De Gaulle truth played down?





A LEADING World War II historian has warned against manipulating history as France this week commemorates 70 years since Charles de Gaulle made his stirring appeal to resist Nazism.

Jean-Pierre Azema, author of more than a dozen works, said he was worried that some truths about France's wartime past were being played down amid the surge of patriotism around De Gaulle's June 18 appeal from London.

'History is being used as a political tool in a kind of national story-telling,' Mr Azema told AFP in an interview. The French did not then regard De Gaulle as the national hero he subsequently became, he pointed out. Dozens of conferences, exhibitions and film screenings are being held in schools, memorial sites and town halls across France this week to remember De Gaulle's appeal broadcast on BBC radio. 'Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not and will not be extinguished,' De Gaulle said, a day after Marechal Philippe Petain had announced plans for an armistice with the German invaders....

'De Gaulle then was seen as an emigrant, a divisive figure who had left France,' said M Azema. 'The man of the hour was Petain,' a World War I hero whom history would remember as a collaborationist....


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