The Linchpin: French-German Relations, 1950-1990

The Linchpin: French-German Relations, 1950-1990

The Linchpin: French-German Relations, 1950-1990

The Linchpin: French-German Relations, 1950-1990

Synopsis

The rapprochment between France and the Federal Republic of Germany five years after the end of World War II was the cornerstone of all subsequent Western European history. Their previous hostility was a basis for arms races and wars--their friendship, the foundation for continually widening European economic and now political community. The unexpected reunification of Germany in 1990 sent shock waves through the French political class. Friend explains the present French-German relationship, first investigating the recent past, then laying out the problems of the present and foreseeable future.

Excerpt

France and Germany were "hereditary enemies." For 80 tension-laden years between 1870 and 1950, almost everyone believed that these words described both the past and an inevitable future. The two then embarked on a new and better relationship, together were founders of the European Community (EC), and became linked by increasingly close economic, political, and even cultural ties. In the perspective of 1992, their relationship has been seen as the linchpin of the new Europe.

In 1989, however, the prospect of imminent German unification sent shock waves through the French political class, and the fact of unification continues to raise doubts in France, as policymakers wonder what France's role will be in the Europe of the 1990s.

It is no exaggeration to say that French-German relations are central to Europe's future. Discussion of this one bilateral relation is complicated, however, for the scene is crisscrossed by numerous other bilateral and multilateral ties: German--U.S., French-Soviet, particularly until 1969, and German-Soviet, particularly thereafter; as well as the multiple tugs of the Atlantic Alliance and the EC. The French-German rapprochement was the necessary basis for the EC. Certainly the Western Europe of the past 40 years . . .

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