Charles de Gaulle quotes

Charles de Gaulle was a French army officer and statesman who led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany in World War II and chaired the Provisional Government of the French Republic from 1944 to 1946 in order to reestablish democracy in France.

He was elected as President of France in 1958, a position he was reelected to in 1965 and held until his resignation in 1969.


One does not arrest Voltaire.

The great leaders have always stage-managed their effects.

The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.

Silence is the ultimate weapon of power.

Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.

The leader must aim high, see big, judge widely, thus setting himself apart form the ordinary people who debate in narrow confines.

Only peril can bring the French together. One can’t impose unity out of the blue on a country that has 265 different kinds of cheese.

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

Once upon a time there was an old country, wrapped up in habit and caution. We have to transform our old France into a new country and marry it to its time.

Nothing great will ever be achieved without great men, and men are great only if they are determined to be so.

No nation has friends only interests.

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

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.

To govern is always to choose among disadvantages.

Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses; they last while they last.

We are not here to laugh.

When I am right, I get angry. Churchill gets angry when he is wrong. We are angry at each other much of the time.

When I want to know what France thinks, I ask myself.

You have to be fast on your feet and adaptive or else a strategy is useless.

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.

Old age is a shipwreck.

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

There can be no prestige without mystery, for familiarity breeds contempt.

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

One cannot govern with ‘buts’.

Never relinquish the initiative.

A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.

As an adolescent I was convinced that France would have to go through gigantic trials, that the interest of life consisted in one day rendering her some signal service and that I would have the occasion to do so.

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

Church is the only place where someone speaks to me and I do not have to answer back.

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

Don’t ask me who’s influenced me. A lion is made up of the lambs he’s digested, and I’ve been reading all my life.

Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own.

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

France cannot be France without greatness.

France has lost the battle but she has not lost the war.

Greatness is a road leading towards the unknown.

Hearing Mass is the ceremony I most favor during my travels. Church is the only place where someone speaks to me and I do not have to answer back.

In the tumult of men and events, solitude was my temptation; now it is my friend. What other satisfaction can be sought once you have confronted History?

China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese.

How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?

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

A great country worthy of the name does not have any friends.

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

It is not tolerable, it is not possible, that from so much death, so much sacrifice and ruin, so much heroism, a greater and better humanity shall not emerge.

I was France.

I respect only those who resist me, but I cannot tolerate them.

I might have had trouble saving France in 1946 – I didn’t have television then.

I have tried to lift France out of the mud. But she will return to her errors and vomitings. I cannot prevent the French from being French.

I have heard your views. They do not harmonize with mine. The decision is taken unanimously.

I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.

I have against me the bourgeois, the military and the diplomats, and for me, only the people who take the Metro.

I grew up to always respect authority and respect those in charge.