In September, the new Constitution was approved in France by referendum 1958.
This moment can be considered the beginning of the Fifth French Republic - a political system that still exists today. Its creator is the legendary General Charles de Gaulle.
And we devote today's material to little-known events connected with his coming to power. Strangely enough, but between them and the modern orange revolutions there is much in common.
"The events of 1958 in France in many ways were like a coup," argued Edward Luttvak, adviser to Ronald Reagan. Agree, it sounds unusual. In public consciousness, coups are not associated with the economically developed countries of Europe.
Of course, everyone knows that monarchs were overthrown in France more than once, but that was a long time ago. And so that in the second half of the 20th century, and so that Charles de Gaulle himself suddenly turned out to be a coup, this is perceived with disbelief.
Nevertheless, Luttvak is a professional and will not throw words to the wind. So let's take a closer look at how the symbol of the French Resistance became president of the country. And Arzakanyan’s de Gaulle and gollist on the road to power will help us in this.
So, in 1944, de Gaulle took the post of Chairman of the Council of Ministers of France, but already in 1946, he loses power, but does not sit with folded arms, and soon he creates the party “Union of French People”.
De Gaulle relies on participation in parliamentary elections. But even in the best of times, in 1951, the party loses to the Communists, gaining only 21,6% of the votes. In 1953, a new failure follows - 10% in the municipal elections, and the dissolution of the party. De Gaulle retires to his estate in Champagne, where he spends several years in self-exile, waiting in the wings. And this time has struck in 1958 year.
But in order to deal with the circumstances of de Gaulle's triumphant return to power, one must turn to prehistory.
The French policy of the mid-20th century was firmly tied to the so-called “Algerian question”. Algeria was occupied by France back in the 1830 year, and for many years Paris pursued a policy of “alienating” this country. As a result, by the 50 years of the 20th century, a huge French community lived in Algeria. Of the 9,5 million population of Algeria, 1 million are from Europe and their descendants.
The status of Algeria was also special, it was not considered a colony, but rather was viewed as a continuation of continental France. Therefore, when, in 1954, the Front for the National Liberation of Algeria (TNF) launched a war of independence, the French considered this to be a separatist rebellion and decided to suppress it by all means. At the same time, a number of politicians in France believed that it was necessary not only to crack down on the rebels, but also to stimulate the further integration of Algeria within France.
However, neither the negotiations nor the repressive measures could not solve the "Algerian question" in the sense that Paris dreamed of. The independence movement was growing stronger, and the French leadership was increasingly confused. Short-lived offices replaced each other, the war dragged on, devouring huge funds and human lives, and there was no “positive” result.
The actions of the authorities increasingly irritated the army, in which they began to believe that with such leadership and with such a political system, victory was completely unattainable. Not an endless parliamentary talk room, not weak ministers, but only a strong personality, vested with considerable powers, can lead to success. This idea was getting more and more supporters.
The Gaullists, among whom was the former resident minister (governor-general) of Algeria, Jacques Soustel, launched an extensive propaganda campaign for de Gaulle’s return to power.
It is believed that de Gaulle himself treated all this with a great deal of indifference. Yes, almost all the time he lived far from Paris, wrote memoirs, treated shaky health. Nevertheless, he did not forget to visit the capital and there he continued to communicate with his supporters. It is hard to believe that such an ambitious politician, who, at the first opportunity, took the post of head of state, suddenly fell into apathy. Rather, his demonstrative indifference was a fine game. He simply waited for "the people to ask him for the kingdom." And then he triumphantly sits in the presidential chair "to fulfill the will of the people."
The true intentions of an elderly general can be judged by a very eloquent phrase, which he said to his colleague Michel Debre in 1958 in the year: “That we will have this contract, we will take it and break it when we return to power”. It was about agreements to create a common market.
We note two important points. The first one: the old comrade de Gaulle, a member of the anti-fascist Resistance of Shaban-Delmas, was the defense minister at the time. It was on his initiative that the official representatives of the Ministry of Defense in Algeria appointed two goalis - Leon Delbeck and Lucien Neivirt.
Second, the main and most combat-ready units of the French army were then in Algeria, and not at all in Europe. Delbeck constantly tossed between Algeria and Paris, reporting to the comrades on the results of their activities, and he spread his activities, frankly speaking, vigorous.
Arriving in Algeria, Delbeck quickly established contact with key organizations that advocated the unity of Algeria and France. He did not disdain to communicate with leaders of radical right-wing radicals who dreamed of a leader at the head of France. And of course, in the sphere of his interests there was also propaganda among the highest military leadership of the French contingent in Algeria. Local generals continued to be consistent supporters of a decisive struggle against the "separatists".
Not only Delbeck, but other gollists also acted very actively. They launched a powerful propaganda, and the wording of their slogans became more radical. Phrases about the “government of salvation,” typical of a revolutionary situation, and even calls for insurrection appeared. De Gaulle himself was aware of all the events. He was especially interested in how the “processing” of the generals was going on, and in a narrow circle of comrades-in-arms he no longer concealed that he was ready to return to power if the people and the army called him back.
In the spring of 1958, a government crisis began in France. The old cabinet resigned, but the new one could not be formed. The parties each took upon themselves the blanket, the coalition government did not develop, and under these conditions, Delbeck met with Army High Commander Paul Eli. The conversation turned to de Gaulle’s return to power, and it became clear that Eli had nothing against it.
Pay attention: de Gaulle does not occupy any official post at that moment, does not have any noticeable faction in parliament, lost the elections, and nevertheless his candidacy is discussed at the top as one of the most probable and acceptable. Is there any reason to say that his return to the pinnacle of power is the fulfillment of the will of the people? At least such grounds are very doubtful.
After long approvals, on May 12 of 1958, the list of Cabinet ministers was still formed, and it remained to be approved by the parliament. On the same day, Delbeck rushed by plane to Algeria. He was in a hurry to act - after all, on May 13, the deputies will vote for the new prime minister. The results of Delbek's activity can be judged by what happened next.
On May 13, a crowd of supporters of "French Algeria" rushed to storm the local administration building. The slogan of the protesters: "On the assault, against the rotten regime!". With the help of a truck (do you remember the bulldozer from the “Maidan”?), The rioters knocked out the gates, broke into the building and started smashing anything.
The commander of the parachute division, General Massu, addressed the protesters with the question: “What do you want?”. “The Committee of Public Safety,” answered Lagayard, the leader of the crowd, the head of the Association of French Students of Algeria. “Write the list,” said the general. Agree, somehow very quickly, he agreed with the demands of the protesters.
Massu - a military officer, he was not afraid of bullets and death, and then suddenly frightened by a motley crowd? What kind of threat were the mob? Yes, no. I would have woken up, made some noise and went away empty-handed. But no, they are very quickly joined by the general of the parachute division. The fact that the division is a parachute is a very important stroke. This is a mobile unit that can instantly be in Paris and disembark where necessary.
Massu, having received the list of candidates, entered himself as the leader of the “Rescue Committee”, and moreover, he added three more colonels to his committee, his subordinates. Then, as the head of the rebels, Massu sent a telegram to the President, in which he demanded the creation of a government public salvation, not forgetting to inform the authorities about the creation of a military-civilian committee in Algeria.
When they found out about this in parliament, the factions immediately quarreled. The rightists were noisy and the leftists loudly called them fascists. It is characteristic that the approval of the prime minister’s candidacy and the composition of his Cabinet was just going on in parliament. In an extremely nervous situation, the deputies supported Pflimlin’s candidacy as prime minister.
It would seem that Pflimlin will begin to vigorously oppose the rebels, but it was not there. He went to sleep, and asked not to wake up in any case. That is, withdrew from action. Something like we have already seen somewhere, is not it? To this it is worth adding that the commander-in-chief of the French army, Paul Eli, forbade shooting at those who rallied in Algeria. Meanwhile, Delbeck entered the Rescue Committee on the Rights of the Deputy Massu.
It is believed that upon learning of the appearance of the new prime minister, the members of the Committee were confused and did not know what to do. And it was only at this moment that Delbeck suggested that Massu call de Gaulle to the kingdom.
It is hard to believe. When planning a rebellion, the roles are distributed in advance. One can believe in the spontaneous actions of an unorganized crowd, and even then, only if it concerns a primitive pogrom. But it is impossible to imagine that combat generals, cold-blooded professionals, simply confine themselves to a telegram to Paris and will not lose in advance in their head possible scenarios. I am convinced that the rebels from the very beginning planned to bet on de Gaulle.
Be that as it may, the Committee issued an appeal to de Gaulle to convene a government of public salvation. And the commander-in-chief of all French forces in Algeria, General Salana, sent a telegram to the president stating "the need to appeal to the national arbiter in order to form a government of public salvation."
14 in May in Algeria held a press conference for Mass and Delbeck, at which it was announced that the Committee did not recognize the government in Paris. May 15 - General Salana, in front of the crowd gathered outside the administration building, announced that he fully supported the Committee’s actions, and added “Long live de Gaulle!”.
And what about the hero of the occasion? He hid behind the curtain for a long time, but now it’s time to go on stage. Now that the necessary camouflage has been created, when already “they are asking to save his beloved France,” de Gaulle graciously agrees to take the helm of the state in his hands.
19 May at a press conference de Gaulle gives a positive assessment of the actions of the military in Algeria and announces his desire to receive extraordinary powers to form his cabinet. No more no less! However, the government of Pflimlin is still in power, and de Gaulle, anyway, but just a private person. And once more to help de Gaulle Delbeck and his comrades organize another rebellion, but already in Corsica, capturing 25 in May all the cities on the island. And besides, the Algerian military drew up a plan for the landing of paratroopers from Paris in order to seize power by force.
In the political establishment of France more and more inclined to the idea that the future was for de Gaulle. Representatives of various political movements reached out to him, and 28 May Pfmylen resigned. Francois Mitterrand and a number of other leaders of the left parties tried to resist de Gaulle's coming to power. They went to a rally under the slogan "Fascism will not pass," but late. Soon the President of the Republic, René Coty, declared that he was proposing that de Gaulle form a government.
30 May all key parties in the country, with the exception of the Communist, supported de Gaulle.
2 June in a conversation with Delbeck de Gaulle gave himself out, saying a very important thing: “You played well, but admit that I, too,”. Everything is clear, from the very beginning the old fox tugged at the strings, controlling the process.
And I must pay tribute to de Gaulle. He was able to camouflage a banal coup so brilliantly wrapped up that until now not every political scientist would decide to call de Gaulle a coup leader.