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French defeat in 1871, Treaty of Frankfurt and revanchism

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  • French defeat in 1871, Treaty of Frankfurt and revanchism

    France lost the Franco-Prussian War... The Treaty of Frankfurt was signed in 1871...

    The treaty did the following:
    • Established the frontier between the French Third Republic and the German Empire, which involved the ceding of 1,694 villages and cities under French control to Germany in:


    • Gave residents of the returned Alsace-Lorraine region until 1 October 1872 to decide between keeping their French nationality and emigrating, or remaining in the region and becoming German citizens.
    • Set a framework for the withdrawal of German troops from certain areas.
    • Regulated the payment of France's war indemnity of five billion francs (due within five years).
    • Recognized the acceptance of William I of Prussia as German Emperor.
    • Required military occupation in parts of France until the indemnity was paid (to the surprise of Germany, the French paid the indemnity quickly).

    The treaty also established the terms for the following:
    • The use of navigable waterways in connection to Alsace-Lorraine
    • Trade between the two countries
    • The return of prisoners of war


    This treaty polarized French policy towards Germany for the next 43 years. The reconquest of Alsace-Lorraine, the "lost provinces", became an obsession characterized by a revanchism which would be one of the most powerful motives in France's involvement in World War I.


    The annexation of Alsace-Lorraine was a blunder, as it turned France into a permanent enemy of Germany, and produced in the French a lasting bitterness and such a burning desire to regain the lost provinces.

    IMO, France's position/mindset between 1871 and 1914 was perfectly understandable.

    My question is a simple one:

    If you were a Frenchman in 1914, would you not desire to regain Alsace-Lorraine?
    My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Zouave View Post
    My question is a simple one:

    If you were a Frenchman in 1914, would you not desire to regain Alsace-Lorraine?
    To answer your question I cannot imagine how I could not desire to have them back as a Frenchman.

    Chancellor Otto von Bismarck saw that right when he was against annexation as for one it would antagonize France as long as annexation lasted.

    Military reasons however seemed compelling enough to nevertheless annex these two provinces (military taking precedence over politics?);
    while there was a recent precedent in the annexation of Schleswig Holstein from Denmark in 1864 that seemed to have been accepted well enough by the Danes.
    BoRG

    You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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    • #3
      Hard as it may be to believe, by July 1914, the evidence suggests that the vast majority of Frenchmen had either gotten over the loss of Alsace and Lorraine, or regretted the loss of territory but were unwilling to go to war to regain them. Come August, all that changed, as the French government had to sell the war to the people who would fight it. Noting that "at the heart of the Union sacrée, its seriousness and durability, lay national indignation at German aggression," authors Smith, Audoin-Rouzeau and Becker wrote in "France and the Great War":

      The fixation from the first days of the war on the long-dormant question of Alsace and Lorraine makes sense only in this context of renewed German aggression. Perhaps to a surprising degree, the French had heeded Léon Gambetta's advice on the question back in 1871 to think about it always, but to speak about it never. The large statue of a woman representing Strasbourg in the Place de la Concorde in Paris remained draped in black, and the life of France had gone on for more than forty years. French diplomatic and military policy throughout that time had been directed toward meeting the clear and present danger posed by the German Empire, not toward la revanche per se. But when Germany invaded France again in 1914, it suddenly became permissible not just to speak about Alsace and Lorraine, but to seize upon them as the supreme symbol of seeing off the German threat once and for all.
      Also, Michael Neiberg wrote in "Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I":

      [B]y 1914, Alsace and Lorraine had been German for more than 40 years. Over those four decades, the issue had lost much of its ability to motivate Frenchmen or to become a central element in the national political debate. Revanche, or the spirit of revenge, had long since left the consciousness of most Frenchmen. One French army officer thought the issue of Alsace-Lorraine was for "des rares exaltés" only. Ian Ousby agrees, arguing that "diehard militarist revanchistes were always comparatively thin on the ground" in the years preceding the war.

      [snip]

      David Starr Jordan, the first president of Stanford University and president of the World Peace Foundation, toured Alsace and Lorraine in 1913 and also spent time in France talking to Frenchmen about the Alsace-Lorraine question. He concluded that the issue of revanche had "slowly waned as the new generations have come and gone."

      [snip]

      By 1914, Alsace and Lorraine had long ceased to be a reason for war between France and Germany. Ian Ousby argued that by 1910 even discussing Alsace-Lorraine in French political circles as a casus belli against Germany was impolitic and undesirable on any count. Writer Rémy de Gourmont was more blunt, stating that he would not give the little finger of his right hand for Alsace-Lorraine, because he needed it to write, nor would he give the little finger of his left hand because he needed it to flick his cigar ash from his pants. Most Frenchmen were not so crude. They still regretted the loss of Alsace and Lorraine and desired their ultimate return to France some day, but not through violent means. One German diplomat noted after a tour of the French countryside in 1913 that "the wound of 1871 still burns in all French hearts, but no one is disposed to risk his or his sons' necks for the question of Alsace-Lorraine." France would not soon forget the humiliating loss of territory, but nor would it seek war as a means to right the wrong. Some held out the hope of one day trading a distant part of France's African or Asian empire for Alsace-Lorraine, but most came to accept the loss, if reluctantly.

      [snip]

      Alsace-Lorraine was barely mentioned in the final days of July and was "hardly a motivating force in public attitudes." Basing war aims around Alsace-Lorraine would have undermined French claims of fighting a purely defensive war and almost all Frenchmen wanted to avoid war even if a successful conclusion might lead to the reacquisition of Alsace-Lorraine. Revanche and desire for the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine had "little direct influence in the preparation of public opinion” as it related to war.
      Anyway, IMO, historians that place any significant stock on revanche and Alsace-Lorraine as a cause for war are guilty of conflating post-August 1, 1914 sentiment with pre-August 1, 1914 sentiment. They were different.

      ps
      Jordan's book is available online at archive.org if anyone is interested.
      http://archive.org/details/alsacelorrainea00jordgoog
      Last edited by The Ibis; 25 Sep 12, 11:44.

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      • #4
        IMO, France had every right to regain possession of Alsace-Lorraine (the famous lost provinces).

        Thanks for that info and link, Ibis. I'll dig more into this subject.
        My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Zouave View Post
          IMO, France had every right to regain possession of Alsace-Lorraine (the famous lost provinces).

          Thanks for that info and link, Ibis. I'll dig more into this subject.
          Curious:
          "In 1900, 11.6% of the population of Alsace-Lorraine spoke French as mother language (11.0% in 1905, 10.9% in 1910).

          The fact that small francophone areas were affected was used in France to denounce the new border as hypocrisy, since Germany had justified them by the native Germanic dialects and culture of the inhabitants, which was true for the majority of Alsace-Lorraine. However, the German administration was tolerant of the use of the French language, and French was permitted as an official language and school language in those areas where it was spoken by a majority."

          80%+ of Alsace Lorraine was ethnically Germanic
          "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
          -Omar Bradley
          "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
          -Anonymous US Army logistician

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          • #6
            The past post is accurate, most of the the people of Alsace-Lorraine spoke Schwabish which is a southern German (detested by the Prussians ) The only reason for support of France which might have existed is the pickehauber helmet boot stomping Prussian army and its terrrible policy of occupation rather than liberation, after 1871.

            The people of Alsatien und Lothringen did not like the Prussians. Reason? because they were not treated as members of the German Confederation; rather than just being ignored by the inept French governments. Alsace and Lorraine belonged to the Kingdom of Burgundy in the 1600s, they never belonged to France in the first place.
            Last edited by Nickuru; 27 Sep 12, 19:12. Reason: inaccuracy
            When looking for the reason why things go wrong, never rule out stupidity, Murphy's Law Nº 8
            Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. George Santayana
            "Ach du schwein" a German parrot captured at Bukoba GEA the only prisoner taken

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            • #7
              Burgundy in the 1600s? Come on...

              Alsace-Lorraine was part of France since the 17th century.

              So... The United States of America should hand Texas back to Mexico, right?

              Some of the most famous generals of the French Revolution came from Alsace, notably Kellermann, the victor of Valmy, and Kléber, who led the armies of the French Republic in Vendée. Marshal Oudinot was from Lorraine.

              Those guys, and many others from Alsace-Lorraine, fought hard for France on many occasions.

              Alsace and Lorraine are integral parts of France... end of story. No, wait... France should hand it back to Burgundy...

              However... The Duchy of Burgundy was dissolved and annexed by France after the Battle of Nancy in 1477. The County of Burgundy was finally incorporated into France by the Treaty of Nijmegen in 1678.

              Burgundy is one of the 27 regions of France.

              By your reasoning, France should hand parts of Alsace-Lorraine back to Burgundy... but that's impossible! Why? You know... Because Burgundy is a part of France.

              So... Alsace, Lorraine and Burgundy are French after all.
              Last edited by Zouave; 27 Sep 12, 21:07.
              My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Zouave View Post
                Burgundy in the 1600s? Come on...

                Alsace-Lorraine was part of France since the 17th century.

                So... The United States of America should hand Texas back to Mexico, right?

                Some of the most famous generals of the French Revolution came from Alsace, notably Kellermann, the victor of Valmy, and Kléber, who led the armies of the French Republic in Vendée. Marshal Oudinot was from Lorraine.

                Those guys, and many others from Alsace-Lorraine, fought hard for France on many occasions.


                .
                You are completely right, Alsace was the French Province which has provided the biggest number of Generals to Napoleon's Grande Armée.

                General Lasalle was From Metz

                To Come back about Howmany people spoke french during these days, apart Ile de France, Touraine and Anjou, all French Provinces spoke their own Dialect.
                à vaincre sans péril, on triomphe sans gloire (triumph without peril brings no glory) P. Corneille

                Le probleme avec les cons, c'est qu'il ne se fatiguent jamais
                (The problem with Pr.cks, is that they never get tired ) Michel Audiard

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                • #9
                  I like to stir the pot a bit:

                  till the 1648 Westphalian Peace, Alsace-Lorraine was part of the Holy Roman Empire so belonged to Germany

                  BoRG

                  You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Major Sennef View Post
                    I like to stir the pot a bit:

                    till the 1648 Westphalian Peace, Alsace-Lorraine was part of the Holy Roman Empire so belonged to Germany

                    Wouldn't that actually mean it "belonged" to Austria?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
                      Wouldn't that actually mean it "belonged" to Austria?
                      I wouldn't dare to call the 'Holy Roman Empire' "Austrian".
                      BoRG

                      You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Major Sennef View Post
                        I like to stir the pot a bit:

                        till the 1648 Westphalian Peace, Alsace-Lorraine was part of the Holy Roman Empire so belonged to Germany

                        Quite correct, it was the French stepping in at the end of the thirty years war when the others were exhausted that got them those provinces.
                        Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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                        • #13
                          I'd say it belongs to the Alsatians
                          Lambert of Montaigu - Crusader.

                          Bolgios - Mercenary Game.

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                          • #14
                            Alsace is a traditionally British province and has been under the yoke of foreign repression since timeout of mind.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Major Sennef View Post
                              I like to stir the pot a bit:

                              till the 1648 Westphalian Peace, Alsace-Lorraine was part of the Holy Roman Empire so belonged to Germany

                              The map is anything but accurate when it comes to the location of German citys.
                              "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                              Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                              you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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