General Charles De Gaulle is well known throughout modern history as the leader of the Free French Forces. What is not as well known is that his youngest daughter Anne (January 1, 1928 – February 6, 1948) had Down syndrome.
Although public perception of the time was that children born with Down syndrome were a result of their parents alcoholism, venereal disease or overall degeneracy, the De Gaulles rejected this notion, choosing instead to raise Anne like their other two children. Their personal life became very private and Anne was raised at home, not in an institution (as was common practice at the time).
It has been said often that Anne was Charles’ favorite child. Described as a man who ranged from cocky to stoic by nature, he was a different person around Anne, reportedly describing her as “My joy“. He is said to have read stories and sang songs to her and showed an affection that he rarely showed others, even those in his own household. Anne was raised to feel no less or different than anyone else.
After the war, Charles and his wife Yvonne founded the Fondation Anne de Gaulle, a home for disabled girls, many of which had intellectual impairments. In 1948, Anne succumbed to pneumonia, a month after her 20th birthday and died in her father’s arms. Upon her death, he is said to have remarked “Maintenant, elle est comme les autres.” (“Now, she is like the others.”). He carried a portrait of Anne with him at all times; he claimed that her portrait saved his life by stopping a bullet in an assassination attempt in 1962. When Charles died, he was buried beside his beloved Anne.
Zo ontroerend. [Van op Down Wit Dat]