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Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Area of present-day northeastern France, most of which was incorporated into Germany between 1871 and 1918 and again during World War II. Having previously belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, Alsace was annexed by France in 1697; the previously independent duchy of Lorraine was similarly acquired in 1766. However, German influence persisted strongly in Alsace and to a lesser extent in Lorraine. Following the franco-prussian war of 1870–1, nearly all of the former region and most of the latter was claimed by the new Reich. It was only at this point in their history that Alsace and Lorraine became firmly bracketed together. Within the federalized state structure of the german empire , they were combined into a distinctive Reichsland (“imperial territory”) that served as a buffer zone against France. Its inhabitants bitterly resented the fact that so little autonomy was conceded to it until 1911. Two years later there were violent demonstrations against the Germany military presence at Saverne in Alsace (see zabern affair ). Between 1871 and 1918 there was also rapid economic development: Alsace possessed important coal, iron, and potash deposits, while Lorraine boasted a sizeable textile industry. It was partially for their economic value, but equally for their symbolic importance, that France sought to reacquire the two regions in 1914. They became the scene of prolonged and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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