Term Paper: Relations Between Germany and France Between 1918 and 1939

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France and Germany Interwar Relationship

The two wars, WWI: 1914-18 and WWII:1939-45, brought Europe to the brink of destruction. Two of the major players, France and Germany, had a relationship between the wars which makes one think that WWII was merely a continuation of WWI. France and Germany had historical problems concerning territory and political influence, not to mention ideology, which precipitated in several wars, and continued during the uneasy peace between WWI and WWII.

The relationship between France and German between the two world wars was rooted in the causes of WWI. Population pressure was pushing Germany to expand its territory, economic growth made Germany a main power in Europe, but this did nothing to expand its actual land mass, France's negative growth population and its declining economic and military power made it a likely target, and the different ideologies, both social and spiritual, had historically caused friction between the two countries. European Imperialism in the late 1890s created even more rivalries.

Following WWI, France regained the territory of Alsace-Lorraine, but much of her territory was left in ruins and many of her native sons lay dead. The peace talks were held in Paris, and named for the regions where they were held. The treaty between Germany and France was suspect by France and England from the beginning. A seasoned statesman, Georges Clemenceau, worked tirelessly to put forward France's interests. She had not declared war until attacked, had lost the most, suffered the most damage, both property and economic, lost a whole generation of men and had the biggest rebuilding task of all the involved nations. Clemenceau wanted justice.

On the other hand, Wilson, president of the United States, dreamed of rebuilding Germany and having a prosperous German state join the international community. This was a brick wall to French recovery. France needed three major problems solved: protection from a Germany across a shared border, economic recovery and some way to pay the cost of rebuilding and recovery of her heavy industries. France desperately needed capitalization from without and access to German coal resources. With the damage done to her mines by German forces as they retreated, and even a war damaged Germany was stiff competition, so France needed concessions, favored treatment and help with the border protection. If England and the U.S. could provide border guards, and the U.S. would forgive the war debt, then there was hope for a French recovery. However, if France could not get help any other way, she needed a weakened Germany to compensate.

The three cornered dance which followed the armistice had Englan accusing the U.S. Of favoring France and Franc accusing England of conspiring again her needs being met in favor of Germany. It was true that after getting her own pound of Flesh, England preferred to see a prosperous Germany. She was also not disposed to forgive French war debts, since there was plenty of reconstruction to do in Britain. Everyone was sneaking behind someone else's back looking for an advantage.

The first thing on the agenda, by Wilson's design, was the establishment of The League of Nations. However, even this was seen from three different viewpoints. France hoped for a military force to keep the peace and punish aggressors. England was only in favor of moral or economic sanctions and the U.S. And Wilson saw it as preventative. The three nations created a great international organization and then pulled all its teeth. The League of Nations was still born, but it took some years before it was buried. It was totally ineffectual from the start.

Germany had supposedly embraced democracy with the creation of the Weimar Republic, but France did not believe it for a moment. France was bent upon the destruction of the unified German which the victory of 1871 had created. This would establish German inferiority. England and the United Stated opposed the idea, saying that this would sow the seeds of a new war. Instead they offered to extend the wartime coalition indefinitely. Instead the French proposed guarantee treaties, plus military safeguards including German disarmament, demilitarization, and Allied occupation of the Rhine.

Reparations were another sticking point, since every country had sustained damage, except the United States. Germany was expected to pay, but the coffers were empty. A crippled Germany could never pay up, so England favored keeping the country controlled but viable. The meetings ended in having Germany agree to a blank check, but no solid decisions were made concerning reparation or the stabilization of currencies.

In economic matters the French delegation laboured to improve the imbalance in heavy industry between Germany and France. At first Clemenceau fought hard for annexation of the Saar -- the French "frontier of 1814" -- and then settled for French control of the Saar coal mines and a League of Nations administration for 15 years, at which time the Saarlanders would hold a plebiscite to decide their permanent status. Germany was also obliged to deliver 20,000,000 tons of coal per year to France and Belgium and to allow the products of Alsace-Lorraine into Germany duty-free for five years." (Britannica 2006)

This was, at least, some help, though no percentage or fixed amount of reparation payments to accrue to the damaged England, France or Italy was decided. Instead, it was postponed.

The German army was limited to 100,000 and disarmed, while the left bank of the Rhine was occupied by allied forces. The British quit the meetings and went home in disgust when they made no headway with Wilson. Even so, nobody was happy with the treaty. Americans did not favor the obligation Wilson had agreed to, Germany felt the victim and France was certain that it had bought only a 20-year armistice and not a peace.

All of this set the stage for WWII, and the very strained relationship among all the powers during the interim. The relationship between France and Germany was particularly strained, as neither trusted the other. Germany still needed territory for its population and France needed material recovery. France looked with a jaundiced eye upon the new German democracy, with good reason as it turned out.

About the journey that this poetry represents:

wrote my very first verse when I was under 6. It was a song and my best friend put music to it. It was probably the best thing I will ever write, because it was untainted by the baggage we acquire as we grow up and mature. It took me nearly another 25 years before I felt comfortable saying I was a poet, because poetry grows within you in its own time.

Is poetry a reflection of life and culture or does it help shape life and culture? I don't really know, but I do know that my poetry shows my journey as a person from just before I found out that my husband had cancer until I finally managed to become a person again after nearly 14 years. Now I think that life doesn't become easier, but living it does as we learn to make grist from the gristle.

The time period this poetry covers is from before I lost my husband until only a couple of years ago after I lost everything else, except my children, including another man who preferred a younger prettier woman who would be satisfied with what HE wanted from life. A page turned in my life then, as I started over, owning and owned by nothing and no-one.

This collection of poetry is that journey, though there are some poems missing, perhaps also lost. (I will rewrite some). You don't have to crit seriously, though comments of any sort are, of course, welcome. I just don't want to pressure anyone or overwhelm you guys. However, I think these sort of belong together. What I would like is an impression. Are there any discernable holes? Do they seem in the right order? Which do you like best? Which do you think don't belong or don't work?

Along with these poems is an interview my daughter asked me to do for her via email while I was in California, near to the end of the time period covered by these poems. let me know if you think they go together. I may also add some of my daughter's poetry later with her permission. She is already leaving me in her dust at 25. She edited the interview and really jazzed it up later, but I can't find that right now. I am thinking of including pieces of both. Should the poetry be mixed in or follow the interview? I am feeling my way around here, trying to figure out how to make this work.

OK Larissa, here is your interview, rewritten to your specifications.

Obviously we would both be drinking coffee as you interview me. I might be fixing supper, maybe Ukrainian food. You might use a short introduction like:

walked into my mom's kitchen as she was about to prepare supper. She poured me coffee, and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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