Germany - France
World Economic and Political Geography
Metropolitan University Prague 2013
The German Confederation was a loose association of 39 German states in Central Europe, created by
the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries and
to replace the former Holy Roman Empire. The result of the Austro-Prussian war in 1866 was a shift in
power among the German states away from Austrian and towards Prussian hegemony, and impetus
towards the unification of all of the northern German states in a Kleindeutschland that excluded Austria.
After the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Prussia and its allies founded the North German Confederation -
a federation of 22 independent states of northern Germany, with nearly 30 million inhabitants. It was the
first modern German nation state.
The Franco-Prussian War 1870/71 ended with the complete victory of Prussia and its allies. The most
important consequence was the unification of Germany. The military successes generated enthusiasm
and pride that politicians could harness to promote unification.
The Treaty of Frankfurt, in addition to giving Germany the city of Strasbourg and the fortification
at Metz, made Germany the possessor of Alsace and the northern portion of Lorraine (Moselle), both
of which (especially Alsace) were home to a majority of ethnic Germans and contained 80% of French
iron ore and machine shops. The loss of this territory was a source of resentment in France for years
to come, and contributed to public support for World War I, in which France vowed to take back control
of Alsace-Lorraine. This revanchism created a permanent state of crisis between Germany and France
(French–German enmity), which would be one of the contributing factors leading to World War I.
Its efforts to obtain territory overseas brought Germany into conflict with the other
powers, especially France.
Triple Entente of Britain, Russia, and France which was opposed by the Triple
Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.
The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and
pay reparations to countries that had formed the Entente powers.
The Occupation of the Ruhr between 1923 and 1925, by troops from France and Belgium, was a
response to the failure of the German Weimar Republic to pay reparations in the aftermath of World
Hitler promised to undo the Versailles Treaty under which Germany had to reparation to England
and France. He also promised to restore hope and the deal with the depression. Hitler also blamed
the Jews for inflicting tragedy to Germany.
Adolf Hitler wanted more land, especially in the east, to expand Germany according to the Nazi
policy of lebensraum. Hitler used the harsh limitations that were set against Germany in
the Versailles Treaty as a pretext for Germany's right to acquire land where German-speaking
people lived. Germany successfully used this reasoning to envelop two entire countries (Austria,
Czechoslovakia) without starting a war. Yet, when Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939,
other European countries felt they had to act. The result was six long years of World War II.
France fell under German occupation until it was liberated in 1944 when the combined US-British
forces landed in Normandy and retook Paris.
The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder–
Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes during 1945–1949
In May 1950 French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed the establishment of a common
market for coal and steel for those countries willing to delegate control of these sectors of their
economies to an independent authority. In drawing up what was called the Schuman plan, French
policy makers were motivated by the belief that a new economic and political framework was
needed to avoid future Franco-German conflicts. The first step was to be limited, but the ultimate
objective was the creation of a “United States of Europe.”
The European Economic Community (EEC) was created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957. Its aim
was to bring about economic integration, including acommon market, among its six founding
members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany.
The Élysée Treaty also known as the Treaty of Friendship, was established by Charles de
Gaulle of France and Konrad Adenauer of Germany on January 22, 1963 for reconciliation between
the two countries. With it, Germany and France established a new foundation for relations that
ended centuries of rivalry between them.
2012: The European Union receives the Nobel peace prize in Oslo in recognition of six decades of
work promoting "peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights".