Member of the Resistance, Jean-Louis Bory published in 1945 a novel written during the national liberation struggle and which was an immense success: Mon village à l’heure allemande.
Olivier Delorme has just published 30 bonne raisons de quitter l’Europe*. Historian (and novelist), Delorme has been inspired by General De Gaulle while remaining detached from gaullist politics. Delorme could well have titled his book Mon Europe à l’heure Allemande, for Germany is the black thread that links the thirty chapters of his book.
Of course, there was no ‘German plot’ to achieve hegemony in Europe, as there was no ‘American plot’ hatched in the corridors of Washington and Wall Street. The play of the participants takes place in the full light of geopolitical power politics. After 1945, the US is in a dominant position in Western Europe. Defeated Germany, guilty of massive crimes(1), wants to see both its respectability and its role in European reconstruction acknowledged. France, but also the Vatican, plays a decisive role in this reconstruction – fashioned against the Soviet Union. From Delorme’s comprehensive and clear exposition I draw three short history lessons.
The Europe of which we speak – the West – is the product of the Cold War and it exists, until 1990, only as a product of the Cold War. A few dates suffice to establish this point: the first Soviet atomic bomb is detonated on 22 August 1949; the Prague coup of 25 February 1948 and the end of the civil war in Greece on 16 October 1949 end up determining the two camps. And on 9 May 1950 Robert Schumann, French foreign minister, made the famous ‘Declaration’ that launched European integration.
This Europe of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), of the Common Market then of the European Economic Community has the particularity of not being European. It was not constructed from within. The US grants it the credits (the Marshall Plan) and demands in April 1948 the creation of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (becomes the OECD). As the US has imposed the dollar as the international currency and deployed its armed forces on European soil, its voice is naturally preponderant.
Greatly afflicted by the Occupation and by the Liberation struggle, bogged down in Indochina and lacking a nuclear force, France is even less able to contest the US’ European politics, as its political class is largely convinced that nations must be subsumed in ‘Europe’. This transcendence, presented as a law of history, amounts to a sleight of hand, given that Germany is not really yet a nation – having only known in its brief existence an imperial regime, with the exception of the fourteen years of the Weimar Republic. The presumption is that all nations are intrinsically bellicose, necessitating their fusion in a supranational Europe. Simultaneously, one drowns German culpability in a flood of condemnations of warmongering nationalisms.
This theme of transcendence becomes inscribed in a soft ideology, tame by contrast with totalitarian ideologies, but which provides an appearance of inspiration for European elites. It is manifest in the form of Christian Democracy, embodied in Robert Schumann, Alcide de Gasperi and Konrad Adenauer, underpinned by the Vatican. Of these three ‘founding fathers’, the Frenchman was certainly the worst. One has too readily forgotten that Robert Schumann, Deputy from Moselle between the Wars, champion of the employer class, admirer of Salazar and Franco, had voted full powers to Marshall Pétain before scrupulously abstaining from any resistance involvement.
Indicted under the ordinance of indignité nationale [August 1944], a criminal condemnation from which de Gaulle had the weakness to absolve him, but encouraged by [the rabidly pro-German] Pius XII and business interests, this insider of the ‘American Committee for United Europe’ contrived to build a Europe that has not ceased to contradict the Catholic ambition of universality, justice and peace given that the ongoing surrender to ultra-competition involves the extension of the war of all against all.
Under the aegis of Jean Monnet, involved, very closely involved with the US before, during and after the war, the ECSC, created in 1951 by the Paris Treaty was the first supranational institution, designed to manage the production of coal and steel while privileging transatlantic solidarity on the vaunted imperatives of European integration. In particular, the ECSC agreed to renounce the importation of coal from Poland to replace it by American coal.
The Gaullists and communists unsuccessfully opposed the Treaty of Paris but, in mobilizing public opinion, they succeeded in aborting the project of a European Defense Community which involved the rearmament of West Germany. At least, this half of Germany, where denazification had been a ‘farce’, was now again respectable in the eyes of the US and former Vichyists: Antoine Pinay, then Prime Minister but formerly a member of Pétain’s Vichy administration, signed the EDC Treaty in May 1952.
But what respectability? It has become a mantra for fifty years that Germany raised itself by its own efforts and the rigor imposed under the ‘social market economy’. Olivier Delorme puts paid to the legend. The West Germany economy benefited from American loans, of the cancellation of a significant proportion of its debt, of the spacing out over the long term of the remainder, of the deferral of interest repayments and of a convenient forgetfulness regarding war reparations.
If we had punished West Germany and the Germans for their crimes as methodically as Berlin punished Greece for some weaknesses that has killed nobody, if we had pillaged Germany as systematically as Germany pillages Greece today, the country that we take as a model could still be in ruins.
It was certainly necessary to rebuild a defeated West Germany, a country under military occupation like East Germany. For France, the territories to its east constituted a bulwark against a potential Soviet invasion, and it was important that the West German people acquired a living standard that disinclined them from turning to the communists. Burt it was not least as important to control the ensemble of affairs of the Bundesrepublik.
Born after the failure of the  Fouchet Plan for an intergovernmental political union [supplanting the thrust for supranational institutions], a Franco-German treaty proposed by De Gaulle to the German chancellor Adenauer aimed to establish a political entente. But it depended on a fragile base. The German Chancellor, who had already agreed to German participation in a multilateral nuclear force proposed by the US, was battling with his ministers who did not want a bilateral treaty with France(2). Moreover, as Olivier Delorme recalls, this celebrated ‘Elysée Treaty’ [the Franco-German Treaty of Friendship, January 1963], foundation of Franco-German friendship and of the equally celebrated ‘Franco-German couple’, was marginalized by the Bundestag in June 1963, with a preliminary declaration specifying unilaterally that the links between Federal Republic and the US would always prevail over links with France.
The West German economic recovery occurred in a country whose existence depended on the maintenance of the balance of terror and which was bound, in the unlikely assumption of a Russian invasion, to serve as a battlefield, covered as a precaution by French Pluton tactical nuclear missiles. This plan did not prevent Gaullist France from maintaining good relations with the Soviet Union which for its part offered the guarantee of the lasting division of the two Germanies(3).
The fall of the Berlin wall destroyed this balance – previously very favorable to France. The absorption of the German Democratic Republic by the Federal Republic revived French anxieties, concerns that François Mitterand wanted to allay by tying down Germany by the Maastricht Treaty. The manoeuvre was a comprehensive failure since the German ‘political dwarf’ of the Cold War had mutated into the dominant power through the effect of the  Economic and Monetary Union, French laxity in the face of German machinations during the break-up of Yugoslavia and of the fascination of the French political and business elites for the so-called ‘German model’.
In the course of this period, unfortunately ongoing, we have been able to readily verify that Europe as reduced to the European Union guarantees neither peace, nor prosperity, nor democracy. As for the ‘Franco-German couple’, a marriage of convenience founded on ulterior motives, it was destroyed by the reunion of the two Germanies.
The account by Olivier Delorme is unsparing. Germany facilitated the Yugoslav catastrophe in recognizing Slovenia and Croatia in line with historical affinities which have moved it to support Croation extremists(4). Again Germany was active in conjunction with the US and Poland in the removal of [the Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovich. Germany dictates monetary policy in the euro zone, according to the rules and fantasies of a Germany monetary patriotism which ensures that the euro is a Germany currency. This is rightly analyzed as an ‘ideological yoke’, a means of real constraint, deflationist and rigorously anti-social, utilized to punish Greece – as it was to punish East Germany – and to discourage any revolt against the current monetary regime.
Olivier Delorme shows no sign of discouragement. For him, as for us, the re-conquest of national sovereignty is possible in the near future. It is necessary as of now to envisage a reunion of the national states of the continent in a Europe at last European. It is really for the European Union that the death knell sounds.
* Olivier Delorme, 30 bonne raison de quitter l’Europe, H&O, 2017. Other essays and books that question the European status quo recently issuing from French publishers include: Jacques Sapir, L’Euro contre la France, l’euro contre l’Europe, Cerf, 2016; Coralie Delaume & David Cayla, La fin l’Union européenne, Michalon, 2017; Frédéric Farah, Europe: La grand liquidation démocratique, H&O, 2017.
(1) It is not only the SS but the totality of the German army, supported by the great majority of the German population which is culpable of war crimes and of crimes against humanity. Cf. Christian Baechler, Guerre et exterminations à l’Est, Hitler et la conquête de l’espace vital 1933-1945, Tallandier, 2016.
(2) On this point, cf. Pierre Maillard, De Gaulle et le problème allemand, De Guibert, 2001, particularly Ch.9, ‘La crise du traité franco-allemand’. Also Jacques Bariety: ‘De Gaulle, Adenauer et la genèse du traité de l’Elysée du 22 janvier 1963’, in De Gaulle en son siècle, Vol. 5, pp352-364, charles-de-gaulle.org.
(3) Georges-Henri Soutou, L’Alliance incertaine, Les rapports politico-stratégiques franco-allemands, 1954-1996. Fayard, 1996, and my review of the work.
Translated by Evan Jones