France and the Nazi Menace: Intelligence and Policy Making, 1933-1939

By Peter Jackson | Go to book overview

1

The Intelligence Machine and the
Decision Making Process

GRIM LESSONS learned at Sedan, on the Marne, and at Verdun left little doubt as to the chief threat to the security of France. Thus the activity of the intelligence community in inter-war France was dominated by research on Germany. The most important characteristic of this community is that it was dominated by the military. The intelligence services were located within the army, naval, and air force general staffs and were staffed by officers from these services. Before reaching civilian decision makers, intelligence passed through an extensive military bureaucracy. This meant that intelligence officers enjoyed ready access to senior military leaders but lacked a forum in which their views could be disseminated to a wider civil–military audience. It also meant that, although intelligence reports drew on a wide range of sources and considered a broad range of topics, their influence on national policy was conditioned by frequently tense civil–military relations that were a central characteristic of French political culture during the 1930s.


I

Since the debut of the early modern period, espionage, secret writing, and code-breaking have played a role in the course of European diplomacy. The rise of permanent foreign intelligence services among the Great Powers, however, was a product of increased demand for military information during the late nineteenth century.1 The issue of the

1 For a good introduction to the evolution of modern intelligence services, see M. Her-
man, Intelligence Power, 9–18. For the French case, see J. R. Pernot, 'Aux origines du ren-
seignement français', in Lacoste (ed.), Le Renseignement à la française, 102–25 and esp. Porch,
French Secret Services, 3–38.

-11-

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France and the Nazi Menace: Intelligence and Policy Making, 1933-1939
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Intelligence Machine and the Decision Making Process 11
  • 2: French Intelligence and the Nazi Machtergreifung, 1933 45
  • 3: Intelligence and the National Socialist Gleichschaltung, 1933–1936 82
  • 4: Initial Responses to Nazi Rearmament: Intelligence and Policy, 1934–1935 109
  • 5: The Rhineland 161
  • 6: Intelligence and the Rearmament Programmes of 1936 178
  • 7: Paralysis 207
  • 8: Munich 247
  • 9: A Change in Perspective 298
  • 10: Girding for War 337
  • 11: Decision for War 379
  • Conclusion 388
  • Appendices 397
  • Bibliography 403
  • Index 435
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