The ePublication ‘The “Franco-German duo” and Europe as seen in cartoons (1945–2013)’ uses French and German press illustrations to explore the joint action of successive French Presidents and German Chancellors as the driving force of European integration. The rapprochement that began in the early years after the Second World War between France and Germany, two countries that had been long-standing enemies, followed a unique path. The image of a ‘Franco-German duo’ and the pair’s actions have proved an unending source of inspiration for French and German Press cartoonists. It shows how they have experienced, perceived and illustrated this Franco-German partnership, which has continued to evolve during the turbulent history of European integration. This comparative analysis reflects the convergences and divergences within this unique pairing and demonstrates the ever-changing balance of power within the partnership. The cartoons also reveal the fact that there is often a discrepancy between official photos and the reality of the Franco-German relationship. Although the Franco-German duo and its ability to act for the organisation of Europe have at times proved fragile, with periods of tension but also of continuity, the relationship between the various West German Chancellors and French Presidents has made an often decisive contribution to the pursuit and revival of European integration. Over 400 cartoons published in the French and German press reflect the key moments in Franco-German relations and emphasise how this ‘marriage of convenience’ between two leaders has influenced the European integration process, illustrating both the successes and failures of the duo. The selected cartoons provide an often cheeky, sarcastic interpretation of the Franco-German duo, that special relationship, which, despite its periods of tension and crisis, has always bounced back and has often served as a driving force for European unification. The cartoons reflect the two leaders’ attitudes to the challenges of the European integration process, painting an often humorous but at times openly critical picture of this bilateral relationship.
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