On 14 May 1982, Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt welcomes French President François Mitterrand to his private house near Langenhorn, Hamburg. These private discussions demonstrate the good relations between the two men and emphasise the desire to maintain close bilateral ties between France and the Federal Republic of Germany.
On 17 May 1982, German cartoonist Walter Hanel emphasises the joint efforts of German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and French President François Mitterrand to revive the moribund process of European integration. US President Ronald Reagan observes the scene from a distance.
‘German expansionism. Are you the little new boy? Ya: 1.92m’. On 6 October 1982, French cartoonist Roland Moisan paints an ironic picture of the first meeting between French President François Mitterrand (on the left) and new German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the right). This is the start of a new era in Franco-German relations and on the European stage. The boy leaving the school playground is former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, while US President Ronald Reagan is depicted as school supervisor.
‘Everything’s fine. Come back in 20 years!’ On 20 January 1983, German cartoonist Horst Haitzinger illustrates the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty. Franco-German cooperation and friendship has successfully passed the ‘MOT’ for its first 20 years. French President François Mitterrand and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl give the car driven by France (Marianne) and Germany (Michel) the rubber stamp for the next 20 years. On the bonnet, the car’s logo is in the form of the signatories of the 1963 treaty, President de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer.
‘“Well! Let’s go, my little friend. May the best man win.” “Well! Let’s carry on, my little friend. It’s settled.” Franco-German cooperation. Change in continuity.’ On 26 January 1983, as celebrations are held to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty, French cartoonist Roland Moisan takes an ironic look at the development of Franco-German relations. On the left-hand image, in 1963, the national and international stature of French President de Gaulle means that he towers over the German partner, represented by Chancellor Adenauer. In 1983, the situation has changed: Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl is at the helm of Europe’s leading economic power and has taken the place of France, represented by President François Mitterrand.
‘1 franc — Deutsche Mark’. On 11 March 1983, French cartoonist Tim paints an ironic picture of the monetary tensions between France and the Federal Republic of Germany. As the franc is devalued for the third time and the German mark is revalued, Tim depicts French Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy as a prisoner of Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The First World War helmets and rifle with bayonet emphasise the image of a monetary conflict between the two countries. Even though France is trying to restore its economic competitiveness, the two adversaries are not on an equal footing and France is finding it difficult to fight against the economic power of West Germany. The French franc is weakened and continues to be held captive by the strong Deutschmark.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President François Mitterrand on their arrival at the Stuttgart European Council held on 17–19 June 1983. At the end of the Council, the Heads of State or Government sign a Solemn Declaration on European Union.
‘Stuttgart Summit. EC — savings’. On 20 June 1983, following the Stuttgart European Summit chaired by the President-in-Office of the Council, Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, German cartoonist Walter Hanel illustrates the tricky negotiations on the funding of the European Community budget, particularly the reduction of the British contribution. Chancellor Kohl (sat on the piggy bank), anxious to break the deadlock, strongly insists to his colleagues, particularly French President François Mitterrand, that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s demands should be met at least in part.
‘Please wait …’ On 25 February 1984, German cartoonist Walter Hanel paints an ironic picture of the slow pace of the process for accession to the European Communities of Spain and Portugal, and illustrates the reservations of France, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the United Kingdom concerning the forthcoming enlargement. From left to right: Felipe González, Spanish Prime Minister, wearing rags and carrying a basket of fruit and vegetables, sits in driving rain with his Portuguese counterpart, the two waiting to be granted access to the ‘House of Europe’, an austere, run-down building that looks to be falling into ruins. French President François Mitterrand, standing at the entrance, indicates to the two candidates that they must wait, but the wait seems to be going on forever. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher observe the scene discreetly, hidden behind a pillar, while Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, follows events from the top of a tower adorned with the Union Jack.
‘Brussels — Ten Nations Championship. “It’s no good, Helmut! She’s bringing in the umpire from the France–Scotland match!”’ On 20 March 1984, French cartoonist Jacques Faizant takes an ironic look at the difficult negotiations with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who seems to have taken an uncompromising stand over the question of the United Kingdom’s contribution to the Community budget. French President François Mitterrand shares his fears with his German partner, Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In his depiction of these tense negotiations, the cartoonist draws a parallel between the sporting and political arenas. On 17 March in Murrayfield, on the final day of the Five Nations Championship, Scotland beat France to win the second Grand Slam in its history. The French were highly critical of the umpiring decisions of Welsh referee Winston Jones (on the left).
On 29 March 1984, German cartoonist Walter Hanel paints an ironic picture of the close cooperation between François Mitterrand, President of the French Republic and President-in-Office of the Council of the European Communities, and Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor, to break the deadlock on some European issues and allow the Ten to move forward. In the background, Federal Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, gesturing ‘V’ for victory, supports the action of the two leaders, who are trying to put a smile back on the face of a Europe that is suffering and in a wheelchair.
On 22 September 1984, at the ossuary in Douaumont (near Verdun), the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Helmut Kohl, and the President of the French Republic, François Mitterrand, stand hand-in-hand as they pay tribute to the soldiers from the two countries who died in combat during the First World War.
‘Fraternisation. They need to be shot to set an example. Jawohl.’ On 19 September 1984, French cartoonist Roland Moisan takes an ironic look at the meeting set to take place on 22 September at the Douaumont ossuary (near Verdun) between German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the right) and French President François Mitterrand (on the left). This occasion would see the two leaders pay tribute to the soldiers from the two countries who died fighting in the First World War. On the cloud in the background, we see the former enemies of the time, the German and French generals of the Great War, who deplore an act of treason and hope that these fraternising traitors will be shot. The image of François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl setting the seal on Franco-German friendship in Douaumont on the site where their two nations had once been in battle has gone down in history as a strong symbol of reconciliation.
‘Reconciliation of the week … Seen by Laurel and Hardy’. On 22 September 1984, François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl pay tribute to the victims of the First World War at the Douaumont ossuary, near Verdun. After the German national anthem is played, the two leaders listen to the Marseillaise, hand in hand. This image, a strong symbol of reconciliation between France and Germany, is beamed across the world. Four days later, on 26 September, French cartoonist Jacques Laplaine paints an ironic picture of the symbolic handshake between the two leaders. President Mitterrand is depicted wearing a Prussian soldier’s uniform that is much too large for him, complete with a pointed helmet; he is holding the hand of Chancellor Kohl, who has squeezed into the uniform of a French soldier from the First World War that is several sizes too small.
‘Did the Prussians really used to cut children’s hands off? No, of course not!’ In January 1985, French cartoonist Cabu portrays the ceremony held to commemorate the Battle of Verdun, during which French President Mitterrand and Federal Chancellor Kohl hold hands as a sign of reconciliation and friendship between the two countries. François Mitterrand (on the left) cites French and Allied propaganda on the supposed atrocities committed by the German invaders during the First World War, in which German soldiers were described as armed barbarians who cut off children’s hands. On the right, Chancellor Helmut Kohl strongly refutes these allegations, a wicked smile forming on his lips as he stealthily wields a short sabre with a serrated blade.
‘We’ve got a great idea: why don’t we build Europe?’ On 29 June 1985, French cartoonist Plantu paints an ironic picture of the draft European union treaty drawn up by French President François Mitterrand (on the left) and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the right) and presented to their European partners at the Milan European Council. The partners seem rather dubious about this Franco-German plan.
On 27 June 1987, Fritz Behrendt, a Dutch cartoonist originally from Berlin, illustrates the plan of French President Mitterrand (on the right) and Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the left) to strengthen military cooperation between France and the Federal Republic of Germany by creating a Franco-German Brigade. The two leaders are shown smiling and shaking hands in the hatch of a tank bearing both French and German markings (the cockade and the Iron Cross, symbol of the Bundeswehr). The era of bloody wars between these long-standing enemies, shown in the background, seems to have long since passed (the Napoleonic Wars, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the First World War of 1914–1918 and the Second World War of 1939–1945).
‘Great-grandchildren. “Bold Sparrow” initiative’. On 25 September 1987, German cartoonist Klaus Pielert paints an ironic picture of the first major joint military manoeuvres between France and Germany, code-named ‘Bold Sparrow’, in West Germany. French President François Mitterrand (on the left) and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the right), in uniform, toast the new military cooperation between the FRG and France. In the background, the two paintings depict the bloody wars (1870–71 and 1914–18) between the two countries, which are now part of history. Yesterday’s enemies have become partners and friends.
‘Europe’. On 12 November 1987, as the 50th Franco-German Summit is held in Karlsruhe between French President François Mitterrand and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Greek cartoonist Bas illustrates the vital role played by the Franco-German duo in the establishment of a united Europe.
‘Can we play?’ On 23 January 1988, on the 25th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty, German cartoonist Klaus Espermüller illustrates the influence of the Franco-German duo on the international stage alongside the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. French President François Mitterrand (on the right) and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl (on the left), holding hands, would like to play in the big league with Uncle Sam (United States) and the Soviet Bear.