Churchill and de Gaulle

Churchill and de Gaulle

I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. – Winston Churchill

How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese? – Charles de Gaulle

We all know these and other famous quotes by Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, two very important men of the 20th century, but who were these men?

Left: Winston Churchill aged 7 in 1881 © Curtis Brown Right: Charles de Gaulle aged 7 in 1897 © Archives de Gaulle, Paris, France / Bridgeman Images
Left: Winston Churchill aged 7 in 1881 © Curtis Brown
Right: Charles de Gaulle aged 7 in 1897 © Archives de Gaulle, Paris, France / Bridgeman Images

Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle are now the subjects of an exhibition at the Musée de l’Armée (Invalides) in Paris. This exhibition is part of a double commemoration: the 70th anniversary of the liberation of France and the victory over Nazism, and also the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill. It is an homage to two major figures of the Second World War, and a way to discover the public and private aspects of these extraordinary personalities who were servicemen and politicians, writers, orators and even, in Churchill’s case, journalist and painter. The intersecting paths of these major figures will be explored through objects, paintings, uniforms and archives, some of which are previously unpublished. A set of multimedia devices designed for the exhibition will reconstitute the military and historic context. The exhibition follows a chronological route, starting in 1874, the year of Churchill’s birth, and ending in 1970, when Charles de Gaulle died, exploring moments in their lives and careers that are often unknown to the public.

The exhibit present the two men’s births, childhoods, youths and choice of careers, their experiences in the First World War, their political and strategic positions between the wars, and finally the meeting between the two men on 9 June 1940. The exhibition explores the worlds of these two extraordinary personalities, who went through the testing times of the Second World War together. Their sometimes cordial, sometimes conflictual and stormy relationship is described through different episodes of the war, a dramatic period which they both relate in their respective war memoirs. Visitors then explore  post-war events, from the Cold War to the construction of the European Community.

She shone for me like the Evening Star. I loved her dearly – but at a distance. — Winston Churchill, My Early Life, about his mother

My father, a thoughtful, cultured and traditional man was imbued with a sense of the dignity of France. — Charles de Gaulle, War memoirs

As for previous Musée de l’Armée exhibitions special attention has been paid to making this show accessisble and interesting for young people. There are interactive and special panels punctuate the exhibition so that children, from 9 years old, can explore the major themes relating to Churchill and de Gaulle. Thus they will the keys to discover and decipher the objects, posters or archives displayed. Plus, there is a game booklet downloadable from the website.

In November 1958, de Gaulle gives Churchill the Cross of the Liberation at Hôtel Matignon © Musée de l’ordre de la Libération
In November 1958, de Gaulle gives Churchill the Cross of the Liberation at Hôtel Matignon © Musée de l’ordre de la Libération

Musée de l’Armée, Hôtel des Invalides
129 rue de Grenelle, Paris 7e
(+33)1 44 42 38 77
Disabled access: 6 boulevard des Invalides
churchill-degaulle.com

Until 26 July 2015

Open every day from 10am to 6pm, and on Tuesday evenings until 9pm (except 14 July). Tickets can be purchased online or at the museum.