France 1918-1929
Foreign Policy
France 1929-1939
Intellectual Life

France 1929-1939
Foreign Policy

In 1930 the last French troops left occupied Germany. France continued her alliances with Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Yugoslavia. When the Nazis took over in Germany and Italy's Mussolini announced his intention to annex territory, France prepared herself for another war. The main element of that preparation was the MAGINOT LINE, a chain of fortresses along the Franco-German border - France believed it to be impregnable.
In 1935 the population of the SAARGEBIET, administrated by the French since 1919 and included in the French economic sphere (Franc- currency) in a plebiscite overwhelmingly opted for Germany. The same year Italy invaded Ethiopia; the League of Nations called upon her members to boycott Italy economically. France, Italy's foremost trading partner, joined the boycott.

The election victory of the POPULAR FRONT in France in 1936 served as a major irritation in Europe's political landscape, as Britain, for a brief moment, toyed with the idea of an Anglo-German-Italian alliance versus the communist powers (USSR and France). The SPANISH CIVIL WAR (1936-1939) was another irritation; France officially pursued a policy of neutrality and joined Britain, Germany and Italy in blocking the Spanish coasts and borders to prevent the import of arms. Many Frenchmen voluntarily fought on the side of the Spanish Republic. The republican side lost early in 1939. Many refugees fled to France; here, volunteers who had fought for the republic were interned.
When Hitler threatened Czechoslovakia over the SUDETENLAND issue in 1939, France was willing to go to war if she was joined by Britain. Yet at the MUNICH CONFERENCE of 1938, Chamberlain pursued the policy of APPEASEMENT. France and Britain failed to protect their ally, Czechoslovakia. In 1938 France ceded the territory of ALEXANDRETTE (in Turkish : Hatay) to Turkey, in order to influence the republic to take a position more favourable to the allied cause.
When German troops attacked Poland ob September 1st 1939, the French government declared war on Germany.

Timeline 1919-1939, from France Diplomatie
DOCUMENTS Franco-German Declaration, Dec. 6th 1938, from Avalon Project
The French Yellow Book (Papers 1938-1939), from Avalon Project
REFERENCE Roger Price, A Concise History of France, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1993, pp.218-231
Chapter XI : French Policy - and Why, pp.166-181 in : John Gunther, Inside Europe, 1940 War Edition, NY : Harper Bros. 1940 [G]
Philippe Bernard and Henri Dubief, The Decline of the Third Republic 1914-1938, (Fr. Or. 1975, Eng. Trsl. 1985) Cambridge UP 1993, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 944.0814 B518d
Article : France, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1937 pp.882-912 (data of 1935-1937) [G]
Article : France, in : Americana Annual 1930 pp.335-340, 1931 pp.332-336, 1932 pp.300-307, 1933 pp.331-335, 1934 pp.261-264, 1935 pp.301-306, 1936 pp.307-311, 1937 pp.302-305, 1938 pp.293-296, 1939 pp.317-320 [G]
Article : France, in : New International Year Book 1930 pp.282-288, 1932 pp.295-302, 1933 pp.280-285, 1934 pp.243-249, 1935 pp.250-256, 1938 pp.263-268, 1939 pp.286-291 [G]
Article : France, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1932 pp.265-269, 1933 pp.219-224, 1934 pp.242-247, 1935 pp.233-239, 1936 pp.205-212, 1937 pp.206-214, 1938 pp.214-221, 1939 pp.230-237 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on March 30th 2007

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