Between a rock and a hard place: social-political climate and military preparations in Interwar France (1919-1939)

Postgraduate Thesis uoadl:2883652 90 Read counter

Κατεύθυνση Ευρωπαϊκή ιστορία
Library of the School of Philosophy
Deposit date:
Oikonomou Vasileios
Supervisors info:
Μαρία Παπαθανασίου (αναπληρώτρια καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Ιστορίας-Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ)
Κωνσταντίνος Ράπτης (αναπληρωτής καθηγητής, Τμήμα Ιστορίας-Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ)
Κώστας Γαγανάκης (αναπληρωτής καθηγητής, Τμήμα Ιστορίας-Αρχαιολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ)
Original Title:
Ανάμεσα στις συμπληγάδες: κοινωνικοπολιτικό κλίμα και στρατιωτικές προετοιμασίες στη Γαλλία του Μεσοπολέμου (1919-1939)
Translated title:
Between a rock and a hard place: social-political climate and military preparations in Interwar France (1919-1939)
The Interwar years were crucial for the 3rd French Republic. During this period the country reached its peak and came crushing down shortly after, as the triumph of victory in the First World War was undermined by the political and financial degradation that became the ultimate reasons for the humiliating defeat of 1940 and the consequent German occupation.
But above all, those years were a period of intense contradictions like the need for modernization colliding with past obsessions, the replacement of diplomatic inflexibility by the politics of appeasement and the agonizing attempts of a declining superpower to retain its former glory. In this way the two decades between the World Wars could also be considered as a time of transition.
More than any other country, France had to relinquish the ways of the past in order to adapt to new and constantly changing circumstances. It is in this point that long established preconceptions about the political and military establishment’s stiffness begin to appear. And there is no better example than the so called decadence of the french people during this period.
The aim of this master thesis is to shed some light on the aspects of Interwar France that are more or less unknown and to confute the antiquated narratives that persist to appear in literature. This will be achieved through an extensive reference to social processes, political developments, diplomatic activities and restructuring undergone by the french military between 1918-1939.
Dividing said period in two distinct phases will be a necessary tool since they roughly apply to the 1920’s and the 1930’s. It’s a quite helpful analogy because the first half of this era is related to a short period of national fulfillment and euphoria, while the second one applies to the country’s gradual decline of power.
One more way in which this period will be approached will be the analysis of important terms like Decadence or the Maginot Mentality. They are keywords and without mentioning and/or explaining them it is not possible to extract definite conclusions. There are going to be thorough breakdowns and in some cases complete chapters dedicated to them.
And though France’s entry to the Second World War may not be covered by the conventional time frame that is given above, this thesis is still connected with the attempts made to deter Germany and the country’s own preparations for war. Thus its sole purpose is to present a complete and coherent picture of Interwar France.
Main subject category:
France, Germany, Interwar, World, War, Maginot, Line, Decadence, 1920, 1930, annees, folles
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