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As a region with ambiguous boundary distributions, Alsace-Lorraine had created conflict between the two countries of France and German, establishing controversy as to whether the country would come under whose control after the Franco-Prussian War when the region was ceded to Prussia. While newly united Germans felt they knew better what is good for them and forced its ethnic identity on the Alsace-Lorraine people, France, in recovery, and its nationalistic aspiration was devastated by the war; and within the region itself, conflictions became inevitable due to the fact that a portion of the population rejected Germanization and held sentiment toward France, and the others were impressed and took pride in lining up with the German states.
The German states held mixed feelings toward the region Alsace-Larraine region. Even thou it was among the German territories of the Holy Roman Empire, most of the region came under French control during the reign of Louis XIV. In document 3, the German government proclaimed that since Alsace-Lorraine was restored to the German Empire, the suppression of German language and culture would be stopped and “it becomes Germany’s national duty to wean these people from the French”.
It is clear that as the power holder of the region, Germany felt a certain degree of responsibility toward Alsace-Lorraine after its restoration. This also explains why the German states felt superiority over the Alsace-Lorraine. In document 4, Professor Treitschke wrote in his pamphlet that as Germans, they know what is good for Alsace than the France and will give them back their ethnicity against their will.
They were pleased to see the “immortal working of the moral forces of history”. The pamphlet was written in the year of the Franco-Prussian war, and as a citizen to a country whose nationalistic characteristics were growing rapidly, Treitschke showed a great deal of confidence for his state. The Germans also saw Alsace-Lorraine as a benefit to its well being, but a few foresaw problems that would occur after taking France’s peak cities. Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian Prime Minister, confessed in the conversation concerning possible territorial settlements that keeping Metz, a region of French, would be a “hotbed” of disaffection in the future (Doc 1). For a wise politician, Bismarck was contributing to his country by giving his opinion from different angles, and was successful in foreshadowing possible France counterattack in the near years to come.
For the people within the region of Alsace-Lorraine, great conflicts arose. A great portion of the population, who saw themselves as French citizens, held sentiment toward their mother France and do not consent to separation. Jacques Preiss stated his belief in his speech that “germanization” and “assimilation” had not taken a single step forward. He believed that even thou the German Empire had conquered their land, it will not be able to conquer the moral of the Alsace-Lorraine people (Doc 7). As a deputy from Colmar, he gave his speech this way in order to inspire and encourage the Alsace people who sided with France. In document 2, the Alsatian deputies declared to the French National Assembly that their provinces will not be ceded over to the German States and claimed their argument that they had sacrificed themselves in the cause of national greatness over the past two centuries therefore they were bound to French unity.
A newspaper article in Berlin proposed that the Alsatian women lacked attachment to the German culture, but were permeated by the French spirit, and they will cast great influence on their husbands and children over the matter(Doc 9). In document 5, an Alsatian delegate spoke on behalf of the Alsace-Lorraine people that Germany violently conquered their country and argued that “annexation without our consent is moral slavery”. The speaker, Teutsch, expressed his forward thinking by objecting the consequences of a bloody war and promoted peace and brotherhood. He, as a child of enlightenment in the late 19th century, spoke in favor of concord relationship between the states.
Some others within the Alsace-Lorraine provinces had supported the German causes. Frere Medard, an Alsatian priest, wrote in the memoirs of his childhood that one can’t deny that certain people were impressed by the German culture. Even thou many before snubbed the Germans, they became friendly and soon became proud of their Germany ethnicity. He argued that this became inevitable because they shared school activities and leisure with their Prussian comrades (Doc 12). In Document 11, Oscar Ludman wrote in his bibliography that his brother Ernest was proud of asking pity from the Germans and knew he belong among them even thou their father stated natural to both sides.
The controversy over the cession of Alsace-Lorraine provinces had arose between the two fronted countries while the people within the provinces also had a say in the matter. The multi points of view caused great problem between the states. Within Alsace itself, sentiment toward France and adaptation of “Germanization” also caused chaos. But in many eyes, Alsace-Lorraine would remain its own identity and would not fall either to the German Emperor or the French nation.
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