At the time of the German invasion of France in 1940, de Gaulle showed some strategic brilliance in command of an armored unit, but could not avoid being defeated before the advance of the German "blitzkrieg". In that moment of defeat, however, he won the double personal victory to advance to general and access to a first place in government (Undersecretary of War) by his friendship with the new Prime Minister Reynaud. Nothing could do in that post since the defeat dragged the fall of the government Reynaud and his successor, Petain, hastened to make peace with Hitler and accept the German occupation of most of France, setting the rest collaborationist regime Vichy.
De Gaulle took refuge in London, darting across radio appeal to the French to continue the resistance against Germany. Although lacking support, he was recognized by Churchill as the legitimate representative of the "Free French" to the Allies. He asserted his leadership of the resistance movements of the interior, while he could control some French colonies and territories which have own armies to prove their role in the war. He adopted an uncompromising stance in defense of the dignity and independence of France, demanding to be treated equally by Britain and the United States; it difficult relations with allies, especially Roosevelt, who distrusted the overall ambitious and authoritarian temptations.
It was the Americans who left De Gaulle outside the Allied landings in North Africa, replacing him with Giraud. But De Gaulle beat Giraud as head of the French government in exile, to gather around him to representatives of the old parties (including the Communists) on their promises to restore democracy and introduce social