The speech

"To you all I extend my congratulations! First of all, I congratulate you for being young. One only has to observe the fire in your eyes, listen to the force of your demonstrations, witness the personal passion of every one of you and the common upswing of your group to be convinced, that this enthusiasm has chosen you to master your life and the future."

That is the way Charles de Gaulle began his speech to the German youth in the courtyard of the castle of Ludwigsburg in 1962. His words hit the spot and de Gaulle caused a wave of enthusiasm among the young people. The impact of de Gaulle’s speech on his audience is still palpable nowadays, especially when one speaks with contemporary witnesses of this event. De Gaulle deeply marked his audience and led many of them to involve themselves in a way or another for Europe.

Charles de Gaulle’s speech on September 9th 1962 was a historical event and a milestone for the relations between France and Germany. It also contributed to the signature of the Elysée Treaty by de Gaulle and Adenauer in 1963 which provided a new basis for the cooperation between the French and German governments.


On the website of the TV channel ARTE, you can also find videos with contemporary witnesses Hannelore Braun, Ulrich Krüger, Roland Schweiß and Jürgen Biehle.