France in the 1930’s Part II

France in the 1930’s Part II

In order to further tighten up in the face of Germany, and, following the German requests for a moratorium on the payment of reparations and the lack of agreement between the allies in the conferences of London (9-11 December 1922) and Paris (2-4 January 1923), the immediate action of France and Belgium, with the military occupation of the Ruhr valley, and the measures taken to stem and combat the so-called “passive resistance” of Germany, which only ceased in September. But it was precisely Poincaré’s attitude that had made even more evident the disagreement with England, which was resolved in September. And then Poincaré had to accept the appointment of the commissions of experts, one of which, on April 9, 1924, presented the “Dawes plan”.

But that discontent over the failure to achieve the fruits of victory was turning, in the nation, into discontent and disappointment: the reconstruction of the invaded regions had cost a lot, and now, after the sacrifices imposed by the war, and after the victory, even the a rigorous policy proved sterile and, even if it continued to give hope, finally, prosperity, it too ended up imposing ever new sacrifices: heavier taxes, higher life costs, economies by the state, that is, suppression of jobs and offices, to the irritation of the smaller cities where the suppressed were based. These were all reasons for wanting to react against the policy followed until then and try the different path proposed by the left. These from the elections of May 1924 came out victorious. And they ran to revenge, against Millerand himself, who was criticized for direct intervention in political matters. Herriot refused the assignment to set up the ministry. Millerand then turned to France François-Marsal, with whom the Chamber did not want to have relations. It was necessary to surrender and on 11 June Millerand deposed the presidency of the republic.

Doumergue was elected by the Senate and the more moderate elements: and under this head of state, whom he reproached for being too conservative, the “cartel of the left” came to power with E. Herriot, who spoke of détente and he proposed to seek the security of France in arbitration and disarmament, and to resume relations with Russia.

As for security, the French government now believed that it could also be achieved through international arbitration and non-aggression pacts, accompanied by general disarmament. But the conservative government, which came to power in England in November 1924, did not think it could accept either the “settlement of international dissensions” provided for in the Herriot-Mac Donald resolution, in Geneva, or to conclude both an Anglo-Franco-Belgian pact, is a larger one, that is, including Poland and Czechoslovakia; at the most, he was willing to consider an exclusively Western pact, but also including Germany. And on the other hand, pacts of that kind presupposed the entry of Germany into the society of nations, subordinated in turn to the execution of the Dawes plan; just as universal disarmament implied in the thought of France that Germany was previously carried out, effectively and under the control of the allies and the society of nations. For its part, on the first point, it offered new guarantees to the London conference (16 July-16 August 1924) and obtained in exchange the eviction of the Ruhr; and in February 1925 he offered the stipulation of a guarantee pact for the Rhine border and arbitration treaties. On the other hand, France recognized the Soviet government in Russia (October 28, 1924) in the hope of also obtaining partial recognition of the loans made to the Tsarist government.

According to, the worrying financial situation tried to remedy the new cabinet chaired by P. Painlevé which had J. Caillaux as Finance Minister. But the socialists and radicals-socialists broke away from the majority: in August the socialist congress in Paris declared itself out of intransigence. The proposal, made in October by the radicals, of a capital tax, opposed by Caillaux, provoked dissension among the ministers and the recomposition of the cabinet.

The situation was serious both abroad and internally: the insurrection of Abd el-Krim in Morocco and the Druze in Syria; movement for autonomy in Alsace and Lorraine, to which the law of 24 July 1925 gave a new administrative structure; and England, committed (Baldwin-Mellon agreement, June 19, 1923) to pay its debt to the United States, now resumed the principles set out in the “Balfour note” of August 1, 1922, inviting its debtors to pay it in turn. Caillaux negotiated in London with W. Churchill, in August 1925, but soon stalled. The only favorable element was the step made in the question of security, through the Locarno agreements, the work of Briand, signed in London on 1 December 1925. But immediately, the new financial projects provoked new ministeral crises; and the situation became very serious when the new cabinet chaired by Herriot was overthrown after two days, when the pound sterling had jumped from 198 to 238.50 francs (on 20 July 1926), and while hostile demonstrations were taking place in the streets of Paris. But in the meantime, the insurrections in Morocco and Syria had subsided in the spring of 1926; concluded, for Syria, the Angora convention (February 18, 1926), with Turkey; negotiations on the question of inter-allied debts resumed and concluded (Washington agreements, April 29, and London, July 12, 1926); concluded a series of agreements, including a friendship pact with Romania (10 June 1926).

France in the 1930's 2