Originally unveiled in 2005 by the French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, May 15th marks the 18th birthday of Warsaw’s Charles de Gaulle statue.
Cast from bronze in Bielsko-Biała, it was copied on a Jean Cardot sculpture that debuted in Paris five years before. Four metres in height, and depicting the Frenchman striding briskly towards Nowy Świat, the location was by no means incidental: it was down this route that the Frenchman would walk, not least to pick-up a bag of doughnuts from the Blikle confectionary.
First stationed in Warsaw between April 1919 and May 1920, de Gaulle returned for a second stint shortly thereafter that lasted from June 1920 to January 1921. Tasked with training officers for the Polish Army, de Gaulle found himself based largely at a cadet school in Rembertów.
Later, as the Red Army poured towards Warsaw during the Polish-Soviet War, de Gaulle joined the Southern Front to serve as an advisor to General Rydz-Śmigły.
A staunch friend of Poland, de Gaulle condemned the 1944 Yalta Conference which essentially handed the country over to the mercy of Stalin. When he revisited in 1967, he reiterated his support for a free Poland.
Costing PLN 1.2 million, and funded by French investors active on the Polish market, the de Gaulle monument is a fitting tribute to one of the country’s most faithful allies.
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