Enemy Mediators. The Practice of Franco-German Rapprochement in the Long 20th Century
Similar to the idea of a united Europe, the desire for a Franco-German understanding has never been a privilege of liberal democrats. Since their emergence in the early socialist and pacifist movements, policies of reconciliation have also been practiced by the communist parties of both countries and even by racists and nationalists. This study traces the Franco-German engagement of four men and one woman who, as activists and intellectuals, shaped Franco-German relations politically for many decades between the late 19th and early 21st centuries – and this in ideologically antagonistic ways. The French Germanist Victor Basch (1863-1944) stands for a rapprochement in the name of socialism and human rights. The lawyer Friedrich Grimm (1888-1959) propagated a "Franco-German reconciliation" in Hitler's Europe and tried to maintain contact with the French right after the war. The German Romanist Klara-Marie Faßbinder (1890-1974) was active in the Peace League of German Catholics and founded the West German Women's Peace Movement after the Second World War. The French lawyer Pierre Kaldor (1912-2010) belonged to the Communist Party of France and headed a committee which, from the 1970s to the 1990s, opposed the exclusion of Communists from the public service of the Federal Republic of Germany. Finally, the French historian Joseph Rovan (1918-2004) was close to Gaullism and Christian Democracy.
Dr. Dominik Rigoll
Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History
Am Neuen Markt 1
Email: rigoll [at] zzf-potsdam.de