The evolution of French policy toward Germany 1933-1939

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A Thesis Presented to the Faoulty of the Department of International Relations University of Southern California

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts

fey Rafik A. Shaheen June 1950

UMI Number: EP59896

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This thesis, w ritte n by ................. under the guidance of

A'.JLs.-F a c u lty C o m m ittee,

and app ro ved by a l l its members, has been presented to and accepted by the C o u n cil on G raduate S tu d y and Research in p a r t ia l f u l f i l l ­ ment of the requirements f o r the degree of


Faculty Committee








Statement of the problem.................


Scope of the s t u d y ........................


Appreciation of the bibliography ........





French policy at the Versailles Conference Briand*s rapprochement policy







Kellogg-Briand P a c t ....................


End of rappro chement policy

. . . . . . .


Poincare* s politique de force

. . . . . . .


Locarno Pact

Ruhr o c c u p a t i o n .................


Consequences of the occupation . . . . . .


Building of French alliances in Eastern Europe .



France at the Disarmament Conference . . . III.

BARTHOU* S EFFECT ON FRENCH FOREIGN POLICY Barthou*s approach to French policy The Eastern Locarno project

. .

26 31





The stumbling bloc to the project



Barthou* s visit to Eastern European c o u n t r i e s ...................



PAGE Rapprochement with Russia in terms of


Eastern, Pact

Poland* s refusal to Join the Pact

. . . •

39 40

Germany* s reaction to the Pact . . . . . .


Failure to achieve the Pact


. . . . . . .

Barthou1s second pillar in French policy . .


Franco-Italian collaboration . . . . . . .


Italian-Yugoslav relations as stumbling bloc for collaboration................



King Alexander visit to France . . . . . .




Laval* s policy as compared with that of Barthou



Laval*s reconsideration of Part V of

Versailles Treaty



Laval* s reaction to Germany* s Air

Rearmament.............................. Laval1s policy toward the Saar plebiscite




Conciliatory attitude toward the Dictator.


Laval*s meeting with Mussolini .............


France* s reaction to Germany* s rearmament



Appeal to the League



Stresa Conference




Divergent views of France and England toward Germany . .................



PAGE In the Disarmament Conference

. . . . . .

Anglo-German Naval Pact Ethiopia1s case






Laval signs the Franco-Soviet Pact of Mutual Assistance

♦ . .............

Germany1s objection to the Pact


.. . . .


Hitler1s justification of the Rhineland occupation

. . .

French inaction 7.



. . . . .........




The policy of the Popular F r o n t .....


Blum1s policy antagonized France*s a l l i e s ........................... .. Delbos* visit to Eastern Europe



79 79

France1s reaction to Hitler1s march into Austria



Czechoslovakia* s position in 1938


French reaction to May c r i s i s ......... French reaction to Godesberg Memorandum Munich Agreement

89 .


99 102

Bonnet*s effort for a Franco-German rapprochement



Franco-German Declaration



France*s stand on the Polish crisis



104 105




PAGE .........




CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM Statement of the problem*

The problem with which the

various post World War X governments of Prance were most occupied was that of security against a German menace*


achieve such security for Prance, and concurrently, peace for Europe, the French statesmen followed different means In the attempt to solve the problem, but they were all t agreed on the end — securlte* The purpose of this study is to present a survey of the evolution of French policy towards Germany from Versailles to the beginning of the Second World War, with special emphasis on the drastic changes of Prance1s policy following Hitler’s rise to power* ^This Inter-war period Is of interest to the student of international relations because Prance, as a champion of the status quo, was the Great Power for whom the preserva­ tion of the status was most imperative and on whom the responsibility devolved^ Her foreign policy vacillated from one extreme to the other after the rise of Hitler* Prom the strong stand of Poincare, Which would allow no infringement of treaty restrictions, to the rapprochement policy of Brland and the inconsistencies of Laval

culminating in appeasement, French policy attempted to / achieve securlte pour la Patrle contre une aggreslon allemande. England, as well as France, was a signer of the Versailles Treaty, and hence also legally responsible for the peace treaty* ^Unfortunately, France and England were unable to agree on a united policy toward Germany, which in turn opened a gap in their entente, and facilitated the violations of the treaty by Hitler. ^ The scone of the study.

In the study of the evolution

of French policy towards Germany from 1933 through 1939 > it is of great importance to present the background to the period, for in it lies the basis for French policy.


in Chapter XI, the policies of the Eight and Left parties are discussed in terms of their approaches to security against German aggression. f

Poincare, representing the Right, followed the Politique de Force as the best means to Insure French ■ security. This policy failed with the occupation of the -


On the other hand, the rapprochement policy of Brland,

the Leftist leader, did not fare better.

Although Brland

successfully initiated the negotiations for the Locarno Pact, thereby creating the so-called Era of Good Feeling, his policy also was doomed to failure.

3 The purpose of Chapter III Is to study the trends of Barthou1s policy after Hitler1s rise to power.

Barthou, a

member of the old French school ©f the Politique de Force, revived the policy of Poincare's alliance system.


Germany* s withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference and the failure of all efforts to secure her return, Barthou became convinced of Germany1s unwillingness to cooperate in solving European problems, and sought to revive French influence in Eastern Europe.

This included rapprochement with Russia,

and further extended to Italy.

The unfortunate assassination

of Barthou interrupted the efforts of this statesman. In Chapter IV, there is a consideration of France faced with the reality of German violations of the Versailles Treaty.

To meet the German challenge, Pierre Laval's policy

varied from rappro chement to appeasement.

He continued the

Barthou policy of collaboration with Italy, but at such a price as the latter would never have paid.

It was Laval1s

Inaction against Germany in the rearmament violations of 1935» which opened the way for Hitler's occupation of the Rhine. French policy, with that of the English, is reviewed in the last chapter as it advanced from appeasement of the dictators to the use of force.

It should be pointed out,

however, that in this period the French policy followed

4 that of England In the Munich Crisis*

fhe Czech ease pointed

up the importance of the occupation of the Rhine, which had cut off the immediate military entry into Eastern Europe, thus ultimately destroying the French Alliance system in the east*

The sequel to Munich was the great tragedy.

Appreciation of the Bibliography *

The material of

this study has been covered best in the available works by Arnold Wolfers, Winston Churchill and John Wheeler-Benne tt• The book of the first, England and France between Two Wars, well demonstrates the divergencies in view towards Germany of the two nations*

For the purpose of this study, the

first portion of the Wolfer* s book presented an excellent analysis of the French security system. Churchill, in his book, The Gathering Storm presents a discussion of the international events that led to World War XI.

This source is particularly important because of

the authoritative positions held by its author in English political life. Munich. Prologue to Appeasement is the most thoroughly documented and carefully set forth presentation of the Czech Crisis, and the role of France in favoring the dictator. While England and France slept, Wheeler-Bennett points out, Germany was ever watchful for the opportunity to upset the balance in Europe.

5 Other sources which have been helpful Include Lee1© Ten Years, 1930-1940. and Alexander Werth, who Is an expert on French politics, and has given personal accounts of the policies of the statesmen in his books The Twilight of France and Which Way France?

Micaud1s account of The French

Right and Nazi Germany not only advances the position of the Rightist party but the Left in their attitudes towards Germany, Italy and Russia and the policies of the statesmen, Francols-Poncet1s book, The Fateful Years: Memoirs of a French Ambassador in Berlin, 1931-1938. is a valuable study in the analysis of French official views toward Nazi Germany,

The author witnessed the rise of Hitler to power,

and, in his official capacity, had many personal meetings with the dictator,

Francois-Poncet presents the differences

in his personal viewpoints from official French and German opinions, and asserts that his views were never considered by the Quai d 1Or say, Entre Deux Guerres, written by Joseph Paul-Boncour, is a three volume study of French international relations between the two wars.

The author is a well-known parliamen­

tarian, and held important cabinet positions in the critical periods of French history.

He discusses the grave problems

that faced France and presents their official interpretation, to which he had access because of his governmental capacity.

6 Andre Geraud (Pertinax) , in hie booh The Gravediggers of France, gives the inside story of the downfall of France* The author, a well-known French Journalist for years, analyses in detail the men and forces that were responsible for the defeat of France, with special emphasis on the roles played by Gamelin, Daladler, Raynaud, Petaln, and Laval*

The book is of great value for the period 1939 and

after* Triumph of Treason is a study made by Pierre Cot. This one-time official at the Qual d 1Or say held a ministerial position during 1930*8.

M* Cot* s main theme is the defense

of the policy of the Front Populaire*

His partisan analysis

in defending the Franco-Soviet Mutual Assistance Pact of 1935 is very obvious, especially when he attempted to defend French security in terms of the Pact*

The book is

valuable because of the author* s official position at that time* Edouard Daladier* s In Defense of France is a series of speeches made by him during the critical Czechoslovakian crisis, in May, 1938 and after*

M* Daladier was Prime

Minister of France when the war was declared* Survey of International Affairs* 1918-1938, done under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is a series study of world international relations,

7 made by the British scholar, Arnold Tynbee.

This survey is

very enlightening and quite indispensable to the student of international relations*

It is of great help in terms of

the minute details of the world* s events of the 1930‘s* A supplementary study to the Survey is the work edited by John Wheeler-Bennett and Stephen Heald on Documents on International Affairs. With reference

to the French official documents, it

is unfortunate that only a limited number were available for this study, particularly those pertaining to the period from 1920 through 192**, and through the 1930*s.

Nor was the

Journal Offlclel de la Re-public Fran^aise at the disposal of the author, along with such valuable works as that of General Gamelin and Georges Bonnet*

The chief documents which have

been available during the period of this research were the French Yellow Book and the League of Nations Official Journal*

CHAPTER IX FRANCE'S SECURITY SYSTEM FROM VERSAILLES TO 1933 ^After the First World War the keynote of the French policy was securlte against German aggression^


significance attached to the term must receive special emphasis*

According to Wolfers, it referred to a state

of things /

in which not only was the danger of a German invasion of French soil to he eliminated — security in the narrow sense of the word — hut in which the entire new status quo as established in the Peace Treaties would he firmly protected hy the superiority of the powers which were ready to defend lt*\. The first evidence of this policy lay in the Foch

demand for the Rhine frontier* (The position of the Rhine as the "natural frontier" of Francexwas stressed in an t official statement as follows: Sans cette precaution fondamentale, ^'Occident de 1 *Europe reste deprouvu de toqte frontiere naturelle, et demeure, comme par leApasse, ouvert aux dangers d'une invasion qul peut etre plus v i o l e n t e . 2

1 Arnold Wolfers, Britain and France Between the Two Wars (New York: Harcourt,( Brace and Company, 4 19^0)* p* 17 ^ Documents Diplomatiquea, Document Relatlfs aus Negoclations Concernant les Garantlea de Securlte> Contre une Aggression de l'Aliemagne* Id janvier~1919-7 December 1923. (Paris: Mlnlstere des Affaires Etrangeres, 1923), p. 11

The disposal of A1sace-Lorraine was an interest shared by other countries to which history had revealed the consistency of the struggle for its possession*


French claims to its unconditional return had been recog­ nized by her allies as an act of Justice.

The claim,

however, for possession of the Left Bank of the Rhine aroused great opposition among the allies, for it was their fear that such would create another Alsace-Lorraine. The French had anticipated this opposition, and early had sought to combat it through secret agreements with Russia in February and March 1917•

French claims to

Alsace-Lorraine, a special position In the Saar and the autonomy of Trans-Rhenish districts were the subjects of agreement.

The French attitude towards the latter subject

had been expressed officially many times and was presented to the Paris Conference in this statement: . . . A ces conditions, et conformement au princlpe, admis par tous, de la liberte des peuples, on peut concevoir la constitution, sur la rive gauche du^Rhin, d ’Etats notjveaux autonomes,, s*administrant eux-memes sous les reserves developpe'es cidessus, constltulon qui, avec l 1aide d«une frontier naturelle sollde, le Rhin, sera seule capable d 1assurer la Palx a 1*Occident de 1* Europe. 3

3 Ibid., p. 13

In an official letter from Prime Minister Briand to the French Ambassador in London, dated January 12, 1917, he described the French position even more clearly*


wrote that the possession of the Left Bank would not be a mere glorious if precarious gain, rather, it would act as a guarantee for Europe as well as for ourselves, and serve as a rampart of our frontiers* In our view, Germany must henceforth have but one foot across the Rhine* The settlement of the future of these territories, their neutrality, their provisional occupation, must be discussed between the Allies, but it is meet that France, which is the most directly concerned in the territorial status of these regions, shall have the principal voice in the consideration of this serious problem.^ Based on the Foch demand, Clemenceau asked for the annexation of the Rhineland in the Versailles Conference, but, to his dismay, his demand was rejected by the United States and England*

The proposal was abandoned only when,

as an alternative position for the security of France, a British and American pledge of military assistance was offered*

British and American assent to a temporary

occupation of the Rhineland was all which could be gained. . Thus the Conference of Versailles left to France a difficult burden to carry. Briand exclaimed at one time: . • / / wLa guerre nous a lalsse avec un traite, dont les difficultes 4

W. M* Jordan, Great Britain, France, and the German Problem, 1918-1939 (London, Hew York: Oxford University Press, 19^3) , P* 170

IX d 1application et d 1execution sont enormes. “ Debate, as quoted by Wolfers, op. olt.. p. 34

6 Ibid., p. 3k ' Katharine Munro, France. Yesterday and Today (Londons Royal Institute of International Affairs, Oxford University Dress, 1946), p. 70

12 ratify this Mutual Guarantee resulted in the British dis­ carding their Pact as well* This popular discontent was reflected in the elections in the autumn of 1919 $ which divided the Chamber of Deputies between the Bloc National and the Cartel des Gauches and finally destroyed Glemen^eau’s chance to gain the office of the Presidency.

The Socialists attacked him

for his stringent repression of strikes and the Right could not accept his compromise on the Rhine and other compromises on security.

"Pere la Vietolre had become perd la Victolre.

Prance now stood forth as the "Protector of the European Order11 —

her sole dedication the maintenance of

the status quo against overthrow*

It was her concern that

the restrictions placed on Germany by the Versailles Treaty should be enforced strictly, otherwise the latter would, in the absence of any safeguards, outstrip in strength all other states on the continent.

Hence, as W. M* Jordan

phrases it, Prance1s preoccupation with the problem of security was chiefly directed to how she might prevent the natural superiority of Germany in Europe from finding an expression in political domination, how to save Prance in the future from German invasion — two aspects,be it repeated, o

Geoffry Bruun, Clemenoeau (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 19^3)» P* 199

of a single problem.9 Thus it was olear that the main objective of French policy was the stabilization of the European settlement. France tried to secure this by concluding treaties and agreements for mutual military assistance with the small European countries which shared her fears of Germany, but «as the corner-3tone of her system she desired a close military alliance with Great Britain* m3*0 In summary, from 1919 on, France sought to ensure her future

security by these means:

(1) to strengthen her own defensive position, especially on (2)

the Eastern frontier;

to perpetuate the relative weakness of Germany;

(3) to conclude a series of defensive alliances; (4) to create a strong International, and more particularly, European, organization. ****** As to the achievement of security, the French parties whether they were of the Right or the Left, agreed to keep Germany in the place assigned to her in the Treaty of Versailles.

Their differences were in the means and not

9 Jordan, ©|>., cit., p. 3 10 toide, p. 48 Munro, oj>. cit., p. 69

14 the end, and for all her political vacillation, the foreign policy of the parties was nevertheless directed to the same wsecurlte*n The controversy between the two parties was raised on two Issues s Should Germany be forced or should she be persuaded t© conform, and should Prance act according to her own ideas or make her actions contingent upon British consent and support?^2 / The Right, led by Poincare, had Insisted on the Politique dJIsolement et de Force and on independent action; their policy culminated In the Ruhr occupation*

On the other

hand, the Left accused the Right of unsoundness in their policies and went themselves to the other extreme by adopting a policy of reconciliation and rapprochement with Germany*

Prom our present point of observation, we

see that this disunity and disagreement on the approaches of the French parties led to the downfall of the Third French Republic*

It is in the light of these two divergent atti­

tudes that we shall examine the events during the 1920*s and during Hitler1s early rise to power* Peace, to the French statesman, may be sought in a variety of different ways*

Briand, whose eyes always were

12 Volfers, ©£. cit*, p* 55

15 fixed more upon the future than upon the present, sought to ensure peace by creating an atmosphere of moral disarmament and to combat the excesses of nationalism by developing a European conscience*

His reasoning convinced him that a

rapprochement policy with Germany was a better alternative than the policy of force which was used by the Right in search for security for France* Briand1s first effort on the road to peace was achieved when he left for London to conclude what was called the Locarno Pact, to which France, England, Germany, Italy, and Belgium were parties*

It provided for a guaran­

tee of the existing frontiers between France and Germany, and between Germany and Belgium.

Both parties would in

no case resort to arms or to the invasion of the other* s territory.

Britain and Italy would take measures against

the aggressor* Whatever its shortcomings, Locarno at least brought about friendly relations between France and Germany and a spirit of detente between the two countries, although for a short period.

The Left did Its best, especially Brland,

to secure the admission of Germany to the League, which was achieved in 1926.

A year later, the Allied Military Control

in Germany was terminated, and another major step was taken by France when it evacuated the Rhineland five years before

16 the assigned time by the Treaty of Versailles* However, the policy of reconciliation was doomed because it was based on a fundamental misunderstanding between the French and the Germans* not altogether incorrect —

Briand* s idea was

he hoped that by relieving

Germany of economic pressure, possibly later, Germany would forget about revision of the Treaty and develop a new spirit*

One thing did not occur to Briand: no

German government would remain in power which accepted the premise of Treaty stipulations as they stood*


Churchill wrote: even the Germany of Stresemann was, however, disinclined to close the door on German claims in the Hast, or to aocept the territorial treaty position about Poland, Dan zing, Corridor, or Upper Silesia ♦ * . Soviet Russia brooded in her Isolation behind the Cordon Sanltaire of ant i-Bol shevile states. 3-3 It was Stresemann1s thought that once France felt secure with regard to Germany, she might forget her fear and would accept revision of the Treaty of Versailles.*^ It was impatience in both countries which was the chief cause of the failure of the new policy of the French Left.

By 1929, a feeling developed in both France and

Germany that Locarno had failed to serve its purpose.

^3 Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 194-8), p. 30 ^

Ibid., p. 62

It eased French fear of Germany hut did not wipe it out#


the other hand, Germany was most disappointed to learn that hope for Treaty revisions were not forthcoming.


wrote: On June 30, 1930, evacuation of the Bhlne tools: place. In I930 the policy of rapprochement came to an end. If the Policy ©f force pursued by the Bight had failed, the new policy of persuasion and conciliation fared no better. 3*3 A man of great faith and a firm believer in peace, Brland lost no hope in search for security when he proposed to the United States that she sign a pact for the renuncla16 tion of war as an instrument of national policy. The result was the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

For all practical

purposes, this document was mere ink on paper; Brland was nonetheless convinced of its feasibility. Bor did Briand lose all hope when it became clear that Locarno had failed to achieve its purpose.

In July

of 1929* he formally Introduced a measure for a European Union of Federation at the League* s session in Geneva. It was to be a permanent regime of solidarity based on international agreement for the rational organisation of


Loc» £!£•

16 James Shotwell, War as an Instrument of National Policy (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1929X7 p. ^3

18 Europe tilthin the League and not affecting In any way any of the sovereign rights of member states.

Such a move was

nothing more than an additional means for French security. To Briand*s aismay, however, Germany disregarded all the efforts of Briand when she announced her Custom Union with Austria, March 1931*

The scheme was abandoned under great

pressure from France, but it brought an increased reaction against Briand whose influence already had dropped, although he remained at the Qua! d*Orsay until January 1932* So ended in failure the Left* s policy of rapproche­ ment which received great opposition from the Right.


in the 1920*s, while Briand was negotiating for an AngloFrench Pact and a settlement of the reparations, he received two telegrams, one from the Gauche Republlcalne group in the Senate and the other from the Finance Commission, which were virtually votes of censure.

Briand was accused of threaten­

ing to tie France to British leadership and of making too many concessions to Germany. Brland answered this accusation in the Chamber of Deputies when he declared: It is not enough for France alone to determine to carry out the Treaty in accordance with our interests. Constant discussion with the Allies is called for, for it is always necessary to come to some agreement; else

19 everything comes trembling down*


Actually, Briand was trying to make understood the necessity of keeping in step with Britain.

In his career he had

realized that independent action by Prance would, in the end, threaten her economic and financial position* If the rapprochement policy had failed, at least Briand, who. dominated French policy from 1925-1929* had brought a notable relaxation of tension between France and Germany, and Europe as a whole had felt this relaxation. In fact, this period was the happiest and most prosperous period of post-war France.


Was this policy of the heft satisfactory to the Eight in France?

Definitely it was not, and the Eight

took every possible means of attacking Briand1s policy of reconciliation and rapprochement.

Werth, in this

connection, wrote: Briand* s programme of Franco-German reconciliation would have made greater headway had he not been constantly restrained by his critics at home — by the press of the Eight, and in Parliament, by men like Franklln-Bouillon and Marin, who said that Briand was allowing himself to be duped by Germany,


Jordan, o£. clt., p. ?6 Munro, 0 £. clt., p. 74

19 which was fundamentally wicked* / It was Raymond Poincare, leader of the French Right, who succeeded to the Premiership when the resignation of Briand took place*

These two men had dominated the scene

of French policy in the 19201s, and had formulated policies that carried their names* Poincare, an extreme nationalist, had never made any secret of his conviction that the treaty had been too lenient, and had, at times, expressed his determination that Germany be compelled to npay to the last farthing, 20 for the damage she had inflicted on France* tt In his *

speech at Bar-le-Due in 1922, Poincare had expressed his policy with his attack on Germany by declaring that • * * if Germany resists and if at the appointed hour the Commission on Reparation declares a voluntary default, it will be the Allies1 right, and consequently their duty, to take measures for the protection of their interests * . • we ardently desire to maintain, on this vital occasion, the cooperation of all the Allies, but we will defend the French cause in complete independence and we will not let fall one of the weapons given us by the treaty*21

19 Alexander Werth, Which Way France? (New York and London: Harper and Brothers, l9$7) » p* 3l ^0 Arnold J. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs, 192Q-24 (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 19241, P* 2? 21 Toynbee, oj>. olt., p. 33

21 / Poincare showed his stern policy when he sent Bar thou to attend the Genoa Conference In 1922, with Instructions that the question of disarmament and reparations were not to be raised and there must be no attempt to reconstitute a Supreme Council with the inclusion of Germany.22

Poincare was determined to use a Politique

de Force if Germany voluntarily defaulted to fulfil the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.

Thus, when at a

later date the Reparation Commission declared Germany to have voluntarily defaulted in the deliveries of timber and / coal, Poincare did not hesitate at all to use force in the occupation of the Ruhr. The background of the Ruhr occupation included the / / decision of Poincare, at the special desire of the Oomlte des Forges, to ask M. Barlac, President of the Finance Committee in the French Chamber, to inform him of the feasibility of the occupation of the Ruhr if Germany voluntarily defaulted in carrying out the reparations provisions, / In answering Poincare, Barlac said that France could 1utterly disorganize1 German industry if she would

22 Ibia., p. 27 ^3 David Graham Hatton, le it Peace? (New lork: The MacMillan Company, 1937), p. 77

occupy the Ruhr, and he added that we cannot demand that Germany shall pay enormous sums for 35 years, and on the other hand we are afraid of seeing her industries develop in the proportion which would permit her to assure the payment of the debts which she has acknowledged * . . the moment that we set foot on the right bank of the Rhine and control 45*000,000 tons of ore per annum, we shall play a decisive role in German heavy industry and can demand control of its production* ^ The obvious conclusion of M* Barlac was that Prance should remain in control of the Rhineland* With the same approach, Jordan2-* wrote that Poincare1 decision for the maintenance of the Rhineland occupation was not so much for the execution and enforcement of the Treaty of Versailles as it was for terms of actual physical pro­ tection against German aggression*

According to this writer

French policy regarding sanctions was * . • strongly influenced by the desire to consolidate the Rhineland occupation as a military safeguard against Germany, while well-founded apprehension that military sanctions would strengthen the French hold on the Rhineland was undoubtedly in large measure responsible for.British reluctance to proceed to their application* Poincare was not ready to hasten the economic recovery of Germany*


He believed that if Germany were

Ibid*, p. 7?

25 Jordan, op* clt*« p. 80 Loc* clt*

allowed to recover economically her production would out­ strip that of France and in a very short period would constitute a menace to the security of France#


England showed a reluctance to follow French policy as /

related to Germany^ economic recovery, Poincare said, Gelle-pi ne voit que l !heure presents, un mark liquefie, une instability telle dans les marches que tout le monde semble gene; elle ne pense pas a 1 1avenir, elle ne se rend pas compte du danger verltablement effrayant qui menace, non seulement la France et la Belgique, mais l ,Angleterrf apparaitra brusquement et qtii donnera a l«Allemagne tous les resmltats „ qu1elle attendalt de la guerre si elle avait e'te viotorieuse. *

The Eight group, as led by Poincare, was not satisfied with the mere occupation of the Ruhr, but fostered separatist movements in the Rhineland and Bavarian Palatinate as well# The schemes failed because they received British opposition. ^ / The Politique de Force of Poincare proved to be a failure in the Ruhr occupation. France was growing worse*

The economic situation in

The continued fall of the franc,

accompanied by an unbalanced budget condition and a rising i

cost of living, brought the fall of Poincare, and the return of Briand to power in 192k#

However, there were other

Documents Diplomat!ques, Document Relatlfs ausc Ho tee dee 2 mal et £ Juln sur les Reparation (Paris: MinistIre des Affaires Etrangere's, 1923)/ P* 12 Churchill, og. clt.* p. 12

elements that worked against Poincare, whose uncompromising attitude increased the tension between France and England almost to the breaking point after the occupation of the Ruhr*

Germany1s .passive resistance aroused popular opinion

in the world against France* s independent action*

The Ruhr

occupation was considered as an upset to the international stability of world economy*

When this became clear, the

people of France, though not perhaps unfavorable to the Ruhr occupation at first, turned against Poincare for his military adventures and his ^actions isolees* Although his objectives in carrying out his policy in the Ruhr occupation were not gained, and he was sub­ sequently forced to abandon this aspect of his policy, /

Poincare never trusted the Germans, and maintained the essential framework of his approach.

Early in 1922, he

rejected the German proposal to France to enter into a “mutual agreement with the Powers interested in the Rhine to renounce war for a generation,

and described it as

“clumsy manouvre,• for he felt that the only way for France to achieve security was to maintain the Politique de Force and to adopt a system of alliances.

Werth, oj>. cit*. p. 25 3° Hutton, 0£. cit*. p. 82

In truth, it was with Poincare’s efforts that France concluded treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries, early in the 1920’s. Barthou, / a firm believer in the HPoincare policy,B was the architect ✓

of those alliances in the East*

Poincare’s fear of Bolshe­

vism, however, played an Important role immediately after the settlement*

David Thomson wrote:

The Idea of a cordon sanltalre against Bolshevism in eastern Europe was largely French in origin, and it was Glemenceau in December 1919 who spoke of un fll de fer barbele.31 t

By 1928, Poincare1s health forced his resignation, and Tardieu succeeded him in the leadership of the Bight. Tardieu, according to Werth, tried to restrain Briand from giving too many concessions to Germany, but he, himself, did not realize until he became Premier in 1929> that "he always began by saying no, but, under British pressure, he nearly always finished by saying

y e s .


It was Tardieu

who negotiated the Young Plan and agreed to evacuate the Bhineland with "stern but theoretical

s a f e g u a r d s . "33

Tardieu, no exception to the general approach of the French from the time of the Treaty of Versailles to

31 David Thomson, Democracy in France (London: Oxford University Press, 19^6), p. 19^ 3^ Werth, op. cit., p. 32

the end of the Geneva Disarmament Conference, put security before disarmament*

In other words, France would reduce

her armaments only in proportion to the international military assistance she could get from her allies*


when Bruening left for Geneva in 1932 with a plan, "the principle of which was, subject to various reserved inter­ pretations, of ’equality of armaments,1 between Germany and France,u the German Chancellor found to his dismay that the French Premier, Tardieu, was not going to attend*3** The latter was told by General Schleicher of the German Staff not to negotiate with Bruening because his fall was definite Whether it was for this reason, or because of his uneasiness with ’equality of armaments,1 Tardieu did not show up, and Bruening returned to Germany empty-handed. 35 This obsession by Tardieu was considered a grave mistahe and was subject to wide criticism*

Wolf era

indicates that public opinion in the world was becoming convinced that French obstinacy was defeating Bruening, the last pillar of the German Republic which was then entering upon its final struggle with the National Socialists*36


Churchill, oj>. clt*, p* 6k hoc. cit.


Wolfers, OR* cit*, p* 82

The reaction, in Prance swept Tardiem and the Right from power by the general election and brought back a Left-wing majority, with the Radicals as the chief winners and the Centre as the chief losers, as is illustrated in Table I.

In Germany, Bruening was replaced by Von Papen,

and in France, Herriot, with his conciliatory attitude, came back to power* On January 9, 1932, Bruening had declared to the Powers concerned that Germany was no longer able to pay the reparations*

The diplomatic victory, however, went

to Von Papen who was able at the Lausanne Conference of June, 1932, to get the cancellation of reparations which Bruening failed to secure for Germany*

Herriot in a

speech declared: We French, gravely concerned with the affaire of our own country, have listened with emotion to the story of the sufferings of the German people with whom we wish to have cordial relations* 37^ Yet, France1s concessions were ill-timed and too late, especially “when the German leaders who were honestly seeking a reasonable solution were overthrown* ."3®

37 Dwight Lee, Ten Years* 1930-40 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1942), p*"U9 38 Werth, oj>. clt.* p* 3


1928-Chamber (before new election)

1932-Chamber (after election)









Left Centre




Republican Socialist




Radi ceils








Dissident Communist











* Alexander Werth, Which Way France? (New York and London: Harper and Brothers, i9i37) # P* 39

Herriot and other leaders who followed him spent much time in an attempt to solve the Disarmament problem* The matter was taken, now, in the hands of the Big Powers rather than in a general conference, specially when the German delegation left the Conference in June, 1932, During this time French fear was increasing because ©f their knowledge of the secret rearmament of Germany* On many occasions, Herriot threatened to publish "the secret Dossier* In December 1932# a measure of agreement was reached among the Big Five: Great Britain, France, United States, Italy, and Germany*

They declared?

• * • that one of the principles that should guide the Conference on disarmament should be to grant to Germany, and to the other Powers disarmed by the Treaty, equality of rights in a system which would provide security for all nations, and that the principle should itwelf be embodied in a convention, containing the conclusions of the Disarmament Con­ ference.*# In reality, this declaration "had no more practical meaning, therefore, than that it enabled Germany to return to the Conference.

All the fundamental problems of how to

get security and how much to reduce armaments remained

39 Lee, oj>. clt. * p. 29 Ibid.. p. 32

unsolved* Thus the year 1932 ended with the questions of reparations and the war debt taken out of the political scene, but the problem of disarmament was left hanging in mid-air.

An even greater problem —

in its total extent by the powers ~

as yet unrecognized lay in the rise of

Hitler, which was to substitute brutal fact for law and right. In concluding this chapter, it must be emphasized, however, that whether it was the “Politique de Force” of the Eight, or the policy of “Conciliation and Rapprochementn of the Left, the French failed to achieve their goals. writes in his book, entitled Ten Years; The story of reparations and war debts and of disarmament in 1932 had revealed all too clearly that there was little vitality In the Post-war settlement and least of all in the Post-war system of collective security based upon the League. ^2


CHAPTER III BARTHOU* S EFFECT OH FREHCH FOREION POLICY The Reich has been built up by war, and the work has not been undone* The German Empire stands* And the Germans still believe in war* Un peuple ne change pas eomme 5a .1 The international equilibrium, which had not been particularly stable since the end of the Great War, became manifestly threatened with Hitler* s advent to power on January 30, 1933*

It is not surprising, therefore, that

this was followed by an almost panic-stricken reshuffling in international politics*

The cause was simple: whether

or not they wished to admit it, for the first time since 1918, many European powers saw the danger of war as a reality.

To counteract Hitler’s rise to power, diplomatic

negotiations began between all the powers who felt they might be affected by a military outbreak. Hitler* s rise to power was not based on the Issues of Versailles alone.

In reality, the evacuation of the

Rhineland had already taken place; von Papen had secured the cancellation of reparations and a promise of equality

^ Marshall Foch, 1928, as quoted by A. L. Kennedy, Britain Faces Germany (New York: Oxford University Press. 1937), p T T “

32 In armaments*

It was chiefly, rather, economic depression

which tipped the balance in favor of Hitler and his party* The German Parliaments position had been previously weakened through the use of the emergency power of the Chancellor to rule by decree*2

Disunity in outlook between

France and England towards Germany also contributed to Hitler’s advantage*

This disunity was particularly

illustrated when the English-speaking countries advanced the idea that any return to military conflict would fall on the shoulders of France “since France had had the last word in Post-war continental policies and had invariably raised her decisive voice in order to ask for trouble. “3 At the same time, France was domestically divided and unable to maintain a party in power, or a strong policy towards Germany*

On the other hand, Hitler was promising

Germany a new morale and unity. However, in reacting against the “Revolution“ in Germany, France attempted to improve her security position by strengthening her relations with Italy, Russia, and the Little Entente countries*

The man who enthusiastically

undertook this Job was Louis Barthou.

2 Lee, oj>. cit*, p* 39 3 Toynbee, oj). cit., Vol. 1933, P* 138

33 Barthou1s foreign policy. M. Barthou remained in office a period of eight months.

During that short time

at the Qnal d*Orsay, he left a great mark on the history of French diplomacy.

His work was a rare and surprising

success; for unlike Belcasse or Briand, Barthou did not create a policy, but carried on an existing one.


original work lay not in conception so much as in execution. In fact, what distinguished Barthou from his predecessors was his firmness, his clear-cut choices, and his resolute promptness of action.

His plans were based on the old

French policies but were given new forms and carried more vitality.

Barthou gave to the people of France confidence

in their foreign policy* Barthou1s aim was the same as any other French statesman! peace and security. end; the means differed.

All were agreed on the

The Leftist, Briand, had attempted

to achieve his peace plan by adopting a policy of rapproche­ ment with Germany.

Later, certain Rightists, under the i

influence of the Comite des Forges, accepted Hitler* s proposal of Franco-German rapprochement.^ a

In fact, the

Elizabeth R. Cameron, Prologue to Appeasement (Washington! American Council on Public Affairs, I9V 2), p. 22

Jk French Ambassador in Berlin, Franco!s-Poncet, is regarded by some to have approached the Nazi Government for dis­ cussion^

The content of this discussion with Hitler

remains generally unknown.

France, however, became wary

of a bilateral approach and abandoned this scheme in favor of a discussion shared by all members of the Disarmament Conference* If these were the approaches of some of the states­ men, Barthou took a different course.

He belonged to the

French school of thought which wished to keep a sharp watch on Germany, and not to keep that watch alone* Hitler1s actions —

preparation for mobilization and his

effort to militarize the minds of the German people —


no alternative to Barthou but to rivet his attention on Germany.

The policy which he formulated carries his name;

it was (1) to subordinate disarmament to a regime of security, (2) to seek that security in a collective organization of Europe through a system of a guarantee and pacts of mutual assistance open to Germany as well as to all other powers* Andre Franco!s-Poncet, The Fateful Years; Memoirs of a French Ambassador in Berlin* 1931-1938 (New York; Harcourt, Brace and Co*, 19^9)» pp. 116-20; see also, Lee, op* cit., P* 69* According to Fran9ois-Poncet, the subjects of dis­ cussion were the questions concerning the Saar plebiscite and disarmament* However, Dwight Lee indicates that in addition to the above-mentioned questions Fran^ois-Poncet might have discussed the possibility of Franco-German alliance*

Barthou1s aim was to revive France1s position among her previous allies in the East, and to develop friendly relations with Italy and Russia*

He Intended to do this

within the framework of the League of Nations, hut, Lee wrote, if Barthou1s policy was going to fail in concluding pacts within the framework of the League, he would Mrevert frankly to the pre-1914 system of military alliances directed against Germany, the menace of whose rearmament he clearly recognized.®^ Barthou1s point of view was well set out in his note of April 17, 193^*

Germany having given vague answers to

his previous communications, this document pointed out that the manifest violations by Germany of the military clauses of the Treaty of Versailles rendered impossible a prolon­ gation of pourparlers, the very basis of which had been wrecked by Germany1s action*

Barthou cited especially

German1s latest move in the publication of the increased amount of the German budget for the army, navy, and air force.?

Barthou declared:

^ Ibid., p. 8© ? Wladimir dfOrmesson, France (London-New York: Longmans, Green, and Go*, 19395V p. 12b

Even before seeking to discover whether an agree­ ment can he obtained upon a system of guarantees of execution sufficiently efficacious to permit the signature of a Convention which would legalise a substantial rearmament of Germany, France must place in the forefront of her preoccupations the conditions of her own security, which, moreover, she does not seperate from that of other interested Powers.8 M. Barthou thus insisted on the necessity of maintaining French armaments, but no statesman worked harder than he to seek French security in the development of a new organization of Europe within the Geneva framework. Barthou had been one of the architects of that structure of alliances between France and the Central and East European states after the failure of the ratifi­ cation of the British and American military guarantees of 19X9*

Thus, it was clear that as soon as Barthou found

himself back in office, he immediately undertook the task of strengthening France1s alliances in the East on the basis that such was not incompatible with a direct under­ standing between France and Germany. Barthou1s project for an Eastern Locarno was the development of an idea which had been suggested by France 8

French Memorandum to the British Embassy at Paris, April 17. 1934 (Qmd. 4559. p. 20) as quoted by James Cantenbeln, editor, Documentary Background of World War II, 1931-1941 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1948) , p. 4 see also, Frederic Sabatier, WM. Barthou and French Foreign Policy,w 19th Century, 116: 497.

in 1925* during the negotiations for the Locarno Treaty# Sinee that time France had been aware of the fact that Britain in no way would commit herself to an Eastern Locarno.^

The French statesmen were thus convinced that

it was useless to expect British help, but it did not cause them to abandon the hope of fortifying the security of France1s Eastern allies as a contribution towards the security of France herself. Hence, the project for a mutual assistance pact among certain states in Eastern Europe which took definite shape after an interview between Barthou and Litvinov in 193^» already had been given consideration in 1933* when Germany withdrew from the Disarmament Conference.


all efforts failed to bring Germany back to the Disarmament Conference, then Barthou determined to go ahead with his project for an Eastern Locarno. Barthou was quite aware of the stumbling blocs that would stand in his way for the formation of an Eastern Locarno.

With great courage, he faced the several unsolved

problems: Italy and Yugoslavia, Russia and the little Entente

9 English Memorandum to the French Ambassador in London. May 19. 1925 tCmd. 2^35# p. ll) as paraphrased by Toynbee, ©|>. cit., survey of 1925* p. 3^; also Toynbee, op. cit., survey of 1935* P* 58

countries* and among the East European countries themselves In fact* Barthou had no need to forge a new Instrument* hut to improve and strengthen an existing one*

He attempted

not only to tighten up the ties with the Little Entente, hut also took the initiative in strengthening the cohesion of the Danublan group, by bringing about a rapproohement with Bulgaria and laying the basis of a close understanding with the other powers of the Balkan Pact —

Greece and

Turkey.10 In visiting the Eastern European countries, Barthou gained a better understanding of the difficulties that stood in the way of rapprochement between Russia and Little Entente*

Until that time, neither Roumanla, with her

Bessarabia problem, nor Yugoslavia, due to her close association with Tsarism* had established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.

Barthou also realized

that his scheme for an Eastern Locarno would be meaningless as long as Moscow and the Eastern powers maintained a hostile attitude towards each other*

This issue, he

realized* would be most detrimental to the attainment of

10 Joseph Paul-Boncour, Entre Deux Guerres (Paris: Librairie Plon, 19**5)> II# 372; see also, Toynbee, op* clt* survey of 193**# P* 526* Toynbee wrote that the Balkan Pact gained the blessings of Prance and England.

full security in the East.

The Eastern powers were afraid

that Moscow might threaten their flanks and rear.


bridge this gap was obviously no easy task, but Barthou was the man to handle it.


Barthou realized that rapprochement with Russia was of a great advantage to the security of France, for at least it would bar the way to the renewal of the Rapallo experiment.

At the same time, this rapprochement with

Russia would be of great value to the Eastern powers, for it would give the latter some liberty of movement. On the other hand, there were some hindrances to a renewal of the Non-Aggression Fact of 1933 with Russia, partly because of the public opinion in France, and partly because this would be Interpreted as an attempt to form a ring round Germany.

Barthou was aware of France1s internal

troubles of 1933-3^> which had weakened the position of France in maintaining a strong foreign policy.


did Barthou forget the Stavisky scandal and the Paris riots that had forced the resignation of Premier Chautemps.


was aware also of the efforts of Fascist elements such as

Paul-Boncour, 0£. cit., II, 373-^* Paul-Boncour pointed out that he faced the same difficulties when he was at the Qual d»Qraay. He also voiced the opinion that he resisted the Pact of Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union because it might alienate France1s allies in the East.

the Croix de Feu, which had led the riot on February 6 , 193^. Thus, as a safeguarding measure against the criticism of the different parties, Barthou demurred from the suggestion of the Kremlin for an out-and-out military alliance, and tried to include Russia in the project for an East European Pact of Mutual Assistance*

However, Barthou was determined to

conclude a mutual assistance pact with Russia if his project for the Eastern Locarno failed* If Barthou was able to forge the problems between some of the Little Entente countries and Russia, he still had to face other obstacles which stood in his scheme for an Eastern Locarno*

Poland, which, early in 193^, had

concluded a Non-Aggression Pact with Germany, gave Barthou a cool reception when the latter visited Warsaw to consider the Eastern Locarno Pact*

Diplomatically speaking, he was

given a “reserved answer," which later proved to mean Poland1s non-participation in such a regional pact. Poland1s refusal was based on many assumptions* To begin with, Poland, motivated by her fear of Bolshevism, objected to Joining any regional pact that included Russia*

She felt that in ease of a conflict

between Germany and the West, she might become the battle ground, especially when Russia would have to send her troops through Poland in order to give help to France#

41 She also felt that once the Russian troops were In, It would he hard to get them out.^*2 Another cause In turning down Barthou* s Eastern Locarno Pact was the fact that Poland was afraid of antagonizing her new friend, Germany, the ink on the German-Polish Pact of 1934 hardly yet having dried* Finally, Poland was already antagonized hy French policy when Daladler, on the invitation of Mussolini, joined the negotiations for a Four-Power Pact, omitting Poland from these negotiations*

The latter felt that France

had turned her back on her allies in the East in order to Join a pact that repeated previous declarations —


provide for concert action only on the matters concerning England, France, Germany, and Italy,^3 Although Barthou received a set-back for his project in Poland, he did not lose hope or become discouraged*


full enthusiasm, he proceeded to continue his tour among the Eastern European countries*

In Prague, Barthou received a

very cordial welcome from the Czech people and the President of the Czechoslovakian Republic, Dr* Benes,


12 Paul-Boncour, og* clt*, II, 372-5; also, III, 59. See also, Fran^o’to-Poncet, op* cit*, p. 116 W

Cameron, oj>* clt* * p* 31

was second only to France in her concern about her security after the rise of Hitler to power*

Since the 1920*s, Prague

had concluded a treaty of mutual assistance with France, and she had never hesitated to join a regional pact if it would give her more security*

Czechoslovakia felt directly

menaced by Hitler1a ambition in Austria for one German race under the Third Reich, especially since the Czech nation had three million Germans within her border*

Thus, when

Barthou discussed his project for an Eastern Locarno with Dr* Benes, the latter was very enthusiastic about the idea. If Prague was very responsive to the mutual assistance pact, Rumania, too, gave great support to the project. Rumania, as Czechoslovakia, had concluded a consultative treaty with France and Joined the latter in the antirevisionists1 camp after World War I.

In Bucharest, Barthou

made a speech before the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies* He addressed his audience as follows: My Dear fellow-country men. Know that, if a square centimetre of your territory is touched, France will be at our slde.l^ Barthou* s visit to Bucharest had strengthened the position of Titulescu, the Foreign Minister, against the


Toynbee, op. clt* * survey of 19 3^ > p. 3^8

Fascist manoeuvres In Roumanla*

But, on the other hand,

Barthou was severely attached in the Paris Left-Wing papers for placing the French armies 11at the service of every former ally whose frontiers are contested.* The newspaper, Notre Temps, continued, saying, "never in fifteen years has any qualified representative of the French Government made such an imprudent, unconditional promise to any nation* By the summer of 1934, Barthou had completed his tour through Eastern Europe and was ready to present the Eastern Locarno Pact to the powers concerned*


it was said, drafted the Pact on the skeleton of the previous French plan for the organization of security. This time, instead of having concentric circles, the States were interlocked in such a way as to have in the first circle France, Soviet Union, Poland, The Little Entente, and the Baltic States*

The Eastern Pact was

accompanied by a Mutual Assistance Pact among the Powers concerned, as well as an agreement for the Mediterranean and a naval Locarno for the Pacific. The Eastern and Mutual Assistance Pact had the enthusiastic support of Barthou, hut of the latter two,

15 Literary Digest. 118s14, July 7, 193^ Toynbee, oj>. clt., Vol. 1935, P* 63

he disapproved.

Thus, the draft was completely modified at

the Qua! d* Orsay, and then was sent to London in its new form.

It comprised a regional agreement for consultation

and mutual assistance between Germany, Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia and the Baltic States, together with a Franco-Soviet Pact of Mutual Assistance, to operate within the framework of Locarno and the League* s Covenant.

As part

©f the agreement, Russia accepted the obligations contingent on the Locarno signers.

Conversely, towards Russia, France

accepted the commitments of the Treaty of Regional Assistance in the East, especially In cases which would Involve Article 15 or 16 of the Covenant of the League.?*? Barthou1s Plan was approved in London on condition that France would consent to include Germany In the FrancoSoviet provisions, in order to give Germany e A few hours later, the Czechoslovakian Ambassador reported to Goering that his country would not mobilize as a result

13 Lee, op,, cit., p. 296 ^

I M d ., p. 176

^ French Yellow Book, p. 2, Ministeres des Affaires Etrangeres, Reynol & Hitchcock, 19^0

82 of this assurance that her integrity would he respected* The annexation of Austria greatly strengthened Germany* s position in Central Europe:

Germany was now

“bordering Italy on the Brenner Pass, and in direct touch with Yugoslavia and Hungary#

In addition, Czechoslovakia

was almost isolated and was put in a position where Germany could outflank her defense system along the German frontier. Thus, with the absorption of Austria was the theme of Munich started. Two days after Germany* s annexation of Austria, much expedited by Mussolini *s stand that it was “immaterial to him, **16 m . Blum formed his new cabinet with Paul-Boncour as the Foreign Minister.

The latter, faced with the fait

accompli in Austria, attempted desperately to revive what, if anything, remained of collective security in Central Europe#

“He took little notice of Chamberlain; rather he

went on the assumption that England needed France as much as France needed England# “3-7

It was perhaps unfortunate

that Paul-Boncour was unable to remain in office long, as the Blum government soon resigned#

Such a man might have

3-6 International Military Trials, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. I (Washington: U. S# Government Printing Office, 5546), p. ^98 3-7 werth, op. cit#, p# 161

succeeded in maintaining action independent of England. However, in looking back over the now defunct Popular Front, it can only be said that The gradual undermining of the bases of her (French) security had left her more than ever dependent on her allies and unable to pursue a strong line of her own* The Popular Front chose to follow chiefly in the wake of the British government. Had France been more united internally and stronger externally, she might have succeeded "in drawing her Western and Eastern allies together. The programme of the Popular Front slurred over the fundamental discrepancy between collective security and disarmament and between anti-fascism and p a c i f i s m . 18 No other country was so perfectly guaranteed by treaties and international commitments against aggression in 1938 as Czechoslovakia.

First of all, she was protected

under the provisions of the Covenant of the league.


was, as well, a signatory member of the Briand-Kellogg Pact under which the provision for the renunciation of war f,as an Instrument of national policy" was set forth. At the same time, Czechoslovakia could depend on the help of the Little Entente, and in addition, she had signed a treaty of mutual assistance with France in December of 1925, followed by a similar treaty signed with Russia in 1935# as mentioned previously. Czechoslovakia had refused several times to conclude a bilateral non-aggression pact with Germany.

Munro, op. cit,, p. 80

Doctor Benes,

8k broadcasting from London in 19^1 > said that during the years 1936 and 1937# Germany had repeatedly asked for such a pact, and that every time, Czechoslovakia had refused the proposal on the basis that she preferred to be bound by the framework of the League of Nations.^

Czechoslovakia did not, how­

ever, forget to strengthen her frontier and constructed a defense similar to the Maginot Line*

Although Czechoslovakia

had all of these safeguards, it was clear to her that if Germany were to make trouble, it would be through the German minority in the Sudetenland* In the League, the Czechs lost all hope after it was found to be ineffective in taking measures against Japan, Italy and Germany,

To make matters worse, Prime

Minister Chamberlain, in a statement in the House of Commons on March 7, 1938, declared: What country in Europe today, if threatened by a large power, can rely on the League of Nations for protection? None — We must not try to delude small weak nations into thinking that they will be protected by the League against aggression,20 What really remained to Czechoslovakia was to depend on her alliance system, and this meant chiefly France, because the latter was most concerned with the possibility of German aggression.

^■9 Wheeler-Bennett, op, cit*, p, 28 ?0 I M § * » P* 32

Although M. Flandin had made a proposal In the Chamber of Deputies, whereas France would renounce her commitments in Eastern and Central Europe, his proposal was defeated.

With a large majority, the chamber reiterated

its pledges to Czechoslovakia.2*** France had also reaffirmed her pledges to Czechoslovakia under the Blum and Daladier governments.

It was inconceivable for the Czechs to think

that France would desert them at a moment when France *s whole system of alliances was dependent upon Czechoslovakia as the corner stone* No discussion of the Drama of Munich would be com­ plete if British policy, which played such:a vital role in the period, were disregarded, for, in reality, Mr. Chamberlain “with the blessings of the French government, was to op

handle the Czech crisis. *

During his speech of March 29,

1938, Mr. Chamberlain had made it very clear that he “would not be deflected from that policy of appeasement which he had enunciated upon entering into office and affirmed on numerous subsequent o c c a s i o n s . A s to France, Chamberlain hesitated to give carte blanche in the matter of Czecho­ slovakia, but said that Britain with great probability

21 Ibid., p. 32 zz Worth, op. cit.. p. 199; See also Wheeler-Bennett, op. olt . . p. 39 z3 Wheeler-Bennett,

o p


olt.. p. 40

would com© t© the help of France, If the latter decided to uphold her commitments and obligations. ^ Mr. Chamberlain1s speech provoked M. Bonnet, Foreign Minister of France, to mention privately that "there were really no circumstances in which Britain would follow France, and that France, therefore, must avoid giving a lead, at all costs. The case against Czechoslovakia was opened seriously after the meeting between Hitler and Henlein, the leader of the Sudeten Party.

On his return to Czechoslovakia, Henlein

presented to the Prague Government eight points of the "Karlsbad Programme," which were summarized by WheelerBennett as the followings (1) Full equality of status for Sudeten Germans and Czechs — that is, abandonment of the conception that there was a Czechoslovak state containing a German minority. (2) A guarantee of this equality by recognition of "the Sudeten group of the German race" as a unified "legal personality." (3) Determination of the German area in Czecho­ slovakia and the legal recognition of its boundaries. (4) Full autonomy throughout this German area in every department of public life.

zl* Iblcl., p. i*l 25 Ibid., p. krZ

(5) Guarantees for those living outside the areas of their own race. (6) Removal of “all injustices done to the Sudeten Germans since 1918 and reparation for all damage they have suffered thereby.11 (7) Recognition of the principle of German officials in all German districts. (8) Full liberty for Germans to proclaim their Germanism and their adhesion to the “ideology of Germans. “26 Thus, Hitler again used clever tactics by making the issue appear as coming directly from the Germans in the Sudetenland rather than from Germany.

In the event that

the Karlsbad Programme were rejected by the Prague govern­ ment, then Hitler would come to the support of the Sudeten Deutch as the “Protector of all Germans.“ With the presentation of the Karlsbad Programme, MM. Daladler and Bonnet flew to London April 28th to discuss the situation.

During the discussion, Daladier

stressed the necessity for Anglo-French action in the Czechoslovak case.

He wished Chamberlain to agree that

both countries would make it clear to Prague that all possible concessions to the Sudeten Germans within the bounds of national integrity and the constitution should be allowed, while, on the other hand, they would also make

Ibid., p. kl

It clear to Hitler that they stood for the independence of Czechoslovakia. To this proposal Chamberlain did not agree, for he feared that such an action might antagonize Germany. Instead, Chamberlain proposed that If during the negotia­ tions between London and Prague, Germany resorted to war, England would come to the help of France if the latter took action under her commitments to Czechoslovakia.27 Daladler had no alternative but to accept Chamberlain•s proposal. So far It seemed that France was still planning to maintain her obligations towards Czechoslovakia. However, Chamberlain^ vagueness had a bad psychological effect on France.

Wheeler-Bennett, writing on this

conference, pointed out that The net impression gained In Paris as a result of the Conferences of April 28-29 was that in no circumstances would Britain give Immediate support to either France or Czechoslovakia in the event of an attack by Germany on the latter, and from that moment the French, consciously or subconsciously, wrote off their own obligations.28 In Germany, the impression was that England was still reluctant to give France carte blanche in dealing

Wheeler-Bennett, op. cit., p. ^9 28

ibia. , p. 50

with Czechoslovakia.

The above fact was later reiterated

on May ?th, when Henderson, the British ambassador in Berlin, told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Germany that both France and England urged Czechoslovakia to settle the German minority problem within the framework of their constitution. In May, 1938, the tension in Czechoslovakia reached a high point when elections were held In the republic. There were rumors of German troop movements near the borders and Czechoslovakia's General Staff countered the possible threat by making military dispositions along the German frontier. 38 At Berlin, the British ambassador met von Ribbontrop many times, warning him that if France were obliged to ful­ fill her pledges to Czechoslovakia, there would be nothing to deter England from being



And in France, M. Bonnet declared on May 21st, that if Germany were to attack Czechoslovakia, France had no alternative except to com© to the immediate help of the small country.

At the same time, M. Daladler summoned the

German ambassador and showed to him the order of mobilization to be used if Germany attacked Czechoslovakia,

11It depends

29 Neville Henderson, Failure of a Mission (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 19^0), p. 30 Wheeler-Bennett, op. cit., p, 5^ 31 Henderson, 0£* cit#, p. 139

upon you, Excellency,9 Daladler told him, 11whether I sign this document or not# *32

Prom Moscow, the news came that

Russia would stand at the side of her allies, Prance and C zecho Slovakia* This was much to the astonishment of Hitler, for he never expected such unity among France, England and Russia#

His advisors asked him to retreat from his stand,

which he reluctantly did*

At the same time, Germany asked

Henlein to go to Prague and continue negotiations of the Sudeten problem#

Thus, in the end, the elections passed

off without the feared German intervention* Hitler did not forget the May crisis*


he immediately asked for the construction of the Siegfried line along the Rhine from Switzerland to the Netherlands* His aim was to halt Prance in the West, so that Germany later might launch her attack against

C z e c h o s l o v a k i a *


When Bonnet had become Foreign Minister, he had decided to follow his own policy —

9that of abandoning.

French security alliances in face of the Nazi menace, and, in fact',, to make any and every surrender in the hope that thereby at least the national independence of Prance would

32 Wheeler-Bennett, op* cit#, p* 57 33 ibid. ,



34- ibid.,



91 be pr© served* M3^

M. Bonnet was much puzzled when he round

himself reaffirming France*s stand towards Czechoslovakia, but Mhe could never quite forgive the Czechs their slant of May 21# *35

jn reality, he played the role of Dr. Jekyll

and Mr. Hyde: before the Chamber of Deputies he still gave French support to Czechoslovakia against absolute demands; on the other hand, he agreed with Chamberlain on the Joint policy of bringing pressure on Prague to use the Karlsbad Programme as the starting point for negotiations.36 M. Bonnet never hesitated to voice his opinion as to the incapacity of France to stand against Nazi Germany. M. Daladler was aware of M. Bonnet*s activities, and was not sufficiently courageous to stop him. During the course of negotiations between the Prague government and Henlein, the latter refused compromise after compromise, to such an extent that Mr. Chamberlain proposed to France that Dr. Benes be asked to accept a solution at the hands of Anglo-French arbitrators.

Chamberlain* s

reasoning was this: since the negotiations between Czecho­ slovakia and the leader of the Sudeten party were getting

35 Werth, eg. cit., p. 1?6 36 Wheeler-Bennett, op. cit., p. 66

nowhere, Germany might, therefore, take action*

To avoid

such a calamity, England should intervene in order that she not he blamed In the future* Daladler, however, rejected the British proposal on the grounds that both countries should not interfere with a domestic problem.

Also, he continued, an Anglo-

French Intervention would make Henlein demand other concessions, according to his instructions from Hitler* Thus it was at this period that Chamberlain decided to send Lord Runciman to Prague .37

Wien the British govern­

ment Informed France of Lord Runciman* s mission, Daladler was both disgusted and disappointed that he had not been consulted on the issue.

He disapproved the proposal on

the basis that England, in taking such action, was Intervening in an issue to which she was not a party. He also refused to accept the role of Lord Runciman as an arbitrator*

Daladler* s explanation was that it would

put Czechoslovakia in an impossible position.

If they

refused the decision of the arbitrator, the Czechs had to be blamed, and if they accepted it, it would be at the cost of their integrity.

With government pressure from

Paris, then, the role of Lord Runciman was changed from

37 Ibid., p. 70

that of an arbitrator to that of a *Mediator and Advisor. * Nor was it merely Daladler who rejected the proposal; such men as Mandel and Reynaud of the Cabinet Joined him. On August 3# 193S, Lord Runciman arrived in Prague to assist in the negotiations between the Czechoslovak government and the leaders of the Sudeten German party. His efforts proved to be fruitless, for plan after plan was rejected by the Sudeten Party.

Finally, Dr. Benes

took the matter into his own hands, and gave the party what amounted to •Plan No. kf which included all the points of the Karlsbad Programme.

Benes signed the plan

with the sure conviction that it was going to be rejected. On Sept. 12, 1938, the world was waiting to hear Hitler speak.

It was thought that the speech would reveal

either war or peace, but Hitler did not bring up the. issue of war.

The speech was comprised of insults to Czecho­

slovakia. 38 Two days before, M. Bonnet had asked some questions of the British ambassador in Paris, Sir Eric Phipps. Following is one of these questions: Tomorrow Hitler may attach Czechoslovakia. If he does, France will mobilize at once. She will turn to

38 J International Military Trials, oj>. cit., p. 552

9k you, saying, 1we march: do you march with us?* will he the answer of B r i t a i n ? 39


Lord Halifax1 answer was: ♦ • . his Majesty1s government would never allow the security of France to he threatened; they are unahle to make precise statements of the character of their future action, or the time at which it would he taken, in circumstances that cannot at present he fore seen, **0 wIf Bonnet was seeking for an excuse for leaving the Czechs to their fate, it must he admitted that this search had met with some success,

as Churchill pointed

out* Somewhat earlier, on Sept* 2, 1938, the French j

charge d*affaires in Moscow met Litvinov, the Bussian Foreign Minister, and discussed with him the amount of aid Russia could give to Czechoslovakia in case of German aggression, in the face of the fact that Poland and Rumania had declared their neutrality.

Instead of answering the

question, Litvinov asked the same question to the French charge d*affaires on the basis that France was most implicated in the Czechoslovakian problem.

Should France

take action, however, Litvinov assured him, Russia would

39 Churchill, op. clt., p. 296 to Ibid.. p. 297 to hoc. oit.

95 come immediately to the help of both countries, in fulfill­ ment of her obligations# Litvinov continued explaining how the neutrality of Rumania and Poland could be overcome, in case of German attack on Czechoslovakia.

His reasoning was that the League

of Nations would proclaim Germany as an aggressor.

If this

were the case, then Rumania and Poland had no alternative except to follow the decision of the League, and thus, Russian troops would be able to cross the frontiers of the two countries to come to the help of Czechoslovakia. All of these conversations among France, England and Russia, however, meant nothing when there were such men in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Georges Bonnet, who had already made up his mind to follow his own policy, thus working for Munich long before it occurred. Nor was he the only one who wanted Munich.^3

Bonnet many

times had tried to escape from the facts when they were presented to him, for example, Bonnet met Litvinov in Geneva, and the latter told him of the acceptance by the Rumanian government of the Russian request that their troops be allowed to cross the Rumanian frontier in case the League decided that Germany was an aggressor.

Bonnet, the next day,

Churchill, o£. cit., pp. 276-95 ^

Werth, ©£. cit.. p. 1 9 9

told the French cabinet that the Soviet Union and Rumania had “wrapped themselves in League procedure and had shown little eagerness for action, But the time had come when France had to decide her stand.

Hitler1s speech on

and M. Daladler had to

Sept. 12th put her “on

the spot,

act one way or the other. In the

French cabinet tense debates and discussions among the members took place after the Hitler speech.

The elements

of resistance to appeasement tried to show the tragedy, as well as the collapse of the French security system, if France were to abandon If any decision

her ally, Czechoslovakia. had to be taken by

Francein regard

to the question the majority argued, it should have been made before Hitler’s speech, for now It was too late. Hitler had committed himself and it would be difficult for him to retreat.^5 It was during this period that Daladier, faced with this dilemma and with division in his cabinet, decided to leave the leadership to Chamberlain,

The latter acted

upon his own initiative to meet Hitler personally at Berchtesgaden on Sept. 16, 1938•^


Wheeler-Bennett, op. cit., p. 100

^•5 Werth, op. oit,, pp. 219-21 ^

Henderson, op. cit., p. 151

97 After hie return from Germany, Chamberlain met with his cabinet to discuss Hitler1s proposal for •selfdetermination* as a basis for negotiations.

With that

proposal, the British cabinet discussed, too, Lord Runciman* s report, which declared "in favor of the cession to Germany of areas with a predominently German-speaking population, while granting complete federal autonomy within the Czech state to all areas with a narrower German majority. 11^ At the same time, Chamberlain asked Daladier to come to London on Sept. 18th,

On their arrival, Daladier and

Bonnet left for the Foreign Office where they met Chamber­ lain during the discussions.

Daladier proved to be

completely changedj he had lost the vigor and enthusiasm which had characterized him during the April discussion. He sat silently and accepted the transfer of the Czecho­ slovak territory to Germany.

Moreover, Daladier insisted

that Britain and France should guarantee the new frontier of Czechoslovakia.

Chamberlain agreed on condition that

Germany should be a member too, and to this Daladier finally consented.**'®

**7 Lindley Fraser, Germany Between Two Wars (London: Oxford University Press, 1945) * P* 115 48 Alfred Fabre-luce, Hlstolre Secrete de la Conciliation de Munich. (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1938), p. 48

98 Out of this conference, the Anglo-French plan came into being.

It provided that France and England would ask

Czechoslovakia to agree to the immediate transfer to the Reich of areas inhabited by a population more than fifty per cent German. The next day the plan was discussed in the French cabinet and M. Bonnet promised the Resistance group not to exert any pressure on Czechoslovakia to accept the plan. **9

In reality, what had been agreed on in London

meant that France.had abandoned her ally, Czechoslovakia, and in turn had destroyed her own military security.


was this fatal step that led to the Munich agreement, and later to the fall of the Third Republic.

To Germany, it

meant that Hitler realized fully the weakness of the Western democracies and became convinced that neither England nor France would go to war for the Sudetenland. On Sept. 19, 1938, the Anglo-French plan was presented to the Prague Government.

After many hours of

discussion, the Czechoslovaks rejected the plan and suggested that the matter be submitted to arbitration under the pro­ visions of the German-Czeeh Treaty of 1925*^ With the Czech refusal of the plan, Daladier and t*9 Ibid., p. 51 Robert J. Kerner, editor, Czechoslovakia. (Los Angeles and Berkeley: University of California Press), p. ^23

99 Bonnet met with President Lehrun and it was decided to bring pressure on Czechoslovakia to accept the plan*


next day, M. de Lacroix, French Minister in Prague, went with his English colleague to the Presidents palace. They told Dr. Benes of the grave situation and de Lacroix explained to him that French support was not forthcoming in case of the Czech refusal to the plan.51 The Resistance group in the French cabinet, Reynaud, Mandel, and Champetler de Ribes, submitted their resignation on the basis that Bonnet had broken his promise by bringing pressure on Czechoslovakia to accept the plan.

In the

Cabinet, Bonnet presented to his colleagues the telegram that was sent by de Lacroix in which, according to the amba ssador, the Czech president and premier, with the support of the Chiefs of the Army, would, despite the note of refusal, accept the Anglo-French plan if they received written confirmation that the French government would not support them if they rejected it. According to Wheeler-Bennett, there was a misrepresentation of the question submitted by the Premier of Czechoslovakia.52 In Prague, there were great demonstrations against France, and General Fauches, head of the French Military


koe. cit. Wheeler-Bennett, op. cit.. p. 122

xoo Mission in Prague, resigned hie post and Joined the Czech army.-53 However, according to a leading British writer, Czechoslovakia, who had faced with courage the threats of her enemies, “bowed her head at the desertion of her friends. Against her better Judgment, and yielding only to the most ruthless pressure, she sacrificed herself in the cause of peace. 1We had no other choice, because we were left alone.15b When the Prague government accepted the plan, Mr. Chamberlain flew to Germany and at Godesberg informed Hitler that Czechoslovakia had agreed.

He, then, explained

the plans which the British and French governments had worked out for effecting the transfer of the Sudeten territory in the shortest possible time.

These plans were rejected at

once by Hitler, who presented the proposal calling for the evacuation of all Czech troops by Oct. 1, 1938, from the Sudeten-German area.

In certain areas plebiscites

were to be held before November and other demands were made.

After a deadlock in their meetings, Mr. Chamberlain

received a memorandum from Hitler in which it was commanded that the Czech forces begin evacuating the predominantly German areas by Sept. 26 th.

*53 Churchill, op. cit., p. 297 5b Wheeler-Bennett, op. cit., p. 128 55 Henderson, op. cit., p. 161

101 In the English cabinet, the Godesberg Memorandum was rejected and Chamberlain was obliged to reiterate his pledges to France; and In France, too, the cabinet rejected the memorandum;

Daladier, with Bonnet, left for London.


conference ended with an agreement that France and England would take joint action in case of a German attack on Czechoslovakia.

It was also agreed that further negotia­

tions by peaceful means to settle the dispute between Germany and Czechoslovakia on the basis of the FrenchBritlsh plan would be continued. $6 By Sept. 28th, the situation was so grave and dangerous that already the R. A. F. had been mobilized, and Chamberlain in his speech on Sept. 27th had warned the people to Mkeep calm and to take part in the work of defense# tt57

in addition, he ordered the mobilization of

the fleet, but despite all these measures, Chamberlain continued his efforts to bring about a four-power confer­ ence.

In a conversation with Paris, Daladier and Bonnet

had agreed to the idea, which was also upheld in the Chamber of Deputies.

Thus, Chamberlain and Daladier sent messages

to Mussolini that he should use his influence to secure a four-power conference.

56 Wheeler-Bennett, on* cit*, p. 1^5 57 I S M * * p* 3-58

At the same time, Bonnet sent similar instructions to the French ambassador in Berlin, in order that he might present them to Hitler.

In reality, Bonnet*s instructions

were more generous than those of Chamberlain* s letter, and were read by Hitler before he read the British communication. 11The French demarche, much more than Chamberlain* s letter, saved Hitler from the unpleasant necessity of yielding.*58 Chamberlain was informing the House about his latest efforts when the news reached him that Hitler had invited him to Munich, together with Daladier and Mussolini.


final act in the drama of Munich was approaching. At 2:30 A.M., Sept. 30, 1938, the four powers signed the Munich Agreement.

Daladier telegraphed his

Mdeep emotion® to Dr. Benes, and explained to him that •it was not by my choice that no representative of C&ebhoslovakia was present. *®

Daladier, however, instructed the

French minister to “make sure of the President*s agree­ ment. 1159 The provisions of the agreement were as follows: * The Czechs were to begin to evacuate the Sudetenland on

58 Werth, op. cit., p. 256 59 French Yellow Book, op. cit., p. 12

103 Oct* 1st, and on the same day, the Germans were to begin their progressive occupation of four zones, and continue until Oct* 7th.

Also France and Britain promised to

guarantee the new frontiers of Czechoslovakia, and Germany and Italy promised to do the same as soon as the question of the Polish and Hungarian minorities in* Czechoslovakia had been settled.60 What was the effect of Munich on France?


Bennett wrote that For France, the day at Munich had been disastrous* She had sacrificed her whole continental position and had abandoned her main prop in Eastern Europe, her most faithful ally. As the plane eircled above Le Bourget, the premier could see a dense throng of people on the airfield. Were they waiting to lynch him, he wondered? Would he be torn In pieces by this dark, waiting mob. *The fools,* he thought, *they are cheering me. For what?* Then a figure, with arms outstretched and coat flying open, embraced him and he found himself in the arms of Georges Bonnet*©I

In the Chamber of Deputies, Daladier received a vote of confidence on his policy. Munich, however, meant not only the abandonment of French security, but a great victory for the followers of the Appeasement policy*

Bonnet, victorious, began to shift

6® Wheeler-Bennett, pp. cit* * pp* 175-6; also Cozeroff, op. cit*, p. 71 61 Wheeler-Bennett, op. cit*, p. 178

the positions of the high officials at the Q,uai dlOrsay. Those officials who were opposed to his policy were purged From that time on, Bonnet worked hard for further rapprochement with Germany.

His efforts were well crowned

with success when, on Nov* 29th, the terms of the FrancoGerman declaration were released*

In this declaration,

(1) The German and French governments have come to the unanimous conviction that friendly and good-neighborly relations between Germany and France are one of the most essential elements of a consolidations of the good relations In Europe. (2) Both governments state that there are no more questions of a territorial kind between their countries, and they solemnly recognize as definite the frontier between their two countries as It now stands.°3 On his return to Berlin, following the conference with Bonnet, Ribbentrop met the French ambassador and told him of the necessity of "creating zones of influence in the East and Southeast.

And In the Chamber of Deputies

Bonnet testified before the Committee on Foreign Affairs that "If Poland, Russia, and Rumania defend themselves we shall of course come to their aid," but subtly he asked the Committee to abrogate the French alliances with Russia

62 Werth, Twilight of France, op. cit*, p. 305 63 I M d . , p. 303 French Yellow Booh, op. cit., p. hZ


P o l a n d . ^5

Thus, according to Wheeler-Bennett,

• ♦ • France served at a moment when her best chance of rebuilding her national resistance to the inevitable invader was passing swiftly and unseized. The sands of life of the Third Republic were manning out in the glass.00 GzechoSlovakia* s capitulation to Hitler was met by a mere protest, which was rejected by Berlin.

Hitler1s subsequent

threat to Poland reached its height in August 1939»


the French Ambassador, Hitler asked him to tell Daladier that France, with which Germany had no quarrel, should refrain from going to the support of the

P o l e s . 6?


on Aug. 26th, Daladier* s reply was to reaffirm the French stand in support of the British on Poland and their obliga­ tions towards her. 68 The reaffirmation of the French promise to support Poland against aggression, in company with a similar English declaration, signified that the sequel to Munich was over.

The Prologue had ended.

The curtain had risen

on the tragedy. 69

65 Werth, on, cit,, p. 330 66 Wheeler-Bennett, oj>. cit.. p. 313 ^ 68

French Yellow Book, op. cit,, p. 302 # P*


69 Wheeler-Bennett, op. cit,, p*

CHAPTER VI SUMMARX AND CONCLUSIONS France1s anxiety In achieving security against Germany is easy to understand on the part of a country which had suffered two Invasions in less than a half a century.

Nevertheless, In the Immediate post-war era,

France was characterized by a narrow-minded anxiety, which brought serious mistakes in the development of her foreign policy.

The search for immediate security against a

potential danger left France with an unstable policy which varied from one extreme to the other. Until 1923, France carried out a policy of force against Germany.

The Ruhr campaign demonstrated the

futility, however, of Politique de Force and the risk of isolation involved in pursuing lt*jf Poincare1s policy for the occupation of the Ruhr provided a bad precedent and opened a gap in the Franco-Brltish Entente.


felt that Poincare*s approach was detrimental to the future security of Europe, and at the same time was in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

Thus, when Germany occupied

the Rhineland, many English statesmen felt that Hitler* s action was not directed against France; it was only an assertion of German sovereignty.

France*s appeal to

England to take forceful action against Germany received no response in British governmental circles other than an appeal to the League of Nations issued in conjunction with the former*

Although his policy failed in the Ruhr

occupation, Poincare was not convinced of the futility of Politique de Force*

He felt that the only road to

French security vis-a-vis Germany was by this mean. C Politique de Force having failed to bring security, the French people went to the other extreme in trying rapprochement with Germany.

Brland* s conciliatory policy

created a short period of better relations between France and Germany, which were the result of the Locarno Pact. This agreement guaranteed the frontiers of France and Germany with the provision for England and Italy to act as guarantors.

When it became obvious that neither country

was satisfied with the Locarno Pact, the superficial optimism of the Era of Good Feelings collapsed.

France had felt that

Germany might be satisfied with the security measures that she would get from the Locarno Pact, and thus would forget about the revision of the Treaty of Versailles.

It had

escaped/the French mind that no German Government would remain In office if It were to be satisfied with the status quo.

Germany had felt, to the contrary, that if she were a

signer to the Locarno Pact, France might feel more secure

108 and hence would consent to the revision of the Treaty of Versailles.

The misconceptions of both countries with

regard to the motives of the other in signing the Pact readily accounts for its downfall. Briand* s policy thus did not fare better than that ‘ of Poincare.

In reality, it put too much confidence in a

reluctant Germany which had never accepted the position assigned to her in the Treaty of Versailles.


policy received its setback when Germany and Austria tried to join in a custom union.

This attempt on the

part of Germany proved to the French people that even a rapprochement policy would not bring them security as they had hopedTl Thus, Briand* s influence at the &uai d* Or say — j-


decreased while that of Tardieu and Laval increased. Tardieu* s policy added to the record of previous failures by the French statesmen to achieve security for France.

His stubborn attitude at the Disarmament Con­

ference and his unwillingness to grant concessions on reparation and equality of armaments to Chancellor Bruening, the last pillar of the German Republic, had a great psycho­ logical effect on the German people.

It was a very grave

mistake on the part of France, for she helped to defeat Bruening, who was desperately fighting against the National Socialists.

France should have acted on that occasion

because, when she finally agreed to the German demands, it was too late and her concessions were ill-timed*


diplomatic victory did not go to the democratic Bruening but to the military dictator, Von Papen, who later gave way to Hitler. In the face of Nazi Germany, French foreign policy was inconsistent and unreliable.

It was further weakened

by the divergent views of the English towards Germany. Barthou, coming to the Qua d*Orsay in 193^» attempted to stabilize the French policy and to give it a more realistic approach in the face of a menacing Nazi movement.


realized the danger and first tried all possible diplomatic negotiations with Germany to stem it*

When he was convinced

of Germany* s non-cooperation, Barthou decided to strenghthen the French alliances with other countries, and, if necessary, to go back to the pre-191^ alliance system* But If Barthou was responsible for France* s return to the alliance system thereby undermining the collective security principle of the League in Europe, It should be clear that Hitler left no alternative to France.

It is

true that World War I had proved the danger of the alliance approach, but on the other hand, France could feel more secure toward a menacing Germany, coupled with the British non-cooperation in terms of French policy, only by means of

110 such an approach.

Thus, Barthou, unlike Poincare, worked

for a rapproohement policy with the Soviet Union, and he tried to tie her, as well as Italy, within the French orbit of alliances. Barthou* s policy was direct and realistic, which caused her friends In the East to rest much confidence In the strong man at the Q,uai d*Orsay.

Barthou had revived

French prestige among her allies In the East, especially among the Little Entente countries, and had strengthened France* s position in all Europe, at a point when it had reached its lowest ebb. However, Barthou*s policy received great criticism among the French because it was felt that he was leading France Into war.

Such an accusation is not logical.

Although Barthou might have decided to go back to the pre-191*f alliance system, the European situation would not in such an event, degenerate to the pre-191^ scene of two armed camps.

More important, the alliance system

could give France more than collective security under the League, which had already demonstrated its inability to solve such problems as Japanese aggression and the dis­ armament question. Barthou was willing to take action against Germany if the latter were to violate the Versailles Treaty.


Ill the other hand, Germany, aware of its weak position, would have hesitated to violate the Versailles Treaty as long as he was at the Qu&i d*Orsay.

The policies of his successors,

however, were not forceful*

Therefore, when Hitler ordered

the remilitarization of the Rhineland, no action was taken by the French, although the German generals had objected strenuously to such a dangerous approach, and would not move in until Hitler allowed the immediate withdrawal of German troops in case of French mobilization* The policies of Barthou*s successors were incon­ sistent and unsound*

Laval1s indecision in his approach

to French foreign policy and his willingness to compromise with the dictators facilitated the road for Hitler and Mussolini to impose their will on Europe.

In fact, Laval

had paid a large price to Italy for her friendship*


example of the Laval indecisiveness occurred in the Russian Mutual Assistance Pact to which he agreed, but the ratifi­ cation of which, he delayed.

Laval also, although seeking

security against the German menace, was, on the other hand, willing to compromise on the Saar* A study of French policy toward Germany is inadequate without mentioning some aspects of British policy which worked on many occasions in an opposite direction to that of France.

It was, for example, very unfortunate that the

112 two great powers In whose hands rested the stability of Europe could not act together when action was needed against Hitler in the remilitarization of the Rhineland* It is true that France was not willing to compromise on some problems, but on the other hand, England had dis­ couraged France from any strong measures which the latter was willing to take against Hitler if he were to violate the Versailles Treaty*

Had Germany been sure that England

was willing to back French policy, Hitler, and especially the German General Staff, would not have dared to move a step forward, as for example , when Hitler backed down in the Czechoslovakian election crisis of May, 1938*


unexpected firm unity in the policies of England and France forced Hitler, in this instance, to retreat from his position* Although both France and Britain feared a resurgent Germany, London, nevertheless, felt that it was not a good policy to rely on French superiority as a bulwark against Germany after the Versailles settlement.

England feared

giving carte blanche to the French policy in dealing with Germany for, to her, it seemed that such a move might have a bad psychological effect on Germany, which might lead to sudden “explosion* “ However, it was not long until England awoke from her sleep to see that all methods were failing

113 in keeping the Rhine from the German danger, which was indirectly a menace to the British Isles*

Prance and

England were finally united in their policies, hut after the damage had already been done* This unity was demonstrated in the Munich Crisis* It was a unity, however, the price of which was the dis­ memberment of Czechoslovakia.

In their policy of appeasement,

England and Prance thought that they might insure their own security and contribute to the maintenance of European peace, butthis proved false. the

Soon, it became

obvious that even

sacrifice of Czechoslovakia did not satisfy the

dictator, who merely counted it as a bloodless victory and a stepping-stone to further aggression* From thisstudy it appears that although statesmen agreed on the end — in the means of achieving it.

securite —

the French

they differed

But even the different

means, namely Politique de Force. Rapprochement. and Appeasement, did not save France from the disaster which befell on her in 19^0 *




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