This subject file is the result of extensive research in the national, regional and satirical press archives in Germany (including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt, Die Zeit, the Westfälische Rundschau, the Frankfurter Rundschau and Simplicissimus) and in France (including Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, L’Humanité, L’Express, France-Soir, Paris-Presse-L’intransigeant, Le Canard enchaîné, Le Cri de la France and Action). The systematic study of these primary sources has enabled the selection of a wide range of cartoons, which provide a powerful and often humorous illustration of the complexities and vicissitudes of the Franco-German duo and its role in the European integration process. Research was also conducted in the satirical East German press (the Frischer Wind and the Eulenspiegel), which was highly critical of any rapprochement between France and West Germany. For the history of the Franco-German duo is above all the history of a special relationship between two Western countries, and studying the East German viewpoint during this time can prove particularly illuminating, offering a fascinating new angle on this relationship. The file also contains press illustrations from the private collections of Walther Fekl, a retired lecturer and researcher at European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), and from collections of cartoons held at the Frankreich-Bibliothek of the Franco-German Institute in Ludwigsburg, which has a huge volume of material on contemporary France and Franco-German relations.


The selected cartoons provide an often cheeky, sarcastic interpretation of the Franco-German duo, that special relationship, which, despite its periods of tension and crisis, has always bounced back and has often served as a driving force for European unification. The cartoons reflect the two leaders’ attitudes to the challenges of the European integration process, painting an often humorous but at times openly critical picture of this bilateral relationship. The file aims to show how press cartoonists from France and Germany have experienced, perceived and illustrated this Franco-German partnership, which has continued to evolve during the turbulent history of European integration. This comparative analysis reflects the convergences and divergences within this unique pairing and demonstrates the ever-changing balance of power within the partnership. The cartoons also reveal the fact that there is often a discrepancy between official photos and the reality of the Franco-German relationship.


Care has been taken to maintain even-handedness between French and German illustrations so as to offer a balanced reflection of the creation, development, role and impact of the Franco-German duo throughout the process of European unification. The pair’s relations with third countries have also been examined, since the joint action of France and Germany should be seen within a broader geopolitical context in which the United States, the Soviet Union and other states have played a decisive role through their political decisions and choices. Press illustrations have been chosen for their relevance to the subject, and a particular effort has also been made to select documents from as wide a variety of sources as possible so as to reflect a broad political spectrum.


The cartoons are accompanied by explanatory captions, which place the historical events in context and also shed light on the meaning and interpretation of the various symbols, metaphors, stereotypes, hidden messages, myths, allegorical or historical figures and plays on words that can be found in each cartoon. The analysis of physical elements such as the size, shape, appearance, dress and features of the various characters depicted can also help us understand the message the cartoonist is trying to portray.


The subject file covers the period from 1945 to 2013: the formation and development of the Franco-German duo can only clearly be understood by examining Franco-German relations in the aftermath of the Second World War and the steps that led to reconciliation between Paris and Bonn. The history of this reconciliation began with a deep distrust by France of post-war Germany and its position of power in Europe. Although the 1963 Élysée Treaty is often seen as the founding instrument of the Franco-German duo, the roots of the relationship go back much further, to the early 1950s, when French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman and Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer provided the necessary impetus and determination for the two countries to move forward together.


The file contains five main chapters divided into sub-sections, each of which begins with an analytical text that offers a clear, concise explanation of the role played by the Franco-German duo in the history of the European integration process. The selected cartoons are presented in chronological order, from the oldest to the most recent. Each cartoon is accompanied by precise bibliographical references including the author’s name, the publication in which the illustration first appeared, and the date and place of publication. Alongside these press drawings, which form the core of the subject file, there are photos to illustrate the main events, a chronology of Franco-German relations from 1945 to 2013 and a select bibliography on Franco-German relations as portrayed in cartoons. We should also mention the comprehensive bibliography available on website of the EIRIS, an interdisciplinary research team on the satirical image attached to the ‘Héritages et Constructions dans le Texte et l’Image’ entity (Legacies and Constructions in Text and Image — EA 4249) at the University of Western Brittany, which contains more than 4 000 references to German and French works.


The subject file also includes short biographies of important contemporary players (French Presidents and German Chancellors) and an index of cartoonists. All the cartoons and photos are published by the CVCE, with an indication of their source and copyright.


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