Tomb of French national hero General Charles de Gaulle vandalised

The simple grave draws tens of thousands of visitors each year

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 May, 2017, 4:08pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 May, 2017, 4:08pm

Vandals have damaged the tomb of General Charles de Gaulle, leader of France’s resistance to Nazi occupation during the second world war and founder of the Fifth Republic.

The municipal authority of Colombey, in the east of France where the tomb is situated, said on its Twitter account that the act of vandalism had taken place on Saturday evening and that an inquiry was underway.

The site is under round-the-clock video surveillance, Frederic Nahon, the public prosecutor in the town of Chaumont, said.

No arrests have been made. However, police said a man who was believed to be aged in his thirties stepped onto the grave and kicked the base of a 1.5-metre-high stone cross at its head, causing the cross to topple over and break, they said.

The gravestone itself was undamaged, they said.

France Info radio quoted local mayor Pascal Babouot as saying he did not think there was a political motive behind the act, but it drew swift condemnation from politicians.

“Shame on those who vandalised General de Gaulle’s tomb. It has dealt a blow to my patriotic heart,” said French budget minister Gerald Darmanin on his Twitter account.

De Gaulle was a towering figure of 20th century French history, leading the nation’s resistance to Nazi occupation in the second world war, putting an end to its colonial war in Algeria in 1962 and serving as France’s president for a decade until 1969.

He founded France’s Fifth Republic, which granted the president sweeping powers, and set a distinctive foreign policy that rejected the concept of US and Soviet world domination, giving the French an independent voice on the world stage.

De Gaulle died in 1970 shortly before his 80th birthday. He is buried next to his wife Yvonne and daughter Anne.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters