Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman. He was the leader of Free France and the head of the Provisional Government of the French Republic. In 1958, he founded the Fifth Republic and was elected as the President of France, a position he held until his resignation in 1969. He was the dominant figure of France during the Cold War era and his memory continues to influence French politics.
Born in Lille, he graduated from Saint-Cyr in 1912. He was a decorated officer of the First World War, wounded several times, and later taken prisoner at Verdun. During the interwar period, he advocated mobile armoured divisions. During the German invasion of May 1940, he led an armoured division which counterattacked the invaders; he was then appointed Under-Secretary for War. Refusing to accept his government's armistice with Nazi Germany, de Gaulle exhorted the French population to resist occupation and to continue the fight in his Appeal of 18 June. He led a government in exile and the Free French Forces against the Axis. Despite frosty relations with Britain and especially the United States, he emerged as the undisputed leader of the French resistance.