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Related to Alsace-Lorraine: Franco-Prussian War
Alsace-Lorraine,former region, Germany: see under AlsaceAlsace
, Ger. Elsass, region and former province, E France. It is separated from Germany by a part of the Rhine River. It comprises the departments of Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, and the Territory of Belfort (a department created after the Franco-Prussian War when the rest of
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a Reichsland (imperial territory) of Germany from 1871 to 1918 that was created from the Alsatian departments of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin (excluding the territory of Belfort) and part of the Lorraine departments of Meurthe and Moselle, all of which had been won from France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71.
Alsace-Lorraine was initially administered by an Oberpräsident, who was appointed by the emperor and was granted, under Paragraph 10 of the law of Dec. 30, 1871 (the Diktaturparagraf), the right to use all means, including military force, to maintain order. Alsace-Lorraine was given 15 seats in the German Reichstag, nearly all of which, in the 1870’s and 1880’s, were held by candidates of the leftist bourgeois Progress Party. Not until the late 1870’s was a local consultative body—the Landes-ausschuss—established and the Oberpräsident replaced by the Statthalter, a resident representing the chancellor.
The policy of enforced germanization pursued by the German government aroused resistance and resulted in 400,000 persons emigrating to France between 1872 and 1882. The annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, which contained one of Europe’s largest ironore deposits, contributed to Germany’s rapid industrial development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Industrial growth and the influx of German capital drew the local bourgeoisie closer to its German counterpart.
The supporters of autonomy for Alsace-Lorraine within the German Empire grew stronger. The Diktaturparagraf was repealed in 1902, a local legislative body—the Landtag—was established in 1911, and Alsace-Lorraine was given three seats in the German Reichsrat. The policy of ethnic discrimination and forced germanization continued, however, leading in 1913 to a grave political crisis (seeZABERN AFFAIR OF 1913).
Differences over the Alsace-Lorraine question played an important role in the overall conflict of interests between Germany and France that led to the outbreak of World War I. Under the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France. During World War II, Alsace-Lorraine was occupied in 1940 by fascist German troops; it was liberated in late 1944 and early 1945.
S. V. OBOLENSKAIA