It is a truly wonderful coincidence that the Government of the Republic should arrive at the heroic and destroyed Bethune, at the very moment when the last bombs of the World War are falling on the fields of death in the Pacific. The last bombs? Yes, but the most terrible of all. It is high time that the immense destruction of lives and property, which was unleashed by madness for imperial domination, should terminate in total victory for freedom. For a long time we have been amongst the unluckiest in Europe and in Asia in the gigantic drama which is about to come to an end, because we were at first among the most exposed to invasion. We shall remain amongst those who have suffered the most, for it is our destiny to be ever at the centre of cataclysms. We have come forth from the storm decimated and impoverished.
Speech made by General de Gaulle at Bethune on August 11 1945, from War Memoirs, Salvation 1944-1946 by Charles de Gaulle (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1960).
Paris Post War: Art and Existentialism 1945-55 at the Tate Gallery until
5 September. Sponsored by the Independent and supported by the French
Embassy in London.