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Jules Cambon and Franco-German Détente, 1907–1914

J. Keiger


Jules Cambon and Franco-German Détente, 1907–1914


Improved Franco-German relations are rarely associated with the years preceding the Great War or with the policies of Raymond Poincaré. Yet from 1907 to 1914 a persistent attempt was made to bring about détente between Paris and Berlin, which eventually led to the French president adopting a conciliatory attitude towards Germany, occasionally at the expense of relations with Russia. The instigator of this policy was the French ambassador in Berlin, Jules Cambon. He believed that Franco-German détente could best serve the two axioms of French diplomacy since 1870: continental security and overseas expansion. Cambon considered the growth of German power in Europe and abroad to be both natural and inevitable and that France must come to terms with it.1 His policy involved ending the intransigence which he saw as having characterized French diplomacy, often with disastrous results, since 1870. He confessed in May 1908 that his ideas were fairly summarized in Clemenceau's remark to him: ‘On dit que vous avez dit que vous ne voulez aller ni à Ems ni à Faschoda.’2 These two incidents, the ‘Ems telegram’ and the Fashoda crisis, symbolized for him the recklessness and inflexibility of France's past diplomacy.

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The Historical Journal. – 1983. – Vol. 26, № 3. – P. 641–659.

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