France in the Inter-War Years

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Marshal Phillipe Pétain, the new head of Vichy France, meets Hitler after the German conquest of France in 1940.
You might remember from Third Year that when the Treaty of Versailles was being drawn up, revenge was foremost on the minds of the French. France wanted Germany punished for all the years of aggression it had experienced. In 1870, Germany as we know it today was created when various German states united to form the German Empire, after the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War (if you've studied Nationalism and State Formation in Europe, 1815-1870, you've learned this). In that war, Prussia (the leading German state) took the Alsace and Lorraine regions from France. This alone was enough reason for the French to feel resentment towards Germany, but in 1914 Germany attempted to invade France again.

So, in 1919 it was a vengeful France which demanded harsh terms on Germany. You know by now what happened in Germany as a result. But how did things play out in France between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Second?

Continue to Hitler's Foreign Policy and the Causes of World War II





It might seem like there's more than usual to know for this section, but there are no Key Personalities and no Case Studies associated with it, so it balances out.
  • France After World War I
    • Death and destruction, reconstruction, political instability (right, left and centre).
  • Le Bloc National (right-wing coalition)
    • Response to strikes.
    • Demanded harsh measures on France in the Treaty of Versailles.
    • Re-inforce French security through treaties, invasion of the Ruhr.
    • Reconstruction: what was rebuilt, what was needed, how was it paid for?
  • Cartel des Gauches and National Unity (left wing coalition):
    • Failed, unable to solve economic problems.
    • National Unity (Poincaré) tried to save the franc.
    • Cartel des Gauches return and are faced with the Great Depression and the rise of the right-wing leagues.
    • Stavisky Affair: Scandal, death, reaction of right-wing groups, riots and demonstrations.
  • Popular Front (left-wing):
    • Workers rebel, compromise with Matignon Agreement.
    • Further economic problems.
  • Government of National Defence (right-wing):
    • Foreign Policy directed by Briand - Locarno Pact, Kellogg-Briand Pact.
    • Maginot Line.
    • Pierre Laval and the Stressa Front.
    • Weakness against Hitler.
  • World War II and Vichy France:
    • Invaded by Germany in 1940: right/left divide, failure of Maginot Line, armistice.
    • France divided into Occupied France and Vichy France (Pétain and Laval).
    • Collaboration: raw materials, workers, costs, rounding up of Jews.
    • French Resistance: Different groups, General de Gaulle, revenge on the collaborators. 


Key Terms:  
Communism, Depression, Protectionism, Fascist, Anti-Semitism, Collaboration, Resistance.
(click here)


Aristide Briand, who directed French foreign policy in the years before World War II.




Higher Level (100 marks each)
2014: What were the fortunes of France during the period 1920-1945?

2012: What were the main challenges facing France, 1920 - 1940?

2009: Why was France unstable during the period, 1920 - 1940?

2008: What was the impact of World War II on the civilian population of Britain and/or France?

2007: What problems did the Third Republic of France encounter between 1920 and 1940?



Ordinary Level:
2015, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B
2012, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on the Third Republic in France, 1920 - 1940. (30)

2011, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B
2008, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B
2006, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on the Vichy State in France, 1940 - 1945. (30)

2010, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B
2007, Dictatorship and Democracy, Part B:
Write a short paragraph on France during World War II. (30)



Alexandre Stavinsky, the man at the centre of the Stavisky Affair.







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