Charles De Gaulle
French statesman and military leader Charles de Gaulle served with distinction in World War I. He was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1916. At the start of World War II, de Gaulle commanded a French armored division and led one of the few successful attacks against the Germans. In June of 1940, he fled to London where he established the Free French Forces. In 1943, he organized the provisional government in Algeria. After the liberation of France, de Gaulle was elected President of the 4th Republic, but resigned after failing to receive sufficient executive power.
In 1958, he was elected President of France. Under his leadership, France withdrew from Algeria, despite strong opposition among Frenchmen. De Gaulle pursued foreign policies that often caused friction with the United States. In 1966, he withdrew France from NATO. He resigned in 1969.