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Title: France and the German menace, 1919-1928
Author: Barros, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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This is a study of how France's post-World War One grand strategy was defined by exaggerated estimates of the German threat, and the profound implications this had for French policy. Until now there has been no study of just what French assessments of Germany were, nor of the critical role that French intelligence, the Army's Deuxième Bureau, played in making them. Nor has the powerful role French stereotypes of Germans had on the formulation of policy been closely examined. While clearly correct to fear Germany, the French assessment of the German menace was grossly exaggerated by a series of strongly held stereotypes of German order, economic efficiency, and militarism. The French view was grounded in geographical proximity, the economic and demographic imbalance between the two countries and the searing experience of the First World War. But the deep-seated prejudices that the French leadership, and particularly military, had developed about Germany elevated the German problem to heights that Paris's Allies were unable to accept. French stereotypes were reinforced by the perceived contrast between a defeated but determined Germany and a victorious but exhausted France. French fear of Germany, both real and imagined, was profoundly different from that of the other Great Powers and thus served both to isolate France, particularly from its key post-war ally, Great Britain, and entangle her in often concessionary policies because the German threat was too ominous to allow for compromise and too powerful to be faced alone. This study traces the role that French estimates of the German menace had in explaining the many failures of French foreign policy in this period, particularly at Versailles in 1919 and the Washington Naval Conference in 1921/1922. It argues that inflated French estimates of the German threat assisted policies that weakened the economy and forestalled efforts at badly needed political reconciliation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available