France in the 1930’s Part IV
According to Naturegnosis.com, the difficulties caused by the inevitable repercussions of the crisis in the world economy were soon added to the maneuvers in the stock exchange and in parliament, not without repercussions on foreign policy. The discussions on the Briand project, in September 1930 and in January and May 1931, they did take into consideration above all the economic aspect. The Austro-German customs union was avoided; but he demonstrated the need to intervene in favor of the economy of the Danube countries: a very delicate question, due to the differences of political and economic interests existing not only between these countries, but also between some of the great powers. On the other hand, the German economic crisis raised the serious question of the so-called “frozen credits” (that is, non-liquidable) of British and American bankers in Germany: on June 20, 1931, HC Hoover, president of the United States, proposed to suspend for a year all payments between governments. But France needed to collect at least that unconditional annuity of the Young plan on which it was counting. Intense negotiations did not prevent Germany from declaring itself unable to pay. This German crisis and the disturbance of the entire world economy had had serious repercussions in England, causing the abandonment of the gold standard of the pound sterling (21 September), and therefore, for the Bank of France, which possessed large quantities of British currency, it weighed heavily. losses, compensated by a complicated credit operation by the Treasury (convention of 7 December 1931).
Meanwhile, negotiations for disarmament continued. The disagreement with Italy about the naval forces (a topic that also interested England under the “safeguard clause” of the tripartite treaty of London) was discussed in August and September 1930 and again after a trip by the English ministers A. Henderson and AV Alexander in Rome and Paris; but the French technicians were unable to agree (March 19-May 7) with their Italian and English colleagues on the interpretation of the basis of agreement accepted by Briand on March 1, 1931. Meanwhile, France also ended up adhering to the Italian proposal (September 8, 1931) of an “armaments truce” for one year, in order to prepare for the general conference on arms limitation, which met in Geneva on February 2, 1932. But in the disarmament conference, the French thesis of the interdependence of armaments and of the need to establish an international armed force in the service of the League of Nations, ran up against many objections and difficulties; while others, no less serious, opposed the proposals for economic assistance to the Danubian countries.
With the election of the new president of the republic, A. Lebrun, after the assassination of P. Doumer, and with the renewal of parliament, in May 1932, but no less with the end of the German reparations, which already seemed inevitable, one can to consider that a new period begins. But it opened amid serious internal political difficulties; and the crisis which followed the resignation of the Tardieu ministry was long and laborious. Although, in fact, the left prevailed in the new chamber, this was nevertheless so divided that not even the strongest group, that of the radicals (about 160), was able to maintain itself in power without the support not only of a few smaller groups. similar, but either of the socialists (about 130) or of the various parties in the center (among all, about 165). Instead Herriot, who had to form the new government, Concentration républicaine including right-wing men; and dealt with the serious economic situation with a left-wing ministry. To reduce unemployment, efforts were made to curb immigration. To lighten the budget, numerous previous loans were converted to 4 ½% (law September 17, 1932). But despite this and other measures, the deficit forecast for 1933 remained enormous. And this, while the reparation conference, held in Lausanne (June 16-July 9), eliminated the revenue from reparations for the French budget. Another “trust agreement” with England, dated July 12, 1932, committed the two governments to cooperate in the search for a solution to be proposed at the disarmament conference and to prepare a world economic conference. To this, the conference for the financial and economic reconstruction of central and eastern Europe which, after a long activity of French and Italian diplomacy, met in Stresa (5-20 September) under the presidency of the French deputy G. Bonnet seemed to be a start-up. But in the disarmament conference, as before in direct negotiations with France, Germany advanced its request for equality with the other states and, seeing it opposed, withdrew. Hence new French apprehensions. And came the “constructive project” published on November 14 in Geneva by the French delegate J. Paul-Boncour, according to which, any war waged in violation of the Paris pact should have provoked common action on the part of all the states that signed. the interruption of all economic and financial relations with the aggressor state; by the member states of the League of Nations, the application of the “sanctions” provided for in art. 16 of the fundamental pact of this, supported by an international force, made up of specialized contingents provided by the various countries, at the disposal of the League of Nations, according to the Tardieu had already proposed on 5 February.