry of the French Resistance, and the speech that kickstarted De Gaulle’s dominant place in the next 30 years of French history.

Illustration for article titled 80 years ago today

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