Alsace-Lorraine

   France's eastern provinces, ceded to the new German Empire in 1871 after France's collapse in the Franco-Prussian War, then restored to France via the 1918 Armistice.* During 1871-1914 France's desire for re-vanche rested upon a passion to regain these "lost territories." Although Ger-mans were pained by their forfeiture, few were surprised when President Wilson's Fourteen Points stipulated that "the wrong done to France by Prussia* in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine" must be corrected. Allied agreement on this issue was so strong that the Armistice agreement (Article 2) required Germany to abandon the provinces. When the Germans held National Assem-bly* elections on 19 January 1919, the French prohibited voting in Alsace and Lorraine.
   Speculation had existed on the outcome of a plebiscite in the provinces if one were allowed in 1919. Although Germany's plea for a plebiscite was rejected - France underscored the lack of precedent from 1871—there is little reason to believe that the provinces would have voted against reunion with France. Until 1911 the provinces were designated das Reichsland; as such, Germany treated them more as foreign colonies than as integral to the Reich. Although their status was blurred in 1911 by an administrative change, they were never des-ignated states (Lander) by the Constitution.* Such discrimination stemmed largely from economic lobbies that, fearing textile and other commercial inter-ests in Alsace-Lorraine, sabotaged efforts at full-fledged integration. The pop-ulations of both Alsace and Lorraine, resenting German annexation in 1871, were disdainful of their treatment in succeeding years. According to Erich Eyck*, there was little evidence of distress in the provinces over reunion with France (an Alsatian autonomy movement was an annoyance to France). Nev-ertheless, the issue was not shelved until Gustav Stresemann* signed the Lo-carno Treaties,* thereby giving formal recognition to Germany's western borders.
   REFERENCES:Eyck, History of the Weimar Republic, vol. 1; Jacobson, Locarno Diplo-macy; McDougall, France's Rhineland Diplomacy; Silverman, Reluctant Union.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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