Part 1: The Debate in Every Person: to Have More Feeling or Less?

Part 2: A Feeling for People When It Was Needed Most
Part 3: The Desire to Have Good Will Makes for More Feeling

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A Feeling for People When It Was Needed Most

Beginning in 1938, the Nazis moved through Europe, grabbing Czechoslovakia, sweeping through Poland, then Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and finally France, where in just a matter of weeks the French defenses crumbled.  Only the armored division under the command of De Gaulle showed any meaningful resistance.  Elevated to a cabinet position, De Gaulle passionately argued that the government be moved to French Algeria to continue the fight.  There were also negotiations he was part of, for a possible merger with England, when the French government, in the town of Vichy, secretly negotiated an armistice with Germany, in actuality, a surrender.  Imagine the feeling of Frenchmen as the land of Joan of Arc, Napoleon, Balzac, Victor Hugo, was literally handed over to the Fascists. 

      For Charles De Gaulle, this was unthinkable.  After arranging escape from France for his wife and children, he himself just managed to make it to England.  On a sunny June afternoon, 1940 this mostly unknown two-star French General appeared at 10 Downing Street and was greeted warmly by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. 

     Churchill arranged for De Gaulle to speak to his defeated nation via the BBC.  In The Right Of, Mr. Siegel wrote, "The emotion...which all people hope for arises from one's having been honest about the world." That night French men and women heard De Gaulle say:

    Speaking in full knowledge of the facts, I ask you to believe me when I say that the cause of France is not lost....The destiny of the world is at stake. I, General De Gaulle, now in London, call on all French officers and men who are at present on British soil, or may be in the future...to get in touch with me....the fight is not over, the cause is not given up....Whatever happens, the flame of French resistance must not and shall not die.
       Brought up in an ultra-conservative military family, De Gaulle was moved that those responding to his call came mostly from the working class.  He said:
    They were the ones risking their lives.  This had a profound impression on me and made me alter my opinions.
As Mr. Siegel said, "Every time a person felt something...there was knowledge." De Gaulle was learning about people--who he could really count on--and it made for more feeling in him. 

       For the next months and years, he worked to establish the Free French as a fighting force, and they contributed importantly to the victory over the Nazis in North Africa.  He had to fight for respect from Churchill whom he felt looked down on his defeated country, and wasn't happy that De Gaulle was friendly to the Soviet Union.  De Gaulle had a big feeling about how the Red Army fought the Nazis, and memorized all the aspects of the Battle of Stalingrad, that great battle in the fall and winter of 1942 and 43', which most people still do not know, was the turning point of the war.

       In four years under the Nazis, thousands of French were executed, hundreds of thousands of French Jews were sent to concentration camps.  So imagine the feeling that day in late August, 1944 as De Gaulle's top unit--the 2nd Armored Division of Brigadier Jacques Leclerc--which had fought all the way from central Africa, entered Paris, routing the last Nazi holdouts; and then the following day as De Gaulle himself walked with the people of Paris to the Arc de Triomphe.  Writes biographer Stanley Clark:

    Almost everyone in tears... Paris had never seen a greater crowd in one small area....Charles De GaulleMore than two million people were in the streets, and for once there was a trace of pride in the way in which De Gaulle looked over that sea of eager faces and reached out as if to grasp all the millions of hands stretched out in gratitude towards him.





Is More Feeling Tough or Weak?

In the Aesthetic Realism lesson I've been quoting from, Mr. Siegel said:

    when people show more [feeling] than they want to show, they can regret it...Are you sure it is the tough thing in you, or the weak thing?
           I feel that as De Gaulle had his largest feelings, he did not think he was strong.  At the liberation celebration he was cruelly grudging about the crucial role resistance fighters within France had played in defeating the Nazis.  He hardly recognized them, saying brusquely that they should now see themselves as part of the French army, nothing more. This was terrifically unjust.  Of the resistance fighters, Mr. Siegel wrote in an issue of The Right Of:
    Some of the best French men and women were in that.  The history of the resistance has never been fully written; some of the feelings had then can hardly be understood. 
I think De Gaulle did not want to understand those feelings--what they endured and were hoping for. Years later, shortly before his death, he showed he was against himself for this, saying of the resistance--"too little had been [reported] of how they fought and how they died."

Part 3 and conclusion 

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2014 Michael Palmer

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