The Story Behind Dinant's Charles de Gaulle Statue

Perched upon a sturdy stone pedestal, the 2.5-meter-tall statue of Charles de Gaulle stands tall in the picturesque town of Dinant, Belgium. This commanding monument, unveiled on August 15, 2014, commemorates a pivotal moment in history—the outbreak of World War I a century earlier and a young Charles de Gaulle's role in the tumultuous events that followed. 

Copper statue of Charles de Gaulle at the Bridge in Dinant

At first glance, the statue is a striking depiction of de Gaulle as a 24-year-old lieutenant, poised and determined. Its unique portrayal is a testament to the statue's singular distinction; while numerous statues around the world honor de Gaulle as a general, this one is the only known representation of him in his youth, as a lieutenant. This artistic choice is not merely aesthetic; it pays homage to a crucial episode in de Gaulle's life. 

The statue, sculpted entirely from copper, is a testament to the craftsmanship of Guido Clabots, a local coppersmith. Clabots, the last of his professional career, undertook this project with a passion that transcended monetary gain. His dedication and the use of copper as the primary material distinguish this work of art from its bronze counterparts. 

The significance of the statue deepens when one understands the historical context. On August 15, 1914, Dinant became the epicenter of conflict as German forces bombarded the town and sought to capture the Citadel. Amidst the chaos, Charles de Gaulle's company, previously in reserve, was called upon to cover the French retreat. Just 20 meters across the Dinant bridge, de Gaulle was struck by a German shot from the Citadel, seriously injuring his right leg. He found refuge in a nearby house, mere meters away from where this poignant statue now stands. 

Inaugurated by Bernard de Gaulle, the nephew of Charles de Gaulle, and Konrad Adenauer, grandson of the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the statue serves as a symbol of reconciliation and remembrance. It underscores the intertwined history of European nations and the importance of cherishing peace in the face of past conflicts.

Location: Av. Colonel Cadoux, 5500 Dinant, Belgium.  
Jurgen Huibers
Jurgen Huibers

We're a family of five from the picturesque scenery of Belgium. Come along with us as we share stories from our journeys so far. And if you're curious about any of the places we've visited, don't hesitate to ask. Your dream European getaway is within reach, and we're here to make it extraordinary!

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