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Sunday, 18 June, 2000, 20:59 GMT 21:59 UK
France honours de Gaulle
Chirac opening museum
President Chirac: Not complacent about World War ll
By James Coomarasamy in Paris

President Chirac has opened a new museum dedicated to World War II to mark the 60th anniversary of General de Gaulle's wartime appeal to the French nation.

The general's radio address, broadcast from BBC studios in London, called on France to resist the Nazi occupation and went down in history as marking the start of the country's wartime resistance.

deGaulle
De Gaulle broadcast his message from BBC studios in London

The new museum is located in Les Invalides, the huge complex in the centre of Paris which houses France's military museum as well as Napoleon's tomb.

Named after General de Gaulle, it tells the story of the country's experience during WW II, blending the tale of France's resistance fighters with the darker aspects of life under the collaborationist Vichy regime.

Although both sides of the story have been shown before, rarely, if ever, have the glory and shame been given such equal prominence.

Message from London

Opening the museum on Sunday afternoon, President Chirac said it was important for the French people to view the past lucidly, dispassionately, but without complacency.

General de Gaulle's appeal is still alive, he said, 18 June has a place in the history of France.

Charles de Gaulle was a young and unknown exiled under-secretary for war when he broadcast his message from the BBC World Service studios in London.

In it he called for all French people to rise up and fight the Nazi occupiers.

But perhaps the most famous phrase associated with the appeal was never actually broadcast.

France has lost a battle, but France hasn't lost the war, is instead taken from a poster which was printed at the same time.

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