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May 05, 2006

Our friends, the French

"Not another attack on French hatred of all things American," I can hear you thinking. Well, maybe, but this one has an amusing part, too.

Three years ago, the Frogs and the Krauts -- er, the French and the Germans -- decided to write a textbook together about the history of the world since 1945. (Hmmmm. 1945. That wouldn't happen to be the year that the U.S. and its allies finally defeated the German Nazi regime after an extremely bloody war, an important part of which involved liberating France from Nazi domination, would it?) So far, so good.

Well, the BBC reports that there was generally little disagreement in writing the text between the Germans and the French. Except for one subject:

The 10 authors did not encounter major difficulties, according to France's Le Figaro newspaper.

Paradoxically it was not World War II which provided the main topic of debate, but the US role in the world since 1945, the newspaper said.

It quoted Guillaume Le Quintrec, co-director of the project, who said "the French found the Germans to be pro-American and the Germans found our viewpoint anti-American".

Heated discussions, in which each word was carefully considered, resulted in a text which both sides judged to be "balanced".
So the French thought the Germans were too pro-American, and the Germans thought the French were too anti-American? No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.

And actually, there was a second subject of disagreement:
Another stumbling block was the German historians' desire for a more critical approach than the French one towards the former people's democracies in Central Europe, Le Figaro reported.
My translation: The Germans, a portion of whose country suffered under Soviet domination for 45 years, didn't think that "people's democracy" was such a wonderful thing. And the fact that the French still call them "people's democracies" ("des anciennes démocraties populaires") says more about them than I possibly can.

The Le Figaro article is here in French and here in Google's English translation.

(via Ace of Spades HQ)