Historical Context

In September 1962 French President Charles de Gaulle was invited by German chancellor Konrad Adenauer. De Gaulle’s visit to Germany started on September 4th in Bonn. In the following week he went to Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Hamburg, München and Stuttgart. This tour progressively turned into a triumphant procession, crowned by the speech in Ludwigsburg. But how did it come to this?

The visit to Germany in September 1962 occurred in a period of major historical events at the European and international levels.

At that time, the Cold War was at its heights with the Cuba Missile Crisis. In April 1961, the US military had attacked Cuba during the so-called “Bay of Pigs invasion”, as a reaction against Fidel Castro’s revolution, which led to a tense confrontation between the USA and the Soviet Union until October 1962. A few months earlier, France had recognized the independence of Algeria and signed the Evian accords in March 1962.

At the European level, the negotiations about the Fouchet plan failed in April 1962. Proposed by the French, it planned the political unity of Western Europe thanks to an “organised cooperation” based on regular contacts between governments. The failure of the Fouchet plan cleared the way for other kinds of relationships between France and Germany. On January 22nd 1963 the “Treaty of friendship between the federal republic of Germany and the French republic” was finally signed. The so-called Elysée Treaty marked the end of the reconciliation phase between France and Germany and paved the way for better comprehension and friendship between two equal partners.