Bismarck and the peace of 1871

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Mikko H.
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Bismarck and the peace of 1871

Postby Mikko H. » 27 Aug 2004 10:58

What was the role of Bismarck in determining the German peace terms in 1871? I have read conflicting accounts on Bismarck's attitude. Some sources state he wanted to make a conciliatory peace with France (like had been made with Austria) without annexations, but was overruled by the military, others that Bismarck supported the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine but prevented the demands of the military for further French territories.

I would be grateful if someone could enlighten me on this subject!

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Postby Hamirubi » 05 Sep 2004 00:27

I try to write in short what I still know from my lessons Newest History: Bismarck could create a feeling of hate in France and could fix that France declared the war at Germany (Prussia). With this act, on which Bismarck had hoped, there was a unity and a feeling of nationalism in Germany, and Bismarck could unite the land and attacked France with the superior Prussian army. But he didn't destroy France; he captured large pieces, but then, although he was the strongest, made a peace with the arch enemy, and could turn the attention on Africa, which was the beginning of the scramble for Africa, but the delay of the First World War, which could have started in the late 19the century, if Bismarck wasn't there to export the internal conflicts (in Europe) to Africa.

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Postby Koenig u. Kaisertreu » 19 Sep 2004 18:01

Mikko....From my studies I think it is safe to say that Bismarck wanted the military restrained in their demand for French territory, in order to allow a reconcilliation to come about over time, but he also wanted Elsass & the German portion of Lorraine returned to the Reich, from which they had been taken by France early in the 1700's...Like almost all Germans he regarded these Lands as German, stolen when France was the Military Power on the continent, having designs on all German Land west of the Rhein...In 1870, Germany took them back, to the great joy of most Germans (though not to the pleasure of the new Kaiser, Wilhelm I, who felt they would be the source of future friction with Austria, which had claim to them as Habsburg Lands)...The Military wanted more (as is always the case), but Bismarck compromised, by allowing the monetary indemnity on France, which the military hoped would cripple the French recovery (it did not, but it did create more hatred in France than the loss of the territories)...

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Postby Mad Zeppelin » 04 Oct 2004 18:48

Bismarck was not very keen to "acquire" Alsace and Lorrain. He was well aware that the French would bitterly contest this "acquisation". But this time, he could not override the military's demands.
Moltke had been shocked by the perpetuous French resistance after Sedan. Not that it posed a big problem militarily, the French armies were regularly beaten whenever they took the field, but Prussia and her allies were simply not prepared to fight a prolonged war.
And Moltke correctly deduced that this would be the future nature of the game: Large nation states mobilizing all their forces, leading to long and bitter wars. If this was to be so, it would be very unwise to leave the French (the "hereditary" enemy, and at that time also the only potential enemy) in possession of the left bank of the Rhine. A glacis was needed: Alsace and Lorrain - pushing the French some 100 to 150 km away from the Rhine, bringing the natural obstacle of the Vosges in German hands. And Metz, that important fortress, was also required - although it was (and had ever been) on the French side of the language border. Metz would subsequently become the largest and strongest fortress in Europe - until 1918.
Of the course, the majority of the German people welcomed this acquisition: These were German lands, robbed by the French between1550 (Toul, Verdun and Metz) and 1793! (In fact acquired by a mixture of robbery, inheritance, trade off and various treaties.)
At least 85% of the population were native German speakers, only some 12% were native French speakers, mainly concentrated in western Lorraine with Metz as centre. But these people had not had a "Heim-ins-Reich"-movement, they seemed quite content to have been French citizens. That made them suspect to Bismarck and the German authorities. - It was not quite the treatment of a conquered enemy territory, but also not the treatment one would expect for liberated provinces that the Germans now dealed out to Elsass/Lothringen. It was at best patronizing and at worst humilating. Elsass/Lothringen was not allowed to become an independent state within the Reich (like Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony etc.) nor was it joint with - say: Baden (the dialect of the Baden people is very simular to that of the Elsässer and they are the closest neighbour). The provinces became "Reichlande" (imperial territories) governed by an appointed official. Only in 1911, Wilhelm II granted them a constitution (of course drafted by the Reich's authorities) - only 40 years after they became part of Germany.
Never ever did anybody care to find out what the Elsässer and Lothringer wanted. - But this of course is also true for the French in their possessive treatment of Alsace/Lorraine.

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Postby Koenig u. Kaisertreu » 05 Oct 2004 00:06

Very well said, Mad, & quite on the mark.. Had the two been granted full status as Reich Provinces, with their own Sovereign & Constitution early on, that might have roused in the citizenry a bit more patriotism, & to a degree would have, I believe, dampened French "Revanchism" which festered & grew over time...Bismarck was not always the best judge of things to come, & I believe this was a great mistake on his part...PAUL

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Postby walterkaschner » 05 Oct 2004 00:52

Koenig u. Kaisertreu wrote:Mikko....From my studies I think it is safe to say that Bismarck wanted the military restrained in their demand for French territory, in order to allow a reconcilliation to come about over time, but he also wanted Elsass & the German portion of Lorraine returned to the Reich, from which they had been taken by France early in the 1700's...Like almost all Germans he regarded these Lands as German, stolen when France was the Military Power on the continent, having designs on all German Land west of the Rhein...In 1870, Germany took them back, to the great joy of most Germans (though not to the pleasure of the new Kaiser, Wilhelm I, who felt they would be the source of future friction with Austria, which had claim to them as Habsburg Lands)...The Military wanted more (as is always the case), but Bismarck compromised, by allowing the monetary indemnity on France, which the military hoped would cripple the French recovery (it did not, but it did create more hatred in France than the loss of the territories)...[My emphasis added]


The notion that France "stole" Alsace - Lorraine from the "Reich" in the early 1700's is not only a gross oversimplification of the complex history of the accession of this area to France, it is also markedly tendentious, inaccurate and misleading. This issue has previously been dealt with at length and in detail on this Forum, at:

viewtopic.php?p=379994&highlight=alsace#379994

and so I won't bother to repeat it here.

But one other point. Although Germany's annexation of these areas may have been "to the great joy of most Germans" such was certainly not the case with almost all Alsatiens or Lorrainers, to whom it was a great and everlasting sorrow.

The députés to the French Assemblée Nationale from these areas in 1871 were extremely bitter and highly vocal in their opposition to the Peace Treaty insofar as it required the cession of their homeland to Germany, for although the vast majority spoke either German or a Germanic dialect, they were passionately loyal to France, and had been for generations. They were prepared to fight on against Germany regardless of the consequences. Language had never been a test for loyalty in Alsace. As Napoléon said of Kléber, one of his best generals,"Il parle Allemand, mais il sabre en français!" ["He speaks German, but he fights in French!"]

After the 1871 Peace Treaty was signed. many thousands voluntarily chose to abandon the homes which had been in their families for generations and fled to France to avoid being required to give up their French citizenship.

That loyalty to France continued throughout the German occupation, which was marked by a callous arrogance, insensitivity and stupidity on the part of the occupying power which is difficult, for me at least, to comprehend. At least until 1911 (I have no source for later dates) the elected representatives from Alsace-Lorraine in the German Reichstag (the "protestantaires") had in their totality been been elected on a platform protesting the annexation of their territory into the German Reich.

Although at least 28 Alsatiens had become Generals in the French army during the Revolution and Napoleonic wars, only 25 even became officers of any rank (and I'm aware of no Generals whatsoever) in the German army during the almost 50 years of German occupation. Moreover, it's my understanding, although I don't have a source readily to hand to justify it, that in both WWI and WWII Alsatiens were the least reliable and most prone to desertion of any nationalities among the armed forces of Germany and its allies.

Regards, Kaschner

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Postby Mad Zeppelin » 05 Oct 2004 20:55

Don't let us succumb to French propaganda. Certainly, some thousand people left Elsass/Lothringen in 1871 - mainly French bureaucrats, teachers, policmen etc. (who had been there due to the good old French policy to import people from the south and centre of France for official business who had no clue of German, just to make sure all the Elsass/Lothringer had to speak proper French). And of course, some Elsass/Lothringer who had tied their career to the French system left as well. (No problem for them - the French would roll the red carpet and beat the propaganda drums for every Elass/Lothringer who would "dodge the Prussian totalitarism" and come to live in la belle France.)
Although the Elsass/Lothringer had no choice in becoming part of the Reich, they were given the possibility to "opt" in 1872. In this optation, some 87,5% opted for Germany and 12,5% for France. That had no legal or whatsoever consequences, and it was observed that about only 10% of those who had opted for France really left the country later on. (Those who had left in 1871 already were obviously not asked to opt.) This leads to believing that the "bitterness and despair" of the Elsass/Lothringers is very much a French fairy tale. Many Elsass/Lothringers may later have been disappointed by the treatment they received from the Reich, but these people show a strange readiness to accept circustances and not to protest. (As a consequence they have zero minority rights as of today, whereas the Südtiroler achieved recognition of German language and now live in a bilingual environment. Same goes for Germans in Belgium, which is nowadays a country with 3 official languages.)
As for the elsass/lothringischen deputies to the Reichstag, they were ardent promotors of equal suffrage and democracy - and therefore no friends of the Prussians (and Bismarck), but the real no-sayers in the Reichstag were Polish deputies, who principally said "no" to everything.
Regarding the dessertion of soldiers from Elsass/Lothringen, these guys of course had an advantage opposite French units. The French would bring out their good old red carpet and beat the drums for every "hero" who escaped the "raging Boche military machine". So, once they survived the first few seconds, they would receive an excellent treatment. No prisoner of war camp, no bad food, just the sweet plenties of la belle France.
And of course, in 1918, it was much more convenient to live in liberated provinces that for 40 years had longed to be re-united with France than to live in occupied territory. So don't expect too much opposition from the elsass/lothringer side to French propaganda lies, they profited from them.

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Postby Gwynn Compton » 06 Oct 2004 05:10

Perchance do you have some references for the 1872 referendum?

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Postby walterkaschner » 06 Oct 2004 08:36

Gwynn Compton asked:

Perchance do you have some references for the 1872 referendum?


There was not a referendum!

Article II of the Treaty of Frankfurt (signed on May 10, 1871) required that all residents of Alsace-Lorraine must decide by October 1, 1872 if they wished to retain their French citizenship - failing which they would become German citizens. But to retain their French citizenship they had not only to make a formal written election but also to have physically withdrawn from the territories by that date and physically established themselves in France.*

About 160,000 formally elected to remain French, but the German officials annuled some 100,000 of these on the ostensible grounds that they had not actually physically established themselves in France by the due date. so in addition to the Alsatiens who left for France without bothering to formally opt out of German citizenship, some 60,000 others were successful in avoiding German citizenship by means of the opt out election provided by the Treaty. Primary source for the above (among others):Charles Downer Hazen (Professor of History, Columbia University), Alsace-Lorraine Under German Rule (New York, 1917) at 97-103 and passim

To assert, as did Mad Zepplin, that 87.5 % opted for German citizenship is highly misleading; the most that can be said about those who, by remaining silent, did not affirmatively opt for French citizenship, is that they did not choose to give up their homes, professions, friends and other attachments to their region, and therefore remained passive and took no action. In many, if not most, cases the decision must have been agonizing.

It is late and I am old and tired, and so will defer a further reply to Mad Zepplin's post until a later time.

*
Article II.
Les sujets francais originaires des territoires cédés, domiciliés actuellement sur ce territoire, qui entendront conserver la nationalité française, jouiront jusqu`au premier octobre 1872 et moyennant une déclaration préalable, faite a l`autorité compétente, de la faculté de transporter leur domicile en France et de s`y fixer, sans que ce droit puisse être altéré par les lois sur le service militaire, auquel cas la qualité de citoyen français leur sera maintenue.

Ils seront libres de conserver leurs immeubles situés sur les territoire réuni à l`Allemagne.

Aucun habitant les territoires cédés ne pourra être poursuivi, inquiété ou recherché dans sa personne ou dans ses biens à raison de ses actes politiques ou militaires pendant la guerre.


Regards, Kaschner

I neglected to furnish a translation of Article II of the Frankfurt Treaty in my post, so am editing it to provide a rough one of my own:

Article II

The original French subjects of the ceded territories who are presently domiciled there and who intend to preserve their French nationality, will have the right, until October 1, 1872, by means of a prior declaration made before a competent authority, to transfer their domicile to France and to establish it there, without such right being altered by the laws concerning military service, , in which case their status as French citizens shall be maintained.

They shall be free to keep their real property located in the territories reunited with Germany.

No resident of the ceded territories may be prosecuted, troubled or investigated, either with regard to his person or his property, on account of his political or military activities during the war.
Last edited by walterkaschner on 07 Oct 2004 04:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Gwynn Compton » 06 Oct 2004 10:01

Thank you for that, I suspected there was something wrong in the notion that so many opted to become Germans. I suspected that they had little choice in the matter.

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Postby Mad Zeppelin » 06 Oct 2004 20:14

All right, let's do some numbers:
(There was a general noticeable decrease in population in the whole of eastern France between 1850 and 1900, so not every single emmigrant may be attributable to war and annexation)
Population of the Reichslande
1866 - 1.597.228
1871 - 1.549.738
1875 - 1.531.804
The difference is 65.424. At the same time about 110.000 citizens of the Reich moved in. Total mount of those moving out thus: 175.000.
120.000 of these moved out immediately (the bureaucrats, teachers, policemen etc. not native to the area). Some 50.000 moved out after they had opted for France. These kept all their property and all real estate they owned in the Reichlande.
A problem arose by those who had opted for France but did not move. Many of those now claimed the legal status of an alien - including exemption from military service.
This the German authorities would not tolerate. Either you moved or you stayed and became subject to German laws.
On 11th April, 1871, German was re-introduced as language to be taught in school. (French as first language was only retained in the French speaking areas of western Lothringen.)
On 14th April, 1871, general obligation to attend school was introduced.

In 1911, Elsass/Lothringen received its constitution. That included a parliament with 2 chambers, the 2nd chamber to be elected with equal, secret and general male suffrage. They also had an own flagg now and could consider themselves an equal member of the Reich.

On 11th November, 1918, the 2nd Chamber (the Landtag) declared itself the national council of Elsass/Lothringen.
On 12th November, 1918, the national council declared Elass/Lothringen a souverain and independent nation.
On 15th Novermber, 1918, French forces occupied Mühlhausen, and on 21st November Staßburg as last city.
On 22nd November, 1918, France annected Elsass/Lothringen.
Citizens were immediately divided into 4 categories
A - French or Elsass/Lothringer before 1870
B - People of other orgin
C - People from countries allied with France
D - Germans and Austro/Hungarians
Cat D had to leave on the spot. No legal maneuvers about opting or retaining property, just "Allez!Allez! - Vite!Vite!" and your property is what you can carry if nobody takes it from you.
Cat B came under close scrutiny and many of those were expelled as well.
German was banned from school and public, the elsässer parties that had been responsible for autonomy were forbidden.
A rigorous programme of "Francization" was executed, as was later on the head of the autonomy movement.
The Elsass/Lothringer had greeted the French with enthusiasm (liberators, not occupants...) but this changed quickly.
They now were as discontend with the French rule as they had before with the Germans.

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Postby walterkaschner » 07 Oct 2004 08:22

Mad Zepplin wrote

Certainly, some thousand people left Elsass/Lothringen in 1871 - mainly French bureaucrats, teachers, policmen etc. (who had been there due to the good old French policy to import people from the south and centre of France for official business who had no clue of German, just to make sure all the Elsass/Lothringer had to speak proper French). [My emphasis]


Two points:

1) The thousands who who left the territories were of course "French", as the population of the entire area had been for over 200 years. And they were primarily upper or middle class individuals who undoubtedly believed, as turned out to be the case, that they had no future in the German occupied territories due to the German policy of importing their own bureaucrats and civil servants to further their policy of "Germanizing" the territory. During the occupation some 176,000 Germans, the"Altdeutsche", were brought into the occupied territories primarily to supplant the local civil servants and other professionals. R. Berghahn, Imperial Germany, 1871-1914: Economy, Society, Culture, and Politics (Berghahn Books, 1994) at 120.

The local judiciary, for example, with no knowledge of or training in German laws or procedure, knew full well that they in all likelihood would be supplanted by native Germans who were so trained, and as a natural result all but six (some authorities say five) of the judges in the occupied territories left for France. By the end of 1872, only 20% of all governmental officials were natives to the conquered territories.
Charles Downer Hazen, Alsace-Lorraine under German Rule (H. Holt and Company, 1917) at 100-01.

In the case of teachers, Mad Zepplin is obviously lacking in knowledge of the educational system which existed in France at the time. There was no compulsory education, and although certain communes provided secular schools, the bulk of the schools in Alsace - which was about 90% Catholic - were parochial schools, which conducted their classes in German (or in Alsatien dialect). The Catholic clergy, although passionately loyal to France, firmly believed that education, which had its foundation in religious education, had to be provided in the mother tongue of the students - which was German or Alsatien. Indeed to some degree the clergy was loathe to risk their children's becoming infected with the anti-clericalism of Voltaire, etc. and avoided teaching French for that reason. But that had nothing to do with their loyalty to the French nation, as such. And the French government had up to that time made no effort to change that. The 1882 French law of Jules Ferry calling for mandatory and secular education had not, of course, come into effect.

Also it is interesting to note that by 1910, of the 175 professors at the University of Strassbourg, only 15 were Alsatien! Hazen, op cit supra at 167. Germany had obviously determined to Germanize the University, at the expense of the locals.


2)The notion that prior to 1871 the French had a policy of importing Frenchmen from elsewhere to impose the French language on native Alsatiens and Lorrainers is simply nonsense. Mad Zepplin is making the fundamental mistake of equating French policy to that of Germany during the occupation. The fact is that until the 1860's France appears to have been totally unconcerned with the fact that a huge portion of her population did not speak French at home, while being at the same time basically loyal to France as its homeland.

A survey taken by Victor Duruy (Napoleon III's Minister of Education) in the 1860's showed that about 50 % of French school children did not speak French as their first language! And the same survey showed that 513 of the 614 schools in Alsace (Nord-Rhin) used the German dialect and an additional 45 used only the German dialect in teaching! See Joseph F. Byrnes, The Relationship of Religious Practice to Linguistic Culture: Language, Religion, and Education in Alsace and the Roussillon, 1860-1890; (Church History, Vol. 68, 1999).

The spread of the French language in Alsace after the conquest of Strassburg by the soldiers of Louis XIV was slow. The French governors of the province never compelled the Alsatians to study their language. Up to the time of the French Revolution, French served as the medium of intercourse in official circles and among the nobility. The mass of the people, however, retained their vernacular. Freedom, granted by the French civil administration, was equally maintained by the official representatives of French ecclesiastical authority. Religious tolerance in Alsace was felt notably at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the province being probably the only one in which Protestant Frenchmen were unmolested. Moral ties with France were thus cemented by the extremely liberal character of French rule.

The French Revolution was enthusiastically welcomed by the democratically inclined Alsatians. This event in fact consolidated Alsace's union with France. French military annals of the period contain a high proportion of Alsatian names. A community of ideas and interests had come into being. The study of French was taken up with renewed enthusiasm in Alsace because the language was the agency by which the new spirit of the time was propagated. It became the medium of communication among thinkers. The revolution of 1848 accentuated this tendency. By that time every Alsatian who could boast of any schooling knew French. This linguistic conquest of Alsace was the result of sympathy with French thought and ideals.

The German method of imposing the rival tongue was distinctly different. All the brutality which attends misconceptions of efficiency among petty officials was given free rein in the process of replacing French by German. A stroke of the pen on April 14, 1871, suppressed teaching of French in the primary schools of the annexed territory. In other educational establishments the study of the language was relegated to the position of minor courses. It is worth mentioning that Alsace and Lorraine are the only territorial units of the German Empire in which the study of French has met opposition on the part of the government. The interest shown for the Romance language elsewhere in the Kaiser's land contrasts with the efforts made to root it out of Alsatian soil.
Leon Dominian, The Frontiers of Language and Nationality in Europe (Henry Holt and Company, 1917) at 47-8.


Mad Zepplin also wrote:

Many Elsass/Lothringers may later have been disappointed by the treatment they received from the Reich, but these people show a strange readiness to accept circustances and not to protest. (As a consequence they have zero minority rights as of today, whereas the Südtiroler achieved recognition of German language and now live in a bilingual environment.


This simply ignores the difference between the history of Alsace-Lorraine and the South Tyrol. The former was (for the most part) gradually incorporated into France commencing some 350 years ago, without any severe disruption of its basic lifestyle or allegiance. And indeed, during the French Revolution Alsace became one of the most fervently loyal and devoted of all the regions of France.

The South Tyrol, however, was carved out of Austria and handed over to Italy in 1918, to the utter distress and opposition of its native population. Although there was indeed a minor and short lived sentiment in Alsace for autonomy and even independence from France after its reunion in 1918 and again in 1945, the movement gained no momentum and there has been little or no subsequent demand in Alsace for "minority rights", simply because the neither the populace of Alsace nor of France as a whole consider the Alsatiens to constitute a "minority". See Dietrich Strauss, Aspects of German as a Minority Language in Western Europe , in Einar Haugen, J. Derrick McClure, Derick Thomson"Minority Languages Today: A Selection from the Papers Read at the First International Conference on Minority Languages Held at Glasgow University (Edinburgh University Press, 1990) at 189-94.



Mad Zepplin also wrote:

As for the elsass/lothringischen deputies to the Reichstag, they were ardent promotors of equal suffrage and democracy - and therefore no friends of the Prussians (and Bismarck), but the real no-sayers in the Reichstag were Polish deputies, who principally said "no" to everything.


As to the almost uniform position of the representatives from Alsace Lorraine in the German Reichstag, I can only recommend that one reads Abbé E. Wetterlé, Behind the Scenes in the Reichstag: Sixteen Years of Parliamentary Life in Germany (George H. Doran Company, 1918). Abbé Wetterlé, a native Alsatien with a Germanic heritage, was one of the 15 representatives of the region elected to the German Reichstag. He was prosecuted, fined, thrown in prison for his views by the German administrators of the area, and although perhaps more willing than the other "protestantaires" (protestors) to risk his personal liberty and purse for the issue, his views were shared by virtually all the other 14 (my failing memory reminds me that perhaps one of the Alsacien representatives was more accommodating to the German point of view.)

The formal statement of the Alsatien Députés to the French Assemblée Nationale in 1871 is, to my mind, one of the most moving protests against a legislative decision that I have come across:

"The representatives of Alsace and Lorraine submitted to the Assembly, before peace negotiations were begun, a declaration affirming in the most formal way, in the name of the two provinces, their will and their right to remain French.

"Handed over, in contempt of all justice and by an odious abuse of force, to the domination of foreigners, we now have a final duty to perform.

"We declare once more null and void a compact which disposes of us without our consent.

"Henceforth and forever each and every one of us will be completely justified in demanding our rights in whatever way and manner our consciences may approve.

"At the moment of leaving the chamber where our dignity no longer permits us to sit, and in spite of the bitterness of our grief, the supreme thought which we find at the bottom of our hearts is a thought of gratitude to those who, for six months, have not ceased to fight in our defense, and our unalterable attachment to France from which we are torn by violence.

"We shall follow you with our wishes and we shall await with entire confidence in the future, the resumption by a regenerated France of the course of her great destiny.

"Your brothers of Alsace and Lorraine, now cut off from the common family, will preserve for France, absent from their hearths, a filial affection until the day when she shall resume her rightful place there once more."


Mad Zepplin again:

Regarding the dessertion of soldiers from Elsass/Lothringen, these guys of course had an advantage opposite French units. The French would bring out their good old red carpet and beat the drums for every "hero" who escaped the "raging Boche military machine".


I can't offhand find a source for it, but my distinct recollection is that the German Army was most careful to post the Alsatien regiments as far from the French border as possible - which if they failed to have the intelligence to do is another sad commentary on their lack of "Menschenverstand." The Alsatiens had traditionally played a leading role in the French army - Kléber, Kellermann, Lefebvre, Ney, Rapp, Essling, Cousine, Richepanse, Schramm - and many more had led French troops to glory. My recollection is that in 1871 some 150 French generals, perhaps even more - were from the ceded territories. What was the Alsatien contibution to the German military? Zip! Nothing more than grudgingly conscripted cannon fodder.

I will confess to a French prejudice on this topic. However, I am not French, but rather German, in heritage and background, and sincerely believe that Germany made a great, and perhaps vital mistake in its treatment of Alsace-Lorraine, which, I'm sorry to say, seems to have reflected its general attitude thoughout the remains of its history until the end of the Third Reich.

I may have some more to add in light of Mad Zepplin's last post, but this has alrady become far too lengthy and, I suspect, too boring, so I will sign off for the nonce.

Regards, Kaschner

Regards, Kaschner
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Postby Mad Zeppelin » 07 Oct 2004 19:58

Education:
A concordate between Napoleon I and the Holy Seat ensured paramount influence of the clergy on French education. In France, this concordate was cancelled in 1905. But in the Reichslande (Kulturkampf or not), it remained effective until the French annexation in 1918. This meant that in the Reichslande sex and faith remained sharply separated, while at the same time co-education of girls and boys was tested and approved inside the Alt-Reich and religious segregation was still customary only some regions. And the clergy remained very much in charge of primary education even after 1871. (As most recent German experience teaches, it is simply not possible to exchange all teachers of a large area simultaneously - you have to relay on the in-place personnel.)
French primary education was regulated by the Falloux law of 1850, which made it neither free of charge nor obligatory. And yes, religious teaching was to be held in the pupils' native tongue. (This remained so even in times of "francization" after 1918 - the 4 monthly hours of religious teaching could be held in German.)
On April 14th, 1871, even before the Treaty of Frankfurt was signed, the German Military Authorities decreed the introduction of compulsary and free primary education. German now became the school language in German speaking areas, while French remained school language in the predominantly French areas (some Vosges valleys in Elsass and the whole of southeastern Lorraine). However, primary education was not taken over by teachers from the Alt-Reich. In 1914, primary school teachers almost uniformly were Elsass/Lothringer - albeit trained to German standards and German methods - and very often members of German teachers' associations.
Thinks look different, when we come to secondary education and university. Here the old personnel teaching in French could reckon that they had no bright future and left. This sector was now taken over by personnel from the Alt-Reich (not so many teachers and professors needed here). But French was - of course - not banned from secondary education. It remained the favourite foreign language to be learned by young Germans until up into the twenties when it was slowly replaced by English.
Thus the notion that French was suppressed in the Reichslande is rubbish. I can see no reason why a child coming from a German speaking home, living in a German speaking enviroment and part of a nation of 60 - 80 million Germans should learn French in primary school. (This is the method of the French "francization" after 1918: children of German tongue were confronted with French from the first day in school, no German allowed, everything in French, all explanations in French - must have been a very interesting time for these poor blighters.)
The university of Straßburg was boosted by initative of the Kaiser and consequently received lavish funding leading to extraordinary growth.
France introduced free compulsary primary eduaction in 1881/2.
In all, the educational record of German rule in Elsass/Lothringen is not too bad.
Military service:
The problem with the Elsass/Lothringer regiments is there weren't any.
This was a severe discrimination to German standards.
The units of XIV and XV army corps stationed in the Reichlande drew their recruits from their old cantonal areas in Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Württemberg, Baden and Braunschweig, while the Elsass/Lothringer were sent to serve with various regiments in the Alt-Reich.
In WW1 a total of 220 - 250.000 Elsass/Lothringer served with the German armies (thereof 80.000 volunteers), some 50.000 were killed in action, another 150.000 wounded.
On the French side, some 17 - 20.000 volunteers claiming to be Elsass/Lothringer joined the service, but only some 3.000 men crossed the border of the Reichslande to escape German conscription.
Expulsion of Germans:
The categories mentioned above also received different ID cards:
A - with tricolore, B - 2 blue bands, C - 2 red bands, C - no tricolore, no bands. Some 112.000 Germans were expulsed, and also some Elsass/Lothringer as there were the "commissions de triage" sniffing out "germanophiles" which were either punished or if deemed "uncurable" expulsed.
The Elsass/Lothringer often called the French now "les colonisateurs".

walterkaschner
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Postby walterkaschner » 08 Oct 2004 13:07

Mad Zepplin wrote:

All right, let's do some numbers:
(There was a general noticeable decrease in population in the whole of eastern France between 1850 and 1900, so not every single emmigrant may be attributable to war and annexation)
Population of the Reichslande
1866 - 1.597.228
1871 - 1.549.738
1875 - 1.531.804
The difference is 65.424. At the same time about 110.000 citizens of the Reich moved in. Total mount of those moving out thus: 175.000.
120.000 of these moved out immediately (the bureaucrats, teachers, policemen etc. not native to the area). Some 50.000 moved out after they had opted for France. These kept all their property and all real estate they owned in the Reichlande.


The sources I cited in my above post quote somewhat different population figures, the major difference being in the number of immigrants from the Reich moving into the occupied territories. An explanation may lie in the difference in time periods to which the numbers refer. The 176,000 figure of German immigrants ("Altdeutsch") which Berghahn (cited in my above post) states moved into the territories may relate to a period extending beyond 1875. Certainly there were major construction projects underway in the area - primarily railroad facilities and fortifications - which were active at a date substantially later than 1875, and which probably attracted additional "Altdeutsch" immigrants. [The great grandfather of a friend of mine, for example, in the late 1870's moved with his family from Hamburg to Diedenhofen (Thionville) to do civil engineering work on fortifications being constructed in the area.]

Moreover, there was a continued substantial migration out of the occupied territories after 1875, and further, although Eastern France may in general have had an overall decrease in population between 1850 and 1900, the increase in births over deaths in Alsace - a 90% Catholic area - was reportedly over 50% in the early 1870's, according to Dominian's treatise cited in my above post.

But whatever the difference in estimates may be, it seems tolerably clear that at least some 12-15% of the native population of the occupied territories abandoned their hearth and homeland during the German occupation, which was surely not lightly done.

On 11th April, 1871, German was re-introduced as language to be taught in school.[Emphasis mine.]


The implication that German (or at least a dialect thereof) was not a language taught in school prior to the German annexation of Alsace- Lorraine has no foundation. As indicated in my above post, a survey conducted by the French Minister of Education in 1864 showed that of the 614 schools in Alsace, 513 taught in the German dialect and an additional 45 taught only in that dialect.

In 1911, Elsass/Lothringen received its constitution. That included a parliament with 2 chambers, the 2nd chamber to be elected with equal, secret and general male suffrage. They also had an own flagg now and could consider themselves an equal member of the Reich. [My emphasis]


In effect, to the extent the new Constitution purported to give the occupied territories a significasnt degree of autonomy, it was an utter fraud!

Although the second chamber of the legislature was indeed to be elected by almost universal male sufferage, the first chamber was not. Its representatives were chosen by municipal offficials appointed or approved by the Statthalter (Governor), who was appointed by the Kaiser and was responsible and answerable only to him.

And it is true that the new Constitution authorized three representatives from the occupied territories to serve in the Imperial Upper Chamber - the Bundesrat - where they had previously had no voice at all, but those representatives were obliged to follow the Stattshalter's directions as to voting, and thus were indirectly subservient to the Emperor's wishes.

And although the legislature did have the authority to approve or disapprove the budget submitted by the ministry, if it failed to approve the proposed budget there was no threat of the ship of state coming to a halt, for the Statthalter was authorized to proceed anyway on the basis of the previous years' budget. Moreover, not only was neither the Statthalter nor his ministry in any way answerable to the legislature, there was no means by which the legislature could effect a dissolution of the ministry, which is its customary prerogative in parliamentary governments.

And of course the Statthalter was in absolute control of the Executive function, and appointed or approved the appointment of the bureaucracy and civil service. And lastly, the Army, which had some 70-80,000 troops (Altdeutsche of course, not native Alsace-Lorrainers, who were stationed elsewhere) in the occupied territories, was not even responsible to the Statthalter, but rather directly to the Kaiser alone.

And finally, to maintain that the Reichlande "could now consider themselves an equal member of the Reich" is, unfortunately, simply laughable. The area remained, in effect, an occupied territory, governed by an arrogant, autocratic, and utterly stupid administration reportable only to an equally arrogant, autocratic and utterly stupid Emperor in the person of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The public opinion of the provinces was exacerbated and alarmed by a series of irritating episodes which showed the people the humiliation of their position, the fragility, indeed the non-existence, of any guarantee of their liberties. Hansi ( J. J. Waltz), a native Alsatian, was thrown into prison, as we have seen, for having caricatured a Pan-German high school teacher, Herr Gneisse, and in 1914 he was, to the stupefaction of the world, prosecuted for high treason in the federal court at Leipsic because of caricatures which in any self-governing country would pass current as the most ordinary satires upon the foibles and pretensions of the official class. Abbé Wetterlé, editor of a newspaper in Colmar, and formerly a member of the Reichstag, was condemned to fine and imprisonment for protesting against the insolence of the Pan-Germans. A merchant of Mulhouse was expelled from Alsace for having asked a hotel orchestra to play the Marseillaise. During these years, also, the authorities proceeded against numerous Alsatian societies and clubs in a way that could only create widespread irritation and resentment, against choral unions, gymnastic clubs, and societies founded for the purpose of caring for the graves of Alsatians who had died on Alsatian soil during the Franco-German war.
Hazen, my post supra at 184-5.

And then of course the famous Saverne (Zabern) affair, in which an arrogant young Prussian army officer conducted himself in a despicable fashion toward the local Alsatien population in several outrageous incidents, ending up by grievously slashing a crippled civilian cobbler with his saber, and was exonerated by his Colonel and ultimately by the German courts. The incident was a cause célèbre throughout Germany, but the Chancellor maintained (and rightly so under the German Constitution), that it was an Army matter and nothing that the Civil Government had any concern with.

At the Reichstag, in the context of the Reichslande being able to "consider themselves as equal members of the Reich":

During the debate, on January 23, 1914, Friedrich Naumann, of "Middle-Europe" fame, took occasion to express an opinion: "Choose any place in Baden or Würtemberg or Bavaria and let the lieutenants and their colonel conduct themselves as they did at Zabern, and you would see what would happen! . . . With all respect for regulations the internal order of a country is not kept by regulations alone. What is needed is more respect for men, even though they are only civilians, only Alsatians. . . . Big words are talked about an army which is said to be a `people's army.' Well, if it is that, we must demand that it shall not be entirely devoid of popular sympathies. . . . Let us have respect for the people, for civilians; then we can have seventy thousand soldiers in Alsace without harm. But when our soldiers go to Alsace with the idea that they are entering an enemy's country, and when the officers presume to play a political role and even to decide whether blood shall flow or not, the country sees in the army not a 'people's' army but a foreign element. That is the indictment which is made to-day."
Ibid at 210.

But finally, I am in complete agreement with Mad Zepplin as to the unconscionably harsh measures which the French employed in the recovered territories immediately after the end of WWI. They were in some ways even more extreme than those employed by the Germans post-1871, but at least had the saving grace that they were of far shorter duration and administered in many cases with typical French (as opposed to Prussian) administrative moderation and flexibility. But without question, they engendered a movement, small but vocal, for local autonomy - particularly among some Catholic clergy, who feared and resisted the French movement toward laïcity in education which had taken form after the annexation of the territories by Germany, and was reflected in the Jules Fery Laws of 1882 and subsequent regulations, as well as the founding of the Mission Laïque Française around the turn of the century.

But a tu quoque argument, however firm in its facts, does not in my opinion justify the treatment accorded the annexed territories of Alsace- Lorraine by their German occupiers, which sadly, at least to my mind, typifies the belief that that generally prevailed in Germany in the late 19th and through the mid-20th century, that might and power equate to right and justice. During that period what I believe to be the essense of the best and truest of German heritage was abandoned, and, as Hans Kohn somewhere pointed out:

Schiller's warning was forgotten:

Die grossen schnellen Taten der Gewalt,
Des Augenblicks erstaunenswerte Wunder,
Die sind es nicht, die das Beglückende,
Das ruhig, mächtig Dauernde erzeugen.

(The great and rapid deeds of force,
The awe-inspiring miracles of the moment,
These do not create lasting values
Which thrive in stillness and enrich man.)


Regards, Kaschner

Mad Zeppelin
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Postby Mad Zeppelin » 08 Oct 2004 21:16

Languages:
From the population count of 1900, the figures for the Reichslande are:
Mother language German - 1.492.347 (86,8%)
Other mother language - 219.639 (12.8%), thereof
French 198.318 (11,5%)
Italian 18.750 (1.1%)
Polish 1.410 (0.1%)
Mother language German and other - 7.485 (0,4%)
Yes, I know: these are German figures. But there is no reason not to accept them. (These people were trying to trick in the east: counting Kaschuben and Masuren extra as to establish that their language was not Polish, agreed. But there were - at that time - no attempts to germanize the French minority inside the Reichslande, so this figures should be as reliable as was German adimistration in general.)
The notion that the dialects in Elsass/Lothringen were different from German belongs into the same cabinett as trying to divert Kaschubisch and Masurisch from Polish - just plein nonsense.
There are 3 germanic languages recognized by the linguists for central Europe: German, Dutch/Vlamish, and Frisian. Everything not Dutch or Frisian therefore is German. And the dialects spoken in Elsass/Lothringen are by far not the most complicated or uninterlegible ones within the German language area. To classify them as "Alsatien" and "Francique" as the French usally do and to pretend they are not German is like to divide Kaschubisch and Masurisch from Polish - pure phantasy.
Representation:
From the 15 representaves that the Reichslande sent to the Reichstag in 1874, 10 belonged to the Zentrum (catholics) and 5 were liberals. All of them formally protested against the annexion of Elsass/Lothingen without referendum and demanded the introduction of the Frech language as official language of the Reichstag.
And in 1879, we already have 5 autonomist.
(Separation never was an Elsass/Lothringer choice - they always had to reckon with their big brother (French or German, no real difference) - so, the maximum they tried to achieve was autonomy.
Election of:
1907 1912
Reichspartei 2,7% 2,1%
Freisinn 6,1% 14,0% (Fortschritt)
DVP 4,3%
Zentrum 31,1% 5,4%
SPD 23,7% 31,8%
Elsass/Lothringer 30,2% 46,5%

However, may the faults of the 1911 constitution be as they were (and there were several), this was the maximum of autonomy that Elsass/Lothringen would ever achieve.
Simply forget the 1st chamber, this is like the Bundesrat. Designed by Bismarck to be real centre of power, it was nothing but a museum. What counts is the 2nd chamber: the Reichstag or the Landtag.
Germany - believe it or not - was slowly shifting to full democracy. This process was complicated by WW1 but not stopped. And by late October 1918 the German Democracy is there, not at all introduced by the victors (although they did their best to turn it into a stillborn child).


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