‘The new Atlantic Wall. Here begins Europe.’ On 31 July 1959, for cartoonist Klaus Pielert the Franco-German message to the United Kingdom is clear. Accessing the Common Market, protected by a veritable Atlantic Wall fortified with blockhouses and cannons depicting the faces of Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, will not be easy for the British.
‘In the shadow. Welcome, Sir — a very warm welcome! — Let’s talk about Europe!’ On 10 August 1960, German cartoonist Hanns Erich Köhler illustrates the attempts to establish closer relations between the United Kingdom and the European Economic Community (EEC). Although Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer has decided to reach out to British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, the shadow of General de Gaulle is looming over the German partner. Despite Chancellor Adenauer’s mediation efforts, French President de Gaulle remains opposed to British accession to the Common Market.
‘Listen to me, gentlemen!’ For Fritz Behrendt, a Dutch cartoonist originally from Berlin, General de Gaulle is demonstrating his determination to see France take a leading role in the international arena and the world. From left to right: British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev are convened by General de Gaulle, whose imposing size and stature dwarf the other leaders. On the wall, a global map shows a huge France at the centre of the world, while the portraits of General de Gaulle as Joan of Arc, Napoleon and Louis XIV (the ‘Sun King’) emphasise the oversized ego of the French President, who would like to play a leading role in European history.
‘For the European Grand Prix. Champion de Gaulle: “First push, mon ami, then jump in.”’ On 24 May 1961, German cartoonist Ernst Maria Lang takes an ironic look at General de Gaulle’s ideas on European political union and the role played by Chancellor Adenauer in the French plan. General de Gaulle is a fervent supporter of a Europe of sovereign states based around a central Franco-German core, as long as he can take the role of leader: he is at the wheel of the ‘France’ racing car, while the German Chancellor, depicted as a mechanic surrounded by a cloud of exhaust fumes, has the thankless task of push-starting the car.
'Anything to declare, gentlemen?' customs officers Konrad Adenauer, German Chancellor, and Charles de Gaulle, French President, ask Harold Macmillan, British Prime Minister, as the latter attempts to smuggle the Commonwealth into the common market despite the warning: 'Common market: imports of special favours for the Commonwealth and agricultural protectionism forbidden.'
‘Towards new shores’. In 1961, the emancipation of the Commonwealth countries and the end of the British Empire are conditions for the United Kingdom’s accession to the European Economic Community (EEC). On 28 October 1961, as the British Empire ‘sinks’, German cartoonist Manfred Oesterle emphasises the efforts of Ludwig Erhard, Federal Minister for the Economy, to rescue British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in a lifeboat and bring him aboard the ship ‘Europe’, while French President de Gaulle casually observes the rescue operation without offering to help. The French President is opposed to the United Kingdom’s application for accession, citing the incompatibility between the economic interests of the continent and the United Kingdom.
‘The road to Europe. Straight ahead, men — follow my pointer …’ On 17 February 1962, German cartoonist Brockmann takes an ironic look at the personal, highly idiosyncratic vision of European integration held by French President Charles de Gaulle, who is represented as a giant road sign indicating the way to Europe to Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.
‘Let’s get a move on, Konrad — after all, you’re not going to be around forever!’ On 6 July 1962, as Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (on the right) visits France, French cartoonist Jacques Faizant paints an ironic picture of the inflated ego of General de Gaulle (on the left) and the role that he intends to play on the international and European stage. The German partner seems somewhat irritated by the attitude of the French Head of State.
‘Common Market. The longest day.’ On 13 September 1962, French cartoonist Tim illustrates the resistance from France and Germany to the British application for accession to the Common Market. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, depicted as a British soldier, is trying to land on the European continent (Common Market), whose shores are defended by French President de Gaulle and his ally, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, shown wearing a Wehrmacht uniform. The title ‘The longest day’ refers to the 1962 US war film about the Allied landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. By alluding to the historical reality — during the Second World War, France and the United Kingdom were allies in the struggle against Nazi Germany — the cartoon highlights the ludicrous nature of the situation and the irrational aspect of the debates on the question of British accession to the Common Market.
‘Archimedes de Gaulle. Go on, Konrad, mess up his circles!’ On 14 January 1963, General de Gaulle holds a press conference at the Élysée Palace in which he states his opposition to the United Kingdom’s accession to the European Common Market. Five days later, German cartoonist Ernst Maria Lang illustrates how France’s partners in the EEC are trying to soften France’s position. British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Belgian Foreign Minister Paul-Henri Spaak are encouraging Konrad Adenauer (wearing a Greek helmet with plume, armed with a shield and a two-edged sword) to put an end to General de Gaulle’s highly idiosyncratic vision of the question of Europe. De Gaulle, portrayed as Archimedes, the great mathematician of ancient Greece, sums up his ideas in circles drawn on the ground: ‘De Gaulle the king’, the Cross of Lorraine, ‘Eurofrance’, ‘France’, ‘Carolus Magnus’. The writing on the wall also reflects the oversized ego of the French President: ‘Carolus est Europa’, ‘Carolus est (stultus) magnus’.
‘Holy European Institute — Franco-Germano-Hispanic. Miss Europe, get out! And to think that she was vying for the title of Miss World! I tell you, she was treating our establishment like a brothel …’ On 6 February 1963, French cartoonist Roland Moisan takes an ironic view of the European ideas of General de Gaulle, who is in favour of a Europe of sovereign states. To achieve this aim, the French President is mainly counting on the cooperation of German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, with whom he enjoys very close relations. From left to right, French Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville, French Prime Minister Georges Pompidou, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President de Gaulle.
‘Mathematics à la France’. On 30 September 1964, Swiss cartoonist Hans Geisen paints an ironic picture of the highly idiosyncratic view of Europe held by General de Gaulle, President of the French Republic. De Gaulle is portrayed as a teacher explaining the ‘Europe’ equation to his young pupils: ‘Europe = France + 1/2 Germany = de Gaulle’. In the front row, the German pupil dressed as the ‘little German Michel’ is following the lesson given by the French master.