Franco-German reconciliation after 1945, which has long been perceived as self-evident in both countries, has a high symbolic value worldwide. In many countries involved in conflicts, the history of the rapprochement of the historical hereditary enemies offers a promising point of orientation for the future. However, it seems questionable whether the Franco-German example can actually be applied to other cases. Based on this observation, the introduction clarifies the conditions under which experts from fifteen different countries analyze Franco-German relations “from the outside” and relate the principles of their reconciliation to the history and political topicality of their own country. Above all, it explains the need for a multi-perspective approach that takes into account the political, cultural, and civil society dimensions of the respective conflicts in equal measure and at the same time makes us aware of the “myths” of this reconciliation process.
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Germany and France benefit from a largely positive image among the population of the respective partner country. However, the neighbors see each other more as partners than as friends. In 2013, the year marking the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty, the term that respondents most frequently associated with the Franco-German relationship was “partnership” (69% of the French, 59% of the Germans), well before “friendship” (30% and 40%, respectively), and even more so “trust” (16% and 20%, respectively). See Ifop/German Embassy in France (2013). Regards croisés sur les relations franco-allemandes à l’occasion du 50ème anniversaire du Traité de l’Élysée (Crossed views on Franco-German relations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty), http://www.ifop.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/2116-1-study_file.pdf.