Assassination Attempts of French Leader Charles de Gaulle Part 2

About the French leader Charles de Gaulle and history of his numerous assassination attempts.

THE GREAT SURVIVORS

CHARLES DE GAULLE

During his years in power, France experienced a series of economic crises and nationwide strikes of students and workers. Civil war was a threat.

De Gaulle was probably more hated than loved by his countrymen. He antagonized fellow members of the Resistance, members of his own government who opposed him, and members of the French army, whom he dismissed, imprisoned, and even executed. He incurred the wrath of businessmen, bankers, and industrialists who belonged to a nebulous group identified only as "a powerful and wealthy group of Catholics."

A particular irritant was De Gaulle's insistence upon the right of self-determination for the traditionally French colony of Algeria. A National Resistance Council (CNR) was formed in France to work for the preservation of French Algeria. Military men, civil servants, veterans of Indochina, students, and Algerian colonists formed the OAS (Organisation Armee Secrete), a subversive organization pledged to fight for French Algeria.

Neither the OAS nor any other group directed all the assaults upon De Gaulle, however. And if it could be said that they agreed upon any motive, it would be that many Frenchmen believed De Gaulle to be a dangerous dictator whose political policies were leading France to ruin.

Enemies from the Resistance probably fired on De Gaulle in Notre Dame, while "the Old General Staff" is believed to have masterminded the Pont-sur-Seine attempt. And OAS agents were mainly responsible for an attempt upon De Gaulle on Aug. 22, 1962, when--once again--he was driving to Colombey with Madame de Gaulle.

On the Avenue Petit-Clamart, OAS agents stationed cars loaded with sharpshooters armed with submachine guns, grenades and Molotov cocktails. Because the night was dark, however, they failed to see the fast-approaching convoy soon enough to block it off; they could only fire at the Deesse as it passed. With a front tire and its rear window shot out, De Gaulle's car skidded out of control and nearly collided with an oncoming auto, but again chauffeur Marroux righted the Deesse and rocketed to safety.

De Gaulle sustained a small scratch on the finger when he brushed splintered glass off his coat.

The last known attempt to kill the president was made on July 1, 1966, as De Gaulle was driven to Orly Airport to fly to the Soviet Union. A group of students, formerly of the National Resistance Council, planted a car laden with almost a ton of dynamite in the Boulevard Montparnasse within inches of where the president actually passed. The dynamite was never detonated, however, because the young students were arrested the night before following a robbery attempt they had staged to raise money to disappear abroad.

Charles de Gaulle died of a heart attack at 7:25 P.M. on Monday, Nov. 9, 1970, while sitting in his armchair at La Boisserie watching television.

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