Britain and France between Two Wars: Conflicting Strategies of Peace from Versailles to World War II (Norton Library (Paperback))


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Brilliant... highly original in its approach and meticulously cautious, concise and convincing in its judgments. --Sidney B. Fay, The Yale Review

For those who gathered at Versailles in 1919 to draw up the terms of peace, the great issue was the political problem of Germany's power and position in postwar Europe. But even with an Allied victory so newly won, the two great European powers, Britain and France, failed to reconcile their self-interests. Thus a pattern was set that persisted almost to the outbreak of World War II. For nearly twenty years the outlook of France and Britain on European affairs, their aims, their interests, and their policies differed fundamentally.... Neither of the two countries was able to pursue unhampered the course it laid out for itself.

Professor Wolfers examines France's efforts to prevent a resurgent German military power by establishing, by force if necessary, permanent boundary settlements both on Germany's western and eastern frontiers. And he explores France's relations with Central Europe and all countries whose territorial integrity she sought to guarantee, largely in the interests of her own security. He also explores the British attitude, which assumed that the provisions of the Versailles treaty were in fact provisional and that Germany, if allowed to develop again into a great nation, would have no cause to turn to aggressive policies. England's major interest was her Empire; a politically and economically content Germany, it was felt, would provide a healthy balance of power in Europe and peace would be maintained.

In this discussion of French and British diplomacy during the interwar years, Professor Wolfers takes special note of opposing views toward collective security that hampered the League of Nations virtually from its inception and led ultimately to its failure to keep the peace.

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