De Gaulle and Adenauer - A Franco-German Friendship
On January 22, 1963, Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer signed the Franco-German friendship treaty in the Élysée Palace in Paris. In doing so, they put the relationship between the two nations onto a completely new footing. From then on, the old hatreds, humiliations and "traditional enmity" were to be replaced by trust, cooperation and cultural exchange.
The film shows how de Gaulle and Adenauer succeeded in reconciling their nations through their own personal rapprochement. They were both very curious about each other when they met for the first time on 14 September 1958, 13 years after the end of the last war. Konrad Adenauer was afraid he would meet a bellicose general who still hated the Germans he had fought all his life. De Gaulle, who had only been the French Prime Minister for a few weeks, therefore made a demonstrative gesture and invited the German Chancellor to his private country house in Colombey-les-deux-Églises, something he had never done with a politician before and never would again. Both men felt the tremendous burden of Franco-German history, wars, conflicts and reciprocal humiliations, which they had also experienced in their personal lives. But they quickly became friends and set out to do away with the old enmity between Germany and France, reconcile their peoples and to begin an era of close political cooperation. At the end of World War II, it was inconceivable that these two countries could ever be reconciled. But on January 22, 1963, the two leaders met in the Élysée Palace in Paris to sign the treaty and embrace each other - albeit a bit awkwardly - in a gesture seen by many to express their longing for lasting peace between Germany and France. But it took the subsequent generation of politicians to really bring the treaty to life; firstly Helmut Schmidt and Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who both talk about it in the film. Most of the subsequent German-French political double-acts (Kohl/Mitterrand, Schroeder/Chirac and Merkel/Sarkozy/Hollande) followed in Adenauer and De Gaulle's footsteps: a vision of Franco-German friendship as the foundation of peace in Europe.