The cultivation of friendship: French and German cultural cooperation, 1925-1954 Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Passman, Elana
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • Through a series of case studies of French-German friendship societies, this dissertation investigates the ways in which activists in France and Germany battled the dominant strains of nationalism to overcome their traditional antagonism. It asks how the Germans and the French recast their relationship as hereditary enemies to enable them to become partners at the heart of today's Europe. Looking to the transformative power of civic activism, it examines how journalists, intellectuals, students, industrialists, and priests developed associations and lobbying groups to reconfigure the French-German dynamic through cultural exchanges, bilingual or binational journals, conferences, lectures, exhibits, and charitable ventures. As a study of transnational cultural relations, this dissertation focuses on individual mediators along with the networks and institutions they developed; it also explores the history of the idea of cooperation. Attempts at rapprochement in the interwar period proved remarkably resilient in the face of the prevalent nationalist spirit. While failing to override hostilities and sustain peace, the campaign for cooperation adopted a new face in the misguided shape of collaborationism during the Second World War. The push toward cooperation continued into the postwar period in two vastly different directions. Some invoked the idea of cooperation as an allegedly new way to overcome the Franco-German antagonism and achieve lasting peace in a European community. But former Nazis and collaborators also harnessed this notion of cooperation after the war; they recast their wartime behavior in the more positive light of long-term efforts toward European cooperation. This study helps reshape the way we look at cooperation in 20th century Europe. It underscores the role of intellectual and cultural efforts in fostering healthier international relations. By arguing that the quest for cooperation was not simply a postwar venture, but that it emerged from the Locarno era, this study shows how advocates of cooperation persisted in their work even during the most marked periods of hostility. Ultimately, I contend that interwar efforts for cooperation helped shape both Vichy-era collaboration and postwar reconciliation.
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  • Reid, Donald
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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