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France's Rhineland Policy, 1914-1924: The Last Bid for a Balance of Power in Europe

France's Rhineland Policy, 1914-1924: The Last Bid for a Balance of Power in Europe

Walter A. McDougall
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 440
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x0w3p
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    France's Rhineland Policy, 1914-1924: The Last Bid for a Balance of Power in Europe
    Book Description:

    Walter McDougall offers an original analysis of Versailles diplomacy from the standpoint of the power that had the most direct interest and took the first initiatives in the search for a solution to the German problem.

    The author's new view of the struggle for execution or revision of the Versailles treaty holds sober implications for assessment of the political origins of international anarchy during the 1930s and European integration in the 1950s. He shows that the Treaty of Versailles was unenforceable, and that the French postwar government, far from enjoying predominance in Europe, suffered from financial crisis and economic and political inferiority to Germany. Versailles was thus the "Boche" peace, and the only path to a stable Europe seemed to lie through permanent restriction of German economic and political unity.

    Originally published in 1978.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7021-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xv-1)
  6. [Map]
    (pp. 2-2)
  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-14)

    “It was in 1915 the old world ended,” observed D. H. Lawrence. Surely it was the casualty lists of Ypres, Champagne, and Loos, confirming the awful suspicion that the opening slaughters of the Great War were not aberrations but would be repeated again and again in hideous hyperbole, that shocked the European consciousness out of past illusion. A sense of Europe’s agony, and of the victors’ determination that such a war must never recur, provides the starting point for an understanding of the interwar years. As in the Atomic Age of the 1950s, the technology of destruction seemed to have...

  8. 1 BEYOND ALSACE-LORRAINE: FRENCH WAR AIMS ON THE EASTERN FRONTIER, 1914-1918
    (pp. 15-32)

    France entered the war with an offensive military doctrine but a defensive purpose. The expansionist French war aims revealed in 1919 evolved from the nature and course of the conflict itself.¹ For the strategic and economic problems that French war aims were to counter in 1918-1919 did not exist in 1914. First, the revelation of the true extent of Germany’s power and intentions, next the sacrifices demanded by an unforeseen war of attrition and materiel, then the irreversible dependence on foreign economic and financial power, and finally the collapse of the dynasties in Eastern Europe and the continental order—these...

  9. 2 RHENISH SEPARATISM AND PARIS PEACEMAKING, 1919
    (pp. 33-96)

    The French peace delegation did not envision its task as one of obstruction. Clemenceau’s resignation to France’s new dependence obliged him to reconcile his own war aims, based on the narrow requirements of European balance, and the transcendent principles of the Wilsonian world view. The tragedy of 1919 was the incapacity of the Big Three to synthesize their geniuses. Instead, they crossed purposes, each sterilizing the creativity of the others. France’s understanding of continental necessities, expressed in its security program of Rhenish separation and economic strictures on Germany, seemed antithetical to the self-determination of nations, not potentially constructive in terms...

  10. 3 RHENISH VERSUS GERMAN POLICY: THE RIRTH OF FRENCH REVISIONISM, 1920
    (pp. 97-138)

    The events of 1920 demonstrated that Europeans’ hopes for rapid political stabilization and economic recovery were in vain. Strikes and domestic turmoil erupted in all nations as wartime domestic “truces” were foresworn. The new German republic and the successor states of Central Europe showed themselves to be volatile constructs, and the prestige and power of the Franco-British Entente proved insufficient to command respect for the international boundaries drawn at Paris. The Bolshevik tide reached its greatest extent in 1920, breaking only before the gates of Warsaw. The United States withdrew from the task of European stabilization through the Senate’s final...

  11. 4 SANCTIONS, FULFILLMENT, AND THE EROSION OF THE ENTENTE, 1921
    (pp. 139-177)

    The first year of the treaty regime had been one of disappointment for France. A posture of rigid insistence on every jot and tittle of the Versailles Treaty had been revealed as empty, and the economic vagaries of the postwar world demanded instead diplomatic imagination and experimentation. The burden of initiative fell heaviest on France. Despairing of British support for integral implementation of the treaty, but rejecting the cabalistic revisionism of the previous year, the French government in 1921 tried the opposite approach toward restoration of a European equilibrium. For January 1921, like the January before and the one to...

  12. 5 POINCARÉ AND DIPLOMATIC DEADLOCK, 1922
    (pp. 178-213)

    After two years of unrelenting criticism—of the treaty, the Allies, German ill will, and French policies—Raymond Poincaré accepted the responsibility of power following a crisis of confidence in Briand’s leadership. It would be up to the Treaty of Versailles’ most piercing critic to decide between fulfillment and revisionism. He did not prejudge the issue. In his first six months in office Poincare tried every acceptable means of ending the deadlock concerning reparations/war debts, security, and heavy industry. But the definition of “acceptable” was in the hands of substantially the same parliamentary majority that had dumped Briand for seeming...

  13. 6 FRANCE AT THE RUBICON: THE RUHR DECISION, 1922
    (pp. 214-249)

    During the last half of 1922 Poincare found himself under increasing pressure from President Millerand and the Chambers to achieve results, to break the diplomatic deadlock, if necessary to occupy the Ruhr. Yet the premier was intent on following Briand’s advice from 1921, to try every other tactic first, justify himself abroad and at home, and thus minimize the risks accompanying a Ruhr occupation. The French cabinet and military proceeded with preparations for the ultimate sanction, while Poincare tried once more to wean the British and Germans away from their demands for French concessions. By autumn the premier had little...

  14. 7 ECONOMIC WAR ON THE RHINE AND RUHR: THE STRUGGLE OF POSTWAR REVISIONISMS, 1923
    (pp. 250-304)

    Jacques Seydoux had feared that France might be forced to use violence to break an Anglo-German entente. The Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in January 1923 was that act of violence, made necessary by the French insistence that German recovery was intolerable except within a political structure assuring French military and economic security. But the Treaty of Versailles, which France ostensibly was upholding, died in the Ruhr. German passive resistance escalated the economic struggle, making it desperate and expensive. The French responded with a seizure of all governmental authority in the occupied territories in the effort to overcome the general...

  15. 8 CONFLAGRATION: RHENISH SEPARATISM, 1923-1924
    (pp. 305-359)

    Poincaré had steered France and Europe through ten months of crisis. With daily, even hourly, attention to all aspects of the Ruhr struggle, he had endeavored to keep direction and initiative in his own hands, to apply or relax pressure when needed and to minimize the risks of a provocative policy. But his control in the French-dominated Rhineland itself had proved imperfect. Poincare received the news of the separatist putsch with shock and confusion, but French deputies, generals, and journalists reacted to it with enthusiasm. In response to their pressure and to his own revisionist ambitions, Poincare cast his lot...

  16. 9 CONCLUSION: THE DEFEAT OF FRENCH REVISIONISM
    (pp. 360-379)

    For France the world war was a struggle for survival. The peacemaking process was her struggle to survive as a Great Power. France was exhausted in 1918, but she refused to play dead. For if the war had drained her strength, victory enhanced her self-image. The greatest battles were fought on French soil and French sacrifices had been the greatest; accordingly, it was the French capital that played host to the world's dignitaries in 1919. No matter that the cost of the ordeal threatened to make of France a second-rate power; to the surviving citizens she was not only the...

  17. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 380-404)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 405-420)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 421-421)