Macron marks 84 years since de Gaulle's call to resist Nazi occupation

Europe ©  AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron is on the Ile-de-Sein in western Brittany to commemorate the historic 18 June 1940 radio broadcast from London by General Charles de Gaulle, who made the "call to resistance and refusal of the spirit of defeat". 

Macron's commemoration of the iconic broadcast from across the English Channel in 1940 comes in the midst of a legislative election campaign in which the far right is in a strong position.

After a traditional ceremony to rekindle a flame at the Mont-Valérien fort outside Paris, the French president travelled in the afternoon to the Ile de Sein – one of the five Order of the Liberation towns along with Nantes, Grenoble, Paris and Vassieux-en-Vercors – to celebrate "what characterises the French spirit of resistance in the face of defeat".

According to the Élysée palace, for General de Gaulle, there was above all else "the profound desire for France to be free, which must enable us to overcome all fears and all defeats".

'No to the spirit of defeat'

The president already used the expression "no to the spirit of defeat" at a press conference on 13 June, during which he sought to justify his decision to dissolve the National Assembly and announce legislaive elections, which plunged the country into uncertainty.

After a week of confusion to forge alliances and nominate candidates, the campaign for the snap elections were called after Macron's failure in the European elections and got underway in France on Monday.

In the late afternoon, Emmanuel Macron presided over a ceremony in front of a war memorial erected in the centre of Ile-de-Sein, where the inhabitants celebrate De Gaulle's call to arms of 18 June every year.

Free French forces

General De Gaulle recognised that the fishermen of Ile-de-Sein played a special role because of their commitment.

Out of 1,400 inhabitants in 1940, 128 sailors from Sein joined the Free French forces.

The youngest was 14 and the oldest 54.
This rapid and massive commitment to the Resistance surprised the general, who, meeting the 450 Frenchmen who had joined him, uttered this famous phrase: "But the island of Sein is a quarter of France!"

Occupied throughout the war, the island was liberated on 4 August 1944. 

General De Gaulle subsequently visited the island twice – once in 1946 to elevate it to the Order of the Liberation and in 1960 to inaugurate the monument.

(with AFP)

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