On May 5, 1955, the western occupying powers formally recognized the Federal Republic of Germany as a sovereign state and brought the new nation into the NATO alliance. In just ten years, Germany had traveled the road from international pariah to trusted ally. The Cold War and the division of Europe made this solution possible. Yet as this book has shown, France in its own way contributed to the process of western consolidation and strongly shaped the final settlement in Europe, despite significant political and institutional weaknesses. Indeed, what is so remarkable about French history in the ten years following the war is that despite so many obstacles to recovery, both internal and external, France in 1955 stood with more real influence on the continent of Europe than it had enjoyed since 1919, and perhaps since 1870. Since the end of the war, French diplomacy had been crucial in shaping the use of Marshall aid in Europe; had certainly moderated German economic recovery, strengthened the federalist aspects of the German constitution, and obstructed American attempts to rearm the FRG; had recast Franco-German economic relations through the Schuman Plan, and so helped create a common fund of political good will and mutual interest between the two former adversaries; strongly advocated regional planning mechanisms to ease the burdens of rearmament; and finally assured France of a leading role in the Western Alliance while mitigating the political implications of German entry into NATO. It is no small irony that Charles de Gaulle, the man who consistently belittled the Fourth .Republic and who finally brought it to its knees in 1958, profited most from these accomplishments. The policy of independence and grandeur that he so triumphantly pursued in the 1960s would have been impossible without the work of his ill-loved predecessors.
This book has tried to accomplish a number of objectives. First, it seeks to restore France to the narrative of the early Cold War, from